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.

Annabelle (2014)

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Director: John R. Leonetti
Writer: Gary Dauberman
Production Companies: New Line Cinema, Evergreen Media Group, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, Safran Company
Stars: Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, Tony Amendola, Alfre Woodard
Genre: Horror

What It’s About: After their home is invaded by satanic cult members, a new family begins to experience strange phenomena that seem to surround an antique doll in their possession. This movie precedes the events in The Conjuring.

How I Watched It: In the theater. Evening. With friends.

Thoughts: **Some Spoilers**
We kick things off with the same group of kids that appeared in the Annabelle segment of The Conjuring.  They’re telling the story of how they came to own the doll and some of the crazy things that have been happening since.

Then we delve into the history of the creeptastic doll. We have this happy little couple, Mia (Wallis) and John (Horton), with the missus knocked up. The couple has recently relocated to a new house, thanks to John’s new position at a local hospital. Mia is a doll collector, and had been searching for a doll like Annabelle for a long time.  John finds one, and gifts it to her one night.

That same night, crazed cult members (1 man, 1 woman) murder their next-door neighbors and come a-knockin’ at their house. An intense fight happens, ending with the two cult members dead. The woman is found in the nursery where the doll collection is on display–she’s holding Annabelle after committing suicide.

Welllllll, guess what?  The doll starts making weird shit happen to them. Sewing machines running by themselves, doors opening and closing, spontaneous fires….and unlike most ignorant families in the horror genre, the Gordon’s decide to throw out the creepy doll and GTFO. Hooray!  Huzzah! Good for them! Too bad the shit just followed them.

Let me just start by saying: I. Hate. Dolls.  Ever since growing up being scared senseless by movies like the Puppetmaster series and the Child’s Play series, I just…..NOPE.  I don’t know what it is about this particular horror subgenre that gets under my skin.  Maybe it’s the nostalgia–the thought of those beloved children’s toys coming to get you. Or maybe it’s because of that one TERRIFYING old doll that my Grandma has sitting in her spare room–the one with one wonky eye. Could be both.

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I’m cool…I’m cool…..BAH. GET OUT OF IT.

Now, one thing I will say for Annabelle, is that I think they tried TOO hard to make the doll creepy. The dolls appearance slowly degrades and becomes more dirty/scraped up as time passes. I know that’s sort of the norm, but I think it takes away something for me. Something about that pristine little doll staring into space all empty-eyed is much more terrifying that some banged up old P.O.S.

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Someone get me some sunglasses.

I dunno.  Dolls are just…intrinsically creepy. Some hit a little closer to home than others, though. That’s for sure.  As far as Annabelle is concerned…yeah.  The doll’s pretty unsettling, but I found myself being scared more by the things surrounding the doll.  You don’t really get a lot of doll-on-human evil action….well…because the doll’s not actually physically possessed. **COUGH**SPOILER**

I think the main character, Mia, does a fantastic job in this movie. Strange coincidence that her real name is Annabelle…..

Insert “Twilight Zone” music.

I really loved the character of Evelyn (Woodard). She quickly became that character that you just weren’t too sure about. She seemed so nice at first…but she gave off this air of uncertainty. That fine line was ridden very well. I love the role that she comes to play toward the end of the film.

My Rating: Huzzah!

I definitely enjoyed myself when I watched this. This one wasn’t directed by James Wan, but it definitely had the same feel. If you love/hate creepy doll movies, you should enjoy this one.

Where Can I Watch It?: This one’s still on the theater circuit!  Catch it while you can, or wait a few months until it comes to video. This one would be perfect to go see tonight on Halloween night!  🙂

 

 

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

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Director: Peter Jackson
Writers: Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Guillermo del Toro, J.R.R. Tolkien
Production Companies: MGM, New Line Cinema, WingNut Films
Stars: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Aidan Turner, Evangeline Lilly, Orlando Bloom, Benedict Cumberbatch, Luke Evans, Lee Pace, Stephen Fry
Genre: Adventure/ Fantasy

What It’s About: Bilbo, Gandalf, and the band of dwarves continue their journey to Erebor to reclaim the land that is rightfully theirs.  Sequel to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012).

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

Thoughts: There are so many adventures in this movie, and I don’t really wanna COMPLETELY spoil them for those who haven’t seen the movie yet. I’ll just pinpoint my favorite/least favorite parts.

**THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS**

Okay.  Now, I’m probably a little biased when it comes to these movies, because I’ve read The Hobbit. And let me tell ya, there are so many differences….I could go on a rant, but I’ll try to avoid it.

If I look at this film in an objective way, I can tell you that it was one fun ride.  Yes, it’s different from the book, but it still retains enough of the core story to make for one hell of an adventure.  I really enjoyed the battle with the spiders in the forest.  That part was one that I remembered most clearly from the book, and it was excellently portrayed on screen.

The elves come into play at the end of that battle.  I will point out that Legolas (Bloom) was never in the book.  Nor was the lady elf, Tauriel (Lilly), so a lot of the Elven storyline was altered to accommodate the weird love triangle with them and Kili.  But, it did make for an interesting watch.  I definitely found portions of it pretty awkward, but still somehow touching.

Another scene that I loved was the barrel scene in the river.  In the book, the dwarves are merely sealed into the barrels and smuggled down river.  Peter Jackson took the entire scene to the next level….and then some.  Not only are they not sealed in–heads sticking out, bobbing about–but they’re being chased by the orcs from before….and the orcs are being chased by the elves.  What a fun scene, though!  This scene is so action-packed, but it doesn’t lack humor.  I found myself giggling several times throughout it.

Then we make it to Lake Town, where the dwarves are smuggled away by Bard (Evans). The dynamics in this scene are quite a bit different from the book, but still enjoyable. Eventually the dwarves make themself known to the town leaders, and they’re shipped off to continue their journey to the mountain.

Okay.  Enough of the jibber-jabber.  Let’s talk about the real star of this film:

Mother. Fuckin’. Cumberbatch.

Now, I can’t even imagine how the audition for this role went.

“Hello, Mr. Cumberbatch.  Today, you will be auditioning for the role of Smaug. He’s a mother fucking dragon.  You set?”

I mean, come on!  This guy was A FUCKING DRAGON.  He embodied it, and his voice is so, so good.

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The scenes with Smaug, really stole the film for me.  CGI?  Yes. Brilliantly done?  YES. I’m a sucker for dragons, though.  :3

My Rating:  Huzzah!

Like I said, quite a few differences from the book, but still an awesomely fun ride.  Peter Jackson is a master storyteller.  Always a fan.

Where Can I Watch It?: This movie is available on Amazon Instant.