It’s obviously co-writer and director Peter Jackson’s belief as well. Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy mirrored the structure of Tolkien’s book, to the delight of a legion of fans and many new converts. But The Hobbit is a relatively brief and simple quest, as evidenced by the book’s subtitle: There and Back Again.
Jackson’s Lord of the Rings was a masterpiece, and The Hobbit, at least as far as the unexpected journey has taken us, remains more of a mini-piece. (Warner Bros.)
Film Review: Conan the Barberian 3D (2 stars) If we didn’t know it already, this is the story of Conan, the poor little barbarian boy who watched his parents die and learned to become the most barbaric of all barbarians. It’s a classic hero yarn drenched in vengeance and melted cheese, but Conan has a slightly special place in the annals of kitschy genre, thanks to the 1982 original starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The movie made Arnie a star by proving he could flex and talk at the same time, but it doesn’t stand up that well in our modern era of the action movie. No doubt it was a desire to rebirth the Conan franchise for a whole new audience that prompted this new effort shot in digital 3D, but for all the technological improvements, this Conan feels an awful lot like the old Conan: stupid.
Unknown: Stranger and fiction This is one of those movies where you may come up with six different “why didn’t he just … ?” questions on the way home. “We Germans are experts at forgetting,” says Herr Jürgen, the Stasi spook. The film seems to be hoping for similar skills from its audience. Then again, if you can suspend (if not forget) your disbelief, Unknown offers an enjoyable thrill ride. Neeson makes for a watchable man on the run, even if some of his techniques, like the just-in-time subway escape, have been done to death. And ducking into a noisy nightclub? In Berlin? You’d be hard-pressed not to wind up in one.
‘I get there, just in time’: Liam Neeson on Natasha Richardson’s death Two years after Liam Neeson’s wife, actress Natasha Richardson, died after a fall at a Quebec ski resort, the Hollywood star told Esquire magazine that he initially wasn’t able to see his dying spouse because he wasn’t recognized at the Montreal hospital where she was being treated.