It has been a long time; some people had relationships that were of a shorter duration. When we first met my eyes were dazzled by your beauty and my mind was tickled by your fanciful creativity. You showed me places I had only read about in books, never imagining I would see them come to life. I so enjoyed listening to your stories as the images you created appeared before my very eyes. You had this ability to sweep me away to a place where I could forget my problems and let the little boy inside of me come out to play. The years have been good to us. Like any relationship we settled into an easy comfort as we grew old together. Though my hearing and vision may not be as good as it used to be, I still looked forward to the tales you would tell me. After all this time I very much appreciated the fact you did not judge me if it looked like I was about to doze off during your storytelling; you know I never did. By the way, whenever I needed to take a bathroom break I always quickly ran there and back so I would not miss much. DIRECTOR Peter Jackson (King Kong, The Lovely Bones) and I started our journey back in 2001 at the release of his first film from his Lord of the Rings trilogy. Twenty-three years later we meet again for the last movie of his Hobbit franchise. This film festival winning adventure fantasy was just as spectacular visually as the previous ones. I particularly admired Peter’s eye for detail when it came to the scenes. Besides returning cast members Ian McKellen (X-Men franchise, Gods and Monsters) as Gandalf and Martin Freeman (Hot Fuzz, The World’s End) as Bilbo Baggins, there was newcomer Billy Connolly (The Boondock Saints, Quartet) adding a bit of life with his character Dain. Let me start by saying I enjoyed this film more than the previous one. Smaug the dragon, voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imagination Game, Sherlock-TV), who ended the last movie began this one with a fiery blast. What it boiled down to for me (no pun intended) was the script could not match the visual technical achievements of the scenes. After all this time there was a tired feeling to the last couple of pictures. It seemed as if this final installment was repetitive, with added fillers. For me watching a nearly one hour long battle scene was a laborious undertaking; it lost intensity as it went on. There was a “let us throw everything at them” quality to it. I am, however, glad I saw this movie. Our relationship may not have been as fresh as it once was, but I could not stand Peter up.
2 2/3 stars
From a simple title came a powerful actor driven movie. At the time, the most powerful woman in the world had secluded herself away from her subjects, still grief stricken over the death of her beloved husband, Prince Albert. The woman I refer to was Queen Victoria and she was portrayed brilliantly by Judi Dench (Quantum of Solace, J. Edgar). Notice how she used her entire face, especially her eyes and her body to convey her feelings. When she became angry, her eyes would turn lethal with their fiery stare. Having been part of the staff of her late husband, Queen Victoria summoned John Brown to become her personal servant. This simple Scotsman, filled with admiration and love for his Queen, was wonderfully portrayed by Billy Connolly (Timeline, White Oleander). With stubbornness, determination and devotion to her, John had a profound effect on her royal majesty. From her deep sorrow, Queen Victoria slowly came back to life as the two grew to share a special bond. As I watched this film, I felt I was seeing a piece of history come to life; every detail of the Queen’s court, the protocol were easily created in this beautifully done film. Love was the healing force here and in this case, a country and world would benefit from it.
3 1/4 stars — DVD