Greetings film fanatics, it's time to take a look at what the cinema has in store for us this weekend.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Bilbo Baggins is swept into a quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Giant Spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers. Although their goal lies to the East and the wastelands of the Lonely Mountain they first must escape the goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever... Gollum. Here, alone with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers depths of guile and courage that surprise even him, he also gains possession of Gollum's "precious" ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities.
After a nearly decade long hiatus, director Peter Jackson returns to the land of Middle-Earth where he had immense success with his Lord of the Rings trilogy. I've stated many times before how I have unabashed love for those films. I think that they are without question amongst the greatest fantasy films ever produced and easily in my top 100 films of all time. So it stands to reason that I have been hotly anticipating this film ever since I heard that it was greenlit. The question now remains if The Hobbit will live up to the lofty standards of the Rings trilogy?
Based on what I've seen so far it certainly looks like it will be a seamless transition back into the world of Hobbits, Dwarves and other magical creatures. The only concern I have really is the fact that Peter Jackson has decided to split what was once supposed to be only two movies into three. It seems completely unnecessary given the fact that the original novel is only about 300 pages long. In fact it is shorter in length than any single book in the LOTR trilogy which had 1 movie per book. It certainly seems like overkill to me and perhaps a bit of a marketing ploy by the studio in order to cash in at the box office.
The other big news about this film is the fact that it is the first movie ever to be presented in a higher frame rate know as 48 FPS (frames per second). I have yet to see this new technology demonstrated but it is said to give the visuals a very realistic and immersive feeling to them. I have heard some divisive reactions towards it as well however, as some people have a hard time adjusting to this style of visual presentation and there are even reports of motion sickness and headaches that occur, although I have a feeling that those instances will be in the extreme minority. Fortunately you will be given a choice to see it in 48 FPS 3D or regular old 24 FPS 3D as well as 2D for those that are sick of 3D.
However one chooses to see it, you are likely to be treated to a spectacle of epic proportions, and I have no doubt that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be a smash success and easily one of the biggest films of the year.
Hitchcock centers on the relationship between director Alfred Hitchcock and his wife Alma Reville during the making of Psycho, a controversial horror film that subsequently became one of the most acclaimed and influential works in the filmmaker's career.
For purposes of full disclosure I must say that I am completely unobjective when it comes to this film. Alfred Hitchcock is my favourite director of all time and I would place the film Psycho in my personal 10 best films of all time list. I have seen, and own, over 40 of his films so, needless to say, this particular subject matter is right up my alley. I will be fascinated to see the behind-the-scenes shenanigans that went into making this landmark film that virtually inspired a new genre and influenced many films that followed.
The great cast is led by Sir Anthony Hopkins as the Master of Suspense, Helen Mirren as his wife Alma, Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh (infamous victim of the notorious shower scene), Jessica Biel as Vera Miles, James D'Arcy as Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates) and Toni Collette as the director's trusted assistant.
Hopefully this will be a compelling character drama infused with plenty of macabre humour that Hitch was famous for. I think that anyone who is a fan of classic cinema is likely going to want to check out this fun looking film.
It is playing exclusively at the Paramount Theatre for those that are interested.
I know that I will be there for sure.
The Guilt Trip (Opens Wed. Dec. 19)
As inventor Andy Brewster is about to embark on the road trip of a lifetime, a quick stop at his mom's house turns into an unexpected cross-country voyage with her along for the ride.
Written by Dan Fogelman (Crazy, Stupid, Love) and directed by Anne Fletcher (Step Up, 27 Dresses, The Proposal), The Guilt Trip is a road trip comedy starring Seth Rogen and Barbara Streisand.
This looks like pretty standard fare from what I can tell. We've seen plenty of these types of films where a parent and grown child must endure each others company whilst hi-jinks and misadventures ensue. It is certainly not very original, that's for sure.
I'm sure that Seth Rogen will play his usual smart-alecky self, albeit with a lot less rude and crude language given its PG-13 rating.
I suppose that it could still be somewhat cute and entertaining though and make for a good pre-Christmas outing for a family that wants to see a light and frothy flick.
If this type of formulaic comedy is your thing then you will surely want to check out The Guilt Trip.
Also being released on Wed. Dec. 19 is the re-issued Pixar film Monsters, Inc. 3D. This is a great film to take the kids to, and it will serve as a primer for Pixar's Monsters University which comes out next June. Monsters, Inc. is an absolutely wonderful film that I highly recommend to folks of all ages.
Until next week, when I will be taking a look at the big holiday releases, see you at the movies.