Movies for the Holidays The Hobbit and Hunger Games.

Its Christmas time in the city and time to see movies. I have seen two in the past week, one at my behest and one kicking and screaming all the way. Here’s my take.

The Hobbit is a must see if you liked the Lord of the Rings series. Peter Jackson does it again with his trip to middle earth and the “Desolation of Smaug.” As in the past movies, this is a long quest with an indeterminate end.

Set in the beauty of New Zealand, the visuals are simply wonderful. I could list the players but you would recognize some of the names however with their heavy makeup and differing statures, you wouldn’t connect the actors to the names anyway.

I will say that Ian McKellen reprises his role and the wizard Gandolf and if you liked the dwarfs in the previous movies, they are back, in all their campy glory. Stephen Fry overplays his role as mayor of a community threatened by the dragon Smaug just enough to be memorable

There is one irony in the casting. Martin Freeman plays Bilbo Baggins and Benedict Cumberbatch is the voice of Smaug, the dragon. It seems they also play opposite each other in the modern UK version of Sherlock, with Cumberbatch in the title role and Freeman holding forth as Watson. Neat, huh.

Peter Jackson keeps it dark, and of course sets up the next edition of the series, with Bilbo’s final words as Smaug flies off to destroy destroy destroy… “What have we done.”

My Granddaughter picked the Hunger Games, Catching Fire.  I had no desire to see this movie, second in the series, because, after all, its really for teenage girls. Well not so much. For those of you living, like me, under a rock for the past five years, the story goes like this:

The government is totalitarian. Its headed by President Snow, played at his creepy best by Donald Sutherland. In order to distract the populace from their dire plight, the regime puts on the “Hunger Games.” In these, really beautiful young men and women fight each other to the death in a “game” that is  controlled by the government, rather like the games held by the Romans. The winners are lauded, the losers, well buried.

The populace isn’t happy about all this, but are held in check by a ruthless military police. Now arrives the most recent game winner, one Katniss Everdeen played by Jennifer Lawrence, who is sympathetic to the rebellion. The President and his henchmen know she is a problem but it is decided that they can’t simply eliminate her. So they stage a sort of Game of Games where winners from all the districts are pit against one another, the goal being Katness’ demise.  (Ashley, granddaughter, just read this and thinks I’m lame, but there you go.)

I’m told I need to see the first one which sort of sets all this one up, but I found it good fun as long as I had a guide sitting next to me.

This is a great movie for young people. No sex, what little cursing there is is ‘bleeped out’, and there is a lot of blood, fighting, heroes and villains. There is a bit of blurring of the lines as to the good guys and the bad guys but they sort themselves out in the end.

Katniss is a tad schizo in her selection of life partners. Moving from one to another and back again.  When I commented on it both Robyn and Ashley told me that after all, when you are in the heat of battle things just happen. I think there may be a double standard here, but I don’t have the nerve to test it.

The story is much more complex than I have depicted and I’m sure HG aficionados are as into the nuances as die hard Trekkies. I had a good time and look forward to the two planned sequels as Katniss, who is now the “mockingjay,” and her crew take on the evil President Snow in the showdown coming soon to a theater near you. I have no clue why she is called a mockingjay, and am told by those how know that it is to complex to explain. So there.

JVH

 

 

 

 

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