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Josh Reviews the Extended Edition of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

January 1st, 2016
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Last december’s theatrical release of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (click here for my review) brought to a close not only the three-film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, but also Peter Jackson’s decade-and-a-half-long exploration of the Tolkien universe that began with the release of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings back in 2001.  And yet, for me, neither saga would be complete until nearly a full year later, with the release of the Extended Edition of The Battle of the Five Armies.  Ever since my mind was blown by the Extended Edition DVD release of Fellowship in 2002, my feeling has been that I have not yet seen the final, definitive version of any of Peter Jackson’s Tolkien films until watching the Extended Edition.  The Extended Editions of the three Lord of the Rings films have become, for me, unquestionably the definitive versions of those films.  Whenever I re-watch the films, I watch the Extended Editions.  While the changes and additions made to the Extended Editions of the Hobbit films haven’t been as dramatic or as essential as those made to The Lord of the Rings, nevertheless I also feel that these Extended Editions of the Hobbit are also the definitive versions of these films.

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The Extended Edition of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies adds a number of wonderful short sequences to the film.  One of the earliest changes I noticed was in Dol Goldur, when we are treated to a cool bit of an Orc general trying to cut off Gandalf’s finger — because Gandalf is revealed as wearing one of the three Rings of Power given to the Elf Lords.  All three Extended Editions of the Hobbit films have added in some references to the Rings of Power — it’s almost like a special subplot running through the Extended Editions — which I love because it better connects the Hobbit films to The Lord of the Rings.

Most of the other additions to the film take place during the titular Battle of the Five Armies.  There is a lot of extra attention given to all the Dwarves in Thorin’s company.  After developing those Dwarves over two films, I was surprised by how little many of the Dwarves had to do in the theatrical cut of The Battle of the Five Armies.  That is nicely fixed here in the Extended Edition.  We get to see Bofur (James Nesbitt) taking control of a huge Troll and wreaking havoc; we get to see Bombur (Stephen Hunter) using his girth to great effect in the battle; we even get to see Bifur (William Kircher) lose the ax that had … [continued]

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I hope you’ve all enjoyed by Best of 2014 lists!  I’ve listed my Top 20 Movies of 2014 (click here for part one, part two, part three, and part four), my Top 15 Episodes of TV of 2014 (click here for part one, part two, and part three), and my Top 15 Comic Book Series of 2014 (click here for part one, part two, and part three).  Now we arrive at my final list, the Top 8 Blu-Rays of 2014.

Top eight?  Yeah, top eight.  While this year I have expanded most of my lists (my Top 15 Movies list became a Top 20, and my Top 10 Episodes of TV list became a Top 15), I found I had a hard time coming up with 10 truly great DVDs or Blu-rays.  I think there are two reasons for this.  The first is personal: though I suspect I still buy far more DVDs & blu-rays than the average person, I found that I bought far fewer discs this year than I had in years.  Partly this was to save some money.  But also because of reason number two: that after a golden age of awesome DVD sets with extraordinary special features, great special editions of movies or TV shows are much scarcer these days.  I find myself unimpressed with the behind the scenes features on most blu-rays these days, even the movies that were the biggest hits.  Most studios are trying to save money by cutting back on providing special features for their home video releases, which is a big shame in my opinion.

But still, there were eight blu-rays that I wanted to praise, and here they are:

8. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes This film was number 5 on my Top 20 Movies of 2014 list, and it looked absolutely spectacular on blu-ray.  And while I wouldn’t say that the special features are phenomenal, they are pretty good, certainly head-and-shoulders above the special features found on almost any other big 2014 release.  There’s about an hour of fun behind-the-scenes featurettes (it’s particularly cool to see Andy Serkis, Terry Notary, and several other familiar faces from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit behind-the-scenes documentaries, appear in these featurettes) and a great commentary track from director Matt Reaves.  (Click here for my original review of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.)

7. The Seven-Per-Cent Solution For decades I have been reading or hearing about this film that was written by Star Trek II and VI writer & director Nicholas Meyer (adapting his novel of the same name), but … [continued]

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The Top 20 Movies of 2014 — Part Three!

My journey through the Best Movies of 2014 continues!  Click here for Part One of my Top 20 Movies of 2014 list, numbers 20-16.  Click here for Part Two, numbers 15-11.

And now we enter my top ten.  Here we go:

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10.  Top Five Chris Rock has finally found a movie that equals his comedic potential.  Guess what, he wrote and directed it himself!  Rock stars as movie star Andre Allen, famous for acting in the hugely successful “Hammy” comedies in which he wears a big bear suit.  But Allen is sick of that, and is attempting to redirect his career by starring in a serious movie about a Haitian slave rebellion.  On the eve of that movie’s opening, Allen agrees to be interviewed by a New York Times reporter, Chelsea Brown, played by Rosario Dawson.  The film follows the two through that one tumultuous day, and both go through life upheavals before the day is done.  Top Five is a wonderfully loose, funny, heartfelt story.  It’s hugely funny, and a number of famous comedians pop in for cameos, each more gut-busting than the next.  Kevin Hart, J.B. Smoove, Tracy Morgan, Jay Pharaoh, Jerry Seinfeld, Adam Sandler, and so many others fill out an extraordinarily rich ensemble.  Mr. Rock uses each performer to comedic perfection.  The film is led by Mr. Rock and Ms. Dawson, who have magnificent chemistry together.  They are both alive when on screen together, funny and compelling.  Top Five is a wonderful concoction, one I am eager to revisit.  I’ll have more to say about this film on the site soon.

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9. Bad Words Jason Bateman knocks it out of the park with his directorial debut.  He stars as Guy Trilby, a forty-year-old man who exploits a loophole in the rules of the National Quill Spelling Bee to enter the national children’s spelling bee.  If you don’t think you’re going to laugh at a grown man gleefully defeating little kids in a spelling bee, then this might not be the film for you.  For me, I found it to be absolutely hilarious and tremendous fun in its just-on-the-edge of bad taste transgressive comedy.  Most astonishingly, for all the fun to be had watching Guy torture innocent kids, Bad Words is surprisingly sweet in the end.  Jason Bateman is at the top of his game, Kathryn Hahn kills it, and Allison Janey & Philip Baker Hall are tremendous.  I love this movie.  (Click here for my original review.)

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8. The Drop This crime film, written by brilliant novelist Dennis Lehane, is a brutally intense slow burn.  It features James Gandolfini, who is phenomenal in his final role.  He plays Cousin … [continued]

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There and Back Again: Josh Reviews The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies!

Endings are a difficult thing.  Sticking the landing of a long-form story is perilously challenging, and I’m sure we can all think of plenty of examples of failed endings, whether we’re talking about TV shows (Seinfeld and Lost both come to mind) or to movie trilogies (as the years pass, I become more and more disappointed by The Dark Knight Rises).

I am very pleased to report, then, that Peter Jackson’s third and final Hobbit film, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, is an excellent conclusion to his Hobbit trilogy.  This film isn’t going to make anyone who disliked the first two Hobbit films change their mind, but if you did enjoy those films I suspect you will love this one.  I feel pretty confident in stating that it is the strongest of the three Hobbit theatrical editions.  (Like Mr. Jackson’s LOTR films, the first two Hobbit films were both improved by their Extended Editions, so a complete comparison of all three films isn’t really possible until next year when we get to see the extended version of The Battle of the Five Armies.  But in terms of the theatrical experience of the three Hobbit films, I think this one wins by a fairly wide margin.)

One of the reasons why?  This is the shortest of the three Hobbit theatrical editions.  (It’s also, unless I am mistaken, the shortest of the theatrical editions of all six of Mr. Jackson’s Middle Earth films.)  This helps a lot, as the biggest problem of the first two Hobbit films was a sense of bloat.  I don’t condemn those first two films for that the way so many reviewers have, but I certainly think those films were far longer than they needed to be, especially in their theatrical form.

But this film moves, boy.  It’s got the best pacing of all three Hobbit films.  For all that I enjoyed those two films, they both felt LONG.  But this film roars by.

We begin with a great James Bond-like pre-credits action sequence in which ol’ Smaug is dealt with.  I’d wondered how much of a factor Smaug would wind up being in this film.  The answer is not much, as he’s dispatched with fairly quickly.  It works, but I will admit to having expected a but more.  I felt like this sequence was missing a little something.  Maybe more of Smaug’s dialogue?  Smaug was surprisingly silent for the first several minutes of this sequence.  I’d expected him to be gloating or boasting as he attacked Lake Town.  It’s remarkable how Smaug comes to life once he finally speaks.  Credit to Benedict Cumberbatch for how much his voice clearly was a critical … [continued]

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News Around the Net

Bill Watterson drew the poster for an international cartoonists’ festival, and it is awesome.

I’ve been really enjoying Kumail Nanjiani’s podcast The X-Files Files.  In each episode, Mr. Nanjiani and a guest host analyze two episodes of The X-Files, working their way through the series in order, starting from the very beginning of the show.  I’ve only listened to a few episodes, but they’ve all been great.  I started with this one, in which Mr. Nanjiani and Devin Faraci from badassdigest.com discuss the two-parter that began season 3, “The Blessing Way” and “Paper Clip.”  One of my favorite episodes is the very first podcast, also co-starring Mr. Faraci, in which the two discuss the first two episodes but also share their feelings on the whole series over-all.  My favorite part is their hilarious discussion of the dreadful second X-Files movie.  (Here are my thoughts after seeing that flick, if you’re interested.)  This is a great podcast, I am hooked!

I need to carve out some time to watch this: A recreation of The Empire Strikes Back made by over 500 individual fan-made versions of every shot from the film.  Sounds crazy!

This is awesome: what if famous album covers were just a small part of a much larger picture?  So funny and so clever.

So last month Marvel Comics killed off Wolverine.  Yeah, that’s gonna last.  But in the meanwhile, in honor of his “death,” enjoy this hilarious illustrated summary of Wolvie’s convoluted back-story.

Here’s a trailer for Jurassic World:

That’s a pretty solid trailer.  I love the use of the classic John Williams theme on piano at the end of the trailer.  The visuals are certainly gorgeous, and Chris Pratt is a great choice to anchor the adventure.  I don’t love what we glimpse here of the “hybrid dinosaur” angle.  One flaw of the original Jurassic Park sequels was the need to keep coming up with new and different dinosaurs.  The third film tried to use the Spinosaurus as their bad bad dinosaur and it didn’t work at all.  I hope this hybrid idea doesn’t come off as silly.

I like this nostalgia-based trailer for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies:

This is a nice attempt to place this final film within the context of the epic story woven by the previous five.  It remains to see if the film delivers on that promise, but there are worse ways to market the new film than showing some of the best moments from the previous ones.

I’m not sure I believe that Blade Runner 2 will ever happen, nor do I think it’s a great idea.  Of course I’m … [continued]

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Josh Reviews the Extended Edition of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

I have written many times before on this site about how amazing Peter Jackson’s Extended Editions of the Lord of the Rings films were.  Mr. Jackson and his team reinvented the whole idea of both a director’s cut of a film, and DVD behind-the-scenes special features.  Both had existed before, but both were refined in a new way with the Extended Edition DVD sets.  Watching that first Extended Edition for The Fellowship of the Ring all those years ago was a revelation — a hugely different, more expansive cut of a film that I’d already loved, accompanied by exhaustively extensive behind-the-scenes features that took the viewer through every stage of the making of the film.  Through the years of the release of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it quickly came to be that I didn’t feel the experience of enjoying each new film was complete until the release of the Extended Editions.  The theatrical version became just a rough draft of the final version, the Extended Edition DVD.  In the years since the release of The Return of the King, I have gone back to revisit those three LOTR films many times, but I have only watched the Extended Editions.  Those have become the definitive versions of the films for me.

With the first Hobbit film, An Unexpected Journey, I commented in my initial review that the lengthy theatrical version already felt like an Extended Edition, both because of its length and the way the film wasn’t focused so tightly on Bilbo, but rather filled with all sorts of digressions and expansions that I had come to associate with the Extended Editions of the LOTR films.  The Extended Edition of An Unexpected Journey was only twelve minutes longer than the theatrical version.  I liked the Extended Edition, but it wasn’t nearly the all-new experience that the three Extended LOTR films were for me.  But while I liked the Extended Edition of An Unexpected Journey, I was head-over-heels in LOVE with the behind-the-scenes features, the two discs-worth of Appendices.  Those two discs managed to surpass even the already amazing LOTR Extended Editions.  With a whopping NINE hours of special features, they were incredibly in-depth and yet never dull or boring.  Watching the Appendices, it I felt like I got to actually experience some of what it was like making the film.  Seeing the incredible love and effort that hundreds upon hundreds of men and women had put into the film made me love that first Hobbit film even more than I already did.  (Click here for my full thoughts on the Extended Edition of An Unexpected Journey.)

The Extended Edition of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug feels … [continued]

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News Around the Net: Comic-Con Edition!

Hi friends!  This past week was the San Diego Comic-Con, and as a result there has been an awesome flood of news about all sorts of geeky things.  Let’s review some of the highlights, shall we?

Here’s the first teaser trailer for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.  I don’t love that title (is the second “the” really necessary?) and I think the “The Defining Chapter” tag-line they are going with in this trailer and on the posters is silly, but I dig this trailer.  These Hobbit films have not lived up to the expectations established by the phenomenal Lord of the Rings films, but I have still enjoyed them a lot and I am eager for the third and final film.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron footage that screened sounds cool.  I am intrigued by this glimpse of Ultron Mk. 1.

This is a pretty terrific interview with Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige.  Interesting stuff covered.  Someday the true story of what went down with Ant Man and Edgar Wright is going to be told, and it is going to be fascinating.

This description of footage of Batman v Superman sounds interesting.  Are they really using some of Frank Miller’s  designs from The Dark Knight Returns?  I’d love to see this footage.  DC’s plan of stuffing lots of Justice League characters into this Man of Steel sequel seems worrisome to me, but on the other hand this first image of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman is pretty great.

People seem to have been bowled over at the footage that screened from Mad Max: Fury Road.  (I can’t believe this movie finally got made and is being released!!!)  I am very, very curious to see what George Miller has crafted after so much time away from this franchise.  This first teaser, made up of some of the footage they showed at Comic-Con, is pretty great:

Here is a teaser trailer for Kevin Smith’s Tusk:

Just what the heck is this film going to be, and could it be any good???  I dunno, I am not hugely optimistic, but I’ll admit I am damn curious and that’s a pretty great trailer…

Ronald D. Moore (one of the best Star Trek writers and creator and show-runner of the modern version of Battlestar Galactica) just did a fantastic Q & A on reddit.  Prepare to loose a large amount of your time reading this.

Dr. Julian Bashir will be appearing on Game of Thrones?  Awesome!!  I grew to love Alexander Siddig’s work on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (my favorite of all the Trek series) and I have often felt that he is a great … [continued]

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And so, at last, we arrive at my final Best of 2013 list!  I hope you all enjoyed the rest of my lists.  Click here for part one of The Top 15 Movies of 2013, and here for part two and here for part three.  Click here for part one of The Top 10 Episodes of TV of 2013, and here for part two.  Click here for part one of The Top 15 Comic Book Series of 2013, and here for part two.

And now, without any further delay, let’s dive into my list of the Top Ten DVDs/Blu-Rays of 2013:

10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower Had I seen this film in 2012 when it was released, it surely would have made it onto my Best Movies of 2012 list.  Since I missed including this touching, heartbreaking film on that list last year, I sort of had to find a way to cheat and include it on one of my Best of 2013 lists!  This film has stuck with me deeply since I saw it.  It’s surely one of the greatest coming-of-age stories I have ever seen, masterfully adapted for the screen by Steven Chbosky, based on his own novel of the same name (which I now desperately need to read).  Each one of the kids in the film is portrayed by a phenomenal actor/actress: Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller, Emma Watson, Mae Whitman, and a score of others, not to mention some great adults in supporting roles such as Paul Rudd, Joan Cusack, Dylan McDermott, and Kate Walsh.  No child should have to go through what Charlie has to go through in this story, but should god forbid that happen, I hope he/she is blessed with friends as wonderful as Sam, Patrick, and their gang.  And while I referred to “cheating” a moment ago by including this film on this DVD list, the blu-ray is in fact phenomenal, with some great behind-the-scenes stuff and two magnificent commentaries, one by Mr. Chbosky alone and one by Chbosky and all the kids.  (Click here for my original review.)

9. The Dark Knight Returns Part 2 & The Flashpoint Paradox These two direct-to-DVD animated DCU projects were both very strong.  At the start of the year we got the second half of the animated adaptation of Frank Miller’s Batman masterpiece, The Dark Knight Returns.  Published in 1986, this dark, psychological tale is the seminal “Last Batman Story,” in which an aged Bruce Wayne once again dons the cape and cowl in an attempt to reclaim a Gotham City without hope.  Mr. Miller’s work has been heavily mined for inspiration by … [continued]

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The Top 15 Movies of 2013 — Part Two!

Yesterday I began my list of the Top 15 Movies of 2013!  Click here for part one.

AP Film Review Iron Man 3

10. Iron Man Three Like Thor: The Dark World, Iron Man Three was a fun film that not only served as an effective sequel to its particular series, but also as a follow-up to The Avengers and a further expansion of the over-all Marvel movie universe.  More importantly even than that, Iron Man Three told an exciting action/adventure story that was deeply rooted in the stories of the characters, and that (after the somewhat disappointing Iron Man 2) successfully returned to the light, funny-but-still-telling-a-serious-story tone that the first Iron Man film nailed so dramatically.  As a fanatical fan of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, I was thrilled to see the reunion of Robert Downey Jr. with Shane Black, who directed and co-wrote this film.  There seems to be a wonderful magic that occurs when those two men work together.  Also, Ben Kingsley’s work as The Mandarin could be one of the best supporting performances in a Marvel Studios movie so far.  So great.  And the post-credits scene?  Perfection.  (Click here for my original review.)

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9. This is The End Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared made me fall in love with the work of Paul Feig and Judd Apatow, and with many of the tremendously talented young performers who have appeared over and over again in Mr. Apatow’s work, and also over the years in many other projects of their own.  These guys have been in a lot of great films, and also, occasionally, in some lesser films in which they have coasted a bit on the audience’s fondness for their characters.  This is The End takes perfect advantage of that fondness, resulting in an absolutely hilarious, madcap story of this group of friends (Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, and Craig Robinson, all playing themselves) attempting to survive the end of the world.  There’s a lot of energy at the start of the film from all of the famous cameos (including but not limited to: Michael Cera, Paul Rudd, Aziz Ansari, David Krumholtz, Mindy Kaling, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Martin Starr), and of course from the fun of watching all of those famous people die horribly.  But the film gets even better once we wind up with just this group of boys, trapped together in the ruins of James Franco’s house.  These guys have a lot of fun at one another’s expense, and the film continually surprised me with its crazy comedic digressions, from the Be Kind, Rewind-style home-made Pineapple Express 2 trailer to The Exorcism of Jonah Hill.  Other than … [continued]

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Josh Reviews The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

The years during which we saw the release of Peter Jackson’s three-film adaptation J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings remains one of the best cinematic experiences of my lifetime, and I don’t expect that to be equaled any-time soon.  Those three films are magnificent, but my memories of the years in which that trilogy was released encompasses not just the films themselves, but all of the excitement and anticipation and speculation, from the first-time I saw that initial teaser trailer (via a very slow download on my dial-up modem) that teased the three-film adaptation (that slow shot at the end, showing the entire fellowship, and gradually revealing the three-year release schedule for the three films, is so fantastic!!), through the release of each film and its subsequent extended edition, and of course all all of the same excitement in the years between the films, awaiting the next installment.

Peter Jackson’s first film in his three-part adaptation of The Hobbit, titled The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, was criticized by many but I think it’s a very strong, under-appreciated film.  I have seen the film several times, in the past year, and I stand by my original review.  The second installment, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, is very much of a piece with that first film.  The Desolation of Smaug improves on its predecessor in that, while one could accuse An Unexpected Journey of being occasionally slow or unwieldy as it was getting the story going, The Desolation of Smaug is a much faster-paced film, with far more emphasis on adventure and spectacle.

While I loved The Desolation of Smaug, there is no question that both of these Hobbit films are a far cry from the incredible quality of Peter Jackson’s original Lord of the Rings trilogy.  What made the LOTR films great cinema, rather than just being great fantasy/adventure films or being great adaptations, was the powerful emotional punch of the stories they told.  I am not ashamed to share that all three of those LOTR movies contained moments that brought me to tears when I first saw them in theatres.  In The Fellowship of the Ring, it was Sam’s declaration, in the elvish boat at the end, that he’d made a promise not to abandon Frodo.  In The Two Towers, it was the haunting glimpse into Arwen’s lonely fate that awaited her even if everything that she hoped for came to pass.  In The Return of the King, it was pretty much every moment that came after Aragorn’s statement, to the four kneeling Hobbits, that: “my friends… you bow to no one.”  (I’ve seen The Return of the King many times since that first viewing, and while … [continued]

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Josh Reviews the Extended Edition of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Peter Jackson reinvented what DVDs could be when he released his extended edition of The Fellowship of the Ring, a month before the release of The Two Towers in theatres.  I had fallen quite in love with The Fellowship of the Ring after having seen it many, many times in theatres.  (I have never seen a movie more times in theatres than I saw Fellowship.)  I loved the film.  When I read that an extended edition was being released on DVD, I was of course excited.  I had seen (and loved) previous home-video director’s cuts of movies (James Cameron’s Aliens and The Abyss come to mind).  But I was not prepared for how bowled over I would be by the Extended Edition of The Fellowship of the Ring.  I still remember watching it, that first time, and being shocked at how complete a re-edit of the film it was.  This wasn’t just the same movie with a few additional scenes added in.  The entire movie had been re-worked and enhanced.  Particularly in that first 45 minutes, I felt like I was watching a totally different movie, with so many little shots and moments woven into the fabric of the film that I had already loved and known so well.

That Extended Edition of The Fellowship of the Ring quickly became the definitive version of the film for me.  I hardly ever watched the theatrical cut again.  For the next few years, the release of Mr. Jacksons’ Extended Editions of his Lord of the Rings films became a vital part of the experience of anticipating and enjoying these movies, for me.  I anticipated the DVD release of the Extended Editions almost as much as the initial theatrical release, because it seemed to me that it was the Extended Editions that represented the full, true versions of these films.  These days, when I re-watch the films, I only watch the Extended Editions.

And so I was excited when I heard that Peter Jackson’s first Hobbit film, An Unexpected Journey, would be receiving an Extended Edition release of its own.  But I must confess to not being quite as deliriously impatient for this release as I was for the extended LOTR films.  As I wrote in my review of An Unexpected Journey, that film’s theatrical release already felt to me like an Extended Edition.  Not just because of its lengthy run-time, but because of the film’s structure, which seemed to me to be overstuffed with the types of digressions and moments of back-story that characterized the LOTR Extended Editions.  So how much could the film be further Extended?

Not by much, it turns out.  The Extended Edition of The Hobbit: An Unexpected [continued]

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OK, this is the greatest thing I have seen in a long time (BUT BEWARE SPOILERS IF YOU ARE NOT UP TO DATE WITH GAME OF THRONES!!!)

I love The Princess Bride!

I’ve completely lost faith in M. Night Shyalaman over the past decade, but that being said I still think Unbreakable is his best film, and I would so love for the long-rumored sequel to someday happen.  The one flaw with Unbreakable, in my mind, is that the story feels incomplete — it feels like the first act of a larger story.  So every time Mr. Shyamalan talks about a possible sequel, I am happy.

So this is interesting: in the months after the success of Skyfall, there was a lot of talk that Bond 24 and 25 (the next two Bond films) would be two connected films.  That was denied by the Bond producers.  But amidst the recent news that Skyfall Director will be returning for the next Bond film, the 24th, comes this rumor that Mr. Mendes is going to commit to helm the 25th Bond film as well!  I love the idea of a two-part Bond film, that would be super-cool if that happens.

Zack Snyder (director of Man of Steel) and Bruce Timm (mastermind behind Batman: The Animated Series) are collaborating on a Superman short film in honor of Superman’s 75th anniversary?  Awesome!

I have Superman because of my huge anticipation for The Man of Steel (which I hope to see this weekend!!), so now’s as good a time as any to read this terrific piece looking back at Superman II!  That film was a HUGE part of my childhood…!!

There’s been a lot of rumors flying in recent weeks about the inclusion of the character of Quicksilver in both Fox’s upcoming X-Men movie, Days of Future Past, as well as the Disney-owned Marvel Studios’ upcoming Avengers 2.  It will be fascinating to see how this all shakes out!

(Speaking of Days of Future PastNixon!  Love it!)

Anytime anyone is talking about Escape From the Planet of the Apes, I take notice!

And with that, my friends, I wish you all a great weekend.  I’ll be back next week with my thoughts on Man of Steel, season four of Arrested Development, and cartoons making fun of Star Trek Into Darkness.  Hope to see you all back here soon!… [continued]

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“If You Awaken That Beast… It Will Destroy Us All!” First Trailer for The Desolation of Smaug!

June 11th, 2013
,

The first trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug has just been released, and it is pretty terrific:

Beorn!  Bard!  Legolas!

Barrels out of Bond!

And Smaug!!

Can’t wait.

 … [continued]

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News Around the Net (and a rant about Prometheus!)

So, OK, bloody disgusting ran an article that Fox doesn’t know what to do with a proposed sequel to Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, and that the source of the problem is that when Lost’s Damon Lindelof re-wrote Jon Spaihts’ original Alien prequel script into what became Prometheus, he turned a one-shot film into the start of a trilogy, except now he isn’t returning for film two and so Ridley Scott and Fox are left holding the bag with no idea where to take the story next.  The article is pretty fierce in attacking Mr. Lindelof, and no surprise he has responded to defend himself, saying that Ridley Scott and everyone at Fox all wanted Prometheus to be the start of a trilogy and explaining why he isn’t returning for the sequel.  I have no reason not to take Mr. Lindelof at his word, but the real story to me, here, is how clear Mr. Lindelof’s comments illustrate the brain-dead decision-making that went into the making of Prometheus.  Mr. Lindelof comments that the whole idea was that, if/when they made a sequel to Prometheus, they didn’t want that sequel to be the already-made original Alien.  They wanted room to explore the story further, to tell what he describes as a “parallel” story to the events of Alien and its sequels.  That’s why instead of making the planet that they find in Prometheus LV-427, the planet where Ripley finds the crashed ship and the alien eggs in Alien, they decided to set Prometheus on a different planet (despite the fact that they kept in the film the Engineer’s ship that looks exactly like the one Ripley found, crashing at the end so it looks exactly like what we saw in Alien.  Guess those Engineers just crashed their ships on LOTS of barren planets, huh?  So stupid!!).  Am I the only one who sees how easily the filmmakers could have had their cake and eaten it too?  Had they stuck with Jon Spaihts’ original plan, the events of Prometheus would have beautifully lined up with what we saw in Alien, explaining who the Engineers were and how their ship carrying Alien eggs wound up crashed on that planet… and meanwhile, had the movie ended exactly the way it did, with Dr. Shaw and David’s head surviving the Engineer’s rampage and setting off in search of the Engineer’s home-world, they could have  had their “parallel” story-line right there, continuing to explore Shaw’s adventures in future films without connecting any further to Ripley.  Am I right or am I crazy??  Once again I am struck by what an enormous, jaw-dropping missed opportunity Prometheus was.  (Click here for my original review [continued]

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Click here to read part one of my list of the Top 15 Movies of 2012, in which I listed numbers 15-11.  Now, onward!

10. Looper In this smart, original sci-fi flick written and directed by Rian Johnson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Joe.  Joe is a Looper, someone paid to kill guys the mob from thirty-years in the future send back in time to get whacked, long before the law might be looking for their bodies or any evidence of the crime.  One day, the guy sent back in time for Joe to kill turns out to be Joe himself, now played by Bruce Willis.  Old Joe gets away from Young Joe, and things spiral out of control from there.  Bruce Willis hasn’t been this much fun to watch in an action movie in years, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is terrific as well.  I loved watching these two play off of one another.  Emily Blunt (making her second appearance on my Best of 2012 list, as she also starred in The Five-Year Engagement) and Paul Dano and Jeff Daniels are all fun in supporting roles.  This is a twisty sci-fi tale that is mind-bending without ever losing sight of the character drama at the heart of the story. (Click here for my original review.)

9. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Though not the masterpiece that the three original Lord of the Rings films were, this first of Peter Jackson’s three-film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit is still a ferociously entertaining fantasy adventure.  At nearly three hours in length, this film is stuffed to the gills with extraordinary sights and thrills, with characters and with circumstance.  Martin Freeman is wonderful as Bilbo Baggins (inheriting the role from Ian Holm who played Bilbo in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and who actually reprises his role as “Old Bilbo” in one of this film’s many prologues), a great every-man anchor to the story.  He’s great, and I also loved seeing lots more of Ian McKellan, who reprises his role as Gandalf and is magnificent as ever as the gruff, temperamental wizard.  The film is filled with many great new characters (all of the Dwarves) as well as the welcome return of many familiar faces from the original trilogy (Hugo Weaving as Elrond, Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, Christopher Lee as Saruman, and of course Andy Serkis as Gollum).  The “riddles in the dark” scene with Gollum alone makes this film worth seeing, but there are so many other wonderful moments, from the long opening scene in Bag End with all of the dwarves (highlighted by Richard Armitage as Thorin and the other Dwarves singing the somber “Misty Mountains” … [continued]

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Guessing About The Second and Third Hobbit Films!

December 24th, 2012
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OK, having seen and enjoyed The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (click here for my review), it’s time to start speculating about the second and third films in Peter Jackson’s three-film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel!

Re-reading The Hobbit last month, I guessed that the first film would end following the Dwarves’ escape from the Misty Mountains.  At the end of chapter six, that part of the story ends with the line: “So ended the adventure of the Misty Mountains.”  That seemed like a pretty definitive stopping point in the story, and so I thought it would make a logical break-point between the films.  I am pleased to see that I guessed correctly!

So what will film two depict?  Where will film two end and film three begin?

Well, I suppose that it is logical to surmise that film two will include Beorn, the confrontation with the spiders, and all the business of the Dawrves being captured by the elves and escaping in barrels down the river.  I can also see film two including material drawn from the Lord of the Rings’ appendices, as well as new material, depicting the White Council’s confrontation with the Nercromancer at Dol Guldur.  (In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, co-screenwriter Philippa Boyens says that we’ll get to see the battle mentioned in the appendices at Dol Guldur featuring elves, giant spiders, orcs, and wargs.  “One of the main protagonists in that is Galadriel,” Boyens says.  “We get to go there.  We get to see it.”)  That same interview also hints, quite logically, that the films will flesh out the character of Bard, who becomes very significant at the end of the book but doesn’t get much back-story in the original novel.  It makes sense for Peter Jackson and co. to take the time to better develop this pivotal character, and I expect we’ll see a chunk of that material in film two.

So where will film two end?  Seeing as how the new schedule for the trilogy of films is for film three to be released only six months after film two, rather than our having to wait a full year, I suspect that means that film two ends on a cliffhanger.  Why else would they alter the schedule that we have seen to this point?  (All of the Lord of the Rings films were released a year apart from one another, and The Desolation of Smaug is being released a year after An Unexpected Journey.) The only reason I can see for changing that release pattern is if film two ends on a whopper of a cliffhanger.  (Dipping a bit into history, I recall that Back to the Future Part II and … [continued]

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“Far over the Misty Mountains cold…” Josh Reviews The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

During the buildup towards the release of the first film in Peter Jackson’s three-film adaptation of The Hobbit, I found myself having a hard time imagining Mr. Jackson and co. being able to top the magnificent achievement that was his Lord of the Rings trilogy.  I’m sure there were times when Mr. Jackson himself had the same thought, which is why when work on the adaptation began in earnest, he was not originally slated to direct. The films (at the time the plan was for two films) were due to be helmed by Guillermo del Toro, but when the project hit the brakes because of New Line’s bankruptcy, Mr. del Toro left the project and Peter Jackson stepped in.  I’m pleased that’s how things worked out.  While I would have loved to have seen del Toro’s version of The Hobbit, that would have been a very different film indeed, and as The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey began, I was delighted to find myself back in the world of Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth.

Is The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey as good as any of the Lord of the Rings films?  At the moment my feeling is that it is not, but I have seen all three Lord of the Rings films so many times, and my love for them has only grown over the years.  Having only had one senses-pounding viewing of The Hobbit under my belt, the film hasn’t quite sunk in for me yet, and it’s definitely conceivable that the film will rise in my estimation once I have seen it a few more times.  But for now, while I would rank this film slightly lower than the Lord of the Rings films, I still found it to be an absolutely magnificent achievement, and a ferociously entertaining time in the theatre.  I’ve avoided reading too many reviews of the film before seeing it, but I’ve seen a lot of headlines that seem to describe the film as being just OK.  I am here to tell you not to believe that hogwash.  The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a spectacular fantasy adventure, huge in scope but also filled with rich character work and deep emotion.

The film feels fully of a piece with Mr. Jackson’s original trilogy.  Many characters recur, of course (Gandalf, Elrond, Galadriel, Saruman, Gollum, and others), and Mr. Jackson’s team have faithfully recreated many of the iconic locations that we first saw in The Lord of the Rings: Bag End, Rivendell, etc.  There are a ton of little nods and winks to the events of the original trilogy (when I write “original trilogy,” I feel like I should be talking about Star Wars!): Gandalf once … [continued]

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News Around the Net!

Well, I had less-than-happy things to say last week about the teaser posters for Star Trek into Dark Knight (ahem, Into Darkness) and Man of Steel. But both films have shut me up for now by unveiling pretty awesome teaser trailers, first Trek and now Man of Steel:

http://youtu.be/KVu3gS7iJu4

That’s a pretty fantastic trailer.  I’m not wild about having to sit through Superman’s origin yet again, but so far it looks like it’s being presented with class, and with some new imagery.  I am a bit surprised that this Zack Snyder Superman trailer is so light on action.  I had assumed that the reason to hire Zack Snyder to direct your Superman picture would be so it’d be chock-full of great super-hero/super-villain punch-em-ups.  But so far both trailers for Man of Steel have struck the same reverential tone as Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns. I loved Superman Returns (I know, I am the only one) so this doesn’t bother me, it’s just a bit surprising.

Here’s another awesome trailer, for Guillermo del Toro’s long-awaited next film.  It seems to be about giant monsters fighting giant robots.  I am there.

I am not a huge kaiju fan, but I did grow up watching Tranzor Z on American TV (a Japanese cartoon about a huge robot piloted by a young boy who controlled the robot from a control-ship in the robot’s head) so I’m down with the whole people-controlling-huge-robots-to-fight-evil sub-genre.  And with del Toro at the helm, I think we’re assured of some spectacular action and weirdness.

Here’s another interesting trailer, for Oblivion:

OK, Tom Cruise is playing Wall-E and Morgan Freeman is playing Morpheus, but that could be interesting.  Original sci-fi = good.  From the director of Tron: Legacy = worrisome.  We’ll see…

With The Hobbit so close I can taste it, here’s a great article on the ways in which J.R.R. Tolkien pulled a George Lucas and ret-conned his original version of The Hobbit after writing The Lord of the Rings.

Sticking with Peter Jackson for a moment, this is very pleasant news that he is still planning on directing a second Tintin film!  (The plan was always that Steven Spielberg would direct the first film with Peter Jackson producing, and then they would swap roles for the second film.  But with Mr. Jackson working on The Hobbit for the past few years, I had thought that plan had been abandoned.  I loved the first Tintin so I’d be delighted to see a sequel…!)

Someone made a bookshelf shaped like the Guardian of Forever??  Why is this not in my home right now???

That’s all for me today, my friends.  Sorry the Skyfall cartoons have been a bit … [continued]

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Counting Down ‘Till The Hobbit…

November 26th, 2012

Less than three weeks, now, until the release of The Hobbit! To make the anticipation even more unbearable, here’s the latest video diary:

I’ve been re-watching the special features on the Lord of the Rings Extended Edition DVDs recently and fondly remembering those crazy years of anticipation for each of those three marvelous films… freeze-framing the trailers, reading every bit of news I could find… it was enormous fun, made all the more spectacular because none of the films disappointed in any way.  The whole multi-year adventure of the release of that trilogy, along with the incredible Extended Edition DVDs, was one of the most delightful cinematic experiences I have ever been a part of.  I am near-giddy with the thought of the next few years, with the release of three new films, will be every bit as fun.  We’ll know more in eighteen days…!… [continued]

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Did you enjoy the new Hobbit trailer I posted last week?  If you haven’t seen them, here are all of the other alternate endings to that trailer.

Uh oh.  Looks like Rise of the Planet of the Apes director Rupert Wyatt has dropped out of work on the sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, apparently because Fox is rushing the film to meet the release date the studio had chosen.  This is not a good sign.

This past weekend, on the eve of Treme’s season 3 premiere came the good news/bad news that HBO had renewed the show for a fourth and final season (four seasons was apparently David Simon’s ideal length for the run of the show), albeit a shortened season.  The exact length of this shortened fourth season, what Mr. Simon refers to as “season 3.5,” is TBD.  I’m bummed the show couldn’t swing a full final season, but I’m thrilled that HBO is at least giving Mr. Simon and his team some episodes to bring their television masterpiece to a conclusion of their choosing.

Well,  now I know why Robot Chicken did a DC Comics special this year, rather than a fourth Star Wars one.  It’s because Seth Green and many of the rest of the Robot Chicken gang are working on a whole new Star Wars parody show, Star Wars Detours. This first trailer is funny, though I’m not sure why this is a whole new show and not just more Robot Chicken…

Speaking of Star Wars, it looks like Episode II and Episode III will be getting a 3-D theatrical re-release in 2013.  I sat out the Episode I re-release (I must admit I was a little tempted, but that film is just so bad I couldn’t see spending the money, even though I was curious about the look of the 3-D), and I’m not that much more interested in seeing Episode II. But seeing Episode III back on the big screen, and in 3-D?  That just might have my ticket.  But I am really waiting to see if they re-release the Original Trilogy.  Any excuse to see those films on the big screen again is exciting for me, no matter how much new digital fiddling Mr. Lucas and his minions have done…

This is an interesting list of the Top 5 Best-Acted Moments in a Steven Spielberg Film.  I definitely agree with numbers 5, 4, and 1, not so sure about 3 and 2…

I was already interested in Judd Apatow’s new film, This is 40, and this interview with Robert Smigel and Albert Brooks, both of whom are appearing in the film, has … [continued]

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“The World is Ahead” — Peter Jackson Unleashes a New Trailer for “The Hobbit”!!

September 19th, 2012
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Magnificent.  LOVE the use, as dialogue, of a lyric from Pippin’s mournful song from Return of the King.

See you there!… [continued]

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In response to this summer’s lousy Spider-Man reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man (click here for my review), comes this great article on 10 Remakes that Got it Right.  There are some really intriguing films on this list that I have never seen, but have been immediately placed on my “to-watch” list…

It’s old news by now, but I haven’t yet waxed poetic on this site about how excited I am that Peter Jackson has expanded his adaptation of The Hobbit from two films to a trilogy!  Very exciting.  The hints of obscure bits of story from the Lord of the Rings appendices that Mr. Jackson is going to be filming in order to flesh out the story are even more exciting still.  The battle of Dol Goldur??  Awesome!!

The new X-Men film is going to be Days of Future Past??? That’s hugely exciting, but also very worrisome.  Days of Future Past is one of the greatest X-Men stories (heck, one of the greatest comic book stories) of all time.  The idea of that being adapted into a film is extraordinary!!  Bravo to Bryan Singer and xx on taking on this iconic story.  But the thought of a BAD version of Days of Future Past would be horrifying.  I was burned by X3′s brutalization of the Dark Phoenix Saga (probably THE greatest X-Men story of all time), and that’s a pain not easily forgotten… I am crossing my fingers and toes about this one…

Speaking of Bryan Singer, why the heck is he still developing a Battlestar Galactica movie?  Do we really need another version of Galactica, after Ron Moore’s fabulous TV series…?  The only place to go is down…

I am excited to see DC’s upcoming animated adaptation of Frank Miller’s seminal “Last Batman Story” The Dark Knight Returns. (DKR was a strong source of material for Christopher Nolan’s final Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises, as I noted in my review.)  However, this first trailer leaves me underwhelmed in the extreme.  This trailer should have been slow, spooky, and reverent, selling us on a world that had moved on without Batman.  Instead, it seems to be selling a zippy animated adventure.  I hope this doesn’t reflect the tone of the finished product.

In happier news — Larry David, Dave Mandel, Alec Berg, Jeff Schaffer (key players on Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Greg Mottola (Superbad, Adventureland, Paul) are working together on a new movie for HBO?  Can’t wait!!… [continued]

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The Hobbit Wraps Principal Photography!

July 23rd, 2012

I don’t know about you, but the Lord of the Rings music in the Man of Steel trailers I posted the other day really got me jonesing for The Hobbit. And lo and behold, Peter Jackson & co. have posted another production diary — a glimpse at Comic-Con and the end of principal photography on the two Hobbit films.  Take a look:

They really made these films!  This is really happening!!  Can’t wait for December…!

(C’mon back here tomorrow for my review of The Dark Knight Rises…!… [continued]

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News Around the Net!

This was written before the film’s release, but I was fascinated by this piece from CHUD about about Disney’s staggering inability to market John Carter (of Mars). It’s a shame that the film has turned out to be such a colossal money-loser for the studio, but it’s shocking that the mighty Disney machine couldn’t figure out a way to sell this film.

Wanna waste a bunch of time today?  Click on over to this Seinfeld quote-a-day page…

GAME OF THRONES IS ALMOST BACK!!  In honor of the imminent launch of season 2, take the time to marvel at this spot-on homage to Game of Thrones’ opening credits by The Simpsons.  The days of my watching The Simpsons every week are long gone, but that brings me right back to when I loved the show…

Speaking of Game of Thrones, time to revel in this great preview of the upcoming season:

http://youtu.be/VVkr9oYsIbo

Have you seen the latest production diary for The Hobbit?

The wait to see this film is PAINFUL!!  But I am starting to think it’s getting to be time to re-watch the LOTR trilogy…

Every new tidbit of information about the upcoming Spider-Man reboot has me more and more worried…[continued]

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An Unexpected Journey

December 20th, 2011
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Stop reading and WATCH THIS NOW:

Dear lord, we have to wait a FULL YEAR for this???  I’m not sure if I can make it!

I’ve watched the trailer several times through already, and I just love it to death.  And remember: this is just a teaser trailer for a film that is STILL FILMING as we speak and won’t be finished and released to theatres for a full year.  So while, yeah, the trailer only gives us the barest of glimpses at the good stuff we’re all waiting for, keep in mind how most teaser trailers aren’t released until about 6 months (or far LESS) before a film comes out, and even then usually only give a few snippets of footage.  This is a full two minutes and thirty-one seconds of Hobbity goodness.  Time to watch it again.  (LOVE that Misty Mountains chant…)

Oh, and check out this awesome poster:

And if that’s not enough Lord of the Rings fun for you today, go to maps.google.com and type in “the Shire” as your starting point and “Mordor” as your destination.  Go on, I’ll wait.  (You need to select walking directions, rather than driving directions.)  Check out badassdigest for more info.… [continued]

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News Around the Net!

This is a fantastic article from the New York Times about how baseball dugout payphones are the last bastion of the landline.

The web-site io9 always has some great lists, and I particularly enjoyed their recent list of 10 stand-alone episodes that totally represent their respective shows.  Choosing “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” for The X-Files was a great choice.

Quint from AICN has begun posting reports from the set of The Hobbit. Check out Part 1 of his Unexpected Journey here.  Meanwhile, Peter Jackson has recently posted the fourth video diary from the set of The Hobbit, this one focusing on the film’s 3-D effects:

Did you catch that glimpse at The Hobbit’s official logo, there at the end?  Cool!!

This review of the Star Wars saga on blu-ray from Chud.com is interesting — especially the “fuck you” opening (early in “the lowdown” section)!  The reviewer has some interesting comments on all the films, particularly Empire. (Though his rating both The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones as better films than Return of the Jedi is lunacy.  Jedi is flawed, absolutely, but still way better than those two prequels.)  (By the way, so far I have held firm in my vow not to purchase the saga on blu-ray.  I’m itching to watch the series again, and I will admit to a morbid curiosity as to what has been changed in this latest version of the films, but I’m still avoiding paying almost a hundred bucks for something that I know will, in the end, just sadden and/or anger me.  Still, if anyone wants to give it to me as a GIFT…!)

But the articles that have really reminded me of my love for Star Wars, and that have got me thinking about re-watching the series, is Drew McWeeny from HitFix’s series of FilmNerd articles about showing the Star Wars films, one at a time, to his young kids for the very first time.  These articles represent some of the finest writing Mr. McWeeny has ever done, and if you’ve ever enjoyed a Star Wars film, these are well-worth your time.  It’s fascinating to re-experience these films through the eyes of someone who has never seen them before.  Consider, if you will, two boys who have seen the Clone Wars cartoons but not the films.  They think Anakin Skywalker is the hero of Star Wars.  Reading how they react to what the film series is REALLY about is poignant and mind-blowing.  Start with Drew’s article about showing his boys the original Star Wars (A New Hope) and go from there.  Here’s his piece on Empire, and then his pieces on Episode I, Episode [continued]

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My friend Rabbi Ethan Linden has written a wonderful article on his blog about HBO’s recently-concluded Game of Thrones mini-series (which I LOVED) and some broader thoughts about the fantasy and sci-fi genres.  Here’s an excerpt:

People love to make fun of the superhero comic book genre, the fantasy genre, and the science fiction genre, both in movies and in books.  This is unfortunate, because all three of these types of fiction provide some the most fertile ground for the creation of words that, though different from our own in important ways, nonetheless allow us to reflect on the realities of our customs, cultures and institutions.  For some reason, these three genres are often considered to be “nerdy” or “dorky” and the typical mainstream reviewed will often make a snide remark about the intended audience for these types of fictions before launching into a review of the actual material in front of them.  (Take a look at this New York Times review of the TV series for a prime example.)  That these genres are taken seriously is a shame, because great fantasy, science fiction and superhero stories can be among the best ways we have of thinking deeply about who we are.

You can read the rest of Rabbi Linden’s terrific post here.

This is a superlative article, over at Hitfix.com, listing 25 Movie Sequels That Hollywood Should Have Made.  The list is spot-on, with excellent choices both common (Serenity) and obscure (Devil With a Blue Dress).  Warning: reading this will make you a little sad that sequels to these films do not exist, while X-Men Origins: Wolverine does.

Check out this great new trailer for the adaptation of John Le Carre’s novel Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.  Looks phenomenal.

Speaking of trailers, Steven Spielberg has finally released a new film, his first since Munich in 2005!  (What’s that, you say?  He directed an Indiana Jones film in 2008?  No, no, you’re wrong, there’s no way Mr. Spielberg could have had anything to do with that train-wreck.)  Anyways, take a look at the trailer for War Horse.

Cars 2 didn’t really interest me, but I’m looking forward to the next Pixar film:  Brave.

Here’s a look at the latest Mission Impossible film: Ghost Protocol.  None of the first three Mission Impossible films have been as great as I’ve wanted them to be, but I’ve enjoyed them all, so I’d be excited for this fourth installment even if it wasn’t Brad Bird (The Incredibles, The Iron Giant)’s live-action directorial debut.

Here at last is our first teaser trailer for John Carter (Of Mars).  Is it possible this is going to be good?  … [continued]

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News Around the Net!

I followed a link the other day to the 10 Most Insane, Child-Warping Moments of ’80s Cartoons.  Pretty funny stuff there.  I’d also like to direct your attention to this list of the 10 Star Wars Toys that Unintentionally Look Like Other Celebrities.  (It’s worth your while if only so that you, too, can be stunned by the resemblance of General Riekaan — from The Empire Strikes Back — to Senator John Kerry!!)

I’ve just discovered a phenomenal web-comic called Let’s Be Friends Again.  It’s mostly about comic books.  I love it to death, and it’s well worth your precious time, so check it out.

Have you seen this ten-minute fan-made live-action G.I. Joe film, Battle For the Serpent Stone?  I’m a big proponent of fan-films, and this one is of pretty high quality.  It’s quite an achievement — take a look.

Here’s a link to an terrific interview with IDW Comics editor Scott Dunbier, discussing his work in putting out the gorgeous new hardcover Bloom County: The Complete Library, Volume One (1980-1982), the first of five books that will collect every single strip (many of which have never before been collected) of Berkeley Breathed’s masterpiece comic strip.  I lust after this collection, and very much hope that Mr. Dunbier is able to move forward with collections of Outland and Opus as well.

This is a great story about an annoying movie theatre patron.  I wish there was a theatre like The Alamo Drafthouse here in Boston, because I would be more than happy to spend an enormous amount of money watching movies there and nowhere else.  I am sick to death of having my enjoyment of a movie interrupted by some jackass talking, texting, or some other such nonsense.

Harvard University is offering a class on The Wire??? Sign me up!!

I never believed it would happen, but filming on the two-film adaptation of The Hobbit is coming closer and closer to getting underway.  Click here for an interesting interview with director Guillermo del Toro with some updates on how things are progressing.

Despite my renewed appreciation for the final run of episodes of Battlestar Galactica, this hilarious evisceration of the plot points in the last 45 minutes of the finale is impossible to argue with.

Here’s a terrific list of one fellow’s Top 15 Episodes of Batman: The Animated Series.  It’s an interesting list.  I absolutely adore episodes such as “Over The Edge,” “Mad Love,” “Robin’s Reckoning,” and “Heart of Ice,” and I was also pleased to see some lesser-known gems like “The Ultimate Thrill” and “Growing Pains” make the cut.  (However, while “If You’re So Smart, Why … [continued]