Rooney Mara scares the shit out of me

12 02 2013

By Kleinz 57

Mime at the Movies Side Effects

Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara) is having a tough time. Her husband (Channing Tatum) just got outta the clink for insider trading. He’s also out of a job, making her the lone breadwinner, and to top it off, she’s showing some adorable signs of severe depression. Following a sudden accident, Emily starts seeing Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) for therapy and a prescription or five. One of those blue and yellow purple pills is a new drug, Ablixa, which as the film’s title hints at, has a cute girl on its fake website. Suddenly, Emily can’t sleep and starts experiencing weird mood swings. Fearing she may dissolve into the horse-faced lunacy of Gary Busey, Dr. Banks consults Emily’s old therapist (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Nobody seems to have an answer, and the problems and pills keep piling on. It’s the American way, really.

A word to the wise: if you’re looking to actively ruin a pleasant evening, Side Effects is your ticket. It isn’t that it’s a poor film; just the opposite. Steven Soderbergh is on a Murder She Wrote level of crafting intrigue here, some of which is owed to leads Jude Law and Rooney Mara, the latter who channels this creepy zone of dead cow-eyed ambivalence. On more than one occasion, Mara has scenes that are wholly unsettling, oftentimes with nothing but her and that whacked-out face. Certainly Soderbergh himself has strong mastery of this fantastic cast, and that’s all the more upsetting since he’s apparently retiring after he finishes his Liberace TV movie, something television needs about as much as The Crossover with Michelle Beadle. Side Effects isn’t quite an indictment of the American pharmaceutical industry, but it is a glimpse into one possibility, just a really diabolical one.

And if I’m allowed a little self-fellating here, “diabolical” is an apt descriptor for the turns this takes. It’s also to blame for Side Effects’ few missteps. Catherine ZEETAH-Jones plays a particular moment much too “big,” and the manner in which Bourne scribe Scott Z. Burns resolves things feels a bit like gift-wrapping a severed horse head. But Soderbergh has constructed this at such an even-keeled pace that who really cares? Many a cinematic d-bag have already made some Hitchcock comparisons and, tempting penis puns aside, they’re not wrong. That cerebral tone especially rings true in a certain parking lot scene or during an… incident with a kitchen knife. The suspense gets some help from wunderkind Thomas Newman’s score and Soderbergh’s own luminescent photography that’s eerie instead of comforting (like what Wally Pfister did in scenes with Leo Di Caprio’s crazy Inception ghost wife).

I also can’t resist comparing a plot point to a certain scene in Wild Things involving, oh let’s say… Denise Richards’ boobs. I fear saying anything more would spoil a thrilling time at ye grande ole theatre, but considering some of the Mime readership’s interests (present company included), I may have already said too much.

Night of the Living Instagram

7 02 2013

By Kleinz 57

Warm Bodies

If you ever watched Easy A and thought ‘This is dece, but I wish Emma Stone was a fucking zombie,” you’re in luck. Director Jonathan Levine and LionsGate have teamed up to adapt Isaac Marion’s zombie love story Warm Bodies, dumping even more gasoline on the raging pyre that is America’s living dead obsession. (Also see: The Walking Dead, Dead Island, the Evil Dead remake, Invasion of the Not Quite Dead, I Walked With a Zombie, Zombie Hunter, Night of the Living Dead: Origins 3D, R.I.P.D., World War Z, and Silent Night of the Living Dead. I need a mint.)

During a supply raid in the apocalyptic butthole of the Western United States, Julie (Underrated Hottie candidate Teresa Palmer) and a small team of strapping young whippersnappers (including Analeigh Tipton and Dave Franco) are attacked by a pack of hungry zombies. Only something’s a bit off, because “R” (Nicholas Hoult) seems to be the rare walking corpse who can actually think for himself. From the get-go, Hoult’s first-person narration is a welcome dose of originality for the subgenre and an amusing means of endearing his character. Despite the introspection though, a zombie’s still gotta eat to grow up big and dead, and “R” devours the brains of Julie’s boyfriend, savoring every one of the dude’s memories and falling in love with Julie in the process — just like they taught you in sex ed.

What follows is a predictable but serviceable love story that adds more to the monotonous skullfuckery of zombie movies than contribute something fresh to romantic comedy. The jury’s still out on whether Hoult and Palmer have chemistry, but the pair work well in their respective roles: one as a genuine, impartial naif, the other, a dead hipster. In his slow return from undeath back to peach-faced humanity, Hoult’s comedic chops prove he can rise above the low-bar challenge of being more than a blasé X-Man in First Class. Should Jack the Giant Slayer not turn out to be a gigantic steaming box office bomb in March, he may even sidestep an eternal typecast as Great Britain’s answer to Michael Cera. (Note: JD McDouble-Wang is gonna have to pay me in chocolate coins to see that one).

With 50/50, Levine showed his knack for exploring complex relationships without crapping things up through melodrama. Warm Bodies doesn’t match that level of successbut it gets the job done, in part thanks to the helping hands of M83, Jimmy Cliff, and Feist. Levine too often backs away from letting his actors do the dramatic heavy lifting, retreating to his creative corner and tossing on Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks like a coward. A talented coward. With solid taste in Bruce Springsteen.

As far as whatever the hell happened to kick off the zombie party in the first place, don’t expect clear answers, apart from knowing that zombies who stay dead too long shed their skin and become malicious “Lara Flynn Boyles of the zombie world.” John Malkovich makes a boring turn as Julie’s overbearing military dad, and Rob Corddry’s undead best pal seems like a wasted opportunity, but Levine seems to know that, smartly downplaying specifics and lackluster relationships in favor of the quirk and cuteness. Any sparse set pieces are hum-drum and dull, even when everything looks like it was shot with an Instagram filter, and Warm Bodies thinks it can have its brain cake and eat it, too. The cheery resolution isn’t completely earned, but hey, sunsets are pretty.

I hope these 1D movies are just a fad

15 01 2013

By Kleinz 57

Gangster Squad Ryan Gosling Josh Brolin explosion trailer

So it’s been a tad slow ’round these here parts the past few days, but I hear 5Piece might make good on his promised oral history of why the Timberwolves suck so much wang. That’s right. I am being harsh. The T-Wolves are crapping all over my the blackened hole where my heart used to be. Edward Norton knew what was up when he said hurting the ones you love “works both ways.” By the way, remember when we thought knowing about Fight Club made you edgy in high school? Such simpler times back then. I miss Bush.

It’s January, which usually means studios are dumping their shitty genre pictures, turdy comedies, and if we’re lucky, their shitty turdy genre comedies. Reshooting an original sequence where tommy guns ripped through a movie theater screen was a big reason to blame for Gangster Squad’s delay. Before the Aurora shootings, Ruben Fleischer’s latest was slated for September 2012, and with a cast like this, it’s not ridiculous to think Warner Bros. thought it had something big on its hands. Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Anthony Mackie, Michael Pena, the T-1000, and that sadface medic from Saving Private Ryan ditch their LAPD badges to organize a vigilante-style SQUAD and take out GANGSTER Mickey Cohen (a scenery-chewing, 50-something Sean Penn who thinks he’s still a 30-something Sean Penn). Toss in Nick Nolte in a wonderful turn as The Thing, Emma Stone in/out of a red dress, and the guy who directed Zombieland and with crushing fist of Big Warner Brother, feelm cannot lose, no? Right? I need an answer because this movie makes no fucking sense.

I see the fedoras. I see the ironically unironic cardigans. I see the Lucky Strikes and the Tommy Guns and the vintaged dialogue and the stupid, stupid nicknames. Gangster Squad might have made for a charming little trip back to 1949 if the script and the likes of  “Biscuit Pants” Jerry weren’t busy cramming it all down your throat in 90 minutes. Hey, sugar. You lookin’ for a nip, toots? Stop it, Ryan Gosling. Just stop. I dunno what’s with the nasally robot thing you’re doing, but if you mention your second tour on the frontlines again, so help me God I will end you and those immaculate abs.

Gangster Squad is so aggressively vintage and it tries really hard to look like pulpy crime fiction without actually doing much. Inconsequential shootouts are cut so quickly the action is impossible to see, and Fleischer gets remarkably terrible performances out of a pretty solid cast. Not to mention Will Beall’s adaptation of Paul Lieberman’s Tales from the Gangster Squad sucks an impressive amount of logic through its crusty cornhole — what makes Mrs. Brolin so qualified to recruit the Gangster Squad members? How can Mickey Cohen still be in power if he literally kills anyone who screws up? AND SERIOUSLY RYAN, STOP DOING THAT VOICE THING. By the end, you’re left hoping everyone involved just dies in some terrible domino chain of car explosions. No, no. Walk closer to the dynamite trunk. Don’t worry, I’ll drive Emma home.

At a college Halloween party — many years ago, I ran into two dudes (naturally) dressed as the Blues Brothers. In my infinite freshman douchedom, I jokingly mentioned to “Elwood” how much I hated Ilinois Nazis. He just looked at me like I was trying to pick him up. So of course I pushed it and asked why they were both “wearing sunglasses in the dark.” They had no idea what I was talking about. They weren’t Blues Brothers fans. They just liked the idea of dressing up like them. Posers are worse than nut cancer. I did get “Jake’s” number, though.

‘Zero Dark Thirty’ wants us all to be adults about this, but screw that noise

12 01 2013

By Kleinz 57

Zero Dark Thirty Mime at the Movies

Gird your loins, Americans. Zero Dark Thirty opens wide this weekend and director Kathryn Bigelow wants to infect you all with her disgraceful endorsement of torture. Sleep deprivation through music, routine beatings, waterboarding, motorboating, peanut butter on male genitalia — some of that stuff’s in Zero Dark Thirty. And even though Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal never explicitly qualify their stance on torture, even showing the obvious moral qualms of the CIA operatives engaging in them, it’s really obvious everyone involved thinks it’s okay to tear out people’s fingernails. Zero Dark Thirty wants us all to believe the physical and psychological degradation of terror suspects is right as rain. Somewhere, somehow. It’s there. Just give me like, another week to find it.

Seriously, people. Torture should be the only focus of our national furor, even if Zero Dark Thirty might be a remarkably riveting presentation of a story everyone and their Uncle Jimmy Jacks closely followed through national media. Beginning with a chilling audio-only collage of September 11th victims and their 911 calls, Zero Dark Thirty follows the career of CIA operative Maya (Jessica Chastain) and the U.S. government’s search for Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts. But who is Osama? A drug lord? Or maybe he’s let one too many parking tickets slip? We’re never really told, and that’s big problem for me. More importantly, think of the children… of the future! The curtailed motivations behind the manhunt for this bin Ladman guy could be problematic in forty years. In 2053, when the global book burnings have ended and teens read, eat, and sleep through their genius phone GADZORP supercubes, is the impact of one terrible, horrible no good very bad day in U.S. history going to resonate with kids?

There’s a slew of cameos from talented television actors, and Kyle Chandler, Jason Clarke, Jennifer Ehle, and Fares Fares all give strong turns as supporting players. But Chastain herself delivers a riveting performance, one that’s on the same pedigree of macabre obsession as Jake Gyllenhaal’s Robert Graysmithin Zodiac, with the added bonus of not being Jake Gyllenhaal. I hesitate to spoil the fate of the Oswamba ben Lajpin villain, but he is in fact killed, and a final shot of Maya haunts us with the real costs of this decades long operation to find him. Consider the toll it places on Maya’s traumatized psyche or nonexistent social life, on the demoralized co-conspirators, on the dead soldiers or orphaned children. Is killing the film’s villain worth creating a similar hatred of the United States in the children he leaves behind?

To echo the Academy’s sentiment, fuck Kathryn Bigelow. Fuck her and her masterful juxtaposition of the public’s consciousness, for minimizing radio chatter and maximizing the visuals in SEAL Team 6’s raid on the Abbottabad compound with cloudy handheld shots, jarring green night-vision POV, and a rhythmic ostinato of quick cutting. Fuck Zero Dark Thirty for showing me torture that, regardless of the details, was once a part of the CIA’s protocol in getting shit done. Fuck Zero Dark Thirty’s cold, scientific presentation of a bittersweet moment in American history. Fuck it for presenting the operation at face-value and free of punditry and analysis, save a dissection of the trauma it visits against the involved parties. Fuck Zero Dark Thirty for treating me like an adult.

OW: Barry Bonds not a Hall of Famer, Earth now flat again

9 01 2013

By Kleinz 57

Barry Bonds hall of fame thumbs upHey Buckaroos. I know everyone’s probably got playoff football on their collective mind. After all, it is literally any day in America ever. But in true-to-form buzz kill fashion, I’m here to bum the nation out for a few minutes with its soon-to-be-third-favorite pastime, BEISBOL.

Earlier this afternoon, the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) released its voting results for inducting the 2013 Hall of Fame class. And this year was a DOOZY, with the likes of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, a returning Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Tim Raines, Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza. Really, just Google a cover from a 989 Sports baseball game from the late 90’s. Chances are one of those dudes was eligible this year. This year’s class was stacked with guys who broke home run records, put up massive OBP rates and strikeout totals, and won multiple Cy Young and MVP awards.

And nobody was voted in.

Now wait just a second there, you assy windbag. Bonds? Clemens? MCGWIRE? These guys were cheaters — a bunch of ‘roid ragers. These guys ‘roided all over the 90’s! ‘Roidin’ up and down the block, and ‘roidin’ across the plate, and ‘roidin’ all around the concessions stand. I don’t even know what a ‘roid’ is. Just like sayin’ it! HEEHAWW!

Now that’s a slight reduction of many of the BBWAA voters from this year. But only slightly. ESPN’s Howard Bryant was among at least eight other writers who turned in blank ballots. They didn’t vote for anyone, because it’s… like poetic and symbolicalizing and stuff. In other words, sportswriters in an organization that entrusts itself with the duty of recognizing contributions to the sport of baseball made this whole election about themselves.

And if you think that’s cause for revoking their votes, it’s actually been worse. TJ Quinn, another member of the World Wide Leader’s battle fleet, admitted he still has a vote in the Hall of Fame, despite not having covered the sport since 2002.

Clearly this is an operation with a few holes in its rules and structure. But instead of pontificating on locker room gossip or Mike Piazza’s bacne, let’s look at the facts surrounding steroids:

First and foremost, we don’t actually know what steroids can and can’t do, specifically to the great sport of baseball. Do anabolic supplements improve hand-eye coordination? Do they make you swing the bat more quickly or run the bases faster?

To save you the trouble, the short answer is: nobody fucking knows anything.

Seriously. Do a Google search for “Androstenedione’s effects on athletic performance” That awkward long jumble of letters isn’t a Dr. Seuss character by the way – it’s the actual name of what people mean when they say Mark McGwire admitted to using “tha roids” ya’ll. I spent over an hour looking for scientific studies, but since UW’s Library system won’t respond to my emails about access to women’s medical journals, I have no way of getting at important evidence for my little stump speech here. Nevertheless, I did find two studies from 1999.

Still, 13 year old research seems a bit out of touch, even in arguing against sports writers who still talk about “pitching to the score” or a starter’s W-L record like they actually mean something. So here’s some info pulled directly from the Mayo Clinic’s web page on the medical effects of THUH ROIDZ:

“Scientific studies that refute these claims show that supplemental androstenedione doesn’t increase testosterone and that your muscles don’t get stronger with andro use. In fact, almost all of the andro is rapidly converted to estrogen, the primary hormone in females.” 

In other words, Mark McGwire probably had a SWEET rack underneath that jersey. There’s even a bit about steroid use in general and its effects on athletic performance:

“Why are these drugs so appealing to athletes? Besides making muscles bigger, anabolic steroids may help athletes recover from a hard workout more quickly by reducing the muscle damage that occurs during the session. This enables athletes to work out harder and more frequently without overtraining. In addition, some athletes may like the aggressive feelings they get when they take the drugs.”

In other words, Mark McGwire probably had a SWEET rack underneath that jersey.

Yes, McGwire actually admitted to using andro during his career, as did Rafael Palmeiro and Joe Canseco. But why do those other guys get singled out? There’s such shaky evidence supporting most of these arguments that it really doesn’t make sense. More importantly why does it matter? WE DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT STEROIDS DO.

Barry Bonds garnered a measly 36.2% of the vote (you need 75% to be inducted). These writers are at best, very confused and at worst, gigantic idiots. We know Barry Bonds is a gigantic douche nozzle. We also know he holds the single season and all-time records for home run totals, 7 MVP awards, a 34 stolen base average over his first 13 seasons and a wicked .298/.444/.607 career slash line. He’s inarguably one of greatest baseball players of all time.

Who gives a shit right? The BBWAA is an archaic fossil record anyway, and once their more regressive voters stop contributing or end the crusading or simply die out, I have optimism that some of these guys will get the recognition they deserve. The Hall of Fame is voted on by members of the sports media outside of Major League Baseball i.e. those same people who deal out Cy Young awards and MVPs every year. To be deemed a “Hall of Famer” has about as much clout behind it as a Gold Glove. But the issue here is that the BBWAA doesn’t want to recognize Bonds’ contributions at all — and make no mistake that’s exactly what they’re doing through abstention — because he allegedly shot himself up with a foreign substance. A substance against which MLB had no policy at the time, mind you. And this makes him a cheater?

As it turns out, Bonds would already have company if were miraculously inducted this afternoon. John McGraw, Gaylord Perry, Whitey Ford, HANK FUCKING AARON are all technically “cheaters” in baseball. There’s even a current inductee who’s allegedly mixed a few “Jose Canseco milkshakesin his day. Now ‘allegedly” is far from rock solid evidence, but — nope. That’s it right there. A flimsy argument deserves a flimsy rebuttal. Plus, a “Jose Canseco milkshake” is horrifying either way you interpret it.

The real question is this: Is the hall a museum or a cathedral? All I know is Barry Bonds sure ain’t a saint, and Candy Cummings is no God. Possibly a pornstar, though.

‘Django’ excites American audiences, angers myopic dwarf

30 12 2012

By Kleinz 57


Earlier this week, director and world’s most annoying Knicks fan Spike Lee whipped out his #1 DOUCHE trophy and polished that sumbitch up by ripping Django Unchained a new one. Lee, an often controversial black voice in pop culture, claimed Tarantino’s slave-sploitation flick and its flagrant violence was “disrespectful” to his ancestors — a bold claim, but to anyone who’s seen Django and its vomiting blood splatter, not an outrageous one. Until we find out that Spike Lee hasn’t actually seen Django, and doesn’t plan to, perhaps out of some shortsighted spiritual quest to further his career as America’s premiere windbag? We may never know.

Django begins like any offensive blaxploitation picture would: with a dentist. Having abandoned his dental practice for the more profitable bounty hunting trade, Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) buys a slave named “Django” (Jamie Foxx) under the pretense of tracking down the Brittle Brothers, three unsavory worm-headed sacks of slavin’ monkey shit. Foxx does plenty well in filling Will Smith’s shoes as the title character, a one-time slave, all-time bad ass gunslinger. While Tarantino’s quirky, deliberately stiff dialogue is magicked into comedic gold from the likes of Waltz and mainstay Samuel L. Jackson, Django’s part requires less timing and more raw cool. Foxx serves up icy stares through medallion-shaped shades and keeps his proverbial shit together in slow-mo shoot-outs as the sounds of Rick Ross and Tupac blast behind him. Seriously. For Django’s handful of BIG performances, Foxx offers a toned down interpretation that’s 100% welcome. I mean, you can’t very well have four Nicolas Cages running around in your movie, chewing on everything in sight and shit now could you? That would be crazy.

Eventually proving his worth with a gun, Django sets off with Schultz to rescue his long lost wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). That involves a pulling a fast one on her new owner, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), a peacock’ed Foghorn Leghorn whose disgusting hobby of mandingo death fights gets drowned out in his own francophilia. DiCaprio hasn’t turned in this magnetic or engaging of a performance since lord knows when. He also hasn’t been billed not first in sixteen years. I’m not saying there could possibly be a connection between Leo’s acting and the expectations of him, but I am saying there could possibly be a connection between his acting and our expectations of him. There’s gotta be some kind of mathematical model we can come up to answer that, right? Get on it, Nate Silver. You’re doing nothing but blow until the 2014 elections anyway.

Django’s second act isn’t always sure of where it wants to go. A terrific running gag has an awkward introduction, when Schultz whips out some paperwork to cool down a small town standoff. And of course, no Tarantino film would be without a little self-indulgence and, well, a little Tarantino. Sporting a dusty rancher hat and a terrible Australian accent, Tarantino’s cameo is hilarious but distracting, with a delivery about as elegant as your drunk sister mimicking one of those Outback Steakhouse commercials. Even so, Tarantino’s formal style has clearly matured since the days of endless long takes in Reservoir Dogs. His knack for intentionally vulgar technique was always there to begin with; what’s amazing is how well Django blends the high and the low to its advantage. Whether the image is forcefully bitch-slapped across the retinas in violent zooms or sweetly cuckholded through chromatic palettes of Colorado mountain ranges, the blend of techniques is brilliant. Django is like dipping your Ho Ho into a glass of Prisoner zinfandel. Tastes like monkey butthole? You bet. Delicious monkey butthole.

David Ehrlich argues Django does “for business what [Inglourious] Basterds did for war.” He’s half right. The fine print in bounty contracts and the weird ways in which the law can empower men of enterprise, even those who kill people, is a splendiforous commentary on the slippery slope of commercial ethics. But Tarantino’s also concerned with storytelling and performance and playing to an audience — you know, haughty douche bag subjects coincidentally found in cinema, and thus, Tarantino’s endless diarrhea stream of homages and references feel more appropriate than ever before. Is Django Unchained an offensive cash grab that milks mid-19th century Southern-fried slavery for gooey blood splatter and a excuse to use the n-word? Perhaps. But really, Tarantino’s been dropping racial slurs since the 90’s, and Spike probably just wants media attention, as troublesome, overcompensating midgets are wont to do.

What do you mean “two more movies?”

14 12 2012

By Kleinz 57

Hobbit Bilbo Baggins fireplace Gandalf

We come to it at last. The great three-part children’s fantasy novel adaptation of our time.

If you were one of the two people left in America who had no idea The Hobbit and all of its unexpected journeys bore any relation to that Lord of the Rings shit, a strung-out Elijiah Wood and red, swollen Ian Holm are here to set you straight on this. And let’s just say Peter Jackson’s use of familiar faces in his retcon is where the problems begin on this long, long, seriously-why-is-this-three-hours road.

Know that this road has many pitstops — pitstops of exposition. Much in the same way Fellowship sets its grandiose stage, another voiceover gives the backstory behind the dwarves of Erebor, their ancient kingdom of riches, and the dragon that royally fucked their shit up. The problem is An Unexpected Journey wants to believe a tidy little treasure story is as important as the complete enslavement of Middle-earth, and it’s damn persistent in that by furiously drawing connections across stories. Characters will rephrase exact line readings they had in the previous trilogy; Howard Shore self-plagiarizes his old scores like a madman; and random figures pop in for little reason. Saruman! Galadriel! Radagast…? That familiar but different twinge of regret feels the exact same here as it will when Michael Scott inevitably pops his head in Scranton one last time. It’s just sad, and the endless stream of references and cameos don’t even account for the shoddy character work.

Believe it or not, this four-way gangbang of screenwriters on Tolkien’s source material did little more than show PJ, Phillippa Boyens, and Fran Walsh were just fine until Guillermo came and mucked everything up. Characterization is swapped for one-note schtick where each dwarf, if he’s lucky, has a single defining trait. Of course Bombur is a chubby incompetent doodle bug, but HOW is he a chubby incompetent doodle bug? We learn so little about these dwarves as people. Er, dwarves, I guess. Everyone just seems to be going through the motions here, Ian McKellan especially. His makeup never quite looks right and his return to ‘Ole Mithrandir has a faint tinge of obligation to it.

Perhaps if this version of Middle-earth felt more realized, that level of dedication in the production would’ve spread to the cast, like some kind of magical, inspirational ear virus of love. Jackson has made it clear he doesn’t need miniature models and practical effects this time around to deliver, and on face value, the product is there. Cameras dash through digital sets at breakneck speeds, as if intentionally shying the lens away from the glare of CGI gloss and polish. A once beautiful marriage between practical and computer effects work has quietly fizzled out with a prenup, and WETA Digital’s taken everything except the goddamn kids.

An Unexpected Journey’s one saving grace might be its fantastic realization of the famed “Riddles in the Dark” chapter. Bilbo’s brush with Gollum is faithfully adapted, and Andy Serkis is just as genius as ever in portraying his frail doppelganger. From the cave’s deadened color pallette to some hilarious line readings, the scene is a perfect blend of lighting, writing, acting, and joint-FX work that truly enlivens its time-honored source material. It’s a lot like entire The Lord of the Rings trilogy in that way.