The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

Hobbit movie poster JapanStarring Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Dean O’Gorman, Aidan Turner, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, Jed Brophy, Mark Hadlow, Adam Brown, Hugo Weaving, Andy Serkis, Sylvester McCoy, Barry Humphries

Directed by Peter Jackson

Expectations: High, but guarded because of so many people’s negative or mediocre responses to it so far.


When The Hobbit was first announced as a two-film series, I balked. I said to myself, “There’s not enough there for two movies; they’re just milking it because Lord of the Rings was popular. What a shame.” Then when they announced it was going to be three movies, I thought something similar, but Jackson’s video diary about it led me to believe that despite my fears, he had something up his sleeve. And boy, did he ever! The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is everything I could have ever hoped for and much, much more. My memories that there wasn’t enough story in the novel for two movies were insane, as Jackson gives us a thrilling journey to remember based on only the first third of the book. Things that are just a few pages in the book become incredibly unforgettable sequences, perfectly adapted from the page to the cinematic medium. Where others might call this lengthening a misstep, it allows Peter Jackson the room necessary to deliver a rich, fulfilling journey that explores the material in depth, and fantasy is all about the journey. The Hobbit is definitely not for fair-weather fantasy fans, it is made by and for people looking to get lost in another world.

You probably read the book at some point during your high school career, but for those without a history, The Hobbit is the tale of Bilbo Baggins and his great adventure with a company of dwarves and the wizard Gandalf. It takes place 60 years before the events of Lord of the Rings, and the book has a much lighter tone than that later work. The film also features this difference in tone — perfectly captured, I might add — but where the novel is fairly light throughout, the film does its best to weave in lines that connect with the Lord of the Rings films, pumping up the grand action whenever it can. And by “does its best,” I mean “it’s fucking awesome.”

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Mary and Max (2009)

Starring Toni Collette, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Humphries, Eric Bana, Bethany Whitmore, Renée Geyer

Directed by Adam Elliot

Expectations: Moderate. Heard good things.

The past few weeks I’ve been doing my best to wipe my cinematic slate clean of everything that’s been clogging it up for the past year (or more). While this is theoretically impossible for me with my Netflix Queue maxed out at 500, another couple hundred on the Instant Queue and hundreds of other films I’d like to see not represented there, I’m doing my best to prioritize and pave the way for an upcoming year filled with new and exciting movies. What I’m getting at is that I’ve intended to watch Mary and Max for the past thirteen months. My co-worker watched the film in October or November of last year and highly recommended the film to me. She knew I was a huge fan of claymation, and she cited the character depth in the film as something that I would probably connect with. I took the film home with the distinct intention to watch it within a few weeks. Time passed and I soon found myself at the end of December, a period in our work schedule where an imposed furlough makes it so that we’re all off work for the final week or so of December. I said to myself, “Perfect. I will finally get to that Mary and Max movie during the furlough.” You can probably see where this is going, and perhaps I’m revealing too much about my procrastinating tendencies, but I never did watch the film. Instead it languished in my mind for the entirety of 2011, until I found myself once again at home on the first day of our December furlough. When I thought of Mary and Max again (as I do every few days or so) I realized just how long it had been “something I’d get to.” Lately, I’ve forced myself to schedule things like this to bring order out of the procrastination chaos, and after my realization that it had been a full year, I decided right then and there to finally watch it this week. And I did. And I loved it.

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