Jasper Smith

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Mel Gibson has perhaps rightly acquired a reputation as something of a crazy person, but if he’s a bit mad, it’s perhaps justifiable to call him a mad “genius.” For the fact is, Apocalypto is an astonishing film. No time for a particulary long review at the moment, but I will say that if, like me, one of the best parts of watching movies is that you get to be transported to another world, you’ll simply love this film. Gibson has meticulously recreated an exotic, now-lost to history otherworld: that of the early 15th century Mayan civilization. And he’s done so with an incredible degree of verisimilitude. The film is utterly harrowing to watch at times, and yet I found I couldn’t move my eyes from the screen. The last half hour or so of Apocalypto is a tad more predicable and formulaic than the first hundred or so minutes (it almost reminds one of something out of the Rambo series), but the overall effort from Mr. Gibson is so well done, so riveting, so suspensful, and so, well, elegant, you’ll barely notice this shortcoming.

Apocalypto is not for the faint-of-heart, nor is it suitable for children (due to scenes of extreme — albeit non-gratuitous — violence). All in all, a very entertaining work. Very dark at times, but not wholly bleak in its vision. It even manages to impart a relevant message — an apocalypic warning, if you will — to our modern age.

Written by Jasper

January 2, 2009 at 9:11 pm

Posted in Movies

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Thursday Tolkien blogging, or, exercises in geekery

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Ross discusses the Peter Jacksons’ participation in the upcoming film version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

…while I trust Jackson and Company more than I would trust anyone else in Hollywood where Tolkien is concerned, I can’t say that I was entirely wowed by the portions of Lord of the Rings where they veered dramatically from the original text. Which means the prospect of having them essentially manufacture a prequel – and if it does well at the box office, you know there will be others – leaves me a little cold, and a lot worried.

One of Ross’s readers chimes in to agree with his complaints about insufficient faithfulness to the story line in Jackson’s three Lord of the Rings films (warning, major league geek stuff to follow):

I hope that Peter Jackson doesn’t get his hands or “artistic license” on The Hobbit. Despite the fact that LOTR was a monumental effort, it still stands that Mr. Tolkein’s work was prostituted by Mr. Jackson who felt it necessary to alter the story to suit his own needs and ego. Frodo was represented as a weakling. Lady Arwen, or example, did NOT save Frodo’s life at the Fjord of Bruinen, it was his depth of character and Hobbit strength, as Mr. Tolkein intended. It was more than obvious that Mr. Jackson was more interested in CGI special effects and the bottom line than in representing the books as they should have been.

It does pretty much suck when you’re really into a certain literary work, and the filmmaker takes liberties with the stories. But the thing is, movies are movies and books are books. Sometimes elements that go into great books simply don’t work as movies. Unfortunately for the latter, there’s that itty bitty matter of making money. Liv Tyler’s a big star — and Hollywood movies need hot babes, after all — and it simply made financial sense to take a bit of poetic license with the character of Arwen. What’s so difficult about that? You can always go back and read the originals if you want the real McCoy. It’s not like the studio required Tolkien’s estate to alter the book’s prose. The original words will last for eternity, uncorrupted. Maybe some day a studio will choose to do a TV miniseries of LOTR, and there will be enough time to incorporate the character of Tom Bomadil. But theater seats and human arses aren’t designed to sit for four hours. I suggest people who get overly worked up about his sort of thing eschew seeing the movie, because they’re never perfectly faithful to the author. It’s not worth the blood pressure spike.

Side note: it’s been a while for me since reading the books, but I recall Frodo was semi-unconscious by the time the reached Bruinen. I know there was some kind of encounter with a wraith, but I thought it was pretty much Elrond who saved the day (not really Frodo) by using his power over the river to unleash a flood.

Written by Jasper

December 20, 2007 at 9:42 pm