Category Archives: Movies

The Secret of Kells

I had originally intended to write a post about the things I’ve been reading, watching and playing this month, but I went off on a tangent about a movie I just watched and decided that I might as well dedicate a whole entry to it.

18ltaf1ma8eqojpgI needed a movie to nap by, and so I chose The Secret of Kells off of Netflix on a whim. Turned out to be a bad choice, because I ended up staying up to watch it. The movie involved all the things I like – illuminated manuscripts, the Book of Kells, the medieval church, the Vikings raiding the coast (actually I don’t like that – it’s heartbreaking. I love vikings, but only when they stay in their own country and kill Grendelseses and drink in mead-halls), and Irish shit. Y’all know I love Irish shit.

Anyway, what a beautiful movie – storywise, sure, but especially artwise. The animators who worked on it are absolute artists. Almost every scene evokes the intricate spirals and knots and brilliant colors of illuminated manuscripts.

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There are a lot of patterns in the background – reminiscent of stained glass or the pages of the Book of Kells itself. Celtic knots in the trees! I loved that. A lot of repeating motifs to tie things together. The character design is deceptively minimalistic – a lot of simple, curved lines, but they’re used to the best effect. The Vikings are ugly and square and shades of grey compared to the artful lines and jewel tones of the landscape and people of Kells. It takes talent to be able to imbue just a few lines and splotches of color with all that personality and character. . . Honestly, it reminds me a little bit of the Western version of a Miyazaki film. Not one scene is wasted in Secret of Kells – every shot looks like the page from a storybook.

And I understand it’s been popular for quite a while, so maybe I’m late to the game on this one, but seriously. CHECK IT OUT. SO PRETTY.

(Don’t know, however, that I would necessarily recommend it for young kids! They portray – appropriately – the vikings as these scary nightmares, and there’s some forest scenes that might be way too spooky for little ones.)

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The Desolation of Smaug (and Casey)

Sammi and I went to see The Desolation of Smaug last night. The first movie was good. This one? Not so much. It’s supposedly three hours long, but it felt like days. When we finally stumbled out of the theater, night had turned into day, winter to spring.  We grew long white beards and our relatives were all dead. This movie is just that long. Of course, the first one was that long too, but it was more fun somehow. There was more going on. There were eagles. Dwarf shanties. Goblin throw-downs. This one had about 72 minutes of Smaug crawling around on a pile of gold, engaged in the most boring game of cat and mouse ever with Bilbo. On the bright side, Smaug is voiced by Bandersnatch Cinnabon Benedict Cumberbatch, so if we had to sit through his boring griping, at least it was pretty sexy sounding boring griping.

Now, Tauriel. I was one of the ones who was glad that Peter Jackson was including another female character in the movie, because let’s face it – LotR and the Hobbit are both pretty bereft of women. I was a little shocked that he chose Evangeline Lilly (aka Kate from Lost) of all people to play Tauriel, but. . .you know. I’m not a casting director, what do I know? Anyway, it turns out her British accent was not quite as cringe-worthy as you’d think it would be, but we’ve got to talk about her hair. Oh my God, that hair. Thranduil should have said something. I can’t believe someone as fabulous as him would let his captain of the guard go around with a cheap bottle dye job. “Sweetie,” he should have said, “We’re elves. We have magic. You don’t have to dye your hair with a kit from the Mirkwood Dollar Store.”

Tauriel’s budding romance with Kili was kind of weird, too. It seemed forced, and I don’t even know why there had to be a romance subplot in the movie anyway. I happen to have my doctorate in fantasy biology, so let me tell you something. Elves and dwarves are different species, with dwarves clearly being the superior of the two. It’s like a teacup poodle mating with a great dane. It just ain’t gonna work out right.

(Besides, Kili is mine. Girlfriend better step off my kool-aid.)

Of course, the rest of the cast was wonderful, just like the first movie. Martin Freeman makes a perfect Bilbo Baggins. He’s got that “I don’t want to be brave but I’m going to be brave” manner down just right. Kind of meek, kind of perturbed. He’s great. All the dwarves are great. Radagast! It was nice to see Legolas again, and he didn’t feel too shoehorned in. (As an aside, Orlando Bloom – Legolas – is three years older than Lee Pace, who plays his dad Thranduil. Elves, man.)

Overall, though, the pacing just killed this movie for me. I imagine the third one will be better – usually the second movie in trilogies kind of serves as a bridge, and that can get boring. There was a lot of action, but. . .I don’t feel like it went anywhere. I don’t think it was necessarily a wise idea, creatively speaking, to split a less-than 300 page book into three movies. Two movies? Okay, sure. But at this rate, I could read the whole book in a shorter amount of time than I could watch all three movies.