The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies (2014)

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Director: Peter Jackson   
Writers: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro, J.R.R. Tolkien
Production Companies: New Line Cinema, MGM, WingNut Films, 3Foot7
Stars: Martin Freeman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Luke Evans
Genre: Adventure / Fantasy

What It’s About: The final installment in The Hobbit trilogy. We pick up after The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

How I Watched It: Alone in the theater. Evening.

Thoughts: Okay. So…be forewarned that I’m slightly biased since I’ve read the book. That being said, there will be a few SPOILERS about the initial setup. Alright, so we leave the last film with Smaug (Cumberbatch) leaving the mountain and heading for Lake-town. He goes on a major rampage in the town as people scatter for their lives. Lucky for the townspeople, Bard (Evans) is determined to do his best to save the town.  Bard the bowman takes his place atop the highest tower and starts shooting arrows at the dragon. SPOILER: he defeats Smaug with the black arrow right in the weak spot in his armor.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this scene was badass. I’m still so amazed by the CGI awesomeness they accomplished with Smaug. My only problem: IT’S OVER SO QUICKLY! The Lake-town battle seriously takes up about 20 minutes of the entire 244 minute run-time. Sad Teri is sad.

After this, the people of Lake-town head to the mountain to claim their stake of the gold in the mountain. What they don’t know, is that several other armies have the same idea.

Annnnnnnd then we proceed to watch over two hours worth of battle scenes. This is what I have the hardest time with. In the book, the battle at the mountain really isn’t that extensive. Also, the armies that come to fight total maybe in the single-digit thousands. I understand having the capability to multiple masses of elves or dwarves or orcs with the click of a mouse–I get it.  It looks cool, and it makes the battles much more epic. But….but….this just gets plain ridiculous. **Super-biased. Sorry**

Aside from the *cough* ridiculous *cough* battles in this film, the other glaring issue to me….is that the film doesn’t really seem to go anywhere. Maybe this is because there really isn’t much plot in this movie. I guess that’s something that you risk when you split a 300-some page book into three epic films. Not that I’m complaining about getting to see more of Peter Jackson’s epic on-screen battles (definitely not complaining about that), I just wish the plot had a little more meat on it’s bones.

Visually, this movie’s stunning. Great effects all around. Some of the CGI effects may have taken me out of it every once in a while, but overall they seemed to blend well. One of my favorite additions to this movie was Billy Connolly as Dain, the cousin Dwarf of Thorin. He’s hardly recognizable, but that voice is unmistakable.

As far as the acting goes in this film, I think Lee Pace’s portrayal of Thranduil is my favorite. He comes off as such an ass in this trilogy, which must have been an acting/directing choice, because I don’t think he was that outspoken in the book. He cracks me up.

I can’t believe I’m gonna give this rating to a film in the LOTR universe, but…..
My Rating: Meh.

I saw someone call this film the Phantom Menace of the LOTR movies….and I kind of have to agree with them.  I still love it because it’s a new epic by Peter Jackson, but it really failed to compare to the others for me.

Where Can I Watch It?: Well, unless you catch a really late screening of it on the theater circuit, there’s not anywhere legally that you can find it.  It looks like the ETA of the video release is sometime in April 2015.

Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead (2014)

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Can we all take a second to appreciate that tagline? “The sequel you did Nazi coming.” Come on! Awesome.

 

Director: Tommy Wirkola
Writers: Stig Frode Henriksen, Vegar Hoel, Tommy Wirkola
Production Companies: Tappeluft Pictures, Saga Film, XYZ Films
Stars: Vegar Hoel, Ørjan Gamst, Martin Starr, Jocelyn DeBoer, Ingrid Haas, Stig Frode Henriksen, Hallvard Holmen
Genre: Horror / Comedy

What It’s About: We pick up right after Dead Snow. Martin escapes the mountain only to be under persecution for his friends’ deaths. The battle isn’t over yet, however. The Nazi zombie army isn’t done yet…but neither is Martin.

How I Watched It: Alone in my apartment. Evening.

Thoughts: Well, if you haven’t seen Dead Snow, you’ll probably be alright watching this. To catch you up, here’s a non-spoiler plot summary. If you want a more detailed run-through, here’s the full plot synopsis with all spoilers included.

In order to review this movie, I’m gonna have to SPOIL the fact that Martin (Hoel) is the only survivor from the first film. Sorry, dudes. Had to be done.

I’ll only spoil details for the general setup of the story. **SPOILER ALERT**
We come back in the story with the Nazi zombies going after Martin. A high-speed zombie/car chase happens. The Nazi leader, Herzog (Gamst) loses his arm in said chase. If you remember, in the first film, Martin loses his arm. Well…Martin wrecks his car and ends up in the hospital…armless….with the severed arm of the Nazi general in his car. So…the doctors just assumed that the arm belonged to him…and decided to re-attach it.  With Herzog’s arm, Martin also gains all of his zombie abilities–super strength, zombie-raising powers, and super jerk….ummm…..no I won’t go there. Hahaaaa.

Police thing that Martin is to blame for his friends’ deaths in the mountains, and they don’t believe his whole “army of Nazi zombies” story for one second. So, with the help of a new acquaintance, Martin finds out about the Zombie Squad and calls for their assistance. Martin sets out against Herzog and his rotting army with vengeance as his only goal.

It had been a while since I’d seen the first Dead Snow movie, but from what I remember, this sequel is soooo much funnier than the first one…and I liked the first one. This is just a fun ride from beginning to end. The first film was more of a “cabin in the woods” sort of movie, whereas this one is all over the map.

All of the lead actors are great, but my favorite addition to the cast would have to be Martin Starr and his zombie squad. Martin Starr has always been a favorite, and it’s exciting to get to see him in more of a leading role capacity.

This movie just takes it to the next level on both comedy and on gore. Man…the effects in this movie are AWESOME. Really well done on all accounts. The Nazi zombies are always a favorite, but we get a look at some different variations in this film, and they’re a lot of fun. There’s one zombie in particular who becomes a bit of a “pet” in the movie–this poor guy gets taken down over and over again. It’s great, because not only is it hilarious that he keeps coming back, but he keeps coming back looking worse every time. They do a really great job of showing what this poor fella has been through.

My Rating: Huzzah!!

This one’s a fun ride from beginning to end. One of my favorite horror films of the year. Enough said.

Where Can I Watch It?: Available on Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, and also available for rent on Youtube.