REVIEW: THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY – EXTENDED EDITION

Starring

Martin Freeman (Black Panther)
Ian Holm (Alien)
Ian McKellen (X-Men)
Richard Armitage (Hannibal)
Cate Blanchett (Hanna)
Hugo Weaving (V For Vendetta)
Elijah Wood (Sin City)
Sylvester McCoy (Doctor Who)
Andy Serkis (King Kong)
Lee Pace (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Manu Bennett (Arrow)
Stephen Ure (Deathgasm)
Christopher Lee (Lord of The Rings)
Barry Humphries (Finding Nemo)
Jeffrey Thomas (Hercules: TLJ)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange)
Ken Stott (Fortitude)
Graham McTavish (Outlander)
Aidan Turner (Beautiful Darkness)
Dean O’Gorman (Young Hercules)
Mark Hadlow (King Kong)
Jed Brophy (Heavenly Creatures)
Adam Brown (The Emoji Movie)
John Callen (The Rainbow Warrior)
Peter Hambleton (A Twist In The Tale)
William Kircher (Shark In The Park)
James Nesbitt (Jekyll)
Stephen Hunter (Blue World Order)
Jarred Blakiston (Power Rangers Dino Charge)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)The release of the three Lord of the Rings Extended Editions were something of a revelation a decade or so ago, particularly for J.R.R. Tolkien fans that wanted to immerse themselves even further in the cinematic landscape of Middle-earth. The nature of the LOTR novels dictated that the film adaptations would be packed to the brim with characters and locations while still excluding a wealth of material that couldn’t possibly be included in the movies, so introducing more material made for a fuller experience.John Callen, Dean O'Gorman, Stephen Hunter, and Aidan Turner in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)Peter Jackson and company have taken a similar approach with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition Blu-ray release, but the new cut of the film doesn’t feel like the definitive version that the LOTR extended cuts did. Instead, a movie that is already stretched too thin simply becomes longer, feeling like an indulgent director’s cut rather than a noteworthy superior cut.Richard Armitage in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)All of that being said, An Unexpected Journey Extended as a Blu-ray release is still a worthwhile purchase for fans of the movie or the universe. The real selling point is the continuation of the Appendices, which even pick up the numbering from the LOTR Extended Editions so that this set holds Appendices 7 and 8. Spread across two different discs, the documentary material is just as rewarding to watch as the LOTR Appendices were, spanning about nine hours of in-depth production footage and interviews. The Appendices cover all aspects of building Tolkien’s world, from returning to the original LOTR sets to casting the new characters to developing the culture of the Dwarves to the score and even the early involvement of initial director Guillermo del Toro.Ian McKellen and Martin Freeman in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)For fans of Middle-earth or just the process of making a film, these Appendices stand as the most thorough documentation of blockbuster movie-making in recent memory. But perhaps the most engaging part of the behind-the-scenes footage is the depiction of the friendships and bonds forged in the trenches of making a movie of this stature. For such a large scale production, seeing these relationships blossom in this footage is inspiring. The only downside to the Appendices is that unless you opt for the “Play All” option from the beginning, each segment will kick you back to the main menu after it ends rather than just continuing on from where you begin.Martin Freeman in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)The commentary track from Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens is insightful and entertaining, even if a lot of the same content is covered in the Appendices at various points. Still, their rapport was amusing enough to keep me engaged throughout the length of the movie. The other special feature included on the movie disc is the “New Zealand: Home of Middle-earth” featurette that’s a holdover from the initial Blu-ray release of the movie.Martin Freeman in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)The first Hobbit Extended Edition feels bloated as a movie, but the bountiful supplemental content and absolutely stunning audio/visual presentation

REVIEW: THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY

Starring
Martin Freeman (Black Panther)
Ian Holm (Alien)
Ian McKellen (X-Men)
Richard Armitage (Hannibal)
Cate Blanchett (Hanna)
Hugo Weaving (V For Vendetta)
Elijah Wood (Sin City)
Sylvester McCoy (Doctor Who)
Andy Serkis (King Kong)
Lee Pace (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Manu Bennett (Arrow)
Stephen Ure (Deathgasm)
Christopher Lee (Lord of The Rings)
Barry Humphries (Finding Nemo)
Jeffrey Thomas (Hercules: TLJ)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange)
Ken Stott (Fortitude)
Graham McTavish (Outlander)
Aidan Turner (Beautiful Darkness)
Dean O’Gorman (Young Hercules)
Mark Hadlow (King Kong)
Jed Brophy (Heavenly Creatures)
Adam Brown (The Emoji Movie)
John Callen (The Rainbow Warrior)
Peter Hambleton (A Twist In The Tale)
William Kircher (Shark In The Park)
James Nesbitt (Jekyll)
Stephen Hunter (Blue World Order)
Jarred Blakiston (Power Rangers Dino Charge)
Richard Armitage and Dean O'Gorman in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is Peter Jackson’s return to the land of middle earth, and it’s another epic adventure that is sure to delight moviegoers of all ages. The story of The Hobbit takes place before The Lord of the Rings. It connects some of the dots to Jackson’s earlier trilogy and it’s once again an adaption of the beloved writing of J.R.R. Tolkien as brought to cinematic life. This is one journey you are absolutely going to want to make because this is one of the most exciting motion pictures released in the fantasy genre since this film adventure began with The Lord of the Rings. The story takes place before the events that unfold in The Lord of the Rings.
Martin Freeman in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
Things start to unfold in flashback style through the storytelling of a much older Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm), reflecting upon his earlier adventures as he reminiscences with Frodo. We learn about how a powerful dragon named Smaug destroyed much of the land where Dwarfs lived, and claimed their Dwarf Kingdom, leaving the dwarfs without a place to call home. Flash forward and onto the beginning encounter between young Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellan) who informs the merry hobbit that he’ll be going on an adventure and that he needs to prepare. Before the evening is even over with, Bilbo is joined at his quiet home with the presence of thirteen dwarves, including the warrior leader Thorin (Richard Armitage). The company is quick to make themselves at home, feasting and celebrating, and all before Bilbo learns of their journey to reclaim the Dwarf kingdom known as Erebor. Reluctantly at first, Bilbo eventually joins the ranks of the team as their “thief” and journeys with them on an adventure he never expected in the first place. Gandalf saw something in him that he couldn’t even see for himself.
Martin Freeman and Graham McTavish in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

As the perilous journey continues, they face great danger against Trolls, Orcs, Goblins, and other obstacles on their way to Erebor. What no one expects is that Bilbo will accidentally stumble upon a small golden ring, and that there would be a chance encounter between Bilbo and a creature named Gollum. The rest of the history of Middle Earth waits from here. There was so much anticipation for this film that it is nearly unparalleled in the history of film. It sounds like an exaggeration to state that there was that much hope and anticipation surrounding this film, but the fan-base surrounding this production is unlike anything else out there. The fan base is so dedicated and enthralled in the works of Tolkien and in director Jackson’s vision for bringing these stories to life. There is a lot of dedication from the fans and from those who are involved with making the films happen.Martin Freeman in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)How many big-budget films are given a prequel treatment that is massively enticing to loyal fans and the masses at large? The only film to compare it to is that of Star Wars’s prequel The Phantom Menace. Unfortunately, we know the results of that prequel film and series was disappointing for many fans. So the question soon centers upon whether or not fans felt the same way about The Hobbit on film. Luckily, the comparisons can end there, because while some viewers may quibble over sentiments that express disappointment that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey isn’t exactly on the same precise level of filmmaking found in The Lord of the Rings trilogy it’s clear this film isn’t underwhelming, even if for some it failed to live up to the built-up anticipation.John Callen, Martin Freeman, William Kircher, Graham McTavish, and James Nesbitt in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)The Hobbit is also a revolutionary film that changes the game of filmmaking. This is the first production of films to be filmed with 48fps (frames per second) technology. The entire idea behind it was to make these films take full advantage of 3D technology so as to remove the effects of motion-blur commonly found and to increase the overall resolution and clarity. It wasn’t something the studio had in mind. This was all a part of Jackson’s vision for how to impact the future of filmmaking. Theaters projecting The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and future installments had to upgrade their theater equipment just to project these films in the best format possible and that still isn’t realistic as a possibility for many theaters. Yet consider the fact that this is the first film ever produced with 48fps. And it was all because Jackson wanted to do something even greater; something audiences hadn’t even had the opportunity to experience before.Jed Brophy, John Callen, Martin Freeman, Mark Hadlow, Peter Hambleton, William Kircher, Graham McTavish, James Nesbitt, Dean O'Gorman, Ken Stott, Stephen Hunter, Bret McKenzie, Aidan Turner, and Adam Brown in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)The industry standard of 24fps won’t disappear anytime soon (especially considering the higher costs associated with the technology of 48fps cameras) but at least it seems Jackson wasn’t all alone in wanting to advance the filmmaking game as James Cameron has already announced plans to film his next motion-picture with the same 48fps frame-rate. This is really quite the accomplishment. Almost everyone involved with The Lord of the Rings films creation in prominent roles came back to work with Peter Jackson in making The Hobbit films. This is perhaps one of the most notable elements of the entire production. Howard Shore has crafted another score that is just essential to the backbone of the film. Although it is highly enjoyable it is also a bit repetitive compared to earlier outings, with the greatest accomplishment in this entire outing being the stellar Misty Mountains song. Director of photography Andrew Lesnie is also back to being brilliant as the official photographer of Middle Earth and New Zealand.Martin Freeman in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)Speaking of returning individuals, not only does Andy Serkis return to reprise his legendary performance of Gollum but he receives a promotion to second unit director. He continues to prove that he deserves a special Academy Award for outstanding acting in an uncomfortable outfit and suit thingymagig. Of course, he’s also brilliant all around and a real asset to these films (and now apparently in several ways). While Jackson also keeps things interesting for the adults in the audience he clearly seems to keep in mind that the story needed to be a more jubilant one and the results are the funniest and most simply enjoyable film in the series to date. It’s the kind of film you could simply put on and get lost within for a few joyful hours. The whole family can share in enjoying this adventure story. The journey continues with an unlikely team of heroes that have set out to reclaim Erebor, their homeland, from the all-powerful Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch).Martin Freeman in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is the hobbit that fits the role of the thief to steal from the living dragon. Little does the rest of his team know that he’s in possession of the mysterious and magical ring that he took from Gollum. The leader of their team, Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) goes off course in order to fight the very darkness that threatens the world. They soon realize that they will need the help from every race, and more, if they ever hope to defeat the great darkness that will soon overtake all of the lands.

REVIEW: THE FACULTY

 

CAST

Jordana Brewster (Chuck)
Clea DuVall (The Lizzie Bordan Chronicles)
Laura Harris (Dead Like Me)
Josh Hartnett (Lucky Number Sleven)
Shawn Hatosy (Alpha Dog)
Salma Hayek (Ugly Betty)
Famke Janssen (X-Men)
Piper Laurie (Carrie)
Christopher McDonald (Fanboys)
Bebe Neuwirth (Jumanji)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Usher (She’s All that)
Jon Stewart (Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back)
Elijah Wood (Lord of The Rings)
Jon Abrahams (Scary Movie)
Summer Phoenix (The Believer)
Danny Masterson (That 70s Show)
Eric Jungmann (Not Another Teen Movie)

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Herrington High School, just your everyday place of learning. That is until the teachers start behaving strangely. It seems there is an alien plot to take over world and only a rag-tag group of students can save us. The film has rightly been tagged as a cross between Invasion Of The Body Snatchers and any teen led Highschool movie. This is intentional, something that’s apparent as our intrepid students discuss Snatchers amongst other movie references, and one of them, Stokely {Clea Duval}, is a sci-fi aficionado . As things progress it’s also evident that the makers here are movie fans making a movie for movie fans, all be it one aimed solely at the teenage demographic. There’s much satire around and cliché’s are widely embraced, but again it works because there is no hidden agenda. There’s gore and hugely effective scenes involving blood, slugs, heads and an eyeball, whilst slasher fans are catered for in a couple of, if seemingly pointless as regards the alien’s intentions, memorable scenes.

The youngsters in the cast, all playing total stereotypes, all do what is required, with Josh Hartnett, Duval & Elijah Wood particularly shining. But it’s with the adult actors that The Faculty really gains its tongue in cheek momentum. Robert Patrick, Famke Jansen, Salma Hayek, Piper Laurie, Bebe Neuwirth and even Jon Stewart all file in for a bit of alien parasitical fun.

Come the end of the mania, with the staple alien queen reveal and showdown, there’s the overriding feeling that the film could have been so much more. Certainly it’s guilty of being a touch too derivative, a little focus lost in the self referential and knowing in-jokery genre winks. But it’s a groovy ride is this one, not in the least bit serious.