Monday, January 6, 2014

A Week at the Movies

So this past week I saw three movies, and loved 2 out of 3.  All three movies I saw - Frozen, Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - are all based on books/stories, but each one handled the retelling of book-to-movie very differently.

Let's start with Frozen.  I love this movie so much that I've already seen it twice in the theater, with only a week between each showing.  It's a funny and sweet adventure with great songs and lots of laughs.  I just felt so good after seeing this movie because it's such a happy and fun story.  It was even better seeing it the second time, because it was great listening to other people enjoying the movie or getting surprised by the plot twists.

Of course, the story it's inspired by - The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson - is nowhere near as happy as this adaptation.  But honestly, no one ever expects Disney to stick to the original fairy tales.  Their movies would be a whole lot darker if they did.  And we wouldn't come away with awesome songs like "Fixer Upper" and "In Summer."

The next movie I saw was The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.  This was such a great movie.  It's got romance and action and adventure and intrigue.  The script and the acting are both really good.  And the new characters are great additions to the story.  I originally didn't think I'd like Sam Claflin in the role of Finnick, but he was perfect.  Second movies in a trilogy/series can suffer sometimes, because it feels like a filler or stepping stone, but this one was just as good as the first movie.

And as for how well it stuck to the book... these Hunger Games movies are the perfect example of how to adapt a book into a movie.  The plot stays close to the book, and the changes made are minor.  Most of the changes were made for the sake of time, and I believe that since Suzanne Collins is involved with the making of the movies that she's helped keep the movies on track with her books.  I left the theater excited for the next movie and satisfied with how well the movie did justice to the book.

Which leaves us with the last movie I saw and the one I did not love - The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.  Let me start with what I did like, because that's a considerably shorter list.  Smaug was amazing.  He's the absolute best part of the whole movie.  Also the part where Gandalf leaves to face the Necromancer is really cool as well.  And that's it for what I liked.  Even my fan-girl love for Richard Armitage and Lee Pace could not make me love this movie.

Now I saw this movie with my brother and sister who each had different reactions to the movie.  My sister who hasn't read the book and doesn't really care about changes from book to movie did not like the movie.  She thought it just wasn't a well-made movie.  One of the biggest problems (that bothered my brother too) is the 3D effects issue.  When you see a movie that has a 3D version, you always hope that there aren't going to be a lot of 3D gimmicks that don't work when seen in 2D.  The Hobbit: DoS has plenty.  I mean, they're not gimmicky per say, like bouncy balls flying at your face (bad call, Journey to the Center of the Earth), but there were lots of moments in fight scenes (especially the scene with the spiders) where it was obvious that stuff was supposed to be popping out at our faces.  Which looks stupid when you're watching it in 2D.

Another big problem is that there just isn't enough to fill a whole three movies so this movie felt like it had a lot of filler.  The battles went on forever; whenever you thought they were over, they'd just keep going.  They jumped from one thing to another in such rapid succession, and it was so overly melodramatic.  I think the biggest problem is that they're just trying to get from the first movie (which set the stage) to the third movie (which has all the big final battles) so this movie is simply a stepping stone, and like most middle books & movies, suffers for it.

And then there were my pet peeves - the huge major changes and additions to the story.  I seriously tried to separate this movie from the book, to tell myself not to compare the two, but I have such an emotional attachment to that story that it just killed me watching how they mangled everything.  I don't want to give anything away, in case you still haven't seen it and want to, but there were just so many differences, so many drastic changes that I wondered if I was even watching The Hobbit anymore.

So that was my past week at the movies.  Feel free to comment if you agree or disagree with anything.  I know plenty of people who would completely disagree with me about some things, and plenty of others that share my opinions.  I'd love to hear where you stand.

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