Monthly Archives: April 2012

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

After finishing the Fellowship I was eagerly anticipating watching The Two Towers. I havent been as excited for a sequel since the Bourne trilogy. I was excited to learn more about Middle Earth and the clans that inhabited it as well as journey with Frodo and Sam as they make their way towards Mordor. What would become of Gandalf? Would he return in some form or was he truly dead? These were all whizzing through my head in the week leading up to the second installment of the story. 

The Two Towers did not disappoint. In fact it somehow managed to exceed the Fellowship in some ways. So many sequels fail to deliver. A good indicator that a sequel will be a waste of time is when they make it simply because of the success of the first film. Think Shrek. Think Oceans 12. Yes Oceans 13 redeemed the trilogy but only after much thought and crafting. I was never worried about The Two Towers because from the get go it was always going to be made. Plus Tolkein had written it before and thought through the plot. Nevertheless, Peter Jackson and the team delivered an epic film which I thoroughly enjoyed. If anything I got a little bored of Frodo and Sam and their irritating guide Golem. Perhaps it was because I knew they wouldn’t reach their destination and I’d have to wait until the final installment. I think that removed some of the mystery. They wouldn’t die and they wouldn’t finish – so the surprise was already absent. However it didn’t detract from the overall film at all.

My favourite part was the defense of Rohan at Helms Gate. That has got to be one of the most epic siege scenes in cinema history. I loved the interchange between calm and cool Legolas and the passionate and feisty Gimli as they slaughtered the oncoming enemy. The film’s climax for me was at the point of defeat, Aragon remembers the words of Gandalf to look to the west on the third day. Once again Tolkein has littered the plot with Biblical imagery. At that moment a shaft of brilliant light burst through the darkness vaporizing Orcs instantly. Suddenly over the crest of hill comes a single white horse galloping towards the battle scene with Gandalf leading the charge. Behind him is an army of men swarming to redeem the fighters of Rohan. For me that was a brilliant picture of Christ returning at the end of the age to vanquish evil once and for all and rescue his people from the clutches of death. As the plot continues it becomes clear that Tolkein has placed various images of Jesus in different characters. Gandalf is a loving fatherly type figure who wields a great deal of power – even if he’s not fully omnipotent. He also lays down is life for his friends in the caves and utters the words “You shall not pass” – resembling Christ’s “It is finished” on the cross. Finally, Gandalf returns on the 3rd day with an army behind him to rescue those that he loves from the evil forces that rule the world. Lord of the Rings is by far my favourite story in fiction as it echoes the greatest story ever to be told.

I’m excited to see The Return of the King which already is promising to be full of eschatological references.

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Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

I know I’m a little behind the times but this past weekend I became an official Lord of the Rings fan. I had never properly watched the films before and never understood or followed the story – thus I found myself on the outside of what was understandably a very big circle of fans. From the first few moments of The Fellowship I was hooked. Normally I am not one for anything remotely fantastical and beyond the realms of possibility and reality. However I found myself completely at ease as I watched the gentle and somewhat fatherly figure Gandalf perform wizardry spells and enter into various dimensions and places at any given moment. The magic of the story and the characters and the brilliant filmmaking had completely disarmed me of my skepticism.

The story of LOTR can sufficiently be described as epic. It’s refreshingly un-hollywood. At the centre of the plot is not a love story of two star-crossed lovers, nor a terror plot that needs to be decoded – it is instead something far grander, the fight against the eternal corruption and destruction of humanity itself with truth and goodness.

The characters of the film are delightful. Everyone has a favourite and quite easily every one of them could be your favourite. Frodo Baggins is a humble, gentle and good natured young hobbit with his companion Samwise who though bigger is nothing but a gentle and faithful friend. Gandalf is a grandfatherly figure who sacrificially lays his life down for the good of his friends. Aragon is a humble but strong warrior who has the markings of a King. Gimli is an eager and enthusiastic dwarf who sees no limitations in his size. He wants to take on the world and is not afraid to do it on his own if he has to. Legolas is a thoughtful and skilled archer who has a strong sense of loyalty to his travelling companions.

The filmmaking is remarkable. No wonder it won so many oscars. The costume design and make-up of those orcs was ridiculously believable for one thing. The cinematography added to the grand nature of story. Big wide shots and swooping takes over the snow covered peaks created the sense of awe that I felt throughout the film. The incredible landscape of New Zealand made for a stunning backdrop with incredible mountains, valleys, forests, rivers ans plains.

I havent read the J.R.R. Tolkein novels but I would hazard a guess and say the film did the books justice, which is not often the case when a screenplay is adapted from a novel. Fran Walsh did an excellent job with the screenplay.

I could go on and on, but for the sake of brevity I won’t. Needless to say as soon as I had reached the end of The Fellowship I was eagerly trying to get my hands on the sequel. Without a doubt the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is one of the greatest films of this century.

Story Development/Characters 9.5/10

Cinematography 9/10

Soundtrack 8/10

Costume and Make Up 9/10

Quality rating: 8.8/10

Entertainment Rating: 9.5/10

Limitless (2011)

Director: Neil Burger

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro

Written By: Leslie Dixon

I remember seeing the trailer for this film and immediately making a mental note to make an effort to watch it. Finally, this weekend I managed to get round to seeing it and whilst I was not blown away, I was neither disappointed.

The story follows aspiring writer Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) as he struggles with severe writers block and a subsequent slide in his life’s trajectory. Stumbling into his ex-brother-in-law he is given a mysterious new drug, which promises to unlock the full potential of the human brain. After taking the pill just once Eddie finds he is able to remember things from deep in his past and more importantly is able to church out the rest of his book for his publisher.

After going back to get more of the drug Eddie finds his ex-brother in law has been murdered by someone who is clearly looking for the drug stash. As Eddie’s brain is unlocked to its full potential he catches the attention finance tycoon Mr. Van Loon (Robert De Niro) as he climbs the ladder of corporate financial success. However throughout the plot Eddie and his girlfriend have to constantly evade a series of hit men who are prepared to kill in order to secure the stash of the mind enhancing drug for themselves.

The story, if not watertight is definitely entertaining for a first time screening. I feel though if I had to watch the film again I’d be quite bored quite quickly. Although I’m generally not a fan of Sci-Fi, this particular concept didn’t clash with me. I enjoyed the idea that there was a drug that enabled us to reach our full mental potential and it was definitely entertaining to see what that could mean. For instance remembering details from years ago that would come in handy now – that would be helpful.

However it must be said that Limitless could have been a lot better with regard to the story. There are some unanswered holes in the plot which don’t seem to make sense and the twist at the end doesn’t completely resolve many of the questions provoked throughout. It didn’t come together well enough for me. Leaving questions unanswered can work well for a film or they can just be annoying. In this case, they are simply annoying.

The filmmakers made obvious use of the color of the film to tell the story which I felt was interesting. When Eddie is off the drug, the look is fairly bland and cold with a lot of blue tones. When Eddie’s brain is operating at full potential, his world transforms into a bright and saturated world with warmer visual tones. I appreciated this use of technicality, even if it was a bit over the top.

Bradley Cooper played a good role as the lead in this. Hie performance was varied and believable which I appreciated. Robert De Niro enters quite late into the film but plays the part of a the intimidating executive very well. The film did well on both IMDB.com and Rottentomatoes receiving around 70% positive feedback from the audience.

All in all Limitless is a fun film to watch letting you escape and wonder what life would look like if we functioned at our full capacity. I wouldn’t watch it again, which means its not a classic but definitely worth a watch.

Characters/Development: 7/10

Story & Plot development 6/10

Editing and Color Grade 6.5/10

Technically – 6.5/10

Entertainment value: 6.5/10

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