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Posts Tagged ‘Lord Of The Rings’

In the last couple of weeks I watched one new movie (“The Hobbit“) and two re-runs (“The Shoes of the Fisherman” and “Battle: Los Angeles“).
New
The Hobbit” is the prequel novel to the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.  Actually, LOTR was not a trilogy.  It was a single LONG novel.  The publisher didn’t believe there was a market for a fantasy of such length (don’t you love experts), so they had Tolkien break the story up into three books.  I don’t recall the books standing that well as independent novels, so I guess it was lucky they’ve always been sold as a trilogy.  Anyway, I’ve watched LOTR multiple times and I read the books (maybe) ten years ago.  I read “The Hobbit” MANY years ago, probably thirty-five or so.  I enjoyed the Hobbit so much I bought the LOTR immediately, but then never read them.  Over the years, I’ve had to repurchase them at least three times, because I’d move and lose them or I’d loan them out and never get them back.
Back to the movie…  I don’t remember the book much…  Hobbit, dragon, special shirt, blue sword, orcs and a ring (“the” ring).  I’m told by fans the movie doesn’t really follow the book.  It both adds new bits and expands other bits.  Yeah, I get it.  You’re an expert and you were not really pleased…  Sorry.  Don’t care.  I really enjoyed this movie.  It’s a bit long and probably a bit too intense for small children, but otherwise, I thought it was really good.  If I have one regret, it’s that I didn’t make more of an effort to see it on the big screen.
There’s action, battles, heroics, and humor.  The humor is both physical and spoken, so you’ve got to both watch and listen.  The acting is good and the special effects are very good on the small screen.  (By small screen, I mean on our 48-inch, high-def home TV.)  You will have to pause every now and then (or have an exceptional bladder), but otherwise, I highly recommend this movie and I will definitely make the effort to see parts two and three at the theater.
Re-runs
I last watchedThe Shoes of the Fisherman” back in April of 2010 (see that review here).  I got it off the shelf to get myself in the mood for a nice long papal conclave.  For those of you not up to snuff on Roman Catholicism, when we need a new Pope (usually because the prior one has died), we hold a meeting of Cardinals called a “conclave”.  There, any Cardinal of voting age (under 80 years old) can vote to elect the person they feel should be the next Pope.  The conclave may be long or short and there’s no way to tell in advance how the Holy Spirit will guide the meeting.  Anyway, this is a movie I’ve enjoyed watching several times (I’ve probably seen it no more than a half dozen times in my life) and it always reminds me that my faith is a way of viewing our place in the world and in history and that it is not the “institution” of the Church.  I highly recommend this film too/again.
In real life, the conclave did not last even a week, so there was hardly much suspense from multiple votes.  In fact, the real conclave was shorter than the one in the movie.
The second movie (“Battle: Los Angeles“) is a well done military action film – the U.S. Marines versus an alien invasion.  Setting aside the plausibility of humanity being able to defeat a civilization which is able to move from solar system to solar system, the point is, do you enjoy watching the film.  I did (do).  In all honesty, I’ve watched this several times since getting the DVD and doing my second review (here) back in January 2012.  I initially reviewed the film after returning from my trip to Liverpool back in 2011 (here).  It’s still a terrific little action film (Ooh-rah!!) and it’s still highly recommended.  I haven’t intended to do it, but I guess I’m kind of setting a precedent of not reviewing a movie more than once a year on this blog – even if I’ve seen it more than that during the period.
By the way, I reviewed the film’s ranking on Rotten Tomatoes – it got a 31 rating; then I went to see it on Wikipedia.  According to Wiki, even though the film was roundly trashed by the critics, it did quite well at the box office and there is some discussion about making a sequel.  I can’t see how this really happens because the movie was borderline unbelievable, but if they can come up with a decent action movie, a Sci-Fi buff like me will normally shell out for the ticket.  I guess we’ll see…
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Today’s blog is a review of one book (“The Bed Of Procrustes“) and three movies (“Elektra“, “The Flight Of The Phoenix“, and “Kingdom Of Heaven“).  Book first…
The Bed Of Procrustes” is written by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (2010©) and is subtitled: “Philosophical And Practical Aphorisms“.  Taleb is famous for his prior work titled: “The Black Swan“.  That book was about something – his observation / theory that we humans are not very good at analysing probabilities and therefore make poor decisions which can seriously impact our lives, society and planet.  Part of what made the book interesting was Taleb’s frequent digressions into sarcasm and one-liners about various things he sees in our world.  This book, (“The Bed“…) skips the main story and just lists the remarks as a series of one-liners.  Because I love this kind of humor, I highly recommend this book.  On the other hand, you can simply follow this blog for the next few years and you’ll still get a number of his funniest quotes.  (Just kidding!)  Seriously, buy the book.  While it may be true that you will be able to pick up a number of the quotes from my site (over time), it’s not the same as reading them in the author’s intended format, structure or pace.  My site should never be considered a primary source for information – particularly regarding quotes.  It is only a venue for me to repeat words which have passed through my own consciousness then pinballed around enough to make it to this site.
Elektra” is another of the comic-book based movies I collect.  The title character previously appeared in the “Daredevil” movie as the love interest for that movie’s title character.  In this movie, the main character is resurrected (she dies in “Daredevil“) in order to save and protect a young girl who is destined to save the world from evil.  Blah, blah, blah – okay, it’s a comic book movie.  Is the movie any good?  It’s not as bad as I expected, but it’s a fairly mediocre effort.  Are the special effects great?  So-so.  Is it worth it for the martial arts?  Not really, but they’re not bad either.  The upside?  It’s nice to see female superheros get their own platform.  They tend to be lower tier titles in the comic universe and that remains true in the cinema universe too, which I think is too bad.  It seems to me, there should be a great opportunity for a breakout smash which could change a career and create a new market for a franchise – much on the line of “Aliens” for Sigourney Weaver.  But, it’s not this movie. Overall rating – recommend.
The second movie is “The Flight Of The Phoenix“.  This is the original from 1965 starring Jimmy Stewart and Richard Attenborough.  This was one of the first “survival” movies I ever saw and it captured my imagination.  Growing up in San Francisco, I had no real concept of a desert or of real heat.  (Now that I’ve lived in Saudi Arabia for two years I understand real heat.)  As I said, the whole idea of “survival” was a revelation to me.  Anyway, I really enjoyed this film way back when and when it came out on DVD I picked it up, watched it and then put up on the shelf with my other “classics from growing up”.  A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled upon the re-make starring Dennis Quaide, so I picked it up (see my review: Edge, Class, Clash, And Flight) and enjoyed it enough it made me want to go back to compare / contrast it with the original.  What I found surprised me…  Despite the great actors in the original, I prefer the remake!
This is a surprise because I almost always prefer the original. In this case, it felt dated (which it is given it was made 40 years ago), but the dating is not the time period, but the cinematography which somehow seems – not as good.  The original also feels longer.  It is, but that’s not the same as feeling that way.  My complaints about the re-make remain – primarily the extra “excitement” added to the ending and which adds nothing to the story, and the other minor complaints too, but all in all, I do feel the re-make is more watchable than the original.  I only wish there were a way to substitute the actors.  Overall rating: this remains a classic for the actors and the genre – highly recommend.
The third movie is “Kingdom Of Heaven” starring Orlando Bloom.  In researching the movie for this review, I found out it is based on actual characters and events.  It is fictionalized in that the characters aren’t the ones who did the acts portrayed in their roles, but they did exist in that time period and location.  For some reason, I thought it was entirely fictional.  Anyway, I am now an Orlando Bloom fan.  I just like him.  He wasn’t great in this role, but he was believable as the evolving blacksmith to knight-crusader.  I’ve now seen Bloom in a number of roles – Pirates series, Rings series, and Troy – and I just like him.  He’s not just another pretty (male) face with a funny accent.
Okay, back to “Kingdom…“.  Basically, a “good-guy caught in a bad situation where your allies are actually the villains and your opponents may actually be ‘better’ people than you” movie.  These movies follow a basic premise and natural story line and this one touches all of the bases.  Good-guy flees home, meets up with zen master to receive training, heroic survival, meets future opponent and they become friends, meets bad-guys who are your allies, and so-on until the good-guy lives happily ever after.
Does the movie work?  Absolutely!  Why?  Because I’m here to see the battles and they’re realistic – certainly more so than “Lord Of The Rings” and “Pirates Of The Caribbean“.  (But I digress.)  The acting is good and for once there’s a movie about the middle ages where everyone is dirty and they stay that way for most of the movie.  You see, it’s the small things I look for in  a movie.  On a political note – it was nice to see the Muslims portrayed as the more civilized of the two conflicting armies.  What a change from the post-9/11 mantra.  I’m not sure there was as much peaceful co-existence in reality as portrayed in the movie, but it was interesting to see a little balance.  Overall rating: highly recommend.
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I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness,
nor the arrow for its swiftness,
nor the warrior for his glory.
I love only that which they defend.
   —  Faramir
(a character in Tolkien’s novel: “Lord of the Rings“)
[Secessionist are TRAITORS!  Let me be clear: states are subservient to the Federal Government.  This country fought the Civil War over this issue 150 years ago and the secessionist-traitors lost.  Thirty years ago, I gave four years of my life in the Army pledged to protect the Constitution of the United States and your right to free speech.   You can say anything you want – short of inciting a riot – in any public forum, but the minute you ACT on your spoken word, my expectation is the Justice Department will arrest and try you for treason.    —    KMAB]
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