400 And Counting: Week 16 (It’s a Kind of Magic, Magic, Magic!)

February 13, 2015

This is a big week, and not just because this is the first of the theme weeks. No, the reason is Magic: The Gathering’s Pro Tour Fate Reforged! It put the world’s best Magic players against each other in the Modern format, which pulls from almost every card printed since 2003. We’ve just had a few sets with some powerful cards, as well as some major cards banned, so the meta (effectively what everyone is playing) has been shaken up and new decks are cropping up. The means exactly zero to you if you don’t play or follow Magic, but as someone who likes watching competitive magic, the Pro Tour was an exciting time.

An unexpected day off meant that I still managed to see a bunch of movies. Now, I’m not going to tell you the theme, it’ll be up to you to guess it. Naturally, I still went to the cinemas, so I have one to throw you off.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
Director: Steven Spielberg
2:09:00 (Completed)

After last week, Spielberg and Jeff Goldblum are back for another visit to Jurassic Park. This time, the gang goes to the second island where the dinosaurs were originally bred. The dinos have formed a ecosystem of their own — the titular Lost World.

There are still some great Spielberg moments in this film including some pretty tense and exciting dinosaur chase scenes. However, it pales in comparison to the original. It’s still fun mind you, just not nearly as much as the first, despite the fact there are 50% less kids in this film.

The cast list is impressive, but Pete Postlethwaite as the big game hunter, who wants to take on a T-Rex, is especially spellbinding. Oh, and Vince Vaughn is in this film, but he isn’t the most annoying thing ever, which is role he is typecast as.

And another thing, the ending sucks!

Jurassic Park 3 (2001)
Director: Joe Johnston
1:33:00 (Completed)

Joe Johnston tried so hard to recapture the magic of Jurassic Park, but he didn’t even get close. Not even a returning Sam Neill could do the trick. Maybe I’m being a bit harsh. This isn’t The Godfather 3, it’s just forgettable.

Alan Grant (Neill) is tricked into searching the dinosaur island from The Lost World (which he has never been on) by a very annoying set of parents. This film adds a few things to the Jurassic Park universe but, it didn’t really do much for me. Just like in the latest Godzilla, watching two big monsters fight — or in Jurassic Park 3’s case, two dinosaurs — is boring. There just won’t enough excitement, and Joe Johnston is a lesser director than Spielberg; the pacing and tension just weren’t right.

I guess you watch this to prepare for Jurassic World, but that’s about it.

The Theory of Everything (2014)
Director: James Marsh
2:03:00 (Completed)

The Theory of Everything is the sort of film made to be important, win Oscars and make lots of money. That’s not to say it’s a bad film, but it’s very much Oscar bait.

It’s the story of Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) and his marriage to wife Jane (Felicity Jones). The Theory of Everything is more about their relationship as they deal with Hawking’s motor neurone disease, than it is about his science.

There’s a lot to like about the film. Jones is enchanting as Jane Hawking; she has a number of quite touching scenes. The sentimentality, though, does feels a little forced at times. Redmayne reminds me of Geoffrey Rush in Shine; yes it’s a good performance but it feels like you’re playing the disability and not the character (A note about Shine: Noah Taylor deserves far more credit than he got).

This is the sort of film that I’m glad I saw, but in six months will probably only remember the phrase “The little one has done it.”

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings [Extended Edition] (2001)
Director: Peter Jackson
3:28:00 (Completed)

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers [Extended Edition] (2002)
Director: Peter Jackson
3:43:00 (Complete)

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King [Extended Edition] (2003)
Director: Peter Jackson
4:11:00 (Completed)

Now, I’ve watched some of The Hobbit extended editions but this would be my first time delving into the extended editions of The Lord of the Rings. Now, it’s been a few years since I saw the originals, but even I noticed the extra footage, with a number of scenes reworked and expanded, which adds a richness to an already rich world.

These films are long. Really long. The Fellowship of the Ring alone is 3 hours and 28 minutes, and this does not include the additional 20 minutes of credits you can watch. So you’re in it for the long haul. You could easily watch the series over a week or two. Or you could watch it over two days.

The Lord of the Rings is the Game of Thrones before there was a Game of Thrones. Well, maybe that’s not the best way to put it. It doesn’t feature so much of the political backstabbings, the violence is far tamer and there isn’t any sex. What it does have is a rich fantasy world with interesting characters on a big old quest to defeat the bad guy. There’s wizardry, grand battles and grander speeches. One of the things I noticed during the three films is that no matter where the characters are, or who is in the scene, someone knows the name of the location or an object or animal. They know the name of every pass, every bridge, every river, every Oliphaunt.

While it might not be exactly Game of Thrones, I think the success of Lord of the Rings is why a show like Game of Thrones can be made. If you liked Lord of the Rings the first time around, the extended editions are worth checking out.

I haven’t had a chance to watch any of the behind the scenes footage, but if The Hobbit is any indicator, I’ll like it more than the films (and I do like the films). So that’s something else to look forward to.

I’m going to Auckland next month for the Magic: The Gathering Grand Prix, and I’m super excited to check out Hobbiton. You can actually visit the set, and have a drink at the Prancing Pony, which I’m very much looking forward to.

No trailer this week, but here is Pippin’s song from Return of the King, my favourite moment from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. So spoiler alert those who haven’t seen the series and want to — yes, both of you. That’s one of the things I liked about The Hobbit (and there was quite a bit): They got Billy Boyd (who played Pippin) to sing the end credits song for Battle of Five Armies.

By the way, did you guess the theme? Yes, it was Trilogies. Also Magic.


Film of the week: The Lord of the Rings (I don’t want to pick one, but maybe Fellowship if I have to)
Movies watched this week: 6 (LotR should count as double, right!?)
Did Not Finish (DNF) this week: 0
Time spent this week: 17:07:00
Total movies watched: 85/400
Total DNF: 2
Total time: 167:36:32

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