Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Moments out of Middle-Earth

Critics appear to be down on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. That Peter Jackson opted to shoot his Hobbit movies at a higher frame rate and also announced a late decision to split two films into three might have something to do the film's early reception. Or it might simply be that The Hobbit fails to live up to the momentous Lord of the Rings trilogy. Although only nine years have passed since The Return of the King was released, both the critical and popular perspectives toward the trilogy appear to have steadily grown more positive. How this will affect Peter Jackson’s return to Middle Earth with The Hobbit trilogy remains to be seen.
In the mean time, I've gone back to The Lord of the Rings trilogy with a slightly fresh perspective. My goal was to look at these films from the inside out. Inspired by Richard T. Jameson and Kathleey Murphy’s annual “Moments out of Time” film retrospective series, I've picked 10 moments from the movies that magnify their great relevance. My article just went up over at The House Next Door. Please take note, these are not my "Top Ten" scenes out of the films. As I note in the introduction, the 10 scenes I've selected “illustrate a slightly different shade of the films’ fluid realization of a complex visual, thematic, and emotional spectrum.” Head on over and have a look, and feel free to weigh in with your own picks. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Walking Dead: Season 3, Episode 8: "Made to Suffer"

For all the anticipation and careful setup over the last several episodes of The Walking Dead, the show's mid-season finale was somewhat anticlimactic. Many burning questions were introduced leading up to the episode. What will Andrea (Laurie Holden) think when she finds out about the zombie daughter the Governor (David Morrissey) keeps hidden inside a cage and all those heads floating inside wall-length fish tanks? What will Merle (Michael Rooker) and Daryl's (Norman Reedus) reunion bring? How is Rick (Andrew Lincoln) going to get Glen (Steven Yeun) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) out of Woodbury? All of these are answered, if not in a particularly satisfying way. We do, though, get bombarded with more questions. "Made to Suffer" delivers on tension, action, and confrontation, but it's all pivot and no release.
The episode's primary focus initially seems to be Rick's mission to penetrate Woodbury and rescue Maggie and Glen. He remains suspicious of Michonne, who disappears after helping Rick's group sneak into the town. Meanwhile, the Governor scampers around trying to manage the residents' fears that their haven's been infiltrated. He also wants to keep Andrea away from the action so she can't learn that the intruders are members of her former group. He's away from much of the episode's action until his confrontation with Michonne in his quarters, where his cool surface disappears when Michonne kills his zombie daughter and the two engage in an intense fistfight that ends with him likely losing an eye. Afterward, he weeps and hunches over his lifeless daughter with a shard of glass protruding from his eye—the defining image of the episode and likely the defining moment for the character going forward.