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He won one Oscar out of 18 nominations. He also received nine Golden Globe nominations, won five Emmys out of seven nominations and got four BAFTA and Grammy Award nominations.
Which of the following film scores written by Goldsmith is your favorite?
Which one of the following is your favorite Spielberg/Williams collaboration?
It has some problems, but I enjoyed it
I've been looking forward to this film ever since the word first got out. I am a huge J.R.R. Tolkien fan and I've read the book multiple times. One thing that particularly attracted me to the adaptation is that, at first announcement, Guillermo del Toro was chosen as the director. He is one of my favorite directors and I felt that he will bring a new approach that we haven't seen in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Then he was replaced by Peter Jackson. I had nothing against this decision, considering that he was the man behind the Lord of the Rings trilogy from almost ten years before.
To start off with, I was somewhat suspicious about the fact that there will be two (later three) films based on a book that is 300 pages long so I assumed that many scenes will be added from other Tolkien works related to the plot. They were also attempting to make the film accessible to those who haven't read the book and possibly even those who haven't seen The Lord of the Rings.
It is important to point out that this movie, which has a running time of 169 minutes in its theatrical release, covers about 120 pages of the book so it is clear that some scenes will drag on while others were added from The Return of the King appendices and Unfinished Tales.
As a matter of fact, for the first 90 minutes there is not much action involved. There are some flashbacks that involve a bit of action, but other than that the movie up to that point is mainly dialog and scenes that are only meant to introduce the characters and scenery to people who haven't read the book.
The acting in this movie is excellent. It is wonderful to see Ian McKellen return to play Gandalf and Martin Freeman's portrayal of Bilbo Baggins was spot on. However, my favorite character is Thorin, played amazingly by Richard Armitage. I can say that he is the Aragorn of this trilogy and, frankly, the main character of this story. One thing that bothered me is the company of dwarfs. There are thirteen of them but apart from a few, we don't anything about the others except their names.
The musical score by Howard Shore is wonderful as people have expected, considering the fact that he was the man behind The Lord of the Rings trilogy music, which are clearly some of the best film scores of all time. To my mind, An Unexpected Journey is not as great as, say, The Fellowship of the Ring, but it does contain some memorable themes and it makes it a good and pleasant listen.
Overall, this film is somewhat mediocre compared to any of the Lord of the Rings films and some fans might be disappointed. Myself, the only problem I have with it is that it is too long for the 120 pages it covers. Other than that, it has very good acting, very good visual effects and an excellent musical score. My opinion is based on the fact that I've read the book multiple times before watching the film so I had some expectations. However, as a standalone film, it will be entertaining to those who haven't read the book or have no idea about Tolkien's works. Considering all of these, I will give it a 7 out of 10.
Lady in the Water (2006)
Interesting story, but boring
Since Signs, I've always approached an M. Night Shyamalan film with some sort of fear because he went downhill from there. When I got to see Lady in the Water, I gave him a chance and I said to myself: "How bad can it be?"
The story, based on a bedtime story written by Shyamalan, was quite interesting, but kind of short for a two hour film. Because of this, it drags on, giving the film a very slow pace. It also features Shyamalan's trademark plot twist, but this one seems forced and somewhat predictable (at least it was for me).
I think the greatest fault I find with this film is Shyamalan casting himself in an important role. He made cameo appearances before this one, but here he has quite a lot of screen time, even though he's an awful actor. Bryce Dallas Howard (Story) didn't give a good performance either. Her acting is dull, uninteresting and over-dramatic.
When I looked at the film's budget and saw $75 million, I couldn't help but think where did so much money went? The whole movie takes place in an apartment complex so there aren't many sets, the visual effects are very few and look kind of cheap and the film doesn't have any stars to say that they asked for a big salary. The cinematography isn't that great either. Actually, this almost looks like a low budget film.
In my mind, this film has two redeeming qualities: Paul Giamatti's performance and James Newton Howard's masterful music score. He's a standard collaborator of Shyamalan and I think that this is his best work.
Overall, this is a boring and uninteresting film, but still decent and watchable. It is certainly not Shyamalan's worst film, but still miles away from The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable. However, it is quite solid compared to The Happening and The Last Airbender, so I consider it to be somewhere in the middle in Shyamalan's canon. Not awful, but could have been better. 4 out of 10.
A forgotten gem
There was a time when a young man that would later become a legend was struggling to direct his first feature film. In 1971 he received that chance and the result is a simple, yet engaging film that keeps you on the edge of your seat for all of its duration. While Spielberg deserves much of the credit (after all, this is an impressive film for a 24- 25 year old director), let's not forget Richard Matheson's wonderful story and script. Who would have thought that a story about a man driving a car being chased by an old truck on a highway could make such an engaging thriller? But it's not just about the chase. Both Spielberg and Matheson made subtle tricks to show us that, at least in their mind, the villain is not the truck driver, but rather the truck itself. And all of this is done with very little dialogue. One can say that the truck was a prototype for a certain shark that came on screen four years later.
After watching the film two times, I can say that this is a textbook example on how to efficiently make a low budget film. Spielberg made clever use of all the tools at his disposal, especially in the area of camera work and sound effects. And if you take into consideration that shooting and editing combined were done in less than a month, it makes the accomplishment even more impressive.
As a standalone film, this is a classic thriller that it is sadly underrated. I can honestly say that this is the film that Hitchcock never made. Instead, it was tackled by a young man who made it his own. As a Spielberg film, it is delightful to see where it all began and we know that it was all uphill from here. It really stands out as one of the finest thrillers of the 1970s and, to my mind, as one of the best directorial debuts of all time. 9 out of 10.