“The Hobbit” Trilogy Retrospective

thehobbit-movie-670In my reviews, I’ve been somewhat harsh towards Peter Jackson’s Hobbit films. These films have been some of the most difficult for me to review. Subjectively, I can still enjoy these films for what they are. They work as action-adventure movies set in Middle-earth. At times, they’re visually stimulating, even if occasionally they rely too much on CGI. Some of the acting is excellent. Martin Freemen’s performance will likely be the definitive version of Bilbo Baggins for years. Objectively, the movies are flawed and lack emotional resonance. Moreover, the trilogy is not a faithful adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

Continue reading ““The Hobbit” Trilogy Retrospective”

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“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” by Peter Jackson

hho8ZnXIf The Battle of the Five Armies (Bot5A) is the capstone of the Hobbit trilogy, there is some payoff, but the payoffs are often too quick to truly satisfy. For example, Smaug’s attack on Laketown was beautifully rendered and easily the high point of the film. But it was over by the time the title appears. If you happened to arrive at the theater a few minutes late because you were buying popcorn or had to use the restroom, you might have missed the sequence entirely. This scene should have been a climax of the story, not an add-on.

*** WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD *** Continue reading ““The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” by Peter Jackson”

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” by Peter Jackson

Hobbit-Desolation-of-Smaug-PosterI loved the The Lord of the Rings movies, and An Unexpected Journey had some precious scenes, but… what happened with The Desolation of Smaug? The story is simply becoming convoluted and risks losing track of the main characters. It also completely misses the tone and spirit of the book.  Continue reading ““The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” by Peter Jackson”

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” by Peter Jackson

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I’m torn over how to assess Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Hobbit. Parts of An Unexpected Journey stay very faithful to the book, and those parts generally work well. However, the changes to the book fall flat. I was fine with the changes Jackson made in the LotR movies, but in AUJ he strayed a bit too far from The Hobbit. Unlike in the LotR films, where changes condensed plot points or clarified character arcs, most of the changes in AUJ seemed to divert the focus away from the main characters and plot.

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“Interstellar” watch

5536_interstellar-posterI just saw Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar last night. I’d like to watch it again before writing a full review because there is a lot to absorb. In short, I enjoyed it quite a bit. It doesn’t replace Contact as my favorite hard science fiction film, but I have a lot of respect for what the movie does. It’s probably the first and only time Einstein’s theory of relativity has been central to the plot of a major Hollywood movie. Even more impressive, Interstellar has made a lot of money ($635 million as of late December 2014). Hollywood take note: smart science fiction sells.

Babylon 5 watch

-808f13b0-4975-4ee7-b292-78163f456aebI’m doing something I swore I’d never do: watch Babylon 5. Babylon 5 was an early attempt to tell serialized science fiction stories on TV during the mid-1990s, long before serialization became the norm. It was marketed as the “anti-Trek” at a time when my favorite show was Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

However, I’ve heard that the show is full of political intrigue and has great characters, so I thought it’d be worth a try. It’s also the only non-Trek TV show to not have been canceled prematurely (at least until Ron Moore’s Battlestar Galactica).

I plan to post reviews for each season as I finish them. It should be a fun ride. Whether you’re a “Lurker” (diehard B5 fan) or had never even heard of the series before, I hope you’ll join me as I take a look back at this important – if somewhat forgotten – science fiction show.

“Starship Troopers” by Robert A. Heinlein

9780441783588_custom-687c1628bad756253c64b990e70fb559a6a8b6e4-s6-c30On a superficial level, Starship Troopers is a book about humans fighting alien bugs. As an action/adventure story, it works quite very well. However, Robert A. Heinlein also uses the novel to explore the relationship between citizens and government. The book is a surprisingly deep exploration of what it means to be a citizen in a political community. Starship Troopers is set on an Earth with a quasi-democratic government. Only those individuals who serve in the military are permitted to vote and participate in governance. The rest of the populace, “civilians,” are allowed to engage in commerce and lead productive lives, but are notably second-class citizens.

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“Tales from Watership Down” by Richard Adams

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Watership Down is rightly regarded as a classic. Richard Adams wisely resisted the temptation to write a traditional sequel. However, he did attempt to satisfy readers’ demands with Tales from Watership Down, a set of tales told in the aftermath of the warren’s’ victory over Efrafa. The first set of tales provides more background on the rabbit legend El-ahrairah. The second set reveals what happened to El-ahrairah after he left the Black Rabbit of Inlé’s lair. The final set continues the adventures of the Watership Down rabbits. Continue reading ““Tales from Watership Down” by Richard Adams”

“Worlds” by Joe Haldeman

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I was asked to review a new Kindle edition of Joe Haldeman’s Worlds, a novel originally written in 1983. Based solely on the summary on the publisher’s description, Worlds sounds like a perfect fit for me. Hundreds of years into the future, humans have established space station habitats in orbit around Earth called “worlds.” Marianne O’Hare, a political science student, get swept up in a revolutionary movement. Unfortunately, Haldeman’s execution of this concept never fulfills the promise. Continue reading ““Worlds” by Joe Haldeman”

Commander Riker to direct the next Star Trek film?

WilRikerRoberto Orci is no loner slated to direct the next Star Trek film. Given that has never directed anything and that his script for Star Trek Into Darkness was abysmal, this is good news for Trek fans.

Now, there is a movement to get Jonathan Frakes to direct the next Trek film. Frakes is best known for playing Commander William Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation. More importantly, he directed my favorite Star Trek film, First Contact.

Frakes himself has said he’s willing and able to helm the franchise. And I say, why not? He seems to understand Star Trek so he might the breath of fresh air the franchise needs as it approaches its 50th anniversary.