Sunday, December 30, 2012

I Recommend: 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' Film & 'Catfish: The TV Show'

Jeff Dodge's Recommendations:

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (in theaters)

(Image courtesy of Warner Bros.)

The Hobbit is a book that I grew up with. I'm sure I have read it more than once as a child. But looking back, I realize that it's been over 10 years since I last read it, since some time in middle school. When The Lord of the Rings movies were released in theaters, my 92-year-old great-aunt and I went to each one together. (She and I share a love of reading, and always talk about such stories as Harry Potter, Hobbit/LOTR and more.) We've been anticipating the release of the start of the middle-earth stories, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. And as is tradition with us, we went to see it recently, in 3D/24 FPS.

(The theater we went to didn't have the new 48 FPS technology. And with the 3D, they did put it to good use, including the usual moments where things are flying at the screen. Although, a complaint I have is there were times when the camera was panning across and it got blurry as it panned--I wonder if that was corrected for 48 FPS.)

At about two hours and 40 minutes (minus credits), it of course is a long movie (though not as long as LOTR). But once all was said and done, I didn't mind the length. There may have been a few moments somewhere in the middle that dragged just a tad, but overall, it was well worth it.

The Hobbit book came out first, then LOTR. But as we know by now, the filmmakers did LOTR first. And because they did it in that flipped order, I love that they managed to tie the two together. After the prologue-like opening, we're treated to a scene that takes place during the timeframe of LOTR--on the day of Bilbo Baggins' big birthday party, in fact. Attention is paid so much to detail that we even see the No Admittance Except on Party Business sign being put up outside his gate door. When we meet up with his nephew, Frodo, again, we see this hobbit, played again by Elijah Wood, saying he's going to go off to meet up with Gandalf as the wizard arrives; and as we know from the Shire scene at the start of LOTR:FOTR, when Galdalf rides into town, Frodo jumps out and lands on him in a big hug. See, it's those kinds of details that us die-hard fans cherish and geek out over, and it even made me a little nostalgic. 
We also see Bilbo writing about his travels and journeys way back when, which then transitions into the younger Bilbo, now played magnificently by Martin Freeman, in the story of The Hobbit.

There are many tie-ins that I could go on and on and on, but another one I loved, which is something already in the book, is the three trolls that want to cook and eat Bilbo and the dwarves, and are then turned into stone. If you'll recall, when the Fellowship is traveling across the lands in LOTR, they pass by those stone trolls. I'm glad that Peter Jackson included them in the original films, because us die-hard fans can geek out over them.

Some critics and reviewers have said that the movie is too long. And in some sense, I can see where they're getting at. Once in a while, there are moments, especially in the first half of the film, where I noticed scenes that could easily have been cut and ended up as deleted scenes on the DVD. Quite a bit of time is actually spent in Bilbo's home with the dwarves and Gandalf, and one of the songs could easily be a deleted scene, to show one such example. But I didn't mind, because I loved watching moments like those.

A big difference between all the books is that The Hobbit was meant as a children's book and LOTR is more for a grown-up audience. And while Peter Jackson made sure that the look and feel of this new one was still in line with his original masterpieces, he also kept note of the differences in audience, and so quite a lot of humor is added here, which makes for a fun viewing when there's also all this action and battles and such.

The scene that I'm sure everyone has been looking forward to is the Riddles in the Dark scene with Gollum, in which Andy Serkis reprises his now legendary role to the delight of general moviegoers and fans alike. I don't know if Peter Jackson has planned to include him in any of the other two movies, but after this scene, don't you kind of hope he does?

Besides finally seeing Gollum onscreen again, something else I keep thinking about now that I've had a little bit of time to digest all that I watched is the climax with all that action that takes places in the goblins' underground lair. There were a few different times near the end where I kept thinking the movie was about to end, then all of a sudden battles galore pick back up. I loved that, because it kept me on my toes and wanting to continue seeing what's coming up next. Seeing the various creatures--orcs, goblins, Gollum, etc--the advancements in CGI are extraordinary. You look at even just the Goblin King and while he's a villain, you can't help but marvel at the look of his skin, how real it looks.

Now, if you haven't seen the movie yet, then you might not want to know what the closing shot is, but I'm going to mention it real quick here. Since The Hobbit is going to be three movies, they've got to entice you at the end of this first one of what to expect in the next two. The endings of the LOTR films always seemed to be the characters looking off into the distance and having heavy hearts knowing what all they have to overcome moving forward. And we see the characters at the end of An Unexpected Journey looking in the distance to the mountain where the dragon has taken over their home. And what do you know? The camera pans on over there and seeing all the gold and treasures, and the final shot is the dragon opening an eye. Brilliant, I say! A great cliffhanger to what turned out to be a very strong first act to The Hobbit. Now it's time to start counting down the days to The Desolation of Smaug.

TV Show:
Catfish: The TV Show (Mondays, 11pm, MTV--returns January 7)

(Image courtesy of MTV)
If you haven't heard of Catfish, you really need to get caught up. In 2010, a documentary was released about Nev Schulman, who started an online relationship and eventually wanted to meet her in person. Unfortunately, it didn't turn out as he had hoped; namely, that the woman on the other end of the relationship wasn't who she said she was. The film received positive reactions. And soon enough, Nev started work on a spin-off called Catfish: The TV Show. (If you want to know why it's called Catfish, read the last paragraph in the Plot section on their Wikipedia page.)

When I heard they were turning this into a TV show, I definitely wanted to check it out because of how much I enjoyed watching the documentary. And I have to say, I'm fascinated week in and week out by these real people who are duped by the person on the other end of their online relationship. And it's amazing to see the detective work that Nev and Co. go through to figure out the truth; and in actuality, the work they do probably could be done by any of us because when creating a fake profile, there's always going to be holes that can be uncovered with just a little bit of digging.

In each episode, it gets to a point where the person being catfished meets the faker. Sometimes, they turn out to remain friends, sometimes not. There have been women posing as men, a woman posing as a man to take out revenge on someone and much more. In the most recent episode, we find out the faker is a transgendered person, born a girl going through the process of becoming a guy. And what blew my mind is that the two of them had already fallen so hard for each other to the point where it didn't matter Dani is a transgendered person, and they decided to continue their relationship.

Some of these words I'm using, like fascinating and amazing, may not be sufficient enough to explain how fantastic this show is. You really get to see into the hearts and minds of people and the decisions they make for love or revenge or because of a lack of confidence or whatever the case may be. Check out Catfish: The TV Show when it returns in January.

TV Watch Online (@TVWatchOnline)

Jeff Dodge Blog:
I Recommend: 'A Game of Thrones' Book & 'Ruby Sparks' Film

BuddyTV Articles (Articles I've written recently):
Exclusive Interview: 'American Idol's' Danny Gokey, Kris Allen and Jamar Rogers Talk Cruise for Sophia's Heart

#1 Recommendation: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I've been watching a bunch of movies recently, since all our TV shows have been on a winter hiatus. And in my next set of Recommendations, I'll be reviewing Brave and Pitch Perfect. Soon after that, I'll have up my end of the year roundup of the top things I recommended on this blog throughout 2012.

Also, I'm on Goodreads! If you don't know what it is, it's essentially a social media website for book lovers. You can keep track of what books you're reading and what you plan on reading, give reviews, see what your friends are reading and more. I've had the account for a while, but never really used it. However, I'm vowing to start using it now that we're starting a new year. So feel free to visit my Goodreads page to follow along what I'm reading, and I've got a Goodreads widget on the right side of this blog to showcase what I'm currently reading.

Follow me on Twitter @TheJeffDodge. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, feel free to tweet me, e-mail me or leave a comment below.

No comments:

Post a Comment