Movie Review – The Legend of Tarzan

Movie Review - The Legend of TarzanGoing in, I expected this move to be horrible – it wasn’t – but I’m not saying it turned out to be great either – it isn’t.

I was fully expecting that Samuel L. Jackson’s role wouldn’t be much more than a cameo. I was pleasantly surprise that SLJ’s role was quite substantial. He helped drag the movie out of the mud. In fact pretty much every enjoyable moment of the movie involved SLJ. (No surprise there.)

Trazan’s upbringing is told in flashbacks. This story is about his return to Africa many years later. That worked okay. They didn’t dwell on the flashbacks and each came at an appropriate moment in the movie.

I guess the worst thing I can say about the movie was that it was just sort of bland.

Grade: C-

About The Peetimes: All three Peetimes are good, but I recommend the 1st.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of The Legend of Tarzan. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Buy the movie from Amazon.com on DVD or Blu Ray

Virgin Review – Legend of Tarzan

Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie review

st-tfaGrade: A-

I can safely say that SW:TFA is the 3rd best Star Wars movie in the franchise. And let’s be clear, it would take a miracle for JJ Abrams to create something better than New Hope or Empire Strikes Back.

This is easily the funniest movie in the franchise. Almost, but not every, funny moment revolves around Harrison Ford.

The movie isn’t without its flaws, but those flaws are minor, and of course this is Star Wars, so I’m being overly critical.

A few good things to report: BB-8–the spherical droid–is cute, without being overly cute. JJ is mature enough as a story teller to avoid crap like Jar Jar Binks. All of the fight scenes, whether hand-to-hand, sword-to-sword, or fighter-to-fighter are good, and some are great, but none drag on longer than they need to. There’s never one of those, “OMG, would someone kill someone here so we can move on with the story,” fights.

The acting was spot on. The casting of Daisy Ridley, as Rey, and John Boyega, as Finn, are marvelous. I’m really looking forward to seeing their characters develop as the saga continues.

Movie Review – The Hobbit 2: The Desolation of Smaug

Desolation-of-SmaugI’m torn between feeling that Desolation of Smaug sometimes feels like a visit to an amusement park, where you spend all your time either riding a roller coaster or waiting in line for the next ride to start, or it feels like a fresh interpretation of a classic fantasy.

Note: One thing Desolation of Smaug definitely doesn’t do is make a faithful recreation of the original story. The introduction of a totally new character, Tauriel (the female warrior Elf), is hardly the only modification of the original story. If you’re a purist, you’re going to insist that the tag line for the movie should be, “Based on the characters and events in J.R.R. Tolkien’s *The Hobbit*.”

For example, Peter Jackson completely changed the way everything went down at Dol Guldur – home of the Necromancer. To quote my wife, “It didn’t happen like that. The White Council decided to throw down the walls of Dol Guldur together. It’s the last act they do as a team. Did Jackson even read Tolkien?”

Personally, I enjoy a retelling of a story. I’ve read *The Hobbit* a few times, and would like the movie to offer something fresh. Whether Peter Jackson goes too far is a topic of debate.

The movie is certainly not lacking for action scenes. Nothing much happens between spider attacks, barrel rides, fighting Orcs, and dragon antics. If you haven’t noticed, it’s fairly rare for us to have 5 minute-long Peetimes, but there are two such events here, between escaping from the Elves, and arriving at the hidden gate of Erebor. In fact the first 5 minute Peetime could easily have stretched on for another minute or two, without sacrificing anything noteworthy.

Lack of plot development is the missing ingredient in Desolation of Smaug. The movie is essentially a quest to get into the Lonely Mountain, which we already knew from the first Hobbit movie. Desolation of Smaug offers little more than adventure – and spectacular, sometimes comical, fights along the way.

Movie Review – The Hobbit

How RunPee Began – A Retrospective on Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong

Movie Review – The Hobbit

The Hobbit

The HobbitIt’s such a pleasure to return to Middle-Earth. Peter Jackson and his team have masterfully recreated and expanded the universe according to Tolkien.

I know from the production diaries, created during the filming of *The Hobbit*, that the undertaking was massive. Not just in the technical challenges of filming at 48fps IMAX 3D but also getting the story right. *The Hobbit* isn’t a terribly long book. How in the world can they create three *long* movies? Truth is that originally they planned on it being a two part movie and then realized that there was too much material to cover.

Visually the movie is amazing. The costumes, makeup, sets, and special effects are perfect.

I was surprised by how good the acting was. We all know that Ian McKellen is among the best actors of our time, and he doesn’t miss a beat as the Gandalf that we love.

Martin Freeman was a perfect choice for Bilbo. When the series is complete I believe Freeman’s performance will become iconic. His facial expressions, mannerisms, comic timing are surprisingly good. I can see why Peter Jackson bent the filming schedule around Freeman’s availability to make sure he could play Bilbo. (They had to take a 2-month break during filming so Freeman could honor a previous commitment for *Sherlock*. )

I was also impressed with Richard Armitage’s performance as Thorin – the Dwarf king. Another perfect casting.

The rest of the cast does a fine job which I think is a testament to Peter Jackson’s directing skills. The best actors in the world can’t do a good job without good direction. And average actors can do a masterful job with great direction.

It’s hard for me to judge the pacing of the movie since I already know the story so well. I believe a large percentage of the casual movie goers will find the pacing a little sluggish at times. To be sure, there were a handful of chase scenes went on a bit too long. On the bright side, they make for excellent Peetimes! 🙂 As I waited for the movie to start, I was concerned if I would be able to find adequate Peetimes. I was happy to discover it wasn’t difficult to pick out 4 of them, and I think 3 of them are very good to use.

And finally, I think the music was pretty good. The central motif of the movie theme works well for dramatic and action scenes.

My biggest disappointment is that I have to wait another whole year to get to the next story. I can’t wait for 2014 when I can watch all three movies back-to-back-to-back.

Grade: A-

Movie review – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

How RunPee Began – A Retrospective on Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong