Hugo Weaving

The Matrix Revolutions

Year: 2003
Directed By: The Wachowski Brothers
Written By: The Wachowski Brothers

RYAN’S REVIEW

I will never forget watching this movie in the theater when it first came out.  As I mentioned in our last review I was stubbornly refusing to read the writing on the wall and I believed completely that this movie would fulfill all my wildest expectations.  I specifically remember when Amber and I were sitting in the theater on opening night and it was packed out.  We were in college in a college town watching the film in an auditorium full of college students.  Ten minutes into the film some guy stood up and walked down the aisle toward the emergency exit.  He turned before leaving and loudly said “it’s only been ten minutes and this movie already blows!” before promptly walking out a door he could not come back through.  I remember looking at Amber and whispering “hater.” Two hours later I found myself wishing I could find that guy and thanking him for at least trying to warn us.  We should have followed that guy.  I can honestly say that it would have been better not knowing how this story ended than actually suffering through it and carrying that disappointment home with me.

When we watched this movie for this review I actually think it was the first time I had ever watched it again. The disappointment the first viewing left me with was a scar that didn’t heal.  It’s taken eleven years but after finally watching this movie again I can see how the Wachowskis thought they were doing the right thing.  In all truth the battle with the machines is kind of cool it’s just all so wrong.  So unforgivably wrong.  It doesn’t matter if the battle was cool or not because this wasn’t what we wanted.  This conclusion sucked, and it was so unbearably long.  I will never forget when we were in the theater Amber turning to me during Trinity’s death scene and saying “why won’t she die already?” Everybody in this movie had to take forever to tell what they were feeling or what they “believed.” As if their belief mattered in the situation at hand.  This is such a stupid movie and the only thing I can think of that was more disappointing was X-Men The Last Stand.

While The Matrix Reloaded was also very disappointing it at least had scenes that made the whole thing worth wild.  There is none of that in this one.  The battle with the machines just doesn’t hit the spot and the final fight between Neo and Agent Smith was the weakest of the three. The Wachowskis blew it, and while Cloud Atlas has finally got me to give them attention again they have spent over ten years shrouded in the failure of this film. I wouldn’t waste my time watching it if I were you.  It would be both a waste and a disappointment.  If you find yourself journeying through this trilogy for the first time then stop before watching this.  It is literally better to not know.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I think Ryan summed it up for him and me both.

the-matrix-revolutions-4 I thought at the time that this poster was very well done. I think I still hold true to that. I think it does the job of getting people interested. The Matrix itself was just such a hit and interesting concept that people got really into this franchise. I think this poster helped fuel how many people went to the theater and saw this movie. “Why are there so many of them?” As I said in the previous post, this movie was built around all green. I think it was one of the first times I remember seeing everything turned green, the production house logos and everything. The binary code was in green and pretty much structured how everything else in this movie looks like. The typography stayed the same. Too bad the movie sucked, the poster really isn’t all that bad. Of course, I don’t have to look at Trinity and Keanu together, so that’s a plus.

NEXT MOVIE: Maverick (1994)

The Matrix Reloaded

Year: 2003
Directed By: The Wachowski Brothers
Written By: The Wachowski Brothers

RYAN’S REVIEW

In the four years after The Matrix the hype for its follow-up did nothing but grow.  The first film left us with so many possibilities for where the story could go and how much greater it could all be.  Our imaginations ran wild with the ideas of more Kung-Fu, more gun fights, more unnecessary sunglasses, and the like.  As the film’s production progressed we got glimpses of the film that only heightened our expectations.  Morpheus looked cool as ever, there were these two crazy looking twins with interesting looking abilities, Neo was going to fight a hundred Agent Smiths, there was just so much to look forward to.  None of it made any sense but The Matrix had laid the groundwork for something we were going to have to figure it out on our own one way or another. I was ready to put the thought into it and be blown away when this movie came out.  Amber and I were both at the midnight showing for its release. When we left we were certainly thinking, but we weren’t thinking about the meaning behind the thought provoking dialogue but about what exactly the Wachowskis were thinking when they made this movie.

This movie did have some eye-popping effects and some incredible scenes that overshadowed the whole truth to the matter. Which was that the movie just wasn’t very good.  It was as if the Wachowski’s hadn’t realized it was what went on inside The Matrix that made the first movie so cool.  There was far too much of “the real world” in this movie and in the story as it continued.  Nobody went to see this movie looking for caveman style rave dancing or to see what life had come to for humanity in general.  We went for the kung-fu fighting, we went for the guns, the stylish outfits, and the types of special effects that would blow our minds.  We got a little of what we wanted but not nearly enough.  Personally I tried to stay optimistic and hope for the best.  The writing was on the wall though and it was more than obvious where the story was going when the third film was released only six months later.  I maintained my optimism for that six months of waiting but I’ll get to how foolhardy that optimism was during the next review.

Looking back now I just try to appreciate what the film did offer us as opposed to focusing on the disappointment it bestowed upon us.  This movie did offer a few great fight scenes, and one of the coolest car chases of all time.  There was actually something like fourteen miles (maybe only seven, I can’t remember) of highway constructed specifically for the shooting of that car chase scene. I feel like some of the action in this movie is unmatched all around and I liked it enough to blindly believe there was a great conclusion coming to it all.  It was obvious that things weren’t going to get better as the movie came to a close and the Nebuchadnezzar was destroyed.  I refuse to give up hope though.  I loved this franchise and whole heartedly saw it as the Star Wars of my generation.  I would not accept any of the very reasonable and realistic arguments put forth by my friends and fellow fans.  They tried to tell me this was a disappointment but I wouldn’t relent. I defended this movie with the fervor and insane logic generally reserved for Scientologist. I had to eat a lot of words when the third film finally came out but I still liked to sit back and re-watch the good parts of this movie.  As far as I am concerned the good parts still make this movie worth watching today too.  If you simply skip to the fight scenes there is plenty to appreciate about watching this movie, and it won’t take nearly as long.

As a whole this movie really blows.  There is just far too much talking and most of it is of little interest.  I imagine most of the people who turned out to see this film could care less about what they were saying because we simply wanted to get to the good parts. As good as the good parts are too they just barely justify all the useless dialogue we had to endure to see them. I can see what the real problem is and that’s just that the initial story was set up to deal with “the real world” as opposed to the matrix.  The people we follow in this story are the people freed from this futuristic form of slavery and what really matters is their battle with the robots and not the people hacking into the system to fight agents.  The Wachowskis wrote a story that honestly followed what they had started but I wish they had just done what we wanted them to. I wish they would have scrapped the whole last stand for humanity scenario and simply had to face some threat that required them to be inside of the matrix to fight.  Maybe the Merovingian become the main antagonist instead of “Squiddy” and Agent Smith.

It all hardly matters now but don’t waste your time with this movie.  If you watch it at all just skip to the good parts because they will never get old.  You can never see that car chase enough times, it is one of the greatest ever and it is cut with scenes of Neo fighting with an awesome variety of weapons.  Otherwise watching the whole movie entails on a lot of drawn out dialogue that will only confuse things and a love story that is so forced it makes me sick.  Neo and Trinity are not a believable couple in love, and every time they are on-screen together it just couldn’t be more obvious. I have never been a fan of Carrie Anne Moss but despite her flaws as an actress I mostly blame the person in charge of wardrobe.  Who thought it was a good idea to put her in all that shiny leather and how was that a practical decision for the character? You would think if nothing else Trinity would be immobile by her garb and stick out like a sore thumb in a crowd.  Isn’t part of the point to blend in and not be noticed? Her outfit is just stupid and does nothing to make her more appealing.  To close this up let me tell you simply to not attempt making any sense of this movie and just enjoy the parts that were cool. It’s not worth your time, but certain scenes are and are worth seeing because they are awesome.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This sequel was okay, it just didn’t live up to the hype and excitement of the first one. It’s not a terrible movie like the last one (man that one blows), but it is definitely not the first one.

matrix_reloaded

I am finding it hard to even look at this poster. Maybe it is because I find the relationship between them to be pretty ridiculous. If you remember, they barely even talk to each other in the first movie and at the end they are madly in love because the Oracle told her she would love him. It’s just all so stupid. I hate this love story. So it’s hard to really review this one. I like that they carried over the binary code, which is very important. One of the interesting things that they do throughout the series is the coloring change. The first movie had a very blue undertone and that carried on to the poster. This movie and poster had a very blue-green look to it, which you can again see in poster. The next one goes to all green. I don’t really know if this represents anything important or not, I jus thought it was worth mentioning. They keep the typography consistent which is important, and I guess this isn’t really a bad poster, but by far is not one of my favorites, in fact, I can’t wait to stop looking at it.

NEXT MOVIE: The Matrix Revolutions (2003)

The Matrix

Year: 1999
Directed By: Andy and Larry Wachowski (Larry is now Lana)
Written By: Andy and Larry Wachowski

RYAN’S REVIEW

It’s such an interesting experience to watch this movie now.  I remember so clearly how it felt when I was 15 and watched it four times in the movie theater.  I remember clearly how it felt when I watched it over and over again with my brother when it came to video and I was 16.  Watching it now is so different though.  The world has changed so dramatically in the last fifteen years.  Looking back now at what was cutting edge technology in 1999 is an unusual feeling.  This franchise may have fallen apart when it came to sequels but this movie was so important to my generation.  This was our Star Wars when it first came out.  It was a film that changed the way movies were made.  The slow motion effect during action sequences was a big deal that was copied by everyone at the time.  This movie added a new special effect to the table that was utilized and mimicked on a regular basis.  The story left the door open for so many possibilities and for a few years our imaginations ran wild. We didn’t know that they would totally destroy this franchise when they continued it, but what we had seen already had blown our minds and we couldn’t hope but to expect the greatest thing ever made.  Oh how we were disappointed, we will get to the sequels in time, but for now the focus is on this film.  This film was incredible, and while there is plenty to pick apart today it was like nothing else we had ever seen in the late 90s.  It was a film that combined action, style, and philosophy.  It blew our minds and gave us something to think about after seeing it.  It also sported some of the best fight scenes, action sequences, and monologues of all time.

This movie did blow minds in when it came out in 1999.  I can LITERALLY attest to that.  As I said I saw the movie four times in the theater and it was the fourth time I saw it that something happened.  I remember it being during the scene in which Neo first dodges bullets.  On screen Neo was leaning back in an unnatural stance while bullets passed over him in slow motion.  A man sitting in the row directly in front of me and only one seat to the left suddenly stamped his foot three times and laid his head on the shoulder of the girl next to him.  He made a moaning sound and the girl looked over and started screaming. This started a commotion that at age 15 I could do nothing more than sit there and marvel at.  I had never seen such a thing happen before, the man had gone into a seizure.  Eventually paramedics came and the girlfriend had to admit to them that the two of them had dropped acid before coming in to see the film.  He was eventually wheeled out on a stretcher and I have no idea what happened after that but I will never forget it.  I have been telling the story for years and about how the special effects in this movie put that man into a seizure.  The drugs obviously played a part too but I have always thought the effects were messing with his head a bit.  Of course that’s based on the observation of a 15 year old who had never seen anything like that happen and had no scientific knowledge for the theory, but it made the movie sound better that way.  “This movie is so awesome it put that guy into a seizure!” I used to tell people in my youthful ignorance.

This wasn’t the first film made by the Wachowski brothers but it was the film that made them a household name. In truth, my knowledge of the Wachowskis is limited beyond the movies I have seen from them.  I know that one of the brothers is now a sister as Larry has become Lana.  From what I know that decision on Larry’s part was supported by her brother Andy and that’s cool.  They are still working together but are no longer listed as the Wachowski Brothers, as they were when this film was released.  Some people may take issue with the transgender change from Lana but I think any hater out there should take the time to appreciate their work despite any preconceived opinions.  I will be the first one to say they made horrible mistakes when it came to continuing this franchise but I still admire them as filmmakers.  On my to-do list is eventually reviewing one of their most recent films, Cloud Atlas. I thought that film was nothing short of amazing and should eventually change the way movies are made.  Unfortunately when it comes to that film I think it went way over the heads of too many people.  That was a problem with The Matrix as well. It was a film that went way over the heads of plenty of people but when it comes to this film people accepted that anyway because the outstanding action dazzled their eyes enough for them to not care.  I was really disappointed with the Wachowskis with their sequels to this film but Cloud Atlas restored my faith in them and I look forward to anything else they might do in the future.

I say that this movie confused people because I feel like I was explaining it to people for years.  Some people just could not grasp this concept of The Matrix.  It was a deep film and I remember hearing that there were actually college classes that focused specifically on the movie.  It combined elements of theology and philosophy and either one of those two things can sometimes be enough to confuse a casual film viewer.  I hate philosophy because I think it more or less amounts to thinking things that don’t make a damn bit of difference one way or another.  It will certainly give you plenty to think about and the term philosopher sounds really intelligent but beyond that I have never thought there was much to take from it.  Philosophers have in the past spent a great deal of time trying to determine what is and isn’t real.  We see that in this movie as Morpheus asks Neo “what is real?” What I ask you is, “what the hell does it matter?” In fact I don’t even get why there is a human resistance in this movie.  Why go to the real world when the real world sucks? What good is fighting a resistance when your resistance fighters want to go back into The Matrix? Everyone besides Cypher seems gung-ho in what they are doing but Cypher’s feelings would not be exclusive to him.  I imagine in this scenario it would be a common problem.  What’s so bad about The Matrix anyway? You don’t know you are there and you get to live a better life than what you would have outside of it.

I mentioned it so I’m going to go through some of the theological references in this movie, and please keep in mind I’m going to write this from memory so if I make a mistake feel free to correct me.  The name Neo is simply an anagram for One, as Neo is Jesus. This is obvious with his virgin birth, resurrection from death, and his being the savior for human kind.  There are other times throughout this trilogy when this correlation is clearly seen by Neo being laid down in the “Jesus pose.”  The ship that Morpheus and crew travel on is called The Nebuchadnezzar, a name that is in the Bible.  Cypher’s name was created by simply taking the L U off of Lucifer and for the cleaver viewer this was foreshadowing that he would be the traitor to the cause.  I don’t remember specifically reading this but I have to think the name of Trinity is a reference to the Holy Trinity.  Beyond that there are no doubt several I have forgotten and managed to overlook while watching the film again.  This film is deep on a level that I don’t care to put the thought into.  If you are interested in the influences behind this film and what it all means I suggest you research the matter yourself.

I thought it was a peculiar choice to cast Keanu Reeves in the lead role of this film.  Despite Speed I had never really seen him as an action star doing the kind of fights scenes this role called for.  After all, these are some of the greatest fight scenes ever filmed, incorporating a variety of different fighting styles and techniques.  Reeves did much better than I would have thought, and I liked his performance in the part.  He was not the first choice for the film because somewhere along the line I remember someone criticizing Will Smith for passing on the role.  It was before the sequels came out and in anticipation for the next two installments there was no shortage of hype.

The weakest link in this movie, in my opinion, was Carrie-Anne Moss as both an actress and a character.  Moss was never able to turn the success of this film into more opportunities for her career and I think that is because she just wasn’t that good in it.  I don’t know if it was her acting or if it was simply that her character is only there to complete the “trinity” and be a love interest for Neo.  The love between the two seems so forced. She had no chemistry with Reeves and her character is only in love with him because the Oracle told her she was supposed to be.  I had never given it any thought when I was younger but while watching the movie for this review I can’t find one reason why these two would be in love. Trinity wasn’t so bad in this one, but I think she simply started a downward spiral here.  The character is so much worse in the sequels, specifically in the third film.

The exact opposite can be said for Laurence Fishburne.  This was the greatest role he ever had and he was absolutely awesome in it.  He has a great voice that literally makes everything he says sound so wise. The Morpheus character in itself was just really cool.  So cool in fact that after ten years he was brought back for one of the big time Super Bowl ads this year.  Morpheus also had a seat at the high council table in South Park’s Imaginationland episode trilogy, because he is awesome. Joe Pantoliano may have looked silly with his bald head and facial hair in this but it takes nothing away from him as an actor.  He is great as a bad guy and I liked him as Cypher, despite his regular complaining.  Even though Cypher is a bad guy in this movie I still like him because he is the only one that seems to have any sense when it comes to fighting this war. As he said, “ignorance is bliss” because the truth behind it all is that your alternative is living in a cave and eating slimy proteins three times a day. Who really wants that anyway?

Now, to the greatest role in this movie…Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith.  Weaving had been acting for 18 years before this movie came out with little success but that all changed once people saw this.  Weaving has since graced the film industry as many different great characters but I will always think of this as his greatest role.  Agent Smith is interesting because he is simply a computer program but as we hear in his monologue to Morpheus late in the movie he has plenty of human qualities.  It’s interesting and ironic that he wants to complete his task simply because he doesn’t want to be in this world created for the humans anymore.  His classification of humans as viruses was such a compelling argument that I think it got all of our attention.  The scene in which he says these things while interrogating Morpheus is one of the best parts of the movie short of all the outstanding fight scenes we see.

This is the most significant film of this franchise and the best of the three films.  The sequels had some flashes of excitement here and there but this is the only complete film in the trilogy.  It came out right before the world changed so dramatically with the technology utilized in the film.  Both cell phones and the internet exploded after this movie came out with technological advancements and mainstream usage.  It makes looking back at the film interesting because when the film came out everything they used was top of the line.  For younger people this can be a glowing example of how quickly the world changed and where we were right before the turn of the century.

I have read recently that the Wachowskis have discussed the possibility of a new Matrix trilogy.  I can’t stress how bad of an idea I think that would be for a number of reasons.  Number one being that this movie is still great and I don’t think anything great should ever be messed with.  I also think that the bad taste the franchise left with viewers as a whole will transition into bad impressions for a new trilogy.  I think the time has passed for this franchise and I can’t stand the trend in Hollywood where instead of doing something new they simply reboot or remake.  Having said all that, I still have plenty of faith in The Wachowskis and would keep my mind open whether I think it was a good idea or not.  In closing I will just say that this movie is easily worth your time.  It will both give you something to think about and something to enjoy while you are watching it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

The first time I watched this movie I had two words. Mind. Blown. I thought: “what an interesting way to look at everyday life.” It was such a different twist on an apocalyptic story. On top of that, to make Keanu a good actor, he needs as little lines and acting period. I think he did really well in his action scenes and fighting scenes, but when he talks I just want him to shut up. The writing for the dialogue in this movie is super simplistic, and sometimes it feels dumbed down. Overall, I really like this movie, it is fun and brings back a lot of memories.

matric_poster

I actually really like this poster for The Matrix. It shows more than one character, but in a good way. They all are representations portryed from themselves, so of course they are all wearing sunglasses, even thouh it is probably night time. I like that the binary code is making up the walls in the background and that the title has become very recognizable as the Matric font. This poster is really blue and purple, which is a strk difference from the green color that takes over the movie, especially the second one. Overall I think it does a good job of alluding to the movie and getting you interested, so not bad.

NEXT MOVIE: The Matrix Reloaded (2003)

Captain America: The First Avenger

Year:2011
Directed By: Joe Johnston
Written By: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (screenplay) Joe Simon and Jack Kirby (comics)

RYAN’S REVIEW

This was a film Amber and I actually ventured out into the theater to see a few years ago which has been a rarity since 2008 when our first child was born.  We still get out to the theater as often as we can but are very selective on what we go see because opportunity is more limited now.  This was an easy decision as I spent many years waiting on The Avengers and specifically made a point to see every film that led up to it.  When we went to see this film we made the mistake of going to see it in 3D.  After the phenomenal success of Avatar  every film under the sun was “converting” to the 3D format whether it was a good idea or not.  In this film it was not a good idea and so much of it was blurry on-screen as opposed to being three-dimensional, despite the fancy shot of Cap throwing his shield right at us.  That experience initially gave me the impression that the movie was only so-so and because of that it was never added into our collection until now. In preparation for the sequel, which looks awesome by the way, I finally broke down and bought this film to give it another shot.  I can attest now that my initial reaction to the movie was incorrect and I found the second viewing to be a drastic improvement over the first.

I did not like the casting of Chris Evans in the part of Steve Rodgers.  It’s not that he isn’t right for the role because in fact I think he is but I think it was an awful decision to reuse an actor who had already been used in the Marvel film universe.  Of course the big difference is that FOX owns the rights to The Fantastic Four while Marvel owns Captain America.  Nevertheless I thought Chris Evans was great as Johnny Storm and one of the few highlights to an otherwise weak film in general.  Using him again as a different character meant that we wouldn’t see his Johnny Storm again and despite how bad those movies were I still held out hope for a successful sequel in the future.  It all matters little now as The Fantastic Four is in the process of being rebooted and Chris Evans is entrenched as the leader of the Avengers.  As it goes with playing the part of Captain America Evans has everything required.  He couldn’t look more all-American and he is a physical powerhouse.  So while I wasn’t happy about the casting when the news first dropped years ago I feel much differently now.  Evans has won me over and I look forward to seeing his next portrayal of the part in The Winter Soldier.  

When you cast a bad guy for a movie you simply can’t go wrong when you choose Hugo Weaving for the part.  I thought his portrayal of the Red Skull was awesome and he looked really villainous in the make-up, which was done perfectly.  I have never been a big follower of Captain America but I have always been a fan of Marvel comics and you can’t be such without knowing a little bit about the Red Skull.  As far as Marvel villains go he is one of the biggest and baddest so casting the part was a difficult thing to do.  However, as I said, you just can’t go wrong using Agent Smith as a bad guy.  I always like a movie that utilizes Nazis as bad guys because nobody is easier to root against.  These guys aren’t just Nazis either, but a much worse off shoot of them in HYDRA.  I absolutely love the scene in which Cap chases down the HYDRA assassin only for him to lick one of his front teeth out and kill himself with it.  I have seen examples of bad guys killing themselves in this fashion before by crunching a planted poison caplet in their mouth but never quite like that and I thought it was awesome.

I miss the days when Tommy Lee Jones was a bankable star that appeared in many films on a regular basis.  So I was really happy to see him cast in a significant role for this film and I really liked what he brought to it. He has made a bit of a comeback in recent years from the time when I thought everything was going downhill for him.  When he made Space Cowboys in 2000 I took it as a sign that he had already resigned himself to the “old man parts” that his co-stars in the film already had locked down and I thought it was too soon for him.  I think Jones is awesome and consider it unfortunate that we won’t be seeing him again in any Captain America sequels.  Speaking of the sequel I do look forward to seeing Sebastian Stan in The Winter Soldieror (brace yourself for a possible spoiler) I suppose I should say as the Winter Soldier.  For those who don’t know, Bucky survives the fall we see in this movie and is systematically brainwashed over the years by bad guys to be a bad version of Captain America so to speak. I’m sure we are in for an emotional and troubling scene for Cap in the sequel when he realizes the bad guy he faces is his long-lost friend Bucky, who probably for some reason blames Cap for what happened to him.

The rest of this cast all did well but it was a one time deal as they all played characters in a timeline we won’t be seeing again.  Stanley Tucci is a relentless worker who appears in nearly everything these days, and he was good as the wise doctor who created Captain America.  Toby Jones was good his role as the Red Skull’s sidekick Arnim Zola.  I am a fan of Neal McDonough because he was phenomenal in the season three of Justified and while his role in this movie was small I think it was good.  Dominic Cooper was good at acting like Robert Downey Jr while playing Tony Stark’s father but I wish they has used John Slattery again for the part as the did in Iron Man 2.  Not only for continuity reasons but because I specifically like Slattery. Hayley Atwell did nothing wrong in her performance but I don’t give it much thought because she is just filling in that role of “necessary love interest.” These comic heroes always have to have some woman they are in love with whether there are practical reasons for that love or not.  In this film Atwell was simple the pretty face who got called when one was needed.

I do think this movie could have been a bit better but overall I think it was a great beginning to something that can be much greater.  I think the preview for the coming sequel looks awesome, so awesome in fact I felt I had to buy this movie simply to have the right reference in place for it.  The sequel has a different set of directors in Anthony and Joe Russo.  While I am not familiar with their work I feel like they have to be better than Joe Johnston.  Nothing against Johnston, he has made a few films I thought were good but I think he was over his head with a film of this magnitude. He doesn’t have the longest track record and nothing else he has done has been as big as the first film in a franchise that is something as big as Marvel has going on now. Still, he made a good film and he does deserve credit for it.

I use to rate comic book movies against one another and tell people which were the best in my opinion.  Now there are so many of them that I couldn’t even begin to consider where they stacked up against one another.  These days the big budgets go to the films about super heroes.  It become so dominating in the movie industry that the dust can’t even settle on a specific character before he is thrust (“rebooted”) out there again.  The immediate examples being Spiderman, The Hulk, and Superman.  They are not alone though because we already have a new Fantastic Four on the way and it’s only a matter of time before Ben Affleck takes his Batman into solo features. Yes it is a comic book movie world we are living in but I’m not complaining.  I comic book guy at heart and I can never get enough of them.  I would say this film is exactly what I have come to expect from the growing genre.  The movie is fun, exciting, and interesting.  I wouldn’t call it better or worse than what I think is a standard for a great group of movies.  This film did exactly what it was supposed to do and it gave us more to look forward to.  I genuinely enjoyed watching this movie again and I cannot wait to see the next one.  This movie is definitely worth your time and you should probably see it before Winter Soldier comes out this summer.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Year: 2001
Directed By: Peter Jackson
Written By: J.R.R. Tolkien (novel) Fran Walsh, Phillipa Boyens, and Peter Jackson (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

I will never forget the first time I saw this movie.  It was probably one of the most awesome experiences I have ever had as a film viewer and I didn’t even see it on the big screen.  In fact this film had been available on video for some time before I rented it.  I had somehow made it eighteen years in life without having read the books. I also managed to work in both a theater and video store without having seen this or even paying it any attention despite how big it was.  I was young then and my choices in film had a lot to do with either who starred in the film or who had directed it.  I didn’t know Peter Jackson and there was no name in the cast that jumped out at me.  Had I even known of the books I might have felt differently but I specifically remember feeling I was above this silly movie about wizards and trolls that was based off some old book.

I had recently graduated high school when I rented this movie one day in the late summer of 2002, and I can’t express enough how much I had no idea what the movie was about.  I took it over to a friends house one day to watch it while we got high.  Shameless I know, but I was eighteen and times were different.  Amber was with me (yes, we are high school sweethearts), she was only my girlfriend then and the friend whose house we went to is one we are still close to today.  I specifically remember telling him, “I don’t know if this is going to be any good, if it sucks we can just watch something else.” Now maybe it was the weed, maybe it was the special effects, or maybe it was just that the movie was THAT damn good but I remember seeing it for the first time as practically magical.  I was interested in the movie immediately but once the wizard fight began between Gandalf and Saruman I specifically remember my jaw dropping and I don’t know that my mouth closed for the next two and a half hours. I do not know how I managed to make it so long and be so into movies and not know anything about this film before that day.  I had a good friend I worked with in the projection booth at the theater and I remember he would prattle on and on about this movie.  We usually had great conversations about films but for whatever reason when he talked about this one I would simply nod my head and work while he talked about it. Whatever the reason I am thankful for my ignorance on that day.  Not knowing what was going to happen next made this movie so incredible.  I was on the edge of my seat for the entire film and exhilarated by the experience.

I may have had a special experience watching this movie but I am not special in feeling that connection to it.  This trilogy was one of the greatest undertakings in film history and it was very successful.  It no doubt means something to millions of people and has influenced countless viewers. The book this movie is based on was published in 1954 and already had a huge fan base before gaining a new audience through the film. To this day I have still never read the books despite how much I love the story, and it’s specifically because I love these movies so much. Books are always better.  There is just nothing a film can do to literally put you inside of the story with the thoughts and feelings of the characters.  The greatest movies find ways to convey that feeling to you, to a lesser extent, but it cannot be matched. I ruined Game of Thrones on HBO by reading the book series and I would hate to do the same to these films.  As I understand it, as far as film adaptations go, the Special Extended Cut for these movies is about as good as they get.  I hope so but will never risk finding out for sure, these movies mean too much to me.

I have always felt this movie was a glowing example of the possibilities offered by the future of film making. It was released so soon after the turn of the century when seemingly everything in the world was changing rapidly and this film was above and beyond practically everything that came before it.  It was a classic and well loved story brought to the screen with some of the greatest production work and special effects any of us had ever seen.  In some ways I don’t think it would be out of the question to put this trilogy next to Star Wars in what it did for the movie industry.  Animation used with motion capture suits was new at the time and the great lengths the production crew went through to design costumes, sets, and props were really exceptional.  The locations chosen to film in also went a long way in making the movie feel so real.  I know it has become a common dream vacation spot but for most every day people at the time New Zealand was a place many knew nothing about.  It sports incredible landscapes that really brought to world of Middle Earth to life in a way that probably couldn’t have been done anywhere else.

As great as everything looked in this movie, and as great and exciting as the story already was there is still no end to what can be said about the cast that brought the characters to life.  Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, and Dominic Monaghan were all great as the hobbits and became more and more likable as the series progressed.  Hobbits can seem pretty lame at just a glance because they’re just these little people who keep to themselves.  I  have always maintained that the hobbits are the most awesome of all the people of Middle Earth though.  The Dwarves are always bitching, the Elves are all high and mighty, the Men have a displaced sense of pride and arrogance while the Hobbits are simply happy go lucky little people who are content to eat,smoke, and drink their lives away happily.  These four Hobbits we see are the ones who get thrust into action and prove their people are more than meets the eye.  I don’t know that there was anything more uplifting in these films than seeing these Hobbits rise to action every time shit hit the fan.  These are seemingly little and defenseless people but every time the action gets going they are right there in the middle of it and throwing caution to the wind with acts of bravery that are nothing short of inspiring.

While the Hobbits might be the most unlikely badasses of all time there is no mistaking Ian McKellen as Gandalf for anything but the baddest of all badasses.  He has such a wise and grandfatherly quality to him until he throws down.  Whether he is dropping bridges with the banging of his staff or he is wielding a sword that suddenly came out of no where he is straight up the biggest badass in this movie. His battle with the demon before seemingly falling to his death is one of the most awesome scenes I have ever seen. When he stands his ground and screams “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!” you can practically feel his intensity straight through the screen.  It convinced me right there and then that Ian McKellen was and is one of the most awesome actors out there. I knew before seeing this movie that Gandalf didn’t die because I had waited so long to see it I had already seen him in previews for the next film, but the weight of that scene was still impossible to miss. So much changes when Gandalf decides to send them on without him and nothing is lost in the power of the scene by knowing that it’s coming.

I knew absolutely nothing about Viggo Mortensen prior to his role in this series and I would argue that without this series his career offers very little.  I think he was great in A History of Violence and he has made a couple other noteworthy movies but without playing Aragorn none of that would have ever happened. This was probably the best it will ever get for him but there is nothing wrong with that.  These movies will live on forever in popularity and he was absolutely incredible in all three of them.  The same can be said for Orlando Bloom although his efforts to make more of himself didn’t come with any lack of opportunity.  He got more roles thrown his way than any of the other actors yet still manages to be unsuccessful outside this franchise.  You can say that he had something going with Pirates of the Carribean, but I won’t. I attribute the success of that franchise to the child audience that loves pirates and it did nothing to prevent him from being typecast into that type of sword weilding character.  In truth I cannot stand Orlando Bloom but I never see Orlando Bloom in this movie, only Legolas, and Legolas was awesome. I like John Rhys-Davies and have since seeing him in Raiders of the Lost Ark as a child but I never really cared for him in this role.  He plays the Gimli the Dwarf, and as I mentioned in my review of The Hobbit, Dwarves blow.  They might bring their A-game to battle but otherwise all I hear them doing is bitching about everything under the sun.  

My favorite character in the film, after Gandalf of course, is that of Boromir.  Boromir was a man, altogether different from the kind of man that Aragorn was because Aragorn was a Dunedain.  Borormir could help but fall victim to the problems that plague regular men, being greed and arrogance.  He faltered a bit at the end and spend most of the journey under the suspicious eye of Gandalf and others but he was a man without fear.  He lost it altogether when he tried to take the ring from Frodo but the ring had managed somehow to poison his mind.  All that meant nothing when he joined the climactic battle and fought as bravely as any man in the entire series.  All these guys had great moments in battle but Boromir put his life on the line to single handedly take on a never ending assault from Uruk-hai warriors. He wasn’t just fighting off orcs to protect the Hobbits, he was fighting the biggest meanest enemies in the world and doing it despite taking arrows to the chest and stomach.  Boromir’s final fight to the death has always been one of my favorite scenes of the movie because it captures what so much of what this movie is about, being bravery and heroism. This all makes Boromir an awesome character, but I think what made him so great in the movie was the fact that he was played by Sean Bean.  Bean is a great actor but is really at his best in this kind of role.  He was exceptional as Eddard Stark in HBO’s Game of Thrones

I have gone on forever about this movie that…well goes on forever but there are still a few to cover.  It would be unfair to discuss this movie without mentioning some of the great performances in smaller roles.  Christopher Lee is like a machine when it comes to acting, continuing to act into his 80s without slowing down at all. He was a perfect fit for the villainous wizard Saruman and it is probably the role I will most remember him for when his career is finally at an end.  I have never thought Liv Tyler was a very good actress but she just looks the part so well for this movie.  She actually has really elvish features and the role didn’t call for her to really do too much acting.  Cate Blanchette on the other hand is a terrific actress and brought skills as well as beauty to her part.  She has a very graceful and angelic look.  Hugo Weaving was a rising star around the time this movie came out because he was part of The Matrix franchise.  When this movie hit the screen The Matrix had not yet destroyed its popularity with those horrible sequels.  I have liked Weaving in nearly everything I have seen him in and I think he was great as the most powerful Elf in this movie.

This is a great coming of age film that I watched during a time when I was coming of age.  It had a significant influence on me during a time when significant influences had the greatest impact.  From this film and series I learned about honor, bravery, and perseverance.  I consider the lessons I learned from these movies to be invaluable and I try to keep them close to heart at all times. I think this is the type of movie that touched many people in a similar way and will continue to do so for years to come.

This movie kicked off an incredible adventure that gave viewers three years worth of excitement.  I think this movie is far and away the best complete film of the series.  I think there is plenty to enjoy from both of the sequels but the intensity isn’t there throughout as it is in this one.  The second film has an incredibly long retarding point in the middle as it takes them forever to reach Helm’s Deep.  The third movie might have been the greatest but it just took so long to reach that epic battle in the end, and then the movie drags on forever afterwards.  This movie might have left us all hanging at a critical juncture but when all these films are put together I think it stands above the others.

These are incredible films that were popular all over the world. The adventure all started with this one and I think it started everything off perfectly.  I think this is an awesome movie and even though it demands so much time to watch it I think it is worth every minute of that time.  If you haven’t seen these movies then you have missed out and have a lot to look forward to. If you somehow missed these movies then I would suggest watching the special extended cuts.  They add about three hours to the series collectively but that extra time makes the story so much better and more complete.

AMBER’S REVIEW

The first time we ever watched this I was in a fun, teenager state of mind and I was absolutely blown away. I never even wanted to watch the movie originally. I thought it looked uninteresting to me from the trailers. One day at a friends house we all got completely sucked in and watched the entire thing. It was also one of those first movies that really took cinematography to a whole new level. Remember this movie was before Avatar. I think I still really like this movie, because as much as I dreaded watching it for the blog (only because it is a never ending movie) I found myself getting re-sucked into it. It is a good movie about perseverance for the good of people you don’t even know.

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NOOOOOOOOO! Group shot. Let’s see how many characters we can fit on the poster! I will say this is the best job I have seen at putting this many people on a poster, but I do not like it. The fade is seriously abrupt at the end of the photography where the title starts. And also, Frodo is like a deer in headlights on this poster. And it just makes me mad. More at Tolkien, because the real hero has and always will be Sam. Not a fan of the poster, but I do however like the typography of the title. It is recognizable and you know what movie this is just by seeing it. That’s what makes the title so strong. Otherwise, boo. They broke my poster code so I can’t give this one my praise.

NEXT MOVIE: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)