June 24, 2012 · 8:56 am
Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Ring trilogy is concluded in the final film translation of Tolkien’s masterpiece. The surviving members of the Fellowship are scattered all across Middle-earth and Sauron is preparing an all-out assault on mankind. This was the first movie since Titanic to make over a billion dollars and it won eleven Oscars. Not too shabby.
Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) and the faithful Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin) are slowly but surely making their way to Mount Doom to destroy the Ring. Their treacherous guide Gollum (Andy Serkis) is leading them into a trap.
Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli (Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom, and John Rhys-Davies) find Merry and Pippin (Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd) chilling in the flooded ruins of Isengard. After a brief and happy reunion, Pippin picks up Sauruman’s palantír and Sauron invades his mind. Gandalf is able to deduce that Sauron will attack Minas Tirith and that Sauron thinks Pippin has the Ring.
Gandalf and Pippin head out to Gondor and try to warn Denethor, the Steward of Gondor and Boromir and Faramir’s dad. Gandalf recommends that he asks Rohan for help, but he refuses because he is stupid and stubborn. Pippin lights a beacon and Aragorn, Theodan and his Rohirrim answer the call.
Elrond (Hugo Weaving) briefly visits Aragorn and presents him with his sword, Andúril, and Aragorn accepts his destiny as Isildur’s heir. He also realizes that they don’t have enough warriors to fight Sauron’s forces. His only chance to find the King of the Dead and get all his ghost fighters to join his side.
There’s a huge battle at Minas Tirith. There’s tons of orcs and men and massive oliphants and CG fighting. It’s not looking good for Gondor, but then the Rohirrim show up and the battle continues. And then when it’s not looking good for Gondor and the Rohirrim, Aragorn shows up with the Army of the Dead and they win the battle.
Gollum is leading Sam and Frodo closer and closer to Shelob the giant hobbit-eating spider. Gollum manipulates Frodo into thinking that Sam wants the Ring for himself and that he can’t be trusted. Frodo tells Sam to fuck off and go home. Frodo keeps following Gollum and enters Shelob’s lair. The spider gets him and it looks like he’s pretty boned, but Sam shows up and fights Shelob off, but it looks like Frodo is dead. Some orcs come along, find Frodo, and it turns out that he’s just paralyzed and they take him to Sauron’s fortress. Sam manages to free Frodo, and the two of them continue their trek to Mount Doom.
Aragorn and a ragtag army make their way to the Black Gate of Mordor with the intention of distracting Sauron while Frodo destroys the Ring. Just as Frodo is about to throw the Ring into the fire, he gets attacked by Gollum. They struggle and fight and Gollum and the Ring are briefly reunited as they fall into the lava pit. The Ring is destroyed but the movie is not over.
This movie has like 5 endings. You think it’s over when Sam and Frodo get rescued by Eagles. But it’s not. You think it’s over when Aragorn gets crowned King. But it’s not. You think it’s over when everyone bows down to the four hobbits. But it’s not. You think it’s over when the hobbits finally get back home to the Shire. But it’s not. You think it’s over when Frodo finally leaves Middle-earth with the elves. But you aren’t sure. And you are relieved when the credits finally roll.
This movie has a lot of differences from the book. All that business with Shelob takes place in the second book. Aragorn gets his sword in the first book. There’s a bunch of stuff missing. But it’s a movie and not a book and the movies left shit out but they did the books justice by capturing the feel of them. It’s a satisfying conclusion to a great trilogy. It didn’t deserve all those Oscars though.
Critically Rated at 13/17
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Tagged as andruril, aragorn, aragorn legolas and gimli, billy boyd, denethor, dominic monaghan, dominic monaghan and billy boyd, elijah wood, elrond, frodo, gandalf, gimli, gondor, hobbits, hugo weaving, ian mckellen, john rhys-davies, legolas, lord of the rings, lotr, merry, merry and pippin, middle-earth, orlando bloom, palantir, pippin, return of the king, return of the king review, rohan, samwise gamgee, sauron, sean astin, steward of gondor, the shire, theodan, viggo mortensen
June 16, 2012 · 9:03 am
Peter Jackson’s LOTR trilogy continues with The Two Towers. All the key cast members of the original come back with a few new additions. The trilogy was shot back to back to back, so there is a definite sense of continuity.
The movie starts with a reprisal of Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) fighting the Balrog and follows his descent into the earth before transitioning into our main story. Frodo and Samwise Gamgee (Elijah Wood and Sean Astin) are continuing their trek into Mount Doom, while Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli (Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom, and John Rhys-Davies) are searching for the kidnapped Merry and Pippen (Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd).
Frodo and Sam are trekking along but they soon encounter Gollum (Andy Serkis), a creature who will do anything to be with the Ring. Frodo makes him swear an oath to take him in to Mordor to the Ring. Merry and Pippen have been kidnapped by a gang of Uruk-hai who were slaughtered by the Riders of Rohan. Merry and Pippen manage to escape into the Fangorn forest and they meet an Ent named Treebeard.
Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli are hot on the trail of the Uruk-hai who captured the hobbits. They run into Gandalf, who has been reborn into Gandalf the White following his epic battle with the Balrog. Now that Gandalf is back, he is able to free King Theodan of Rohan from a curse case by Saruman (Christopher Lee). Theodan is revived just in time to fight in an enormously one-sided battle that he is totally unprepared for.
Frodo and Sam are making decent progress with their trusty tour guide Gollum. But then Faramir (David Wenham), the younger brother of deceased Fellowship member Boromir, captures Frodo and Sam and decides to take the Ring back to Gondor.
Aragorn and Elven and Dwarven companions join King Theodan and the rest of the remaining Rohan warriors even though they face impossible odds. A few Elves show up to help the men against the orcs, but they don’t do much to prevent the inevitable onslaught of goblins. Just when all seems lost, Gandalf shows up with reinforcements.
Merry and Pippen have been chilling with the slow acting Ents and don’t make much headway. When all seems lost, they trick the elves into walking by Saruman’s pad and they see the destruction that he’s caused on the forest. They join the war and tear shit up and defeat Saruman.
Faramir has taken Frodo and Sam way out of the way and realizes that it’s not conducive to the plot and releases them. They continue their weary trek to destroy the one ring.
There is a lot going on and a lot of it strays from the novel. This is when Peter Jackson starts to take events from the second and third installments and use them interchangeably. Helm’s Deep is a major event in the movie and it’s just a plot point in the book. Frodo and Sam getting kidnapped by Faramir is tacked on for drama and to move key plot elements into the third movie.
The best part about the second movie is the addition of Andy Serkis as Smeagol/Gollum. He might have been CG, but he is a crucial supporting cast member. He could have been Jar Jar Binks, but he became a cinematic icon. Little kids are still spitting out their Smeagol screeches and Gollum growls.
This is a satisfying sequel. It sets things up perfectly for the final chapter. Because all the movies were filmed back to back, this has a definite transitional feel to it. This is a great movie and it made it cool to geek out.
Critically Rated at 15/17
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Tagged as aragorn legolas and gimli, christopher lee, david wenham, dominic monaghan and billy boyd, elijah wood, ent, faramir, frodo, gandalf, gimli, ian mckellen, inevitable onslaught, john rhys-davies, legolas, lotr, merry and pippen, middle-earth, orlando bloom, peter jackson, rohan, samwise, samwise gamgee, sauron, sean astin, suruman, the lord of the rings, the Ring, the two towers, the two towers review, theodan, tolkien, treebeard
June 11, 2012 · 7:37 am
The Lord of the Rings is the gold standard for epic fantasies. The Fellowship of the Ring is the first installment of the trilogy and introduces us to Frodo Baggins and the other occupants of Middle-earth. Peter Jackson cares a lot about the source material, and even though a lot of stuff is left out, the film captures the tone and feel of the book.
The movie begins with a little crash course in Middle-earth history. Back in the day, the Dark Lord Sauron made himself a ring that would give him the power to take over the world. There’s an epic battle with men and Elves and Prince Isilidur manages to defeat Sauron, and Isilidur decides to keep the Ring for himself. The Ring betrays him and he dies. The ring gets lost and forgotten for a few thousand years before the creature Gollum finds it and eventually a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm) gets his hands on it.
He has it for sixty years before he leaves it to his nephew Frodo (Elijah Wood). Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) finds out that the Ring is the Ring of Power, and that Sauron’s forces are trying to get it back. Frodo must take the Ring and leave the Shire. He sets off on this journey with his loyal gardener Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin). Gandalf goes to consult with his wizard pal Saruman(Christopher Lee) where he learns that Sauron has dispatched the Nazgûl to find Frodo. He also finds out that Saruman is also working for Sauron and Gandalf gets taken prisoner.
Frodo and Sam are trying to make their way to Bree to meet up with Gandalf. They are joined by Merry and Pippen (Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd). The four hobbits are being perused by the Nazgûl, but manage to make it to Bree safely. Gandalf isn’t there to meet them, since he’s all captured and stuff, but they meet a ranger named Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen). Aragorn is an ally of Gandalf and he leads the hobbits to the Elven city Rivendell. Along the way the Nazgûl attack Frodo and stab him with a morgul blade. That’s bad. And if Frodo doesn’t get to Rivendell as soon as possible he will turn into a wraith. That’s bad. Luckily Aragorn’s Elf girlfriend Arwen (Liv Tyler) shows up to save Frodo’s life.
Frodo and his companions finally make it Rivendell. Gandalf is there and he explains how he escaped Saruman’s clutches. Uncle Bilbo is there too, and they get to have a little hobbit bonding time. Elrond the Elf (Hugo Weaving) puts together a council to determine what to do with the Ring. They decide their only course of action is to destroy the Ring by throwing it into the fires of Mount Doom, right in the heart of Sauron territory. Frodo puts it on himself to take the Ring, He is joined by Gandalf, Sam, Merry, Pippen and Aragorn. And Legolas the Elf, Gimli the Dwarf, and Boromir the guy from Gondor decide that they want to join the Fellowship of the Ring too. Orlando Bloom plays Legolas, John Rhys-Davies plays Gimli, and Sean Bean plays Boromir.
The Fellowship embarks on their journey, but Sauron and Saruman aren’t making it easy for them. They have to worry about spies and orcs and trolls. Gandalf tries to fight a Balrog and ends up dying a little bit. The Fellowship keeps moving on, but the Ring corrupts Boromir and he goes a little crazy. He attacks Frodo and tries to steal the ring but Frodo escapes. And then the Fellowship gets attacked by the Urik-Hai. Boromir dies, Merry and Pippen get snatched, and the Fellowship is in shambles. Frodo decides that he must take the Ring to Mount Doom by himself. He sneaks away from the group, but Sam tracks him down and Frodo lets him tag along. It’s always better to bring a friend when you have to do something alone.
The movie does the book justice, but the book is better. The film leaves out a lot of characters (no Tom Bombadil?!?) and events. Everything gets condensed and simplified. There are a lot of differences between the book and movie, but this is more faithful to the source material than the second and third installments.
This is a great start to a great trilogy. A lot of stuff might be missing, but Peter Jackson takes you to Middle-earth. What he does show you is amazing. Tolkien’s world comes to life and it feels real. There is a sense of history, it makes the unbelievable believable.
Critically Rated at 15/17
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Tagged as aragorn, arwen, baggins, balrog, bilbo, billy boyd, boromir, bree, christopher lee, dark lord sauron, dominic monaghan, dominic monaghan and billy boyd, dwarf, elf, elijah wood, elrond, fellowship of the ring, frodo, gandalf, gimli, gondor, hugo weaving, ian holm, ian mckellen, john rhys-davies, legolas, liv tyler, lotr, merry, merry and pippen, middle-earth, mount doom, orcs, orlando bloom, peter jackson, pippen, review, rivendell, samwise gamgee, saruman, sauron, sean astin, sean bean, the lord of the rings: the fellowship of the ring, the ring of power, the shire, tolkien, uruk-hai, viggo mortensen
April 8, 2012 · 9:52 am
Long before Kevin Bacon was a creepy guy on The River Wild, he was a creepy guy in White Water Summer. White Water Summer is about a kid named Alan (played by a young Sean Astin), and a few other kids who go on an extended backpacking trip with an older guide name Vic (played by Kevin Bacon). Vic uses the trip to teach the kids valuable life lessons, but in dangerous and careless ways. Alan has a problem with this, and the two of them butt heads and the tension between them rises.
Sean Astin narrates the movie in an extensive interview that’s intercut throughout the film. It’s very jarring, especially because it was filmed two years after the rest of the movie. He looks way older, is sitting on a chair in the woods, he’s wearing a Hawaiian shirt, and it seems like a blatant rip-off of Ferris Bueller or something. It doesn’t suit the tone of the movie.
The bulk of the movie is filmed outdoors. It makes you want to go camping. There are a lot of cool scenes and shots of them hiking and canoeing, and it makes you want to get outside too.
Vic tries to teach the boys to respect nature. He just wants them to respect it the same way that he does. He teaches them fishing techniques, but gets mad when Alan does things his own, more effective way. Vic wants the boys to become men, he just does it in an over the top manner. Alan is just a little whiney bitch who thinks that he is the shit because he is a teenager. Granted Vic is fucked up in the head, but his heart is in the right place. Alan is stubborn and unwilling to listen to a point of view that differs from his own.
There is a part of the movie where the boys and Vic part ways. The boys all end up huddled together, sleeping on the ground, some of them using their sleeping bags as pillows. WTF? Did it not dawn on any of the actors, producers, writers or director to have them actually sleep in the sleeping bags? Seriously, that shit bugs me more than any nitpicky thing I’ve seen in any movie. FUCKING SLEEP IN YOUR SLEEPING BAG, THAT’S WHAT IT IS FUCKING FOR.
So anyway, at one point Vic breaks his leg, and Alan must use his wilderness skills to get him safely off the mountain. It is a very anti-climactic ending. Vic doesn’t go totally crazy, and Alan never kills him in self-defense. The whole movie builds up a tension that only escalates into a mutual respect for each other. This is America, we want violence and death.
This is a lame movie. It is not a classic. It is not very good. I am only writing about this because I saw it on HBO a few weeks ago and was duped into watching the whole thing. If this is your favorite movie, I am pretty sure that we are not friends.
Critically Rated at 3/17
March 3, 2012 · 8:42 am
Richard Donner (Superman, Radio Flyer) directs, Chris Columbus (Home Alone) writes, and Stevie Spielberg (it’s Spielberg, c’mon) produces this classic movie about a group of friends called the Goonies who go on an amazing adventure in search of the fabled fortune of One-Eyed Willie to save their foreclosed homes. A dangerous family of fugitives (the Fratellis) is hot in pursuit of the Goonies. It is a fun adventure movie. It doesn’t try to take itself seriously, which makes it more appealing. This is one of those rare movies that you can watch with your mom or your best friend, and if you have a little baby you’d watch it with him too. You can watch it multiple times, you want to quote it, and you want to share it with other people.
This is one of the few movies with a great cast of child actors. Casting a kid heavy film can make or break a film. This cast is on par with other great kid casts like in The Sandlot and Stand By Me. Sean Astin, Josh Brolin and a few others made the transition to become working adult actors. And Corey Feldman outlived Corey Haim, which is pretty amazing. Jonathan Ke Quan plays Data. A lot of Asians depicted in movies around this time are blatantly racist and are only there for comic relief. This movie came out a year after Pretty in Pink with the super racist caricature Long Duk Dong. In this flick, Data is just one of the Goonies. He has a few lines in Vietnamese and uses broken English occasionally, but they don’t call attention to it, and they don’t make fun of him. There are no stupid stereotypes. Data is Harold wayyyy before he met Kumar.
It is kind of weird how much Mikey grows and changes throughout the movie. He grows so much that he no longer has asthma. I don’t think it works like that. Another weird thing is calling the pirate One-Eyed Willie. It is clearly a penis reference in a movie for kids. Why not call him something more subtle like Mushroom-Tip Johnson or Pocket-Snake Dick? And how come Chunk doesn’t ask his parents if this giant deformed man-baby can live with them? He just tells Sloth he’s going to live with him now.
Weird stuff aside, if you haven’t seen this movie, then you didn’t have a childhood.
Critically Rated at 15/17