The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Review

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring movie posterSynopsis
The hobbit Frodo (Elijah Woods) is tasked with heading to Mordor to destroy the One Ring, a powerful relic, so it cannot be used by the evil Sauron to conquer Middle Earth.

Review
I can still picture the looks on people’s faces when I told them I hadn’t seen The Lord of the Rings films. I feel like it was the same look I gave people when they said they hadn’t seen Star Wars. But with the insistence of my buddy, I finally sat down and watched The Lord of the Rings series, and no longer have to worry about receiving those looks again. We of course started with The Fellowship of the Ring.

Right off the bat the film put a smile on my face. The opening was so much fun! Knowing that the characters are going to have a long journey ahead of them, Gandalf and the hobbits are introduced in a large celebration. This made it clear that although the scale of these films are grand, there is going to be some fun along the way. I especially liked Pippin and Merry’s introduction as mischievous hobbits when they took some of Gandalf’s magic fireworks.

Many of the core characters were well cast. Ian McKellen was particularly perfect as the wizard Gandalf. His experience added a lot of weight to the film, and you know that Peter Jackson wants to do the source material right. I liked Orlando Bloom as the elf Legolas. I’m not familiar with Viggo Mortensen but he was good as Aragorn. However, the most surprising to me was John Rhys-Davies as the dwarf Gimli. He was funnier than I was expecting and was great as the comedic relief.

There is only one way to describe the score composed by Howard Shore: epic. I’m not very familiar with his works but I loved his score for The Fellowship of the Ring. Shore’s score is so dynamic and moving. This is up there with John William’s Star Wars score or Jurassic Park score in terms of building emotion.

It seems more and more today that movies opt for CGI for their sets and characters instead of make-up or physical sets. When a film minimizes its use of CGI and goes with more practical effects, it is such a breath of fresh air. All the sets, from the Shire to Mordor, were absolutely beautiful. Each facet of the set design was breathtaking. Even more impressive were the costumes and make-up. The details given to the orcs especially was wonderful. It is tough to find that much attention to detail in costume design.

Now with all that praise I just gave the film, there were still several things I didn’t like about it. For one, there is a lot of set up for the over-arching narrative of the series. A great deal of time is spent bringing all the members of the fellowship together, as well as setting up the supporting characters that will be seen throughout the trilogy. These characters spent a lot of time giving the audience the information they need through exposition. They also spent time traveling between meeting each major character. Things didn’t really get exciting until towards the end.

It is easy to tell this is part of a larger series. Like I said above, there is a lot of character set up. Also, despite feeling like an epic story, the scale was also kind of small. Normally I don’t like when films aren’t very self contained, even if they are part of a series. However, since it is an adaptation of such a beloved series, I’m willing to loosen up a bit.

I thought The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was OK :-|. Much of the movie is spent getting to know the characters, which is good because a lot is learned about them. But this means that the movie only picks up near the end. Hopefully this means that the next film will hit the ground running.

Also check out my reviews for the rest of The Lord of the Rings trilogy: The Two Towers and The Return of the King.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Peter Jackson – Director / Screenplay
Fran Walsh – Screenplay
Philippa Boyens – Screenplay
Howard Shore – Composer

Elijah Wood – Frodo
Sean Astin – Sam
Viggo Mortensen – Aragorn
Orlando Bloom – Legolas
Ian McKellen – Gandalf
John Rhys-Davies – Gimli
Billy Boyd – Pippin
Dominic Monaghan – Merry
Sean Bean – Boromir
Christopher Lee – Saruman
Andy Serkis – Gollum (voice)
Hugo Weaving – Elrond
Liv Tyler – Arwem
Marron Csokas – Celeborn
Cate Blanchett – Galandrie
Ian Holm – Bilbo
Sala baker – Sauron
Alan Howard – Voice of the Ring (voice)
Brent McIntyre – Witch-king
Mark Ferguson – Gil-galad
Lawrence Makoare – Lurtz
Peter McKenzie – Elendil

Christmas in July Blogathon 2016 Wrap Up + Anniversary Week 3 Kick Off

Hello! And welcome to the closing ceremony of this years Christmas in July Blogathon. In case you missed any of the entries, here they are:

Tom’s Top Christmas Specials and Movies (Tom)
Bad Santa Review (Keith)
Star Wars Christmas Special Review (Allie)
Mickey’s Christmas Carol Review (Bex)
A Midnight Clear and Elf Reviews (Rob)
Gremlins Review (Kim)
A Christmas Story Review

Now let’s have a look at who is coming to our party:

Priyanka ChopraNatalie Dormer
Kate McKinnonEmma StoneTom Hiddleston
Jared LetoScott Eastwood
Oscar Isaacs

That is one helluva guest list! A big thanks goes out to all of the participants for joining in the blogathon this year.  It is always a blast to see what you guys and gals choose for your submissions, especially since I don’t have many rules for what can and can’t be submitted outside of the Christmas theme.  I hope you had just as much fun as I did. 🙂

Aaaaand with that, the blogathon has officially concluded!  But don’t worry, you haven’t gotten rid of me just yet.  The next big thing happening around here is the celebration of this blog turning three! Every year to celebrate this blog’s anniversary, I review two trilogies, with one movie review posted every day during the week of my blogiversary.  This year, I am reviewing trilogies I have never seen before: The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. That starts soon with my review of The Fellowship of the Ring.  Check back again later today for that.

Until then, cheers!

A Christmas Story Review: Christmas in July Blogathon 2016

Merry Christmas in July! We are just six months away from the actual Christmas day! I know several of you (especially Allie) have already been counting down the days.  To close out this years Christmas in July Blogathon, I am reviewing one of my all time favorite Christmas flicks: A Christmas Story.


A Christmas Story movie posterSynopsis
Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) wants a Red Rider carbine action 200-shot range model BB gun more than anything for Christmas. He tries to convince his mother, his teacher, and even Santa Claus that it would be a good present. However, each of them give him the same warning: “You’ll shoot your eye out.”

Review
Among the many things to look forward to on Christmas Eve, one of my favorite is the 24 Hours of A Christmas Story on TBS. I don’t usually catch it all at once but within those 24 hours I will watch the entire movie in bits and pieces. Despite all the films that I call holiday “must watches,” A Christmas Story is my most consistent of holiday movie traditions.

Sometimes movies can get caught up in themselves, trying to tell too much or too many stories. A Christmas Story has several sub-plots. Despite this being Ralphie’s story, we learn about his entire family and they get just as fleshed out as he does. However, they never take away from Ralphie’s journey to get his Red Rider BB gun. That’s one of the key to its success. The film is simple and stays focused on the story it is trying to tell.

Like I said, everyone gets at least some sort of plot line. As a result, we get to see different aspects of everyone. It is so much fun to watch Ralphie’s family because each member has their own unique personality. The best is when they get to play off each other, particularly Ralphie’s parents.

Several of my favorite parts from the movie are Ralphie’s daydreams. We did it all the time when we were younger, maybe even still do today, so I think we can all relate. And the best part is that we get to see his imagination. The mind of a child views the world in a different lens and this film captures that perfectly.

A Christmas Story has so much going for it, but what makes this movie so enjoyable is that deep down, it transports the audience back to their childhood. Ralphie being a kid during the Christmas season, wanting and hoping for that one present that will make your holiday the best ever, is something that many adults can relate to. It not only captures what it means to be a kid during the holiday season, but the captured the ups and downs of being a child.

I thought A Christmas Story was GREAT :-D. It perfectly captures the Christmas spirit and being a kid, not just during the holiday season but every day of the year. There is a reason there is a whole 24 hours set aside just for this movie and it is not hard to see why.

Favorite Quote
Ralphie: [Drops the tire nuts into the snow] Oh, fudge.
Adult Ralphie: Only I didn’t say “fudge.” I said the word. The big one. The queen mother of dirty words. The f-dash-dash-dash word.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Bob Clark – Director / Screenplay
Jean Shepherd – Novel / Screenplay
Leigh Brown – Screenplay
Paul Zaza – Composer
Carl Zittrer – Composer

Peter Billingsley – Ralphie
Jean Shepherd – Ralphie as an Adult (voice)
Melinda Dillon – Mother Parker
Darren McGavin – The Old Man Parker
Ian Petrella – Randy
Scott Schwartz – Flick
RD Robb – Schwartz
Tedde Moore – Miss Shields
Zack Ward – Scut Farkus
Yano Anaya – Grover Dill
Jeff Gillen – Santa Claus


What’s that? Who did I invite to our Christmas party?  Well, I’m glad you asked, because it is none other than the lovely Emma Stone.

Emma Stone

And that’s it! The third annual Christmas in July Blogathon has come to a close. Thank you to everyone who joined in on the festivities.

If you missed any of the entries, the wrap-up with links to all the entries will be posted soon. Also later today, my Anniversary Week 3 celebration kicks off so stop back later to check that out.

See you soon!

Gremlins Review: Christmas in July Blogathon 2016

Closing out today’s portion of the Christmas in July blogathon is non other than my Ultimate 80s Blogathon co-host: Kim from Tranquil Dreams.  Kim covers a wide arrange of topics on her site, from movies, to TV, to unboxings, to game reviews. She even co-hosts several podcasts over at That Moment In.  She kind of does it all. Go check her site out because whatever your interests may be, chances are she covers it.  Today, she stops by to offer her review of the 80 classic, Gremlins.


Gremlins (1984)

Gremlins DVD poster

Director: Joe Dante

Cast: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, Corey Feldman, Polly Holliday

“A boy inadvertently breaks three important rules concerning his new pet and unleashes a horde of malevolently mischievous monsters on a small town.”- IMDB

Gremlins is not your typical happy happy joy joy Christmas movie. However, it is still part of a lot of Christmas movie lists because it is set during Christmas and our little guy down there, Gizmo was an exotic Christmas gift with the best intentions gone wrong. Except the fact that the effects are back in 80s and rewatching it makes it a little laughable, nothing else is wrong with Gremlins. I haven’t seen this movies since in the early 90s when I was a little girl. I can’t remember much of it or maybe I remember getting a little scared perhaps by the Gremlins. Rewatching it now is completely with fresh eyes.

gremlins gizmo

Gremlins is a fun adventure. While it is something of a creature feature, it plays on a lot of adventure and technically the city being taken over for the night by essentially deadly and menacing kids. Gremlins are young and they are gangs and they pull off things like drinking in the bar or watching a movie at the theatre except exponentially blown up. Their creature design (while outdated), is pretty creepy and that is definitely the point here especially when we wonder how they suddenly mutated from cute little Gizmo fluff balls to the disastrous monstrosity just by eating after midnight. There’s a prominent message for the younger audience about respecting rules and taking care of the creatures in it, which they do mention at the end.

gremlins dog

I’m sure at this point everyone knows it but to me, it was a surprise to see that the Mogwai had Chinese background, especially seeing the actual characters on the wall. Mogwai in direct translation is “Monster” and I had always wondered if there was a connection. It is a cool little tidbit that I cleared up in my mind.

On another note, while Christmas being overrun by monsters is kind of a scary thought, you can’t help but be amazed at how masterful this is done where there is a clear balance between fear and cute and funny. Always remembering to keep that balance and put in hints of Christmas from the Gremlins being carolers and the snowy cityscape. There are scary Christmas anecdotes from our characters as well. Not to mention Christmas lights as a tricksy trap and a few other bits here and there.

gremlins singing

Gremlins is a true 80s gem. Not only because it can pass for a Christmas movie which is a plus. It embraces the 80s cheese from the dialogue to the style to our characters here. Obviously the effects are dated but it never takes itself too seriously so that we, as the audience, also can bond but also remember to have fun and laugh. It doesn’t have to be all horror and thrills, we can still breath a little.

A huge thanks to Drew for putting on this awesome Christmas in July Blogathon so that I can revisit a really fun movie!


Thanks, Kim! I’m glad I could give you the chance to check this out again.

As for her guest in hopes of meeting under the mistletoe at our totally awesome Christmas part is the son of Dirty Harry, Scott Eastwood.

Scott Eastwood

Tomorrow, I close the the third annual Christmas in July Blogathon with my review of one of my all time favorite Christmas classics.

Cheers!

A Midnight Clear and Elf Reviews: Christmas In July Blogathon 2016

Hey there, dear readers!

First up today on the penultimate day of the Christmas in July Blogathon is Rob, the monster reviewer behind Movierob.  Rob has reviewed literally thousands of films on his site.  If you don’t already follow his madness, go check it out.  Now Rob brings two reviews to the party. Let’s get to them!


Thanks again to Drew for running this Blogathon for the 3rd time (That I’ve taken part at least)

A Midnight Clear

A Midnight Clear movie posterWhen thinking of a movie that helps bring out the holiday spirit and feeling, one usually doesn’t think of a war movie, but that is exactly what I chose as my first (of two) picks for this year’s entries.

I came across this gem of a film over twenty years ago and have enjoyed watching it and learning from it each and every time.

As with many war dramas, this film is actually an anti-war drama where we learn from the characters why war is bad for everyone involved and that no matter the situation, we should seek peace with our enemies while trying to find something in common in them at the same time.

Similar to the movie Joyeax Noel (2005), this film takes place on the front lines in Europe (different war tho) and the soldiers must decide what to do when Christmas comes around and their ideas of peace and good will towards all men create a sense of yearning towards the comforts and happiness of home during the holidays.

The soldiers slowly realize that the German soldiers they are fighting have similar aspirations for the holiday period and a truce of sorts is suggested between the warring sides.

I obviously don’t want to give away the whole movie, but the holiday spirit is constantly in the air and we get to see into the true hearts of ordinary men faced with war.

The cast is superb here and the 6 main characters are all played by (now) famous actors – Ethan Hawke, Gary Sinese, Frank Whalley, Peter Berg,  Arye Gross and Kevin Dillon.

Loved the way that Hawke narrated the story because he was able to give us so much insight into many of the characters, their chosen nicknames and the reasons for how and why they all act the way they do.

As I stated previously, this may not be the regular kind of film one would normally choose to watch around Christmas, but the themes and actions presented really show the true spirit of holidays no matter your religion.

Oscar Worthy (9/10)

Elf

Elf movie posterThis is a holiday film that I’ve been meaning to rewatch for years but never got around to it.  Thanks to Drew’s wonderful yearly blogathon, I got the added kick in the butt to rewatch this film.

Unfortunately, I didn’t like it this time as much as the last time 9 years ago.

Will Ferrell is spectacular as a human who grew up with the elves at the North Pole and I must admit that there are few actors who could pull off what he did here.  Acting like a cheerful yule tide kid is the kind of role that he can embrace and he is able to transform himself into Buddy the Elf for 90 minutes.

His antics are extremely fun to watch because he is able to capture the innocence and youthfulness of the character which endears him to us even more.

It’s too bad that besides Ferrell, this film has little to offer. James Caan comes off hollow, Mary Steenburgen isn’t given enough to do and Zooey Deschanel and Ferrell have no real chemistry together. Bob Newhart and Ed Asner’s roles are glorified cameos.

Peter Dinklage is hilarious as a ruthless executive, but is only in one small scene.

The holiday message tho is quite clear and is delivered properly so I can’t claim that this film doesn’t hit its mark at all.

Ultimately, there are scenes that will put a smile on your face and that’s what we all want from a holiday movie; to cheer us up and put us in a happy mood.

Tnx again to Drew for hosting this Blogathon!

BAFTA Worthy (5/10)


Thanks, Rob! Sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy Elf that much.  It is one of my favorite holiday movies. This blog is only three years old, so this is the third iteration of this blogathon. Thank you for being there since the beginning and participating every year.

Kim from Tranquil Dream will be by later today with her review of a classic 80s holiday film.

See you soon!

Mickey’s Christmas Carol Review: Christmas in July Blogathon 2016

Last up for today is Bex, the gal behind Film Music Central, and her review of the 80s Disney holiday special Mickey’s Christmas Carol.  Bex examines all sorts of songs and scores in films on her site. So if you enjoy film music, be sure to give her site a look. Now, here’s what she has to say about her favorite holiday special.


Mickey's Christmas Carol

When I was growing up, I’m pretty sure I watched every animated Christmas special ever made (and that’s not a bad thing). One of my favorites was Mickey’s Christmas Carol, released by Walt Disney Studios in 1983. Growing up, the only copy of this story that we had was recorded onto a blank VHS tape from a live television program, which was fine until the VCR went bust and the family switched to DVD only. You can imagine my joy when I spotted a DVD copy of this film at a used DVD/book store (naturally it went home with me).

Mickey’s Christmas Carol, as the name implies, tells the classic Charles Dickens story “Christmas Carol” with a Disney twist: Scrooge McDuck is Ebenezer Scrooge; Mickey Mouse is Bob Cratchit, Goofy is Jacob Marley, Jiminy Cricket is the Ghost of Christmas Past, Willie (the giant from Mickey and the Beanstalk) is the Ghost of Christmas Present and Black Pete is the Ghost of Christmas Future.

Bex-Mickey-Carol-1

It’s Christmas Eve and Ebenezer Scrooge is in no mood to celebrate. He answers all holiday greetings with “Bah, humbug!” All he thinks about is money, and getting more of it. His hapless assistant, Bob Cratchit, works for a pittance and is barely able to keep his family fed. After reluctantly giving him the day off for Christmas, Scrooge goes home and is confronted by the ghost of Jacob Marley, his former partner who died several years ago. Marley has been sentenced to an eternity of suffering wrapped in chains, based on the horrible way he lived his life. And the same thing is going to happen to Scrooge if the miserly duck doesn’t mend his ways. Over the course of the night, Scrooge is visited by three spirits. The Ghost of Christmas Past takes Scrooge back to happier days when Scrooge was a relatively happy duck working for a man named Fezziwig. It’s here that he falls in love with a girl named Isabelle (Daisy Duck). The two initially plan to marry, but over time Scrooge becomes more interested in money and breaks the girl’s heart.

Bex-Mickey-Carol-2

The Ghost of Christmas Present takes Scrooge across London to where Bob Cratchit and his family live, and Scrooge finally sees how badly off the family is. He also sees their young son, Tiny Tim, who is not very well and won’t survive another year unless he gets badly needed treatment. Moved to compassion, Scrooge is suddenly left alone and greeted by the menacing Ghost of Christmas Future, who points Scrooge to a nearby cemetery. There he sees Tiny Tim’s grave, a future that will happen if nothing changes. But there’s another grave being dug as well, and the two weasels doing the job comment on how nobody came to the funeral, strange for a man that died so rich. Scrooge approaches the grave to discover that the name on the headstone…is his own!!

Bex-Mickey-Carol-3

Scrooge’s question of who the grave belongs to is answered by one of the most terrifying lines of dialogue I’ve ever heard: Why yours Ebenezer, the richest man in the cemetery!!

Scrooge is knocked down into a suddenly bottomless pit that begins opening up into the flames of Hell itself. Just before he falls in, Scrooge screams that he’ll change, and then he wakes up! It was a dream…or was it? It’s now Christmas morning and Scrooge has been given a chance to prove he really is a new man. The reformed duck races around town making amends with everyone he mistreated the day before: he loads a pair seeking charity with bags of money, he gladly accepts his nephew’s invitation to Christmas dinner, and last of all, he buys a bag full of toys, along with all the fixings for a proper Christmas meal, for Bob Cratchit and his family. But he also decides to play a little trick on them: he comes in pretending to be the Scrooge of old, but this doesn’t last very long. Scrooge informs an amazed Bob that from now on, he will be an equal partner in the business, which means a greatly increased salary. It’s a happy ending for all!


Who did Bex invite to our Christmas party? It was none other than Jared Leto!

Jared Leto

Thanks, Bex!

Tomorrow, Rob from Movierob stops by to give a review double shot.

Cheers!