Pop culture enthusiasts can be forgiven if they approach Peter Jackson's J.R.R. Tolkien prequel trilogy thinking about 'Star Wars.' Will this next (but previous!) chapter in one of Fandom's key franchises broaden the cinematic universe we love so much, or will this be another case where they should have let enough alone?
Well, as is so frequently the case in life, I can't give you such a black and white answer. For starters, we may not be able to fully analyze 'The Hobbit' until all three chapters are in. Nevertheless here we are and 'An Unexpected Journey' does, indeed, have a lot going for it. It is also saddled with tangents, jabberjaw scenes that never end and far too many beats whose sole function is to remind you how much you love the original 'Lord of the Rings' films.
I can only take so much. I approach a family-friendly film with as open of a heart as possible, but when hit in the face with the shovel of whimsy and wonderment and wide-eyed optimism over and over and over again, eventually, I have to strike back. Sorry, 'Rise of the Guardians' - there's a lot that is admirable in you, particularly some of your design work, but you brought this on yourself.
“I don't want you YouTubing!” the panicked mother snipes at her daughter as they sit in backed-up traffic, trying to escape the summer berg of Claridge, Maryland. “Did you just call it YouTubing?” the embarrassed daughter wise-asses back, adding a note wholly unnecessary for the plot but rather indicative of how 'The Bay' goes that little extra step from being just another gross-out horror pic.
With an asinine plot, risible dialogue and atrocious acting, this sequel to a half-remembered video game adaptation still manages to provide a great number of base thrills with its nightmarish imagery. As such it is a quagmire of dread both within and without, disturbing to watch and to think about. This makes for a strange alchemy: in time you identify with the lead character (a young woman in peril) not because you are engaged with the film, but because enduring such an atrocity becomes its own act of survival. How 'bout that for a neat trick, eh?
Surely you've heard the soundbyte from 'Frankenweenie.' A hunched-over, snaggle-toothed, black and white Edgar "E" Gore, mischief in his eyes and a half-assed Peter Lorre in his voice. It's spooky and it's ooky and it's either the type of thing that you find really played-out or brings a tickle to your heart.
My wife doesn't follow movie news and is impervious to advertising. "What is this, a baseball movie?" she asked as we settled in for 'Trouble with the Curve.' "Kinda," I said. "Clint's a gruff baseball scout, out on the road with his estranged daughter." "Uh-oh," she chimed as the lights dimmed. "Life lessons!"
Life lessons indeed, and they come at you with the subtlety of an aluminum bat cranking a deep line drive. Clint, craggier than ever, begins each day arguing with his prostate, eating junk food and rooting through a stack of papers reporting high school and college score results. "He's the last scout in the majors who doesn't use a computer!" they muse at the Braves' home office. Nasty, conniving Matthew Lillard means it in a bad way, while John Goodman looks fondly upon Clint's old fashioned ways.
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