THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
This first of three movies to be extracted from J.R.R. Tolkien’s slim novel is moderately engaging. Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), a homey hobbit ill-suited to dangerous adventures, gets mixed up in just such a quest. Bilbo and Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and 13 dwarves set out to reclaim the ravaged kingdom or Erebor. Peter Jackson is up to his old tricks, and it’s pleasant enough, but 3 films seem a bit extreme and the controversial 48 frames-per-second that Jackson used is awful. See it in 24 if you can. PG-13 (extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images).
This new Tom Cruise vehicle does its work sleekly and well. However, to be honest, it’s a little hard to watch given recent news events. Jack Reacher (Cruise) is off the grid as a cop, ex-military sniper and investigator. An accused killer, coming out of a coma, asks for Reacher to help clear his name. Rosamund Pike plays Helen, the defense attorney who’s on the case. Eventually, it all boils down to The Zec, played with relish by Warner Herzog. It’s a sharp film, but with lots of gun violence. PG-13 (violence, language and some drug material).
KILLING THEM SOFTLY
This stimulating black comedy from Kiwi director Andrew Dominik (”The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”) is a good one. Brad Pitt stars as hitman Jackie Cogan in 2008, much of the dialogue in the film concerning the financial difficulties experienced by contract killers. It begins with the robbery of a high-stakes poker game, which sets of a flurry of violent events. While much of the story is familiar, it’s a taut, beautifully shot, pungent film that’s worth the time. R (violence, sexual references, pervasive language and some drug use).