Tag Archives: Peter Jackson

Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The-Hobbit-An-Unexpected-Journey-PosterPeter Jackson does find some success with “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” but not as a whole, relegating it to the shadows of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

Dwarves once lived the good life, enjoying a thriving society, but then in came the dragon Smaug, who claimed Erebor for himself, nestling into their mid-mountain pile of gold for a nap and turning the dwarves into a nomadic people. Years later, Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) and a band of 13 dwarves decide it’s time to reclaim the Lonely Mountain, but before they can set out on their adventure, they need one more member for their company – a burglar and he must be a smart and stealthy hobbit.

Gandalf recruits the reluctant Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), a once daring young hobbit who’s now too set in his ways to venture out of The Shire. However, when Bilbo shocks the group – or most of the group – by opting to tag along, all are thrilled to have a completed team except for their leader, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage). War-torn and emotionally wounded, his goal to take back Erebor is all-consuming and he’s prepared to plow through treacherous terrain, battle trolls and orcs, and even the notorious Azog (Manu Bennett) to do it.

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‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’: 10 Things You Need to Know Before Seeing the Film

The-Hobbit-SDCC-PosterIt’s been nine years since the final Lord of the Rings film hit theaters, but the time has finally come to return to Middle-earth. Much will be the same, but there have also been some big changes happening during director Peter Jackson’s 266 days of filming on the Lord of the Rings prequel, The Hobbit.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, the novel puts the focus on the character of Bilbo Baggins, the uncle of Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) in LotR. In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first part of Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, a much younger Bilbo (played by Martin Freeman) is recruited by Gandalf the Grey (again portrayed by Ian McKellen) to join 13 dwarves – including the warrior Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) – for an adventure filled with Goblins, Orcs, Wargs and more.

In honor of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’s December 14th debut, Jackson, producer Philippa Boyens, visuals effects supervisor Joe Letteri, cast members Freeman, Armitage, McKellen, Wood and motion-capture actor/second unit director, Andy Serkis (Gollum), came out to discuss the thrill of revisiting the beloved world, changes Lord of the Rings fans can expect and more.

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Comic-Con 2012: Our Most Anticipated Events

The first rule of San Diego Comic-Con is that there’s absolutely no way to get to everything. The second rule of San Diego Comic-Con (or SDCC) is … try to get to everything. And we here at Movies.com will attempt to do just that, or at the very least bring back a taste of the big events everyone will be talking about come this time next week.

What are some of those events, and what should you expect from our coverage? Click through to find out what we’re looking forward to most as the country’s biggest geek-friendly convention prepares to infiltrate our nerdy hearts later this week.

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Interview: Daybreakers Writer-Directors Michael And Peter Spierig

You know the Coen brothers and the Farrelly brothers, but if you haven’t seen the horror comedyUndead, you probably have no idea who the Spierig brothers are. The writing/directing duo hails from Australia and is the team behind the latest film to indulge in the vampire craze, Daybreakers. It’s a good thing the two sport different looks, because otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to tell Michael and Peter apart!

They first gained attention when Lionsgate unexpectedly acquired their self-financed film Undeadand set it for a limited theatrical run and DVD release. A couple of years later, the studio and the twins reunited to shoot Daybreakers. Not only were they completely taken aback by the concept of not having to swipe their own credit cards to finance the producer, but their dream headliner, Ethan Hawke, was on board to star.

Check out what Peter and Michael said about their filmmaking techniques, potential for aDaybreakers 2 and their next project, a film adaption of the adventure novel Captain Blood.

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Review: The Lovely Bones

Put a fantastic novel in the hands of an Academy Award winning director and what do you get? Maybe not another award-winning masterpiece, but at the very least a good movie. Well, don’t expect either from Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones. If anything, The Lovely Bones will be remembered as one of the most disappointing productions of the year.

On one fateful afternoon, Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan) walks home from school and right into the clutches of her neighbor George Harvey (Stanley Tucci). What Susie first expects to be an innocent encounter winds up being a malicious ambush ultimately sending her to the afterlife. Rather than making a B-line to heaven, Susie’s attachment to activities on earth lands her in a realm in between mortal life and the pearly gates. From there, she looks down on her family and watches her passing tear them a part.

Her sister and brother, Lindsey and Buckley (Rose McIver and Christian Thomas Ashdale), are heartbroken, but, naturally, it’s her parents that suffer the most. While her mother Abigail (Rachel Weisz) shuts down and neglects her family, her father Jack (Mark Wahlberg) rages out of control in search of Susie’s killer. The only person keeping the Salmons from crumbling completely is the booze-loving, yet caring Grandma Lynn (Susan Sarandon).

The Lovely Bones is an incomplete story. The only people capable of finding any enjoyment in this film are those who’ve read the Alice Sebold novel the film is based on and that’s only if they’re not completely turned off by its poor adaptation. As for the moviegoers unfamiliar with the material, little to nothing will make much sense.

The film starts off promising. When Susie is alive, so is the story, but once Jackson relocates her to his imaginary world of trippy CGI landscapes, you become completely detached. Co-writers Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Jackson appear to have just flipped through the book and extracted the scenes most suitable for the big screen treatment without any concern for the grand story that would result.

Not one character is developed enough to be convincing, even the ominous George Harvey. Tucci does a fantastic job at making you extremely uncomfortable and comes the closest to making a significant impact, but in the end, becomes swallowed up by his blatant branding as the villain. Grandma Lynn finds herself in a similar predicament. She has the potential to be a very endearing character, but becomes a caricature in Jackson’s attempt to have her fit a very specific role.

Both Weisz and McIver are victims of plain old shoddy characters. Lindsey doesn’t get nearly as much screen time as she deserves, but at least has one that provokes you to root for her. Abigail Salmon might as well have been removed completely for she makes absolutely no effect on the film and takes away from the more successful characters. When a child dies and her mother fails to make an emotional impact, you know something is seriously wrong. In the context of the film, her actions are completely unjustified and downright ridiculous.

The most poorly casted and painful to watch is Wahlberg. Jack Salmon is a role that calls for an actor with an extreme emotional range capable of portraying a man that loses the thing he loves most. Wahlberg has the emotional range of a stick. If his baby talk voice isn’t making you feel feeble it’s because he’s too busy throwing an unfounded temper tantrum to talk.

The worst part of this film’s failure is that these problems could have easily been avoided. Jackson has fantastic source material in the palm of his hand, but gets far too carried away and completely strips it of any meaning. Jackson’s heaven could have been passable if the audience wasn’t drowned in it. Far too much time is spent showing off cheesy computer tricks when the live action events call for so much more attention. Not only does the misallocation of consideration completely thin out the profound story unfolding on Earth, it makes Jackson’s heaven laughable. Nothing works in The Lovely Bones. It will be a grand disappointment for fans of the book and completely incomprehensible for the rest.

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It’s Time To Grow Up: Books To Read Before Seeing The Movies

I hated reading in high school. In fact, I don’t think I ever read a book assigned in its entirety. It wasn’t that I was rebelling against being forced to read a particular book; I was a good student and almost always did what I was told. I could have picked up a book in my spare time, but I had better things to do. It wasn’t until I had nothing better to do with my free time, that I gave reading a chance.

My first job after graduating from college was a News Assistant at NY1 News. Being a News Assistant is an extremely physically demand job – I’m a small girl who was carrying 60 lbs. in camera equipment ten hours a day – but there’s also a ton of down time. One day, I waited over four hours for a perpetrator to be escorted from a prison to a waiting car. (Yes, capturing a perp walk is that important in local news.) I was desperate for entertainment and that desperation was sated by the medium I despised most, books.

I didn’t do a complete turnaround and become an avid reader. There’s one rule to my book selection process: the book must be in the process of being adapted to film or optioned for adaption. Clearly my passion is film. Combine the entertainment of reading a book with a passion and you get the ultimate source of pleasure. Even beyond the immediacy of the entertainment derived from reading, having read a book before seeing the film adaption is one of the most exhilarating things I’ve ever experienced.

The whole process is fascinating; to see who’s cast, what they look like in full costume, seeing the story unfold on screen, even assessing what portions of the book are translated and what parts are removed. When you read a book without accompanied imagery, you’re creating a world using your imagination. Yes, a good author will provide a detailed narrative so the reader can properly assemble the environment the writer strives to convey, but every reader’s world differs to a point. Then, when you see that world come to life on film, the wheels in your mind spin nearly out of control. You’re not just a spectator; you’re part of the film. It’s not just the author’s story being brought to life, it’s yours too.

Most of you will get this experience when you check out Where the Wild Things Are on October 16th, but there’s a whole bunch of movies coming out soon that find their origins in fantastic books. Here are a few you might want to read before seeing the movie.

ShutterIslandCoverShutter Island
I currently have a bad taste in my mouth when it comes to Shutter Island. Not that I don’t expect the film to be any good, I’m just bitter that I have to wait so long to see it. The film adaption of Dennis Lehane’s novel was due to hit theaters this month, but recently was pushed back to a February 2010 release. Maybe I’ll just have to read the book again. It’s about two U.S. Deputy Marshals, Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule, who are sent to Shutter Island to investigate a missing persons case. This isn’t just any missing person; Rachel Solando is a patient at Shutter Island’s Ashecliffe Psychiatric Hospital, home of the criminally insane. This book makes your head spin so much you’ll feel like an Ashecliffe patient yourself.
(In Theaters February 19th, 2010)

DerbyGirlCover
Derby Girl
You’re probably more familiar with the name of the feature film version of this book, Whip It. The book is about a young girl named Bliss Cavendar who’d rather get rowdy on the roller derby track than participate in beauty pageants. Knowing her parents will not approve of her new hobby, Bliss sneaks off to the Doll House to kick some ass as Babe Ruthless of the Hurl Scouts. The character Bliss screams Ellen Page. Think a non-pregnant Juno with athleticism. A fun side note, the author of Derby Girl, Shauna Cross, is a member of the Los Angeles Derby Dolls roller derby league. She also wrote the screenplay for Whip It. The movie already hit theaters, but Derby Girl is a quick read and still worth checking out post-film.
(In Theaters October 2nd, 2009)

UpInTheAirCoverUp In The Air
With all of the Oscar buzz surrounding Up In The Air, reading the Walter Kim novel the film is based on is a must. George Clooney plays the lead character, Ryan Bingham, a guy who travels the country working as a career transition counselor. Simply put, he flies around the country firing people. Ryan’s somber line of work and lack of a social life are of no concern to him. He has something much more important to worry about, earning one million frequent flyer miles. After reading the book it was very hard to imagine it being successfully translated to film. It has a plot, but it doesn’t seem strong enough to drive a feature length film. I guess when you have Jason Reitman behind the lens and George Clooney in front of it, anything is possible.
(Limited Release on December 4th, 2009. Opens Wide on December 25th, 2009)

TheLovelyBonesCoverThe Lovely Bones
Alice Sebold’s novel The Lovely Bones is one of the most moving pieces of literature I’ve ever read. By the time you finish it, you’ll have gone through an incredible range of emotions. It’s about a young girl named Susie Salmon who’s brutally murdered on her way home from school. From there we see her watch over her family from heaven and how her passing changes their lives. While the book may be perfect for film, it’s also a very temperamental piece. Depicting heaven on the big screen can go one of two ways; it can be completely rejected or wholeheartedly embraced. Based on the trailer and early buzz about the film, Peter Jackson will not disappoint. On the other hand, I can’t say the same for Mark Wahlbeg. Thanks to his performance in The Happening and Andy Samberg’s portrayal of him on Saturday Night Live, it’ll be difficult to take his performance seriously.
(Limited Release on December 11th, 2009. Opens Wide on January 15th, 2010)

TwelveCoverTwelve
Now this is a film that deserves much more attention than it’s been getting. Not only does Twelve have a fantastic cast, but the book that it’s based on is phenomenal. It was written by Nick McDonell when he was just 17-years-old. It’s about a bunch of kids, mostly wealthy, living in Manhattan and the impact drugs, sex and violence have on their lives. Chace Crawford will play the main character, White Mike, an extremely bright student known for selling the best marijuana money can buy but never indulging in any alcohol or drugs himself. I certainly wasn’t picturing White Mike to be as pretty as Crawford, but I’ll sacrifice my imagination to be able to look at Crawford for a couple of hours. Another unusual casting choice is Rory Culkin. I think he’s a fantastic actor, but for obvious reasons, I just don’t see him playing a tall basketball player. Anyway, the best part of the book is the climax. You become so absorbed with the characters that when that grand ending comes you’ll be in a serious state of shock. Seriously.
(In Theaters 2010)

YouthInRevoltCoverYouth In Revolt
If you read any of these books before seeing their film counterparts, Youth In Revolt by C.D. Payne should be the one. A movie with a cast including Michael Cera, Justin Long, Zach Galifianakis, Ray Liotta and Steve Buscemi sounds like a guaranteed success, but it can also turn the tale from a humorous yet meaningful coming-of-age story into a comedic absurdity. Cera plays Nick Twisp, a kid who takes teenage rebellion to the extreme. He starts out as a guy who isn’t thrilled with the parents he’s been given and turns into a wrecking crew when his love for a girl he meets on a family trip drives him insane. With the help of his alter ego, Francois Dillinger, Nick is willing to do just about anything to win Sheeni’s heart. Removing portions of a lengthy book to turn it into a movie is necessary but can be detrimental. Taking out particular parts of Youth in Revolt can easily strip the story of its warmth and turn it into any old teen comedy.
(In Theaters January 15th, 2010)

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