The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Director: Peter Jackson
Writer: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro
Based on: J. R. R. Tolkien’s novel, and other books of his
Prequel to: The Lord of the Rings
Cast: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Dean O’Gorman, Aidan Turner, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, Jed Brophy, Mark Hadlow, Adam Brown, Ian Holm, Elijah Wood, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Andy Serkis, Sylvester McCoy, Barry Humphries, Lee Pace, Manu Bennett, Bret McKenzie, Benedict Cumberbatch

Plot:
Many, many years ago, there were dwarves living in Erebor, amassing huge riches until they were attacked by the dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch). They lost their mountains, their gold and were scattered in many directions. Now Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) last descendant of Erebor’s king, is ready to get it all back. So he put together a group of loyal dwarves, but asks the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) to find a 14th member for their party. Gandalf recruits the hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman). Bilbo is reluctant – as a hobbit, he generally doesn’t think much of adventures or leaving home at all – but he is finally convinces and so all of them set off for a great adventure. An adventure that proves more dangerous and connected to more things than initially assumed.

For practically anybody of about my age (and of a nerdy/geeky persuasion), the Lord of the Rings films were more than just movies – they were events that opened me and my friends up to many things, but especially to the intricacies of internet fandom and all that entails. It seems clear that 10 years later the Hobbit can’t quite reach that status anymore. But An Unexpected Journey is a film that I enjoyed for the most part.

The_Hobbit _An_Unexpected_Journey

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Anna Karenina (2012)

Anna Karenina
Director: Joe Wright
Writer: Tom Stoppard
Based on: Leo Tolstoy‘s novel (which I wrote about very shortly here)
Cast: Keira Knightley, Aaron Johnson, Jude Law, Matthew Macfadyen, Kelly Macdonald, Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Ruth Wilson, Olivia Williams, Holliday Grainger, Emily Watson, Michelle Dockery, Steve Evets, Bill Skarsgard

Plot:
Anna (Keira Knightley) has been married to Alexei Karenin (Jude Law) for quite a while. It’s a marriage of convenience, but one that works quite well. Anna gives all her love to their son and seems content. That is, until she travels to Moscow to reconcile her brother Stiva (Matthew Macfadyen) with his wife Dolly (Kelly Macdonald) on whom he cheated. In Moscow, Anna meets Alexei Vronsky (Aaron Johnson), a young count who had been courting Dolly’s sister Kitty (Alicia Vikander), more or less seriously. Anna and Vronsky feel drawn to each other immediately – so much so that Anna basically flees back to St. Petersburg. But Vronsky follows her there, kicking off events that slowly spiral Anna’s life completely out of control.

The movie started and I immediately and irrevocably fell in love with it. And it didn’t disappoint me for one moment. It is a thing of beauty that I could watch over and over again.

Anna-Karenina

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vN (Madeline Ashby)

vN is Madeline Ashby‘s debut novel and the first in the (planned) Machine Dynasty series.

Plot:
Amy is a von Neumann machine who lives with her (human) father and her (vN) mother. She’s growing up slowly – which is unusual for vNs – and very sheltered. That is until her (vN) grandmother Portia shows up for her kindergarden graduation and attacks not only a kindergardener (which should be impossible due to the failsafe that immediately destroys vNs when they see a human hurt), but also Amy’s mother. In her desperation, Amy eats Portia and then she finds herself on the run, suddenly grown up and with Portia on a partition of her harddrive.

vN is a quick and interesting read. Amy is a great character and I pretty much loved the world-building, but there are a few kinks in the book that would have deserved a bit more straightening out.

ashby_vN

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Seven Psychopaths (2012)

Seven Psychopaths
Director: Martin McDonagh
Writer: Martin McDonagh
Cast: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson, Linda Bright Clay, Tom Waits, Abbie Cornish, Olga Kurylenko, Michael Stuhlbarg, Michael Pitt, Harry Dean Stanton, Kevin Corrigan, Zeljko Ivanek, Gabourey Sidibe

Plot:
Marty (Colin Farrell) is trying to write a screenplay. He has a title – Seven Psychopaths – and a rough idea for a first psychopath. But apart from a drinking problem, he doesn’t have much else. His best friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) tries to help, but is mostly caught up with the dognapping business he runs with Hans (Christopher Walken). But when Marty’s girlfriend Kaya (Abbie Cornish) kicks him out and Billy naps the beloved Shi-Tzu of the crazy Charlie (Woody Harrelson), everything unravels pretty quickly.

The marketing for this film is completely off. And when I say completely off, they decided to take away the movie’s selling point to make it look like a pretty standard action comedy. But it’s not – instead it’s an exercise in meta – and I loved it.

seven_psychopaths

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Den skaldede frisør [Love Is All You Need] (2012)

Den skaldede frisør
Director: Susanne Bier
Writer: Anders Thomas Jensen
Cast: Trine Dyrholm, Pierce Brosnan, Kim Bodnia, Paprika Steen, Sebastian Jessen, Molly Blixt Egelind, Christiane Schaumburg-Müller, Micky Skeel Hansen

Plot:
Ida (Trine Dyrholm) has just halfway recovered from breast cancer and is planning a trip to Italy where her daughter Astrid (Molly Blixt Egelind) is about to get married to Patrick (Sebastian Jessen). But just before she leaves, she catches her husband Leif (Kim Bodnia) in bed with Thilde (Christiane Schaumburg-Müller), her son Kenneth (Micky Skeel Hansen) deploys as a soldier, she meets Patrick’s father Philip (Pierce Brosnan), a grumpy workaholic and widower, and it just seems a time for rebooting all around.

Den skaldede frisør is quite the departure from Hævnen. Where that movie was all heavy earnestness, Den skaldede frisør is mostly entertaining fluff (in fact, the parts that try to be more serious don’t work out that much). Not quite what I expected, but I did enjoy it.

DenSkaldedeFrisoer

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Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

Wreck-It Ralph
Director: Rich Moore
Writer: Jennifer Lee, Phil Johnston
Cast: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Mindy Kaling, Ed O’Neill

Plot:
Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) is the bad guy in the arcade game Fix-It Felix Jr. And while everybody loves Felix Jr. (Jack McBrayer), nobody likes Ralph. And he’s had it with that. Just once, he wants to be the hero and win a medal. When he isn’t even invited to the game’s anniversary party, that is just the straw to break the camel’s back – and Ralph takes off, straight to Hero’s Duty, where he thinks he can easily get a medal. But things quickly go very wrong and suddenly, the entire Fix-It Felix Jr. game is threatened with unplugging.

I’m not much of a gamer, therefore I’m afraid that I lacked a lot of frames of reference for this movie. Nevertheless, I did enjoy it a whole lot. It’s sweet and really funny.

wreck-it-ralph

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Re-Read: The Hobbit (J. R. R. Tolkien)

The Hobbit is a novel by J. R. R. Tolkien, a prequel to his Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Plot:
Bilbo Baggins is a pretty normal hobbit, even if there is a slightly adventurous side to his family. But that changes drastically when the grey wizard Gandalf knocks on his door and recruits him – more or less against his will – to go on an adventure with 13 dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield: they plan to defeat the dragon who took their home, mountain and gold from them. But dragons aren’t the only dangerous thing out there.

I’m one of the many people who decided to (re-)read the book before the movie came out and to refresh my memory. Since my head is a sieve that was really necessary. But honestly, as a writer, Tolkien sucks. He is great at imagining and building worlds, but he can’t tell a story. So I completely understand people who say they never got through the Hobbit (or Lord of the Rings, for that matter).

The-Hobbit

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Everlast

Everlast is a rapper/singer-songwriter who came to Vienna for an acoustic concert.

I think it was in 2001 that I got Everlast tickets for my birthday (or maybe it was Christmas) and saw him live for the first time. And it was a great show. So when I heard that he came to Vienna again, I figured that I really had to see him. Then he played one of Vienna’s biggest concert halls, this time he played a small club and, as I said, an acoustic set. While the atmosphere couldn’t be more different, what stayed the same was how much I enjoyed it.

Everlast

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Deadfall (2012)

Deadfall
Director: Stefan Ruzowitzky
Writer: Zach Dean
Cast: Eric Bana, Olivia Wilde, Charlie Hunnam, Kate Mara, Kris Kristofferson, Sissy Spacek, Treat Williams

Plot:
Addison (Eric Bana) and Liza (Olivia Wilde) are siblings who have just successfully robbed a casino. But on their way to Canada, their car crashes, they kill a cop and so they suddenly find themselves in the middle of nowhere without a ride. Despite the snow and the low temperature, Addison decides to go on on foot, while Liza hitches a ride with recently released from jail Jay (Charlie Hunnam), planning to catch up with Addison later. But in the meantime, the local police are in full manhunt mode and things are not about to get any easier.

Deadfall has a good atmosphere and a mostly excellent cast, but unfortunately the script is right out of Coincidenceville which was pretty irritating. But at least it was never boring.

deadfall

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Rise of the Guardians (2012)

Rise of the Guardians
Director: Peter Ramsey
Writer: David Lindsay-Abaire
Based on: William Joyce‘s books
Cast: Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Isla Fisher, Hugh Jackman, Jude Law, Dakota Goyo

Plot:
The Guardians – that is Santa (Alex Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) and the Sandman – protect the children of the earth. But when a new threat shows up in Pitch (Jude Law) aka the Boogey Man, the Man in the Moon appoints a new guardian – Jack Frost (Chris Pine). Everybody is bewildered by that choice, most of all Jack himself, who is more preoccupied with finding out who he actually was before he became Jack Frost. But for the sake of the children, they start working together.

Rise of the Guardians was amazing. Beautifully animated, wonderful story and it all comes together in a way to make you cry and laugh and to leave you with a magical feeling and a smile on your face.

rise_of_the_guardians

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