Sunday, December 15, 2013

MOVIE REVIEW: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Full Disclosure: I have a tattoo of the One Ring's inscription running down my side, I've read LotR and The Hobbit multiple times, and J.R.R. Tolkien and Peter Jackson are probably my favorite writer and filmmaker, respectively. For many reasons I will stand by the statement that Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies are some of the best modern movies in existence; a statement I make for reasons beyond the source material being so amazing. PJ, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Guillermo del Toro in this case are not just good and transferring the word's of Tolkien onto the silver screen, they are masters at connecting us the audience to these characters on screen so that we feel like we're on an adventure with it escapism if you will.


The best way to describe the DoS I'm finding is to start by comparing it to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. This seems to be the litmus test everyone is using and for good reason. DoS should be measured not only as a single film but also as a sequel and a prequel to LotR. In terms of pacing, action, and visuals the DoS totally trumps AUJ almost consistently, but that's expected. We already have the setup and most of the characters' back stories, so that's almost a given...not to mention you have a Benedict Cumberbatch dragon to spice things up. Getting past that, you have to get to the real money which is the story. We get exposed to a lot more of the Necromancer plot and by extension we see how The Hobbit as a trilogy is truly setting the groundwork for the LotR trilogy, as it should. These latest films are very exciting, and you naturally expect the latest movies in a franchise to be the biggest and best, but the truth is The Hobbit is really only the setup story for the big events of The Lord of the Rings which reshapes Middle Earth and all the races within it. Anyway, I digress! The DoS also drops some little references to characters and places that are part of LotR and therefore further sets the relationship with those films and I feel helps in immersing you deeper in this one, a theme that lies at the heart of the DoS' genius.

Immersion! From the Mirkwood forest to Beorn's house to Laketown to Erebor and the Lonely Mountain, the DoS pulls off immersion in such a fantastic way. That's really what makes this film feel so much more like the LotR than AUJ did. As the company gets closer and closer to the Lonely Mountain you feel like you're beginning to taste it with them. Of note, the barrel riding scene was so flawlessly executed and exciting I would see the movie a third time just for that! (Truth be told I'll probably see it a third time because I haven't caught it in HFR yet...but that discussion is for another day).

As far as characters and plot not included in the original The Hobbit, I believe everything worked. The biggest of these additions that seems to have purists climbing trees is Tauriel, played by Evangeline Lilly. I'll admit I was a little skeptical of PJ and the crew throwing in this she-elf, but after seeing the movie I agree with the decision. The story arc she's involved with borders on unnecessary in my eyes, but still sneaks in and doesn't ruin the flow or overall story for me. Also, critics of the screenplay who argue "that wasn't in the book" left and right should stop and read The Hobbit again (or for the first time) and also take a peek at Tolkien's Unfinished Tales because I've been finding that people do not realize how much of the story is actually directly from Tolkien.

To wrap it up, Smaug was flawless! I am a huge fan of Benedict Cumberbatch and so the voice work alone made me jump with fanboy delight; however, the design of Smaugh and the articulation of his face and body are all that we have come to expect and love from motion capture and Peter enjoy!

Where the movie ends is unexpected but excellent none the less. No more on that subject as this is a spoiler-free review! Oh, and it goes without saying but the 3D is unmatched in these films...nothing changed there.

STINGER: none (but Ed Sheeran's "I See Fire" is worth staying through)


Saturday, September 7, 2013


Full Disclosure: I am a total Riddick fanboy, meaning I was probably going to enjoy this movie whether or not it was legitimately good. "Pitch Black" was solid in my opinion and really was the selling point for me on Vin Diesel. "The Chronicles of Riddick" was cheesy at times, but I loved the mythos behind it and thought the Necromonger were a really cool race. That all being said, I walked into this movie with the expectation that it was going to be a close re-make of "Pitch Black," based on the trailers and early critics' reviews. If you go in with this expectation, then you'll be as pleasantly surprised as I was.

First thing I was struck by in the film is the fact that they link it's story to "The Chronicles of Riddick." Again, this is a spoiler-free review so I won't touch on it too much, but just know that Riddick's predicament in this film is related to where we leave him at the end of the previous film. This connection, however, is not overbearing and comes and goes just to justify Riddick's current situation when we first meet him again.

Past that, the first quarter of the movie is very a good way. You get to see the crafty/survival side of our favorite Furyan as he makes it on his own (or mostly on his own). Katee Sackhoff and the crew don't show up until about 30 min into the film. At that point the movie is pushed along by the usual stuff...bounty hunters tripping over each other and dying while trying to catch their mark. Riddick is particularly crafty at dealing with this bunch of rough necks (two different groups of them actually...which is the source of some expected tension), which eventually need his help. What they need his help with is the part that's very reminiscent of "Pitch Black," but definitely ties into to the overall story of this film, independently.

When it's all over, you realize that "Riddick" has a beginning, middle, and end with our main character growing and changing throughout each part. Sure, he remains the ultimate badass, but it's how he maintains that makes this Riddick my second favorite movie in the franchise...and that's only because nothing will ever top "Pitch Black."



Tuesday, April 9, 2013

ELYSIUM Trailer Premiere

So today is the big day...the newest creation from the genius mind of Neil Blomkamp (District 9) came online:>k