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My wife is away for the weekend so I’m watching a few movies this weekend. The first started tonight with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. I’ll also have a quick few thoughts on the other movies I’ve seen in past couple of weeks.

The Hobbit was pretty close to what you would expect from the franchise. Lots of battle scenes that result in 1,000s of orcs dying and no one on the “good” side going down. And if it looks like a good die actually MIGHT die, you’re sure to have someone save them in just the nick of time. It’s built to be what it is.

However, this one seemed to be even more self-indulging than the rest. Gandolf is a sheepish pacifist in one minute, and an all-magical conjuror of powerful spells the next. The dwarfs are funny-ish, but even their behavior is taken over the top. Really, if it was for Gollum and his brilliance, the movie would be sort of forgettable.

While it takes you back on the adventure of the ring, it just doesn’t quite reach the peak of what it could have been. I’ll give it a B, just because I like the franchise so much.

Other movies these past weeks:

Oz: The Great and Powerful – Awful. I have zero idea how James Franco continues to nab starting roles in movies. What photos of whom does he possess? Given how all girls seem to fawn over him, probably a lot of people. Still, I’m not sure even that could explain how bad he was in this. He was blown off the stage by an animated monkey. Yes. A monkey. And that doesn’t even count the time he was on the same screen as Rachel Weisz, who I maintain is one of the most underrated actresses on the silver screen. Mila Kunis held her own, though if Franco was better, she would have looked worse. The storyline and script didn’t help the actors, either. It was just pretty poor all the way around.

D+

G.I. Joe: I saw Oz and G.I. Joe on the same night (BTW, for those who don’t know, I live in a town that only shoes two movies per week so if I want to go to the movies, I don’t have a selection to choose from.) G.I. Joe might have saved Oz from getting a lower score. G.I. Joe was so bad that Gigli could have come on after it and I would have agreed it wasn’t as bad as Joe. I’m not sure what I was expecting, besides the movie’s best actor, Channing Tatum, living through the first five minutes, but it was a horrible all-around movie. It blended spectacular racism with a boring script, bad acting and action sequences that I could have seen in a dozen other movies. Hey, I’m all for action flicks with bad acting, hence my love for the Fast and Furious franchise, but you’ve got to bring something at least a TAD original. This, did not. F

Earlier in the week, I saw a couple of widely acclaimed indie films, Bully and Beasts of the Southern Wild.

Bully was magnificent. I’m married to an aspiring teacher that has been in the classroom for four years in different capacities and I grew up with two parents that were teachers, so it obviously hit close to home. Not to mention the bullying we all endure at one point in our childhood or another. The documentary is exactly what it tells you it is. There’s no hidden tricks or artful filmmaking to produce a hyperbolic entity of real life, as some documentaries are prone to do. Instead, this feels raw. You can feel the hurt exuding from every second of the featured kids’ lives. You can’t help but to relate no matter what your particular background might be. A+

The Beast of the Southern Wild, was, well, wild. It’s one of those movies where I think I’d have to see it several times to understand the intricacies of the storyline, the story telling and the filmmaking. It’s unbelievably dark and yet light-hearted at the same time. It strikes a weird balance in a film that I don’t think I’ve seen before. I’d like to see it again some time to see if I would become more entangled in the story. However, the first time sort of lost my attention at times, purely because it was so strange. And maybe that’s on me. Still, for now, it’s a B+.

Up next, Les Mis!

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