The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

So, as the title suggests, I went to see for the family Christmas movie, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey

Going into this movie, I knew it was going to be a little bloated and the story split up into 3 separate movies, even though originally it was only supposed to be 2. The movie really doesn’t feel all that bloated, at least with the action scenes within. The only time things probably could have been edited out, is mainly just the fan service parts that were in the movie solely for the fan service. To acknowledge and give a nod every time they mention an element or familiar point from the Lord Of The Rings Trilogy.

Although one part is kind of necessary, and that’s the scene between Bilbo and Gollum. Other than that, the scenes that have old Bilbo and Frodo, and all the scenes doing the obvious “Nudge-Nudge, remember?” moments in it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a great movie, although I can see where people could have issues watching the 3D version.

As previously iterated by those who’ve seen the 3D version, due to the 48 fps and 3D in the other “Main” showing of the movie. Those who know, when it comes to high FPS movies and TV, it makes them seem like Soap Operas and with the CG, it is made worse by the high frame rate and 3D effect. The special effects of Jackson’s visual art style just isn’t compatible with the current 3D standards, as 3D running at 48 FPS, makes the movie seem really cheap and you can tell any scene with the actors, is them on a sound stage, and a green screen behind them.

*Note: For those who don’t particularly follow technical jargon, FPS is short for frames per second. Which translates to all the visual information the eye sees. Human eyes can see up to 60, although games can run at 60, and sometimes more.*

So, to better enjoy the movie, I went to the 2D showing, running at the standard 24 fps. The art style, visual effects and practical effects are amazing in the standard 24 FPS 2D version of the movie. It reminded me of the LOTR trilogy, which is good, in most ways. However, some of the creature effects seemed a little cheaper in the regard that, unlike the LOTR trilogy, where some of the beasts were somewhat practical and the CG seemed more fine tuned to make it look as realistic as possible. In this one, they seem almost as bad as the Wolves in the Twilight movies. Although that’s just a knit pick.

The acting is pretty solid for those in the major roles, in the minor roles, the actors did a fine job, it’s just we don’t get too many lines from them to feel invested in some. The only Dwarf we really care about is Thorin, the main guy the story is really about, other than Bilbo following along and then randomly bumping into Gollum part way in, to pick up the ring and such. That’s not really a spoiler as we knew before hand he got a hold of the ring in LOTR previously.

In the beginning, it seems like Ian McKellen was trying to make Gandalf seem older than in LOTR, and more feeble as it were. Its kinda odd in terms of some of the plot mechanics that the Dwarves kinda suck at combat in some ways. The only competent one is Thorin, and even then, he still gets held back due to the writing. The only bad part to this movie, is the mechanics to the fight scenes. Its pretty simple Story, intrigue, mystery, then an action scene occurs, the Dwarves do some good, but then lose in the end. Only to be saved by Gandalf, because he’s a wizard and is almost like god in a way. At least in LOTR, Gimli didn’t seem as hapless as the less memorable Dwarves in this one. Again, nitpick, so I’ll move on.

The guest cast as usual is amazing, as *Spoiler* we go to Rivendell, and there’s a meeting between Gandalf, Elrond, Galadriel and Saruman. Saruman and Elrond seem skeptical about the news that Gandalf has brought that leads to possible (and eventual, as this is the previous story to the LOTR trilogy, so we know it happens), evidence that Sauron maybe returning. This scene is nothing but fan service to people who enjoyed and sat through the 9.5 ish hours of the LOTR trilogy. Granted I still enjoyed the fan service, since I enjoy the movies, and agree more detail in movies is not always a bad thing.

Not to mention being a fan of watching Noah “Spoony” Antwiler’s Counter Monkey videos and having role played on forums and internet chatrooms, I can appreciate a good fantasy story here and there. The music is awesome as always in these movies, and the fact there’s more singing of more than just the hobbits is fun. You get to see the Dwarves sing, and its awesome, it makes the story immersive and engaging, drawing you in. I really liked it.

I enjoy the movie, and can’t help but eagerly await the second movie, and third movie. At least in this one, it kinda moves a bit faster than Fellowship of the Ring does. I’ve admittedly fallen asleep sometimes watching Fellowship, as it takes a while to get the plot moving. I really enjoyed the video games that accompanied the LOTR movies, as the development teams worked closely with the production crew of the films. I especially enjoyed The Third Age game, where you got an original tolkien-esque story in the same world, but with a different fellowship, in a Final Fantasy Style system of gameplay.

Back to the movie, despite some editing that could’ve been done, the movie is still worth a good watch. I recommend saving your money and watching the 2D version, as its perfect as is in that showing. The movie, despite somehow stretching out the story, doesn’t feel bloated, much less seem boring, it’s the opposite, its engaging enough to keep you interested, but still has enough story elements to appeal to those who’ve read the book.

Alright, with that, I’ll end this off, and say Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Holidays to all. Enjoy your time off and have a good new year. I might have another entry up before then, but if not, it’ll be in January.

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A few notes on Red Faction Armageddon and Assassin’s Creed 3

RFAassassins_creed_3_2012_game-wide

I figure, because its been a while since I posted. I’d throw some notes out there on a couple of games I’ve been playing recently.

So for Assassin’s Creed 3, I pre-ordered it a while ago for my PS3, just because I own and have played all the previous games in the series for my PS3. The only one I haven’t picked up is Liberation, as I don’t have a PS Vita. I liked some of the new features in the game, like the fix in the control scheme. Where as if some of you may remember from previous games, when jumping from a stand still, the directional input was spotty. So one would jump in the wrong direction, either leading to injury or de-synchronization. With the new engine Ubisoft used for the game, it fixed this problem. Which is great, it was the one nitpick I had with previous games, that hadn’t been fixed. With this game, we got a robust story with lots of extra features, and a new combat management system which allowed for more quick adjustments even while in combat.

I find the game is a major improvement in the previous franchise, however, other fans have made other claims, like the ending is intentionally weak for playability and extremely difficult. *coughs*Kotaku*coughs*. Where the writer of the article  complained that it took him almost 30 times to complete the chase. Granted I know its difficult, as I’ve finished the storyline, and I had some issues with it as well, but I was able to figure out which path to take, while keeping my synch up and keep up to Lee. It’s not much of a spoiler, as in most games there’s a chase scene of some sort. More specifically he called it a kick in the face, now I’ll admit, Connor’s decisions aren’t exactly what I would do, but in that final chase, its understandable that there would be a lot of obstacles between Connor and Lee.

He said it was the worst ending to a game he’s played all year. Granted I can’t play as often or as many games as they do in one year, but even so. Just from the comments section alone in his article, obviously people were divided, probably more so with me, where they were saying “It took you 30 times, big deal. Barrels full of gun powder explode, and you missed the fact Lee turned momentarily and shot the barrels.” Which is true, Lee did have time to shoot the barrels as the two ran. I will say this about that mission, the optional objective is kind of annoying, and its thrown in several times in the game. “Avoid shoving people” is a pain in the proverbial ass, to be blunt. I find if it’s a slow, walking mission it makes sense. Move through the crowd slowly, but keeping within a good distance from the target. However, when its a mad dash rush to catch a really fast opponent, having that optional objective is kind of obnoxious. Especially when the target runs through enemy checkpoints that shoot on sight, even if you’re incognito.

But I digress, it’s just a nitpick I had with that objective. People have complained the graphics could be better, however someone like me who knows the specs of consoles, know that the engine is not weak on graphics, the opposite in fact, where it’s actually pushing the consoles just passed their limit. So if you were to play the game on a PC, where the hardware is interchangeable and able to process more video, the game would run with more polish. The game is beautiful regardless of the finer details. AI is a little bit better in some regards, but as the Meme goes, they still can’t swim.

Now that I’ve covered the thoughts on AC3, I’ll move on to Red Faction Armageddon for the PC.

While I enjoyed the beauty and story that is AC3, it wasn’t always fun, I hadn’t found any signs of a secret crypt and puzzle that led to some ancient armour upgrade. Red Faction is more fun, it gives you the ability to destroy man-made buildings, and equipment with a very sophisticated engine mod. Then after blowing everything up or cutting it down, you can repair it to traverse the area and provide more cover from enemies. As a bonus to all the destruction, you pick up salvage points, which are used to upgrade your abilities. The difficulty spike isn’t impossible, just a bit of a pain sometimes.

I happen to prefer the Singularity Cannon, which creates a black hole around an enemy and then after sucking everything up, it explodes. Another weapon I enjoy, especially for precision cutting, is the focused plasma beam rifle. Cuts through anything including a large assortment of enemies. Not to mention from a distance. Another great choice is the Nano rifle, using nanoscopic machines to de-atomize enemies, buildings and equipment. The story is pretty generic, but it works for me. I enjoy playing the game and with multiplayer features it makes it more interesting. The controls for RFA are solid, traditional third person controls, and an assortment of enemies that make it interesting for combat. The mechs are always a nice welcome, everything from a Leo suit, to a giant walker.

Now that I’ve got these thoughts out of my system, I can move on. I decided to not do a review on Wreck-It Ralph, as I could sum it up in one sentence. Although I will have a review of The Hobbit up, probably around Christmas, as I’ll be seeing it on Christmas eve.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the next review.