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observation notes: AGE OF THE HOBBITS

AGE OF THE HOBBITS Movie PosterOut December 11th from The Asylum is Age of the Hobbits, the second film from director Joseph J. Lawson (Nazis at the Center of the Earth) and the latest script from Eric Forsberg (Almighty Thor, Mega Piranha). No doubt anything you've heard about this film until now has tied in somehow to a legal discrepancy between The Asylum and the makers of The Hobbit. Having not seen the latter, I can still assume that in name alone is where any resemblance shared by these two films comes to an end. Yes, AotH is a fantasy epic, but its roots are steeped in anthropological history, and though there are those aforementioned fantastic elements, AotH bears more in common with films like Apocalypto, or Quest for Fire. Check out the official synopsis:

"In an ancient age, peace-loving tribe are enslaved by a race of flesh-eating dragon-riders. The young tribesman Goben must join forces with their neighbor giants, the humans, to free his people and vanquish their enemies." 

So there we start, 12,000 years in the past, embroiled in an unbalanced skirmish between Lilliputian tribesmen and gnarly-toothed cannibals, which the tribesmen attempt to balance by teaming up with those weirdo tall people the next valley over. Now, y'all know I am not a critic, I am a fan, and as such, I'm not here to dissect this movie for you, I'm here to tell you all the awesome reasons you should see it, without spoiling any of the juicy bits. So in the ever-present interest of staying spoiler-free, all I'll say of the plot is that Eric Forsberg is one of the smartest dudes writing B-movies today. It's easy to cram a lot of science, history, facts or what have you into a script, but to get it in there seamlessly, where it doesn't sound like actors reciting Wikipedia entries, and in fact weaves among the narrative in a way that is not only natural but integral, is a real accomplishment. Believe me. Forsberg here has delivered a story from an ancient age that feels timeless, a struggle as old as our kind, and as such utterly relatable. It's a thrilling, frightening, smart, suspenseful, imaginative, and truly touching story, beautifully brought to life by director Lawson.

You know the one thing never effected by a movie's budget? The eye of the guy behind the lens. David Lean could have directed Manos, and you better believe no matter what the outcome, that thing would have looked good. Lawson is one of those guys. The way he sees his movie, the shots he frames, the times he comes in close or steps back, the vitality to his action sequences, the emotional intimacy he elicits between characters; this guy's a born director, and for my money, his passion and knowledge are blindingly apparent in each frame. Team this with a great script, and what you get isn't just a good Asylum movie, it's a good movie, period. Haters are going to have to stretch on this one.  

When it comes to the cast, the names here are Christopher Judge from the Stargate TV stuff, and Bai Ling, of Crank 2 fame. Both are perfectly suited for their roles and pull them off well, but the real stars here are the tribespeople. Sun Korng as Goben and the others who play his family, they're the heart of this movie; the purity of spirit they exude, the unspoiled sense of purpose and dedicaiton to family, faith, and freedom they extract from their characters are powerful, palpable things, eliciting more than just the typical B-movie range of emotions. Today I genuinely teared up watching an Asylum movie. Who'd of thunk?

So...story? Check. Direction? Check. Performances? Check. Add to this pretty awesme creature VFX and yet another amazing score from Chris Ridenhour - I'm running out of great things to say about this guy. Truly A-list talent. - and what you get is another contender for best Asylum film of the year. It hits DVD, Blu-Ray, and VOD on Tuesday: be there. 

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