The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

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The original Lord of the Rings trilogy was positively epic, showcasing the world of Middle Earth on the grandest of scales, providing us with deeply rich characters and satisfying action scenes. With that in mind, I was very excited to hear that they were making another trilogy based on The Hobbit, starting with this first movie, An Unexpected Journey.

This is a prequel to the original trilogy, following the adventures of hobbit Bilbo Baggins. He is accompanying a company of dwarves and they end up going on a grand adventure together, along with Gandalf the Wizard. This is great for providing a lot of back story, like why dwarves and elves don’t get along. We also meet Smeagol/Gollum. He has a single extended scene with Bilbo, which I thought was the most entertaining part of the movie.

If you’re already a big fan of LOTR, then you really do have to watch The Hobbit. That being said, I don’t feel that this film holds up to the original trilogy. There are many drawn-out and unnecessary sequences, giving me the feeling that they stretched things out just so they could make another three hour movie and not because the plot necessarily warranted a three hour duration. It’s not quite as rich and complex as I had hoped, but this could simply be setting the stage for the next two films. We’ll find out soon enough.

Ted (2012)

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Did you have a teddy bear as a child? Did you wish that Teddy could actually walk and talk, conversing with you like a real person? That wish really did come true for Mark Wahlberg‘s character in Ted. And Seth MacFarlane of Family Guy fame provides the voice of Ted.

You get that signature irreverent comedy style that we’ve come to expect from MacFarlane, so you can expect a lot of bathroom humor. Ted, for example, has sex in the back of a grocery store with an attractive clerk, except he’s using some produce to do it. It’s immature and it’s cheap, but it is funny. Realistically, though, a lot of the humor is only funny because we’re getting it from a talking teddy bear, a comedy device that MacFarlane has used many times before.

If Ted were replaced with a human being, this movie would be like any other buddy comedy. It’s formulaic and predictable. Even so, I enjoyed my 106 minutes and would recommend this “freakin’ sweet” movie to anyone who likes Family Guy.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)

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What if we only knew half the story of Honest Abe? Based on the spoof novel of the same name, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter gives us an alternate history where our bearded hero was tasked with fighting off a horde of blood suckers. Not only that, but these vampires sided with the Confederates during the American Civil War?

Yes, this is entirely a different kind of vampire movie and while it has quite the unique concept, the execution left something to be desired. The movie suffers from very uneven pacing, going very slow one moment and then suddenly advancing 20 years the next. The slaying scenes were reasonably satisfying, especially with the totally unbelievable physics, but the narrative ultimately fails Lincoln. Maybe Pride and Prejudice and Zombies will be better?

The Raid: Redemption (2011)

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When I went over to my friend’s house and he said he had an Indonesian movie for us to watch, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I’ve seen movies from Hong Kong, Korea, Japan and other parts of Asia, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything from Indonesia. After watching The Raid: Redemption, maybe I should.

There is an urban apartment complex that appears to be overrun with organized crime. A police squad prepares for a raid, presumably to take down the crime syndicate housed within. Along the way, we learn more and more of the back story, but the real reason why you’d watch this movie is for the action. It’s all expertly choreographed, satisfying our needs for both firefights and for hand-to-hand combat. You get busted walls, broken limbs, and brutal fist fights. The narrative could be stronger, but it does move along at a healthy pace and action junkies will certainly get their fill.