Movie Review: Short Circuit (mild spoilers)

Movie DVD cover - Short Circuit"

(I’m dedicating this one to a buddy of mine, who reviews films at his website K986 Terminal and recommended I watch this movie, if I’m not mistaken.)

Short Circuit concerns Number Five, one of several prototype war robots, who develops an appearance of sentience following a power surge and is convinced that he has a life of his own. The main character heavily resembles Pixar’s WALL-E, but that’s where the similarities end. Short Circuit, being neither a romance nor an environmental film, tries to balance the obligations of being a comedy and something of an action movie, with middling results at best on both sides.

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Movie Review: The Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug (some spoilers)

Movie poster - "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug"

I am pleased and not pleased.

The Desolation of Smaug brings with it exciting action scenes, a likable heroine who doesn’t go out of her way to emphasize her femininity, the series’ typically gorgeous environments, and fine sound work. It also brings forgettable music, major story issues, and an unwelcome cliffhanger. Thankfully the good outweighs the bad, but the particular kinds of problems that exist in this movie are enough to make me concerned about the conclusion of The Hobbit story.

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Movie Review: The Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King

"The Lord of the Rings" movie poster.

I can’t really give any one specific reason why, to this day, Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King remains my favorite film of all time.

Maybe it’s because of the beautiful sets and environments, or the excellent acting, or the flawless sound and music, or the epic battles, or the story that comes to a close in such a satisfying way. Maybe it isn’t any one of these things, but I would say that a movie with all of these surely deserves to set the standards for the genre for many years to come.

It’s been a tremendous journey revisiting one of my favorite series of movies, from relaxing with Frodo Baggins in his quiet days in the Shire to standing with him on the slopes of the volcanic Mount Doom–but more than that, it’s been a joy to me to explain exactly why I love these movies so much, as well as what I wonder if they and the story beneath them might not have done differently. But any of the few flaws The Return of the King may have are surely washed away in a flood of successes that earned the movie all eleven Academy Awards for which it was nominated.

And as any great record-breaking, mountain-shaking, explosively successful blockbuster epic should … it all begins with a worm.

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Movie Review: The Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers

"The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" movie poster

The first installment in Peter Jackson’s three-part adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings stories, The Fellowship of the Ring, was a general triumph both in its storytelling and its movie-making, but the epic journey to destroy an enchanted ring and the evil creator Sauron with it has only just begun. The Two Towers, the second installment, is thus given the job of living up to the first film’s high standards while also preparing the way for the third film, The Return of the King. And I think my appreciation for this film has actually grown during the past decade. Shall I describe it to you?

Or would you like me to find you a box?

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Movie Review: The Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring -- cropped movie poster

As I eagerly await the next installment in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit series of movies, I want to revisit what was my personal introduction to the famed Lord of the Rings story and setting. I hope you enjoy my sharing my thoughts on my first glimpse of Middle-earth.

Over a decade ago, director Peter Jackson introduced film lovers to his portrayal of J.R.R. Tolkien’s renowned fantasy setting of Middle-earth and of the epic struggle of good versus evil that took place within it. While Jackson’s attempt to adapt The Lord of the Rings novels to film was not the first, his trilogy of films went on to make tons of money at the box office and to collectively win a huge number of Academy Awards as well. But every story has a beginning, and ours begins in fire. The Fellowship of the Ring still holds up after that decade as an excellent watch, but what makes it so great? And where could it (or, perhaps, its source material) potentially have used improvement, as we look forward to Jackson’s second film in The Hobbit trilogy, The Desolation of Smaug?

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Movie Review: Wreck-It Ralph

Movie poster - "Wreck-It Ralph" - from

The makers of Wreck-It Ralph clearly have a loving respect for video games old and new: with fictional arcade titles that can actually be played on Disney’s website, game characters who make their virtual home feel believable and lively, and an exciting, humorous, and deeply emotional story, Wreck-It Ralph succeeds on pretty much every level, especially as a tribute to classic arcade gaming. Stumbling mainly in a few areas of content appropriateness, this is an overwhelmingly wonderful movie.

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