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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Quick Reviews: Miserable(s) Hobbit Guilt

Another wrapup of three movies I've recently seen. (The title format for these movie posts might become a regular thing.) Also, these and a few others will go into the 2012 summary based on their release date, not when I actually get to see them, although in these three cases I actually did see them in 2012. Warning: you might find my opinion of one of these to be controversial.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was just too long, drawn out, at times incredibly boring. The only reason to expand this story into a trilogy like its "Lord of the Rings" predecessor is money. Don't let anyone tell you differently. However, I thought it looked wonderful. I watched the 48-frames-per-second version (twice the standard rate), which caused a lot of consternation when some early footage was released, and despite the fact that I also had to endure 3D, I found it to be extremely crisp visually. My grade: C-plus.

Not filmed in 3D or 48 frames per second, The Guilt Trip will cause no consternation or controversy whatsoever. As a mother-and-son duo making a cross-country trip we're given a phoning-it-in Barbra Streisand and a neutered-for-PG13 Seth Rogen. There are a few mild laughs but there's nothing new or innovative about this at all. It's basically harmless. My grade: C.

Let be me honest: I walked out of Les Miserables early. I saw over an hour, but that was enough. I am not against musicals, even musicals with virtually no spoken dialogue whatsoever. I like musicals. But this one just sounded like everyone sang the same loooooooooooooong song. Even as one scene bleeds into another, even as the film jumps years ahead to continue the story, the songs were virtually indistinguishable. (Compare it to "Evita," which also has very little speaking and also has a couple of time jumps, but at least there's variety and clarity.) The only things that snapped me out of my stupor: Anne Hathaway's passion in singing "I Dreamed A Dream" and woefully-miscast Russell Crowe's painful vocals on whatever song or songs he sang. As it went on, and as more characters were introduced, I became increasingly disinterested. This was an absolute mess in every way (except the aforementioned Hathaway bit). Finally, I could take no more. And I even I managed to sit through all of "Rock of Ages." Still, I'm giving it a better grade than "Rock of Ages" just because of "I Dreamed A Dream." So, it's got that going for it, which is nice. My grade: D-minus.


canmark said...

Joe, have you seen Les Miserables (the stage show)? I thought the film was well done, although the stage show allows the audience to use their imagination more. Also, I think the songs sound better in the theatre (live singing, or on the Original Broadway Cast CD) than in the film. I have no desire to get the movie soundtrack CD.

Joe in Philly said...

Never saw the stage version (which, coincidentally, is here this week). I don't think I'd go unless I was given a free ticket, though.

canmark said...

I just discovered that Roger Ebert didn't like Les Miserables (the movie), either, so you are in good company. He writes: "Looking at the nine films nominated for Best Picture, I find only one that I flatly don't believe was a good film, the near-unbearable "Les Miserables." Victor Hugo's superbly entertaining novel has been transformed into a lumbering musical of dirges that rise and fall, with the occasional relief of a little rinky-dink tune."

Joe in Philly said...

Good for him! ;-)