Thursday, 19 December 2013
Recent movies: from Outer Space to Middle Earth
Every now and then a Science Fiction or Fantasy movie comes along that is a real game-changer in visual terms, a step up from what was previously possible. In my cinema-going lifetime this quantum leap has been provided by films such as Star Wars, Close Encounters, Blade Runner, The Matrix, The Lord Of The Rings trilogy and Avatar - all showing us something fresh and new or presenting highly advanced takes on older images. Of course, going further back into the history of movies, such films as The Wizard Of Oz, Forbidden Planet or 2001: A Space Odyssey represented similar paradigm shifts. To this list can now be added the absolutely gob-smacking Gravity...
Gravity is easily the best thing I've seen this year since Life Of Pi and coincidentally also grapples with Big Questions while also affording Big Thrills. It's out of this world.
It must be that time of year again :-) For the second year in a row Sarah, James and I took a trip to Middle Earth on my birthday. ( I had a great day, thanks for asking. ) This central section of Peter Jackson's latest trilogy is a lot of fun, more fast-paced and furious than the first movie, with less scenes of dwarves singing and washing up, and more scenes of giant spider action and hot elves. Bilbo, Thorin and the dwarves keep ( mostly ) calm and carry on their quest, through the spider-infested depths of Mirkwood, and on through the lands of shape-shifters and elves, to finally reach the mountain lair of the titular dragon, Smaug The Magnificent...
Smaug will undoubtedly take his place as one of the greatest depictions of dragons in movie history. A towering, fire-breathing leviathan with a cunning, vain intelligence, Smaug is a magnificently real collection of pixels. And it's a treat to hear Benedict Cumberbatch's silky tones issuing from the old wyrm's mouth as he verbally jousts with Freeman's Bilbo Baggins... prior to trying to roast him, of course.
So, while not a classic, TH:TDOS (!) is an unpretentious adventure with all of Peter Jackson's customary eye for detail, action and colour, and its 161 minutes fairly zip by. Same time next year...?
Soundtrack: Diamond Dogs by David Bowie