The Hobbit- The Battle of the Five Armies Review

26 12 2014

Martin Freeman bilbo

First of all, yes, this Hobbit trilogy should have been just two movies. No matter how many extra sources Peter Jackson pulled from (what’s up, The Silmarillion?), each installment has had parts that felt like cinematic fluff to fill in these long running times.¬†The Battle of the Five Armies¬†is no exception, most notably in the meaningless made-up character Alfrid and his unremarkable plot. Wasn’t it awesome when his story ended with him running away in a dress? No, no, it wasn’t.

Looking past the filler, I still enjoyed the spectacle and story closure this film gives us. A little explanation as to why Dwarves and Elves are usually at odds? Check. Tying up all the characters’ stories, while also giving us a bridge to the original Lord of the Rings trilogy? Check. A huge battle that goes on for basically the whole movie? Yep. An opening battle that’s better than the main event? Yes (unfortunately).

 

battle of the five armies

World of Warcraft shut-ins.

 

The superior action sequence of Smaug attacking Lake Town should have been the second movie’s finale. It’s poor writing to construct a false cliffhanger just by cutting an action scene in half, and then expecting the audience to remember/care about the characters a year later. Also the random, made-up hide and seek segment with the dragon in the Lonely Mountain felt weird and made Smaug look like a burglar from Home Alone. The attack on Lake Town was splendid and eye-catching, but imagine if it was the emotional payoff of a movie instead of a random opening act with two characters most people would have forgotten about. Maybe I’m just sore because I didn’t have enough built-up emotion to tear up.

 

benedict cumberbatch

He still kicked butt though.

 

Besides the misplaced initial fight, the rest of the movie deals entirely with the setup and execution of the Battle of the Five Armies. We do manage to get some character moments however, and as usual the entire cast is stellar. Thorin’s (Richard Armitage) sudden transformation into Scrooge McDuck is a little jarring but necessary to the plot. Seeing Galadriel, Elrond, and an energetic Saruman fight Nazgul was as awesome as it sounds. Martin Freeman‘s final job as Bilbo sealed his perfect portrayal for the trilogy. Also, my crush on Evangeline Lilly (Tauriel) remains intact.

 

tauriel legolas evangeline lily orlando bloom

Sorry Legolas, you’re just too tall for her.

 

I’ll say it one more time- CGI Orc fights are just a shadow of the earlier stuntmen duels. Think back to The Fellowship of the Ring and the gritty finale with the band of Uruk-Hai. How much better did that look with the stuntmen in full costume, swinging real metal? The heroes actually flinched a little when knives were thrown and blocks were made, because there was an element of actual danger. No matter how good the CGI is, the audience still picks up on elements that look or feel off.

I did find myself feeling emotional during the post-battle scenes, only because I knew these would be the final Lord of the Rings moments on the big screen. The film writers were obviously addressing their longtime fans from Bilbo’s farewell to the Dwarves to the final callback to The Fellowship of the Ring. It’s a bittersweet moment for an epic movie saga.

 

Sorry, but really.

Sorry, but really.





“The Cold War” – Person of Interest Review (Season 4, Episode 10)

17 12 2014

POI banner

The war between two AI giants has begun- and it all kicked off with Root in a bear suit. “The Cold War” started light- predictable banter between Root (Amy Acker) and Shaw (Sarah Shahi), the awesome “Bernstein” costume, and Fusco having a great morning. However, things started getting messy after Root/The Machine rejected Samaritan’s offer to formally negotiate. It was interesting how Samaritan can instigate bad human behavior just as easily as curb it, and how coldly methodical it is either way. Either outcome was simply a move to get The Machine to talk with it face-to-face.

And how about that dialogue when it finally happened? Root’s the obvious interface choice for The Machine, but I’m still not sure how/why Samaritan used a ten year old prodigy, besides the outstanding creepiness factor. I suppose it was one agent that Root wouldn’t try to take out, but couldn’t she at least given the kid a spanking? Apparently Samaritan really only wanted to talk to The Machine to gloat, or perhaps manipulate it somehow. I personally think the scene would have been more effective if Claire from “Nautilus” had been the interface. How chilling would it have been if she was sitting there, devoid of any personality and only speaking for Samaritan? The kid was creeps for sure, but where were his parents and how did he get there? Showing a previous POI completely under Samaritan’s control (essentially being an evil Root) would have felt less random.

There really wasn’t a real POI this episode, unless you count Greer (John Nolan) perhaps. I enjoyed the parallels shown between the AI War and the Cold War because it helped it feel more grounded by precedence. The flashback scenes also gave us an interesting back story for Greer, explaining his lack of allegiance to anybody but artificial intelligence.

This was the mid-season finale, but of course “The Cold War” was also the first episode of another trilogy. The last time Person of Interest had a three episode story arc, we lost Detective Carter (sniffle). You can bet the show-runners are riding that hype train into the new year, but will we really lose anybody? Jonathan Nolan has said in past interviews that if a show threatens characters but never kills them off, the effect is lost and the story feels cheap to him. If he and the writers are still in that mindset, we could very well be in the final episodes of a main character. My guess is either Root or Shaw, given all the excessive exposure their characters have gotten lately. Again, I’d hate to see either one go, but if Finch or Reese (heck, even Fusco) got killed, I would lose 90% of my interest in this show. Plus, it really is getting a little stale with their awkward relationship, and I’d like to think that’s been setting that up just for extra impact when one of them gets offed. Honestly, I love Amy Acker (if I haven’t already made that abundantly clear in previous posts), but between her and Shaw, I feel like Root’s character arc is more complete. Maybe losing her could be the trigger that finally gets Shaw in touch with her emotions. Whatever happens, it’s going to be a long wait.

Root Finch Amy Acker Emerson

Ominous looks mean danger.

 

Points of Interest:

1. Best quote from Root- “Mr. Bernstein was a big hit.”

2. Is Fusco being set up to help more intimately with numbers? Reese gave him the info on POI’s. Will he ever learn about The Machine?

3. If Samaritan isn’t taken out after this trilogy, I’m not sure how Team Machine can survive this exposed.

4. If Samaritan is taken out, we can only assume Elias vs. The Brotherhood will take center stage.

5. Hearts, prepare to be broken in January.

 

Final Score:

POI four half bear