REVIEW: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King [2003]

“Some things are certain” It’s crazy how perception can be shifted over the years if your mind focuses on one specific attribute of something. I thought The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was the weakest of the trilogy after seeing it in theaters (and still do), but not by a lot. A big part of this was the fatigue of watching so many endings after a three-hour epic culmination of two previous films and two years of my life since finishing Fellowship of the Ring. And…

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REVIEW: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers [2002]

“Not idly do the leaves of Lorien fall” The second part of a trilogy is oftentimes the worst. It exists in a no man’s land without beginning or end, a bridge we must wait for and wait further to continue that cannot survive on its own. So it’s therefore a rarity when this chapter possesses the ability to tell its story in a way that allows for its own success while also augmenting the larger whole. J.R.R. Tolkien understood this when he wrote The Lord of the Rings. Even though…

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REVIEW: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring [2001]

“Keep your nose out of trouble and no trouble will come to you” Published in 1955, The Lord of the Rings would soon prove to be J.R.R. Tolkien‘s masterwork. It took him twelve years to complete, a project that began as a sequel to The Hobbit before morphing into its own adventure steeped in dark mythology as contained by The Silmarillion—a book he had hoped to publish alongside its account of the One Ring’s return from Gollum’s possession in the Misty Mountain and Bilbo Baggins’ pocket in the Shire. The…

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REVIEW: Night Train to Lisbon [2013]

“When dictatorship is a fact, revolution is a duty” Sometimes a well-written story is all you truly need to make a successful film and I believe author Pascal Mercier‘s novel Night Train to Lisbon provides one. Adapted by Greg Latter and Ulrich Herrmann with Bille August as director, the cinematic version of this look back at romance in a time of revolution unfolds with its melodic Annette Focks score as though we’re sitting over a cup of tea across from each character as they tell their part in the mystery…

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REVIEW: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey [2012]

“Home is now behind you” It’s hard to return to Middle Earth without thinking about Randal Graves from Clerks II and his defense of Star Wars possessing as its cornerstone the fact Peter Jackson‘s film version of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s Lord of the Rings trilogy was all a bunch of people walking. He’s not wrong. What the generalization misses, however, is just how integral the gorgeous landscapes of New Zealand play in creating this fantastical world. We accept the long treks across mountains and through trees because it breathes life into…

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REVIEW: Hugo [2011]

“Where are your designated adults?” When Hugo was announced as Martin Scorsese’s next film, little was mentioned about Brian Selznick’s Caldecott Medal-winning source material, The Invention of Hugo Cabret. The big news was the auteur relishing an opportunity to helm his first family film and willingly delve into the world of 3D—a medium seen mostly as a gimmick since Avatar. These revelations kept many from seeing how perfect a fit the material was for the director: a love letter to those responsible for cinema’s genesis and a film historian who…

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REVIEW: Ratatouille [2007]

“He calls it his Tiny Chef” Brad Bird is by far the best writer/director of animated films coming out of America in a long time. Besides Hayao Miyazaki, there is no one else with the track record that this guy has. From The Iron Giant to The Incredibles to now Ratatouille, Bird just gets better and better with each new move. This new Pixar installment is definitely the most intellectually stimulating yet, but really which of his films haven’t been intelligent first, kiddie-catering second? Ratatouille is by all means cinematic…

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