The Hobbit trilogy has been one of the tougher group of movies to… MoreThe Hobbit trilogy has been one of the tougher group of movies to write for when it comes to sagas. The Lord of the Rings was so good, you could wonder why Peter Jackson wanted to make this one book into three films. Finally, the entire journey has come to an end.
You can't classify The Battle of Five Armies as a standalone movie really. It's movie 2B to the Desolation of Smaug. This makes it tough for the audience to jump right into the 3rd flick without having glimpsed, or fully rewatched, the second film. In fact, this third film feels like the epic battle scene everyone was hoping for at the end of the second film. Almost all two and a half hours involves fighting in one form or another. With words. With axes. With swords. It starts off with great action and the conclusion of the dragon fight while the rest of the movie hinges on the orcs invading the valley to overtake the dwarves, elves, and men.
Even though the Hobbit takes place years before, decades before, the LOTR trilogy, they try and give you a few nuggets here and there about how some of the characters like Legolas or Gandalf or Saruman get on their path.
I was disappointed with the laziness of CGI use. One character was completely CGI even, one of the dwarves, and it really detracted from the believability (yes I know it's all fantasy).
Overall, this is a redemption story for Thorin Oakenshield. From his dip into madness to his revelation to being the true king he is meant to be, it's a nice resolution in the end. I'm glad there really isn't anything else for Peter Jackson to do in this franchise. The LOTR trilogy will always stand above the Hobbit trilogy. A world we've been gracious to step into.
Old James Bond meets...older James Bond. Pierce Brosnan gets back… MoreOld James Bond meets...older James Bond. Pierce Brosnan gets back into the spy-game thriller with "The November Man". It's a pretty low budget flick. Clearly, Brosnan is the main attraction with Olga Kurylenko (interestingly enough a former Bond girl) coming in at a close second.
What surprises me most (and continues to do so with these older actors) is they take roles clearly beneath their stature. Luke Bracey is not convincing. I won't bother with the rest of the cast due to the fact none of them stand out as impressive cast members who contribute anything outside of being a body to fill space.
It's not a total loss though. The plot is actually engaging with a twist here and there, but nothing you don't see coming from a mile away. The action scenes are a bit stunted and some of the editing is just poor in between normal takes. It makes the flow feel choppy. I did enjoy the preciseness of Brosnan's gun play.
With age comes a bit of a slow down for the 61-year-old, but unlike some of the other aging action heroes who have taken this route to one-man wrecking crews, this lags behind the ingenuity and originality of some of the more recent movies we've seen to date.
Chinese cinema strikes again with another solid effort; Drug War. A… MoreChinese cinema strikes again with another solid effort; Drug War. A man is saved after his meth lab explodes by the cops and is then turned into a snitch by a greedy captain to get the bigger fish. At least, that's how I felt about the captain.
For one, the snitch turns so easily because he's looking out for numero uno, which is a key component throughout the film. While it's not necessarily an action movie, there are a few gun fights. While not as intricate as The Departed with all the twists and turns and undercover cops, this had the feel of a Chinese version of that movie.
I watched it on Netflix, and apparently, the subtitles were a problem for them. They scrolled to fast or flat cut out when actors were speaking too quickly. You miss a few lines here and there because of it. Now...since I don't know Chinese...it irritated me, but not to a point where I couldn't use common sense to figure out what those few words were or what was meant.
Overall, Drug War is a fine crime drama with some good acting from the leads. What I like best about these films is how little dialogue there is compared to American films. The payoff will have most of you content enough to sit through it the entire way.
While "A Most Wanted Man" may seem rough around the edges and lack any… MoreWhile "A Most Wanted Man" may seem rough around the edges and lack any true twists to properly place this amongst some of the best spy thrillers, it still delivers on intensity and realism.
To start, the acting is top notch from Hoffman, McAdams, Dafoe, and the rest even with their attempts at German accents. I suppose in Hollywood you cast the actor for the role, but I've never understood their steadfastness to put Americans in foreign roles to fake an accent. As a side note, the worst that comes to mind is Tom Cruise in Valkyrie. Aside from that, Hoffman wins the best actor award for all the participants in this film with a stoic performance as the lead director in the German spy organization attempting to figure out the identity of an illegal immigrant.
It seemed a bit slow on the take to start to establish where things were going, but the meat of the film from about 45 minutes in through to the end carried nicely. Again, while there weren't any twists or turns to speak of in your standard spy thriller, there are a handful of small will-he/she or won't-he/she moments.
Overall, Hoffman has himself a nice flick to hang his hat on before he passed. His intensity alone is enough to watch this through and through.
Stephen Merchant is a tall, awkward, gangly comedian from England.… MoreStephen Merchant is a tall, awkward, gangly comedian from England. While he may not be the best actor on the block, her certainly has a knack for humor. Both physical and situational.
For those who saw the TV show, in its limited run, it struggled to capture a realness in the cringe-worthy comedy it portrayed. However, with the film (which ends up being an extended version of the TV show), Merchant is able to get in and out of the true plot points without lingering. The humor is also more grounded.
People who have never seen the show probably won't check this out, but I'd suggest breezing through the first season straight into this small time waster, which in the end, will feel like a movie when you throw it all together.
Really enjoyed this number from actor/director Jon Favreau. It is a… MoreReally enjoyed this number from actor/director Jon Favreau. It is a pure feel good story about a man who is a chef of a well-known restaurant who ends up leaving his position after coming to blows with the owner. This hour and a half chronicles his journey to get the feel back for cooking his way and his favorite things. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of actors who made appearances like Hoffman, Downey, Johansson and Vergara. My favorite was Leguizamo. The kid didn't do a bad job either. The use of social media within the film was clever. More often than not, these small passion projects offer up better experiences than overblown Hollywood studio films.
This movie, like The Big Lebowski, is a film I've seen countless… MoreThis movie, like The Big Lebowski, is a film I've seen countless times. Every single time I see it it gets infinitely funnier. Dynamite! Dynamite!
What an expert take on blaxsplotation. Not too much needs to be said about this film other than Michael Jai White fits the role perfectly. See it if you have a soul.
Adam Winegard strikes again with another sadistic dark-humored… MoreAdam Winegard strikes again with another sadistic dark-humored thriller. He certainly has a lock on this silly horror thanks in part to You're Next.
He stepped his game up with The Guest. The acting is better, the dialogue is still fantastically absurd in terms of how much it makes you laugh and the deaths come swift and meaningful. There really isn't a part of this film that doesn't make sense. Everyone is involved for good reason one way or another. Lucky or not.
Dan Stevens has this icy glare to command the screen yet this affable smirk to make you feel at ease. Somehow, he pulls off good ol country boy yet stone faced killer with the morphing of his face in just a short second. His matter of factness for his character is pretty goofy with how he goes about handling situations.
The plot is pretty simple and unconstrained. You get the gist of what this guy is about from the moment he walks into the lives of this family. Certainly know who you let in your house. Could be someone like this.
While it isn't the best Cohen brothers movie out there, O Brother… MoreWhile it isn't the best Cohen brothers movie out there, O Brother still offers up plenty of chuckles with excellent acting and dialogue to keep it enjoyable in one of the most deplorable times in history.
The three leads are fun to watch scamper around the country on the loose from their chain gang. Some of their adventures dabble in the absurd while others are pretty cooky, but overall, it comes full circle to a story about friendship and resolution more so than what it starts out being in a search for treasure.
It seems the apes have struck gold twice with Rise and now Dawn of the… MoreIt seems the apes have struck gold twice with Rise and now Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
Andy Serkis continues to separate himself as the best motion-capture actor of our time as his portrayal of Caesar. But it's not only him this time. Koba has an expanded role as the villain while some of the other apes get singled out for bigger roles with the motion capture.
Unlike the first film where the humans really came off as the bad guys, the second time round we have more ambiguity as to who the heroes and villains really are. It's almost as if you could watch an entire movie based purely on the apes style of living and rise from primitive culture to something humans might have survived in. What's great is as the movie progresses, so does the apes understanding and evolution.
While Gary Oldman and Keri Russell add the star power in subdued supporting roles, Jason Clarke stands out as the lead human actor with compassion, smarts and reasoning to at least be the guy you root to succeed.
The story really does have a war-like mentality about it. You can see the chances at peace failing as underhanded tactics and backstabbing are put into play by the apes. Both sides, apes and humans, are lumped into the same category. It was a testament from director Matt Reeves to prove the two really aren't exclusive, but similar in more ways than you can imagine.