Holla!! I watched several movies this Christmas season, both in theaters and out, and with the hustle and bustle, I never got around to finishing my reviews. I know you’ve been eagerly anticipating this moment and I’m glad to say, the wait is over. Below this paragraph are three of the finest reviews anyone has ever assembled in the history of the world. I don’t promise perfection, but I will say that the things I’ve written about these movies are completely flawless.
So, Lincoln. This is certainly a good news/bad news movie. I’ll start with the good news. Lincoln is a well-done film. The production quality is extremely high, the recreation of 19th Century America is amazing, and Daniel Day-Lewis is astounding as the titular character. Like, really astounding. In fact, it felt like I was watching Lincoln on the screen rather than the actor. Day-Lewis has to be in the discussion as the best actor ever, right? I mean, he kills every role he plays. He alone makes the movie 60% better. As for the rest of the cast, they did commendably, which is good, because this film is just as much about them as it is Lincoln.
Now for the flip side of the coin (in this case, a penny for obvious reasons): the movie is not even about Lincoln!! It is really about the passage of the 13th Amendment. Of course, that is a fine subject for a movie, but since the film is entitled Lincoln, I was expecting a film about the man, his life, etc. It’s not like the Mel Gibson movie The Passion of the Christ was called Jesus Christ. That would have been misleading, as the film was only about a small part of Jesus’ life. In the same way, this film recaps the last parts of Lincoln’s life and foregoes any representation of what got him to that point. For some reason, this really bugs me. It felt like a bait-and-switch. A more appropriate title would have been something like Lincoln and the 13th Amendment. If that were the title, I would not have expected anything about the man’s life, save for his efforts to pass the Amendment. In other words, I would have expected this movie.
One last “bad” thing about the film: I’ve read pieces of other reviews, and some individuals slam the film for being politically inaccurate, saying that Lincoln wasn’t nearly the savior he is shown to be on screen. At this point, I am not qualified to speak on that, but it seems worth mentioning.
In conclusion, Lincoln is a good movie about an important time in our country’s history, and, though it doesn’t address most of the man’s life, it does a fine (and highly entertaining) job of showing what pieces had to come together to pass the 13th Amendment. If that sounds appealing, go watch. 7.1/10.
PS – The music is by John Williams and features what amounts to background music. It never really stands out as being anything special.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Okay, so I have read The Hobbit several times over, and I was very disappointed in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (THAUJ). Now, even though I have read the book, I believe the same things that disappointed me will disappoint any moviegoer, whether they be someone who has read the book multiple times or someone who has never read it at all. Overall, the movie feels sloppy, rushed, and uninspired for a Peter Jackson film. I use “Peter Jackson” as a qualifier because I believe this film would be an absolute breakout film for any other filmmaker. It just so happens that Jackson made one of the greatest film trilogies ever, the Lord of the Rings, and his works will undoubtedly be compared to that superlative series forever. The Hobbit series will especially be compared because of its relation to the LOTR material. Seen through that prism, this movie is a disappointment.
A sidenote on Peter Jackson before I go on. Going into this viewing, I couldn’t stop thinking about how Jackson didn’t want to direct this joint in the first place. He tried to get Hellboy creator Guillermo del Toro to make it first, which would have happened if the project had not lapse into the so-called “development hell”, pun gleefully intended. Once del Toro fell through, Jackson seemed reluctant to step in, finally announcing he was available if needed. Of course, he was needed, and I would imagine he decided to make the movie with a sigh and a “here we go again” attitude. Heck, when he finished making the LOTR trilogy, he basically said he would never film three movies at once ever again. Anyway, I was hoping for the best, but I felt unsure this would be anywhere near his best work just based on his seemingly great reluctance to take this project on in the first place.
So, leaving Peter Jackson and that baggage behind, I would still say this movie is sloppy representation of The Hobbit. You have probably played the game Telephone where you and a bunch of friends sit in a circle, and one friend reads a sentence to the person next to them, who then tells the person next to them, who then tells the person next to them, and so on until it get to the end. The last person then relates the message to the group for comparison to the original message. Sometimes, the message is remarkably similar, both in content and tone, to the original. Most of the time, however, the message gets really distorted and can end up completely (and comically) different with nothing in common with the original intent. The reason for this is that each person along the chain gave their own interpretation of the message; they put their own spin on things. These “spins” happen naturally, often without the person realizing it, adding to the hilarity and poignancy of the moment. However, sometimes there is a player who knows how the game works, and he will intentionally change the message to suit his own agenda (usually to be funny, which rarely works since most people aren’t talented enough to pass along a message that would transcend the process of the game). When that happens, the natural process of sharing the message is manipulated and a lower form of the game exists, one in which the sharer’s agenda is intentionally put ahead of preserving the message. The natural magic of the game is lost. In the same way, this movie feels like the result of a deliberate agenda. Though the most basic plot seems to be intact, and though it has some remarkably well done moments, it does not seem like an honest interpretation, but rather an interpretation geared toward getting the maximum money for the efforts involved. There’s a ton of stuff that made it feel this way: superfluous action, bad editing, rehashed musical themes (although the dwarf theme is enjoyable!), and an uninspired script. Whatever. Having said all that, I can see how some might find it to be a fun movie, and it is probably something good for the kids. In the end, I’m giving this film a 6/10 and hoping for better in the next film. If you’re jonesing to see it, rent it. It’ll be just as good at home.
I just wrote a lot of words on Lincoln and THAUJ. I’ll keep Jack Reacher short and sweet. It’s a clumsy action/mystery/suspense Bourne Identity-esque film. I still give it a 6/10 because I like clumsy action/mystery/suspense Bourne Identity-esque films. Here’s some criteria to help you decide if you should see it:
If you just really like to see people beat each other up, go see it.
If you like sweet hotrod cars, go see it (some of the rides are FLYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY).
If you enjoy Thomas Cruise nee Mapother, go see it. So what if he’s portraying a character that’s supposed to be 6’4? So what if he’s not really playing a character any different from any of his other action roles? He delivers.
If you like watching movies at the theater and received a gift card for Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza and it’s burning a hole in your pocket (and nothing else looks/sounds appealing), go see it. And that concludes my review of Jack Reacher.
Dang! I almost forgot – Happy New Year’s to everyone! 2012 was a fun year, my first full twelve months of writing about what I watch, and it was a blast! Thanks for all the feedback and support from everyone. I’m hoping for some really good films in 2013. I feel like 2012 was somewhat on the disappointing side, but with Superman, Ironman, Oz, Ender’s Game, and a whole slew of other titles on the horizon, I think it’s safe to say things are looking up! Peace.
Grant Stevens is literally the greatest writer who has ever walked the face of the planet Earth. Though you might think that an exaggeration, you will surely agree that he is the most wonderful thing since sliced bread once you’ve experienced his entire catalogue. He plans to establish a new prize for writers this year and subsequently win it. Stay posted for developments on that inevitability.