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.

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100% Accurate Predictions for 2013 Blockbuster Movies

24 01 2013

So what’s going to happen with this year’s top movies? Read on, if you dare, for an unbiased and gritty look into the future.

February

A Good Day to Die Hard

Poetry.

Poetry.

Prediction: Bruce Willis will wow audience in the newest Die Hard installment, leading them down a “philosophical masterpiece,” effortlessly blending  deep themes with an original story line.

March

Oz the Great and Powerful

James Franco. Now he's Oz.

James Franco. Now he’s Oz.

Prediction: James Franco, vowing vengeance against Spider Man, travels to Oz, a magical place anyone on a drug trip can visit.

April

Oblivion

Morgan Freeman Oblivion

Morgan Freeman goes Book of Eli

Prediction: Tom Cruise journeys to the late Planet Earth, which has long stopped supporting human life. This is not to be confused with M. Night Shyamalan’s (red flag!) new movie After Earth, which also features a recognizable movie star journeying to the late Planet Earth, which has long stopped supporting human life.

May

Iron Man 3

He's like Batman, only not sad that he's a superhero.

He’s like Batman, only not sad that he’s a superhero.

Prediction: Robert Downey Jr. continues being a filthy rich guy who is likable but also annoyingly self-absorbed. He also plays Iron Man.

Star Trek into Darkness

star-trek-meme-into-darkness

Prediction: KHAAAAAAN!

June

Man of Steel

Superman can be a jerk.

Superman can be a jerk.

Prediction: Man of Steel becomes the year’s most anticipated movie, answering the question if Christopher Nolan can make a Superman movie that is actually watchable.

July

The Wolverine

The Wolverine Poster

Shirt Not Included, Unnecessary Sword Is

Prediction: Hugh Jackman sings his way through this bold musical retelling of the X-Men’s origins. Can Wolverine find redemption and appear in the next twelve X-Men movies?

August

Red 2

Red 2

This time they’re wearing ridiculous costumes!

Prediction: Laugh your way through yet another action comedy about aging action stars. This one’s even a sequel, so it’s twice as fresh!

September

Star Wars Episode 2- Attack of the Clones

Mace Windu is not impressed

Nor are we with this movie.

Prediction: Re-watch George Lucas teabag your childhood, but this time it’s in glorious 3-D! Watch two generally unlikable lovers frolic in meadows and ponder to yourself how much better Darth Maul could have made this disappointment of a movie.

October

Paranormal Activity 27

Actually, this would be better.

Actually, this would be better.

 

Prediction: Gasp in horror as doors creak and toilets become possessed. However, most of the movie will feature such standbys as dumb people sleeping and dumber people making home videos. They’ll still charge 10 bucks to see this.

November

Thor: The Dark World

Thor Funny

Ladies…

Prediction: Thor returns  to pretend his movie franchise isn’t around just to advertise Avengers 2. However, Chris Hemsworth guarantees this is at least one comic book movie your girlfriend will want to see.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Peeta Meme

Awkward teen romance included!

Prediction: Will Katniss and friends leave us hungry for me, or will the movie’s appeal go up in flames? Wow, that was even painful to type. Either way, the third book’s a disaster, so it goes downhill after this.

December

The Hobbit- The Desolation of Smaug

Smaug the Draghen

Sweet Concept Art of Smaug.

Prediction: Peter Jackson continues his drawn-out film tradition, with a forty-minute segment devoted to the proper way to braid a dwarf’s beard. Rumors abound that we’ll actually get to see the dragon this time, unless Jackson decides to split it into two more movies.





The 9 Most Surprising Movies of 2012 (from my point of view)

6 01 2013

Surprises aren’t always a good thing; you never know if the gift box is hiding an iPhone 5 or a Nikki Minaj album. This isn’t my top movies of 2012. These are the movies that surprised me the most by exceeding or defiling my expectations, so movies that I knew would be good (Avengers),  mediocre (The Amazing Spider-Man, Hunger Games) or bad (Twilight) aren’t included.

1. Les Miserables- To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the soundtrack as much as I did. In case my blogs have fooled you, I’m not the most cultured guy in the coffee shop. Musicals in particular (or operettas, for all you hipsters) have had as much impact on my life as a steak does for a vegan. That said, I LIKED the songs. I almost even bought some. So there you go. Good Surprise.

Les Miserables Poster

(Humming soundtrack)

 

2. The Grey-So in case you didn’t see the trailer for The Grey, it looked like Taken, but with wolves instead. Get ready as a team of men crash a plane, band together and fight wolves in an epic tale of survival! And Liam Neeson punches wolves! A lot! Ok. First, this is like the opposite of a survival movie (spoilers). Second, it wasn’t a wolf-punching fun-fest either, and they showed the last scene in the trailer. I maybe could have enjoyed this depressing, thoughtful movie if it hadn’t been advertised so differently. Bad Surprise.

3. Dark Knight Rises-So,  my review of this movie is pretty biased, as I’m both a Nolan and Batman fanboy at heart, but at the same time the movie was nothing like I thought it would be. I was expecting Dark Knight 2, but what we got had more of the Batman Begins feel with a disaster/war movie feel instead of Dark Knight‘s crime noir inspiration. Some people may have been turned off, but I loved how it ended the trilogy on such an epic scale, even if the second one’s still my favorite (yeah, it’s Joker). Good Surprise.

Dark Knight Rises Funny Charles

This is why you don’t watch pirated version.

 

4. Skyfall-The trailer was pretty slick, but I’ve never been a mega-fan of Bond movies (sorry, England). It turns out I really enjoyed the ride this time, including everything from the interesting locations to the psycho villain. Good Surprise. 

Daniel Craig Skyfall

Bond is sad the sky is falling.

5.Prometheus-Prometheus is like a stylish, self-inflated person who claims to tell you everything, but midway though his explanation you realize he knew less than you did. And then he shuts the car door on his hand. This movie wanted to be so ground-breaking and smart, but as I already pointed out, it consisted mostly of smoke and mirrors and added more questions. And had characters dying in the dumbest way possible, like running away from a falling ship the longest way possible. Bad Surprise.

Prometheus Falling Ship

This deserved a repost. Click to enlarge.

6. Lockout-This movie looked like a fun, dumb movie, with at least an interesting premise (prison break in space). However, it was actually just a dumb movie. Period. I walked out of the theater and counted all the better things I could have done with all that wasted time, like build a pirate-themed ant farm. Bad Surprise.

7. The expendables 2-Sure, it was loud and dumb and starred aging action stars, but we knew that, right? What I didn’t know was how hard I would laugh at the overblown hilarity, with a Chuck Norris joke summing up the whole movie. Good Surprise.

Had to have a meme somewhere.

Had to have a meme somewhere.

8. Wreck-it Ralph- This was the most Pixar-quality animated move of the year, and it didn’t come from Pixar. It even tried to pull my heart strings, but I held it off like a man. Good Surprise.

 

9. The Hobbit- Immaculately reproduced sets that made me want to have second breakfast while re-watching the original trilogy? Good Surprise. Annoying CGI Goblin KingBad Surprise. 

Dex and Goblin King

I still call plagiarism.





The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 5-Point Review

14 12 2012

The_Hobbit_An_Unexpected_Journey

 

1. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey masterfully takes the audience on another journey through Middle-Earth. At times it seems more like an homage to the first trilogy (Frodo and old Bilbo’s welcome but nonessential pre-party scene), but most nostalgiac moments come from the spectacularly recreated sets (the Shire and Rivendell especially) and the triumphant return of composer Howard Shore to the franchise. Gollum’s part in particular is spectacular.

 

Gollum Riddles in the dark

(Applause)

 

2. The rumors are true; this is a lighter movie than the others, but that’s by design. Tolkien designed the book to be more of a children’s book (how we’ve regressed, am I right?), so there’s the dwarves’ quest to reclaim their homeland, but nothing as gloomy as widespread death, the probable end of the world and an inflamed eye.

 

The Hobbit Dwarves

They each deliver at least one belch/fart joke.

 

3. My one gripe with the movie concerns the much heavier (or at least much more obvious) use of CGI in this film. Now, Peter Jackson didn’t go all George Lucas on us (see my above praise of physical sets), but good grief it seemed like all the goblins and orcs were CGI. I know some stuff the makeup department can’t do (Wargs, dragons), but I kinda missed the physical menace from real actors in real armor who still looked scary and real. The Pale Orc was good CGI I guess, but The Goblin King stuck out as the most Lucas-inspired character. He didn’t sound like an orc, he looked completely implausible, and he even gave a witty one-liner…after being slain violently. C’mon. No anger, just a joke. Thank goodness this sore thumb is out of the picture.

 

Dex and Goblin King

Plagiarism. Shame on you, Peter Jackson. 

 

4. Considering they split a single (shorter) book into three movies, I was a little concerned about the plot being spread too thin, like butter over too much bread (zing!). However, I have to admit, after we finally left the Shire, things went pretty smoothly, and the extra material inserted from The Silmarillion added more weight to what was happening. The movie’s plot structure even reminded me of The Fellowship of the Ring. (SPOILERS) We start in the Shire with a hobbit and Gandalf, then leave for an ominous destination with a group of races, pursued by hostile force, then stop by for counsel with the Elves, then run from goblins under a mountain, and finally confront the hostile force in battle.(SPOILERS END) It was still wildly different, but how’s that for similarities?

 

Gandalf Meme

 

5. Finally, this movie’s “fellowship” wasn’t quite the standout crowd of Fellowship of the Ring, mainly because it’s harder for the uninitiated to differentiate Dwarf One from Dwarf Twelve than only having one elf, one dwarf, one wizard, two humans, etc. Most of the dwarves were also massively under-developed, with the skimpiest of speaking parts, but we’ve got two more movies to work on that. In the end, this is a movie that more than deserves to stand with the original trilogy, and it’s good fun.

 

Quick! Name each one!

Quick! Name each one!

One More Thought: Please, no more 48 fps for fantasy movies. I have heard nobody, and I repeat nobody, who says the technology didn’t pull them out of the movie. If we’re going to go home video/soap opera style, let’s not use the clearness to make everything look so darn fake. Rant finished.





100% Accurate Predictions for 2012 Movies- Part 1

23 01 2012

Look out! I’m releasing my fashionably late predictions for this (month-old) new year! First up, lights! Camera! 3D price inflation! Get ready for your must-see movies this year!

Haywire- January 20

OK, so this may already be out, so at least this prediction will be right. “Haywire” pits Gina Carano, former MMA fighter, against Obi-Wan Kenobi, in a very Bourne-ish way. Without the writing, dialogue, and story of Bourne, that is. This falls into the “Could’ve Been Good But They Showed The Whole Thing In The Trailer” category.

None of these characters are really used.

Star Wars: Episode I- The Phantom Menace….IN 3D!!!- February 10

George Lucas has pooped out a new golden egg! It’s the same movie that disappointed you back in the 1999, but this time, the wasted opportunities jump out even more in glorious 3-D! Rumor has it that Lucas makes a cameo as young Han Solo.

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

The ticket even costs twice as much as it did then!

The Hunger Games- March 23

Fans will annoy non-readers about how much better the books were. Reviews will contain at least 3 bad puns, such as, “left me HUNGRY for more,” or, “a decidedly four-star MEAL.”

Cover of "The Hunger Games"

The Dark Knight Rises- July 20

The Dark Knight Rises is released and crowned “the definitive comic book movie,” leading to the cancellation of all other planned comic book movies for the next 10 years. Critics cite the only drawback in the movie to be the animatronic Heath Ledger, who “makes Batman’s enunciation sound natural and clear by comparison.”

The Bourne Legacy- August 3

Alternate title: The Bourne Sellout.

Too hard to find the movie poster.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part II- November 16

The final “Twilight” entry stuns the world, receiving the ever-elusive 100% rating on rottentomatoes.com. Roger Ebert eats crow, calling the installment, “quite frankly, beautiful.” Time calls it “THE visual and creative triumph of this century.” Congress responds by declaring acid trips during movie reviews illegal.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn

OHMYGOSHTHEY’RESOHOT.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey- December 14

Disappointment ensues when the much-anticipated prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy turns out to be a mash-up of deleted scenes, Youtube parodies, and fan videos, all cobbled together into one semi-coherent plot. Peter Jackson still doubles his wealth.

The poster should have tipped everyone off.