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The 2012 Holiday Movie Round-Up!


So I saw a crapload of movies during the holiday break and just wanted to write a short bit on each one!

The Hobbit


I watched The Hobbit in 3D and at the high-frame rate (HFR) screening.  Did NOT like!  The high-frame rate takes away from the cinematical magic feel with the traditional 24 fps frame rate.  As a result, everything moved too quick (and in some cases more jerky, because you can see every little motion) and seemed more live than what you’re used to seeing in a movie.  It makes it all very disconcerting and it feels like you’re watching soap opera style filming.  In addition, as a gamer, the HFR really reminded me of something that I’m used to seeing out of a video game and not from a movie.  So in my head, it was almost like a translation or processing error.  “Wait a minute, I’m not supposed to see that there!”.

The one benefit of the HFR though is that the 3D was less straining on the eye.  Compared to the trailers that they played in front of the movie, the 3D in The Hobbit definitely looked more crisp.

And then there’s the content of the movie.  I thought the characterizations were not affecting.  There wasn’t really one dwarf to give a shit about!  After seeing this first movie, they can all be dragon fodder as far as I’m concerned.  There were just too many of them.  And besides Thorin Oakenshield (the main dwarf), you weren’t really given time to know the other dwarves.

You can definitely feel as though the movie drags.  Scenes are clearly extended to expand the 300 page novel into 3 movies.  The pacing is a huge issue.  I think it would have benefitted from a trimmed down and tighter cut.  Instead we’re going to be seeing 3 movies that will be nearly 3 hours in length.  Plus, we’ll have to pay 3 times.  Good for you New Line Cinemas.

Django Unchained



Cinematic bliss.  This was awesome.  It was almost equal in runtime as The Hobbit, but because of its excellent pacing, it moved quick.  Not too much more to say, but you know what you’re in for when you see a Tarantino flick.

This is 40



This is 40 is the spin-off from Knocked Up, featuring Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann’s characters and helmed once again by Judd Apatow.  From the trailers released earlier this year, I thought it was going to be a rip roaring good time of movie watching, but it just didn’t have the punchiness and wasn’t as memorable as Apatow’s other outings (pre-Funny People).  It was more entertaining than Funny People, but just felt like it was short maybe 2 or 3 major laughs.  Though it might have been short in laughs, it was definitely long in runtime, so the laughs per minute ratio was really skewed.  The movie ran for about 2 hours and 15 minutes, much like The Hobbit, I think it would have benefitted from having a shorter runtime.  I’ve talked about 3 movies so far, and I’ve mentioned runtime in all 3.  That seemed to be the Christmas trend.  Long fucking movies!  It doesn’t have to be long to tell a good story!

Zero Dark Thirty



Zero Dark Thirty is the follow-up to Kathryn Bigelow’s Hurt Locker.  To me, it felt like a longer episode of Homeland.  And that’s not to say anything bad about either as they are both quite great pieces of work.  However, in comparison on an entertainment level, I didn’t find ZDT as engaging as the Hurt Locker.  There are more slower and dramatic scenes in ZDT, whereas Hurt Locker was filled with more suspense and intensity.  I suppose there lies the difference in a story with authored events versus a story that is portraying a real life scenario. But perhaps viewing ZDT as a piece of entertainment is the flaw.  I don’t think it’s meant to be a popcorn affair.  Its portrayal of a real life event is perhaps more educational than entertaining and no doubt will be an important piece of cinema to America in the future.

The Impossible




Of all the new releases that I saw during the holidays, The Impossible is easily the most emotionally charging of the lot.  The Impossible is based on a true story of a family vacationing in Thailand around Christmas 2004.  If you’ll recall, a massive and devastating tsunami hit southern Asia on Boxing Day of that year.  The story follows the family as they struggle to find hope and the will to survive.

The film was directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, who did the awesome and affecting horror movie, The Orphanage.  It is a great ghost story and one day I’m sure, it will be a classic.  So when I learned that he did The Impossible, I was surprised at first but then it made sense.  Bayona knows how to drive characters and bring out the best of the individual stories - central to both movies.  I can’t wait to see more from him!

What really made the movie work for me was the score.  The score perfectly complemented the emotional narrative.  And I guess that’s the key with this movie.  The subject matter alone is emotional.  This was a devastating incident.  There were lessons to be learned and as I was watching the movie, there were several moments where I pumped my fist.  Truly, the movie was a good reminder that sometimes humans aren’t shitty; that we have the capacity for so much goodness.  But we don’t need a disaster to strike to bring that out.  There are even very simple moments in the movie that feel so exhilarating.  It’s like a reflection of real life; sometimes the best moments are the quietest ones.

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