Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Hobbit: A Possibly Spoiler-y Review

I changed my mind about reviewing The Hobbit.  More specifically, I was convinced by my buddy Zach to write a big spoiler-y review of the book.  Well, this probably won't live up to his expectations, but I'll do my best.

Before I begin, how about some news about the upcoming films?

A brief recap of the book: Bilbo is a Hobbit who really just likes to stay in his Hobbit-Hole and stick his thumb out to the world.  Gandalf pays him a visit, and Bilbo is really rude and tells him to piss off.  Gandalf has other plans, and leaves some markings on Bilbo's front door - markings that actually end up calling a party of thirteen dwarves to Bilbo's home for An Unexpected Party, which also leads to An Unexpected Journey - to recover stolen treasure from Smaug the Dragon, who lives in the Lonely Mountain beyond Mirkwood.

Deep breath - that was a bit of a mouthful.  Okay, continuing: along the way Bilbo and his friends run into several small bothers (including but not limited to Trolls, Goblins, weird elves, and Smaug himself.  Also, Bilbo just happens to find a magic ring that makes everything a heck of a lot easier for him.  He plays a riddle game with Gollum, which is probably about the most interesting part of the book.  Oh wait, I'm still summing it up.

Anyway, Bilbo has a long talk with Smaug, and discovers his weak spot - which is relayed to the men in Lake-Town (or whatever it's called), and Smaug ends up getting killed by the men.  They're not too happy with the Dwarves, because in the process, their entire village was destroyed.  So they march off to the Lonely Mountain with the intent of taking some sweet, sweet treasure.  Eventually the Goblins and their giant wolves (called "Wargs" here) come to kill everyone and there is a giant battle involving Five Armies.  Bilbo falls unconcious and does nothing of real consequence, and wakes up when it's all over so he can go back home.

As I was reading, I had heard about the Battle of the Five Armies, and was assuming it would be a Pretty Big Deal once I got to it.  But in the same sense that Bilbo barely aided in the defeat of Smaug, all he did was get knocked on the head and wake up.  The battle occurred without his help or hinderance.  Which leads to me saying that the riddle game with Gollum in the Goblin caves was probably the most interesting part of the book.

It was okay, and at least now I see where Peter Jackson is going to fill all his time in the movies.  Obviously, the Battle of the Five Armies will take up most of the second film; but also there's mention of the White Council in the end of the book (really, it's one sentence), and you can bet they'll expand upon that.  I think they could easily condense this book into 1 three-hour film, instead of two three-hour films.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Hobbit

I'm currently reading The Hobbit (75% completed, according to, a book I was concerned I might not be able to get through considering previous experiences with Tolkein.  Considering the fact that I am 75% of the way through, I'd say that those concerns have long been waylaid.  Though I'm still not overly fond of Tolkein's writing style, it's a little easier to read than I remember Fellowship of the Ring.

I'm not going to do a full review when I'm finished, but I just wanted to do a quick post about the upcoming movies (coming out as An Unexpected Journey and There and Back Again in 2012 and 2013, respectively).

How the heck do you split this book into two movies?  It boggles my mind.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Network (1976)

A few weeks ago, the boys at did a special show about Sidney Lumet's films.  This prompted me to see what movies I could find at the library, and one of them was Network.  I'd heard about this film a few times, and only recently realized it's where the "I'm as mad as hell" speech comes from.  I was quite excited to finally see this movie.

Some first impressions: the DVD case (I got a 30-year special edition from the library) boasts how "frighteningly, hilariously prophetic" this movie was in 1976.  Right away, I tried to make an effort while watching the movie to completely ignore that quote.  I find that when there are sensational quotes like that, they're usually exaggerated (what a shocking insight!).

For the most part, my initial thoughts were correct - I'd hardly call this a prophetic movie (especially since it seemed to be reflecting the times as they were - so in other words, things have simply continued along the same path).  However, there were some lines that were just bang on and could easily describe the state of the world today; for instance, take this line from Howard Beale: "Right now, there is a whole, an entire generation that never knew anything that didn't come out of this tube!"

If you understand the Internet to be a series of tubes, well, then, sure, this was a very prophetic film.  Moving along, I think my favourite scene in the movie was Ned Beatty's speech to Howard Beale.  It was just beautifully shot, and the lines were awesome - especially the parallel to an earlier scene in the movie.

I think that's also what was great about this movie: it was all just a bunch of big speeches delivered impeccibly.  And the characters were brilliant, especially Diane, the PD.  She was as she was described by Max - "You're television incarnate, Diana ..."

Loved the movie.  So, am I the last person on Earth to realize that the basic structure of Anchorman was largely based on Network?