I loved The Hobbit! Now, I am ready for the new adventure…

I was nervous.  For many reasons.  How could Peter Jackson recapture the magic of the seminal LOTR trilogy?  Why three segments?  How can a children’s adventure story (because that is what The Hobbit is…) captivate as well as the dark, emotional journey of LOTR?  Why were some folks upset and disappointed?  So, obviously I was a bit worried.  Well, damn!  What was I worried about?  The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is wonderful! (And fyi–I watched it in good-old-fashioned 2-D, just like I enjoyed the others.)

As someone who watches the LOTR trilogy on a yearly basis, I can not express how lovely it was to visit Middle Earth again.  The vistas–the colors–the music–the Orcs–Gandalf…**happy sigh**…and now we had new faces, places and creatures.  The cinematography is still gorgeous and the new score, which incorporates some LOTR themes, is beautiful.  Nothing about this film disappointed me.  I felt like I had returned to a familiar world and was being shown whole new parts of it.  How cool is that?

Jackson was the right choice.  Although the tone is more lighthearted and fun, he knows this world and its characters and his love for them shines through.  And to answer the pacing issues (I’ve heard folks complaining about)–it is necessary to set up the characters first.  You need time to absorb the atmosphere and, like Bilbo, get yourself ready.  When Bilbo cries, “I’m going on an adventure!”  You are with him–ready.  And the adventure does not leave you wanting–Orcs, Goblins, Wolf-like doggies, awesome Rock Giants! Yeah…it’s incredible.

But, the adventure would be less if not for the amazing characters that have embarked on it.  Now, I have to say that I am a huge Martin Freeman fan (hello? He is Watson!) and knew he was the perfect choice to be Bilbo Baggins.  I was 100% correct.  Freeman is Bilbo Baggins.  He is everything Bilbo should be.  Nervous, scared, curious, brave, smart, funny and kind.  It is really a treat to watch his performance.  I am sure the world will fall in love with Freeman now, too.

Sir Ian McKellen is Gandalf, the Grey and always a pleasure to watch.  Unlike the LOTR, here we get The Grey all the time and honestly, for me, I like him more than when evolves into The White, who is way more serious.  McKellen was made to play this role.  He is awesome.

And while this time around we do not get “hotness” overload in the boy department (sorry, Dwarves!) that we did for LOTR–I do find myself having a crush on Richard Armitage‘s Thorin.  Yeah…he’s hot.  😀  (Had to go there!)  But, he is also perfect in his performance.  All the Dwarves are.  At this point, you get a bit on everyone and they all fit.

Now, I must mention the best performance and one of my most anticipated returns to the screen–Gollum!  Andy Serkis is a motion-capture genius!  He needs to get a special Oscar already, because what he can do is amazing!  The team at WETA has many reasons to be proud–Gollum in the LOTR was pretty realistic and yet, here he is 100% better.  It is creepy how real he looks.  And the riddle scene is absolutely perfect.  My favorite scene.

At the end, I found myself audibly saying, “Aw, man!  That’s it?”  I immediately remembered saying the same thing after The Fellowship and thought, well done, Mr. Jackson.  Again, I am anxiously awaiting the next installment–especially to see Smaug, the Dragon! (insert happy dance)  We were already looking forward to ALL 6 films back to back!  Yes, we’re those people.   🙂

So, I hope I have given you reason not to worry.  Go see The Hobbit.  I think it’s pretty awesome and I hope you will find plenty to love about it, too!

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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It’s a Plunderful Life indeed! The Pirates! Band of Misfits is a fun adventure

I love Aardman Animation Studio!  Wallace and Gromit? Classic.  Chicken Run? Hilarious.  So, I was understandably excited about this film and happily, it did not disappoint.  The Pirates! Band of Misfits is an intelligent, quirky story that will engage kids and yet, keep the adults entertained.  The humor may be very British and not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s funny at some level for everybody.

Stop action claymation is an amazing art form and does not get enough attention, in my opinion.  This is the company’s first 3-D feature and it’s cool.  Co-founder/Producer/Director Peter Lord is back behind the camera (Chicken Run) and is joined by former Aardman animator Jeff Newitt.  Lord has a great sense of timing and storytelling.  There is so much to see that you have to watch it more than once to catch-all the fine details–posters, store fronts, and lots of background gems.

The film is based on the first two books from Gideon Defoe‘s The Pirates! series and Defoe wrote the screenplay.  Honestly, that does explain why it is not as hilarious as the earlier films (writing duo of Peter Lord and Nick Park outshines most though), but it is still extremely enjoyable with plenty of laugh out loud moments.  What’s even cooler is how much depth they’re able to incorporate into these animated characters and how many touching moments there turn out to be.

The voice cast is awesome!  Hugh Grant is unrecognizable as Pirate Captain and perfect.  Martin Freeman is the First Mate and again proves he has incredible comedic timing.  David Tennant is Charles Darwin and delivers some great lines.  And Imelda Staunton‘s Queen Victoria is fantastic.  The whole crew is great!

Yes…yes…you can tell I loved it.  Go out and support this wonderful art form and have a few laughs while you’re at it.   And as one of the pirates says, ” This turned out to be one of our most unexpectedly heart warming adventures yet!”  INDEED!

Sherlock how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

A view of the London skyline, with the word "Sherlock" in black letters

I have been smitten!  Sherlocked!  I am head over heels in love with Sherlock!  It has quickly and easily become of one my all time favorite pieces of storytelling from television and/or film.   It continually impresses me–the writing, the performances, the mind-bending puzzles and Benedict Cumberbatch.  Series 2 is now over and I am already planning to re watch Series 1 and 2 because I am not sure how I will survive almost a year before Series 3!

I stumbled upon this awesomeness while browsing the PBS Masterpiece Mystery website last year. I read “Last chance to see Sherlock–a reinvention of the classic sleuth–still set in London, but in the 21st century!”  I was intrigued.  I knew Martin Freeman (already cast in The Hobbit) but was unfamiliar with anyone else.  I have always enjoyed Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‘s Sherlock Holmes stories and up to that point, Hollywood’s latest version with Robert Downey, Jr and Jude Law was a fun, although predictable, action-filled blockbuster.  So, Sherlock in the 21st century?  Could that work?

YES!  It works wonderfully!  What writers and creators, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, have done is taken the original Victorian stories and given them a contemporary update.  This version allows Holmes to use all the modern technology available and makes the necessary tweaks to make everything fit the present world–it is very cleverly done.  They use visuals to accompany Sherlock’s process and it is cool to not only hear, but see how his mind works. 

The best update is Sherlock himself–he is now a fast talking, arrogant, “high-functioning sociopath” and Cumberbatch is perfect.  Freeman as Dr. Watson is the perfect counterpart–intelligent, stable, and calm.  I love their chemistry–it is natural and yet, electric.  Watson: Why didn’t I think of that. Sherlock: Cause you’re an idiot. No no no, don’t be like that, practically everyone is.

Add a strong supporting cast and some truly mind twisting cases and it is pretty awesome.  Yet they also added an amazing villain, James Moriarty (Andrew Scott) and pushed it over the top.  Scott’s Jim Moriarty is spectacular!  It is a performance not to be missed.  I do not want to spoil anything, but I will say that Cumberbatch and Scott, together are an impressive duo.  (Series 2 finale Reichenbach Fall is fantastic!) 

I could go on and on.  There is something special in every episode and so many little details.  I can quote many, many classic lines, but, as always, I do not wish to spoil the pleasure of you discovering all of this on your own.  Check it out–as Sherlock would say…”The Game is On!”

Series 1:

Series 2: