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Legolas’ funky eyes and other mysteries of Middle Earth

I went to the movies last night to see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.  I must say that I greatly enjoyed this installment more than I did its predecessor, An Unexpected Journey. I’m not sure if it’s because we were knee-deep in plotline or because my favorite character, Smaug, was finally around (wonderfully voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch). Regardless, I had a great time watching this film. The spiders were a problem. I hate them and an only take comfort in the fact that at least I didn’t see the movie in 3D where the spiders would have been too close for comfort.

My main beef with the film was that every time Orlando Bloom was on the screen, I would be pulled out of the movie  spell. Have you ever seen The First Wives Club? There’s a scene when Bette Midler, Diane Keaton, and Goldie Hawn are all having drinks after the funeral of a mutual friend. Midler keeps staring at Hawn and finally asks her how much plastic surgery she’s actually had. I felt that way with Bloom in the movie. I kept mentally picking apart everything that didn’t look right with him as Legolas.

I know it’s been 10 years since The Return of the King.  However, it looks like they used come computer technology to either de-age him, or redo his face somehow. His face seems much more filled out that normal.   And his eyes…. Legolas had some kind of crazy, cloudy eyes going on. These were clearly not the same types of lenses they used in Lord of the Rings.  In the LotR films, his eyes are way darker. Or maybe his pupils are just way dilated.  In this movie, he had like crazy Underworld vampire eyes going on. It took so much away, that I couldn’t pay much attention to any of his scenes. Pity…

While we are on the subject of Legolas, why was he in the movie in the first place? WHY did Peter Jackson pull a George Lucas and start tinkering with the story? Adding the elf storyline (and original character of Tauriel–who was pretty cool, btw) felt like a disservice to the original text. Whatever. I’ve voiced my opinion. I still enjoyed the movie.

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On a side note that is completely and wholly unrelated:

Bulletproof Monk is on the television right now. It’s not that great of a movie. This was Chow Yun-fat’s follow-up to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Seann William Scott was in the middle of his American Pie bro movie era. He might still be in that era. I’m not sure. I like him and feel he could do more. We’ll see. What makes Bulletproof Monk a noticeable movie to me is that it features a character with the delightful name of Mister Funktastic. The character is some East End street thug who remains shirtless so all can admire his chest tattoo which says…..wait for it…. “MisterFunktastic.” He’s a pointless character, yet the name is so ridiculous that I always stop to watch this movie just to catch his few scenes.

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Orlando Bloom’s rather tall hair and other oddities

I started typing this about 3/4 of the way through 2011’s The Three Musketeers. Wow. It’s really not very good at all. Honestly, yeah. I keep waiting for it to improve, but it’s not happening.

It’s not bad acting or anything. There is an insanely good cast for this movie. Matthew Macfadyen, Ray Stevenson, and Luke Evans play the titular characters. The fault, instead, lies with the insertion of  a major steampunk element into the classic Dumas tale along with many a cheesy line or two.  Honestly, the plot gets downright zany. The trailer (embedded above) says “not like before.” Ain’t that the truth. Let me list a few items of note:

1. Milla Jovovich as Milady de Winter. She’s like a cat burglar who knows kung fu and the finer points of swordplay.

2. King Louis XIII. Usually he’s portrayed as naive. This version has the inexperienced king as kind of stupid and a bit foppish. I love his little hats! Also, Freddie Fox, who plays the king, has such a resemblance to Vincent Caso, that I kept thinking he was Bladezz from The Guild. 

3. There is a freakin’ flying ship in the movie. It looks like a pirate ship / zeppelin.  No one in the movie thinks this is odd. Everyone’s cool with it. Here’s some perspective for you: Louis XIII ascended the French throne in 1610. This is the same year the bagel was invented. From bagel to flying ship—anything goes!

4. Orlando Bloom’s hair. It’s not so much a coiffure as a structure. It’s rather tall and steals every scene away from him.

5. Christoph Waltz as Cardinal Richelieu. One feels that he’s holding back from laughing and walking off the set. And don’t get me started on Mads Mikkelsen as Captain Rochefort. I can’t tell if he’s trying to be creepy or eccentric. Maybe a little bit of both?  I get the feeling he’s winking at us from behind the eyepatch.

6. Wait, apparently one airship isn’t enough. There is a total aerial naval showdown in the sky. Huh? If it wasn’t so ridiculous, it would be kind of cool.

*****

Now, I will say this. The sword fighting (when there is any) is pretty groovy. The costumes are nice and technicolorrific. Yes, that’s now a word I just made up. Feel free to use it.

Also, Paul W.S. Anderson directed this flick. He’s the same guy who directed all the Resident Evil movies. So I guess as ridiculous as this movie was, it could have been worse.  Richelieu could have set up an army of undead in hopes of stealing the French throne. Now that would have been something to see.

I am the Oscar Master!!!

Greetings faithful minions. Tis I, the Oscar Master. I had a 75% accuracy rating this go-round. Also, I am soooo tired. The Oscar telecast didn’t end until midnight. I wasn’t able to get to sleep until 1am, and then I had to get up at 6. But you don’t care about my lack of sleep or the amount of concealer I had to use this morning, do you? No, because I know you are still in awe of my bright and shiny “Oscar Master” status. Needless to say, I won this year’s wager with my friend, Crint. There were seven categories where we differed, and I swept the lot of them.

Sometime late in the evening, after I had sealed the deal on my win, Crint sent me a text asking if I was going to refer to him as Crint the Loser in my blog post. Of course not! He is a very worthy opponent. First of all, he had seen all the movies; I had not. Second, he’s up on his awards show know-how. Okay, fine. I’ll use it just the one time a little later in the post.

Enough happy dancing and gloating. Okay, fine. I’ll do a last one of these and then I’m done.

As for the ceremony, I thought Seth MacFarlane did a fine job. It’s a tough gig. I thought the stint at the beginning where he and William Shatner (as Captain Kirk) tried to alter time to avoid a bad review was pretty funny albeit a little long. The  Flying Nun bit was a hoot.

It seemed that the theme of the evening might have been a salute to the movie musical. There were song and dance numbers all through the telecast. If we had chopped them down, we might have saved 45 minutes or so. If MacFarlane wasn’t singing about boobs (and it was funny!), then it was a long section starting with a performance of the entire “All that Jazz” from Chicago (meh) followed by Jennifer Hudson singing all of “And I am Telling You…” from Dreamgirls. Then the cast of Les Miserables came onstage to sing One Day More. It was all good, but again, long. Then later in the show, after the memorial section, Barbara Streisand crooned “The Way We Were.” Good grief!

There was one musical performance, however, that was totally worth it. As a salute to 50 years of James Bond, Shirley Bassey belted out “Goldfinger” and just wowed everyone.

I had one award grievance. I felt the Best Song nominees who weren’t named Adele were given the crap end of the stick last night.  During the Les Mis portion of a musical number, Hugh Jackman started in on the opening bars of “Suddenly.”  A little while later in the show Adele had an entire showcase for “Skyfall” complete with on-stage orchestra and backup chorus. Then later on, Norah Jones stood solo on the stage, and was able to sing a little bit of “Everybody Needs a Best Friend” from Ted. What about the songs from Life of Pi and Chasing Ice? They played snippets of those via film clips right before the award was handed out. I don’t know. Maybe it’s cause I’m not an Adele fan, but it didn’t feel like equal screen time.  Whatever, I’m the Oscar Master! I got 18 of 24 right! If only my fortune-telling skills worked for useful things like the lottery or investment options. Oh well.

My favorite things from last night:

  • Jennifer Lawrence’s classy recovery from falling over as she made her way to the stage to receive her Oscar.
  • Daniel Day-Lewis’ funny speech about swapping roles with Meryl Streep (he to play Margaret Thatcher and she to play Lincoln).
  • The Von Trapp Family Singers bit (probably tasteless, but I laughed)
  • Beards. Almost every man in the Dolby Theatre was sporting a beard. Not everyone rocked the facial fuzz. George Clooney, while a very dashing man 99% of the time, looked to me like he was about 20 lbs away from playing the role of George Lucas in some biopic. Hugh Jackman and Chris Pine, on the other hand…Hello Nurse!
  • Ben Affleck’s heartfelt speech when Argo won for Best Picture. Way to go, Ben!

Questions from Last Night

  • Why were there so many beards?
  • What happened to Kristen Stewart? At one point in the ceremony, she and Daniel Radcliffe were onstage together. Not only did she limp her way out to the mic, but then she seemed to impatiently (or maybe nervously) tap her foot the whole time. Also, she looked as if she had been rolling around on the floor prior to heading onstage. Maybe there was a celebrity wrestling ring back there or something.
  • Did George Clooney actually (a) open and if so (b) drink the mini-bottle of Jack Daniels that MacFarlane tossed his way?
  • Why was the awards show orchestra playing in a studio down the street instead of at the Dolby?
  • Bonus: Did everyone notice Hugh Jackman start towards the stage to assist Jennifer Lawrence when she fell? He’s just so wonderful.

So that’s that, kids. Oscar Master for now, and then I get to defend my title in 2014. As winner of this year’s wager, I not only get the groovy title, but I also get treated to the movie of my choice by Crint the Loser (It is a catchy nickname, isn’t it?). I’m debating between Jack the Giant Slayer and Oz the Great and Powerful. Thoughts?

BTW, I have recapped the winners below in case you are interested.

Best Picture:  Argo 

Best Director: Ang Lee for Life of Pi

Best Actor in Leading Role: Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook

Supporting Actor:  Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained

Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway for Les Miserables

Cinematography: Life of Pi

Animated Feature Film:  Brave

Foreign Language Film: Amour

Film Editing: Argo

Adapted Screenplay: Argo

Original Screenplay: Django Unchained

Original Score: Life of Pi

Documentary (Feature): Searching for Sugar Man

Documentary (Short):  Inocente

Visual Effects: Life of Pi

Short Film (Animated): Paperman

Short Film (Live Action): Curfew

Production Design:  Lincoln

Costume Design: Anna Karenina

Sound Editing: Zero Dark Thirty

Sound Mixing: Les Miserables

Make-up:  Les Miserables

Original Song: “Skyfall” (Skyfall)

A Disturbance in The Force

***We postpone the long-awaited movie review to bring you this late-breaking opinion.***

So a little while back, when Uncle George announced he was selling Lucasfilm and all the wonderful Star Wars-ness that goes with it, I had a toddler-sized meltdown. I was conflicted in my anger, sadness and my feelings of relief that Uncle George wasn’t going to hurt my beloved franchise anymore. Because, as sad and selfish as it is to admit, it’s the truth. The fans have so embraced the SW universe, that it’s no longer Lucas’s. In our hearts, it’s ours. Search your feelings. You know it to be true.

So once I got over my conflictedness (Is it a word? It is now), I joined the throng of folks eagerly awaiting what would come next. After all, we had been promised a new installment by 2015. Entertainment media jumped in with crazy speculation. Who would direct? Steven Spielberg was the obvious choice since he and Lucas had worked together before (and for any dozen other reasons you can come up with). But no. Spielberg passed. Brad Bird’s name was next. Nay, not Brad. David Yates, Christopher Nolan, Guillermo del Toro, Matthew Vaughn… All of them were a no. Even J.J. Abrams said no. But not so fast! Now it’s a yes.

J.J. Abrams will take on the mantle that is Star Wars. And once again, I’m soooo conflicted. There has been a disturbance in the Force, and I just don’t know. I have a bad feeling about this.

Pros:

  • He’s a total geek fanboy, and that’s a good thing.
  • He’s brought us some of the coolest television shows ever (Alias, Lost, Fringe).
  • He loves Star Wars.
  • He is a more than capable film director. And he is not any of the following: Michael Bay, Joel Schumacher (who ruined the Batman franchise), or Roland Emmerich.

Cons:

  • He already has hold of the Star Trek film franchise.  Is this too much to have on his plate?
  • While his TV shows easily hit the mark for good entertainment, his movies have been inconsistent. Mission Impossible III was, in my opinion, Jerry Maguire with guns. I almost walked out of the theater on that one. Cloverfield felt pointless, and what’s with the creature in that movie looking almost exactly like the one in Super 8? Yes, I know Cloverfield came out first, but someone should have drawn a new creature. Also, Abrams was a producer for Morning Glory. Have you seen it? Don’t.
  • And he’s a big Star Wars fan. I know I mentioned it as a pro, but it’s also a con. His love of the movies might cause the same type of tunnel vision Uncle George sometimes suffered from.

Questions:

  1. In a lot of Abrams’ work (well, on TV at least) the idea of a parallel universe or alternate timeline or mythological device sometimes comes into play. Will he use his trick of the trade in the new movie? Will there be a smoke monster on Hoth? Cause that would be cool.
  2. Will Greg Grunberg have a role? Yes, duh. But what role will it be?
  3. Will the Cloverfield / Super 8 creature show up? Maybe we’ll learn its origins. Now, that would be an interesting tie-in.
  4. Unrelated to Abrams, but will any of our original cast members be in the new movie? Pretty please?
  5. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Can we trust Abrams with our Star Wars  universe? I mean, we have no choice about it, but can we?  What are your thoughts on this?

I know I’m doing the worry-wart thing on this. In a couple weeks, I’ll  be so over it all and totally on board with my 2015 installment. But for now, I just don’t know.To quote Adam Sandler’s character, Louie, in the wonderful Mixed Nuts, “oh so many things for me to wonder. I love grape jelly!” Ain’t that the truth.

Seven Questions for the Movie Gods

1.     Looper opens next weekend. Why oh why did they mess up Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s face so that he could look more like Bruce Willis? With all the prosthetics and makeup, he still doesn’t look like Willis except for the intense “squint” expression.  Now it’s just distracting.

2.     When will someone make a movie where Matthew McConaughey and Josh Lucas play brothers? These too actually favor one another. Even their voices / speech patterns are similar.

3.     Did anyone else think that Source Code was sort of kind of like Twelve Monkeys meets Groundhog Day only not nearly as good as either?

4.     In Stand By Me does little Wil Wheaton really grow up to be Richard Dreyfuss? Really?? [Thanks to my good friend Zelda Ripley for inspiring this one]

5.     Will Luc Besson ever make the sequel to Leon: The Professional where Natalie Portman reprises her role as Matilda?

6.     Will romantic comedies ever return to the good old days like when we had Meg Ryan, or are we stuck with the Katherine Heigl / Gary Marshall era of rom-com? [Note: I’m not saying Meg Ryan has to star in the movie, but you have to admit the films she headlined in the 80s and 90s were pretty good. I’m just asking for better quality romantic comedies should the genre continue.]

7.     Coincidence or Conspiracy? In Sneakers Robert Redford’s character is named Martin Bishop. In Spy Game, Brad Pitt plays Redford’s protoge. His name is Tom Bishop. I always thought there was something there, but maybe it’s nothing.