CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: ARROW – THREE GHOSTS

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THREE GHOSTS
CAST
Stephen Amell (Screamer 2)
Katie Cassidy (Black Xmas)
David Ramsey (Dexter)
Willa Holland (Legion)
Paul Blackthorne (The Dresden Files)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Susanna Thompson (Cold Case)
Colton Haynes (Teen Wolf)
Manu Bennett (Spartacus)
GUEST CAST
Colin Donnell (Pan Am)
Grant Gustin (The Flash)
Kevin Alejandro (Ugly Betty)
Celina Jade (Skin Trade)
Caity Lotz (The Machine)
Roger R. Cross (Stargate SG.1)
Bex Taylor-Klaus (Scream: The Series)
Barry manages to save Oliver’s life, but Oliver is angry to find out that Felicity has revealed his secret when he regains consciousness. Back at Queen’s house Thea revealed Roy did not go to the hospital and needed aid, Oliver took out the arrow and called for John to come over with First Aid kit. Oliver starts to hallucinate, as well as a flash back with Slade dying, Oliver, Shado, Sara being held at gunpoint and led outside the sub. Ivo makes Oliver choose either Shado or Sara to choose to die in 30 seconds. Oliver went back to the Arrow’s hideout, and asked about side effects from Barry.
Barry and Felicity are able to identify and locate Oliver’s attacker, Cyrus Gold. While continuing to discover the truth behind the death of Sin’s friend Max, Roy is captured by Cyrus and brought before Sebastian who injects him with the Mirakuru serum. The serum fails to work and kills Roy. Oliver arrives but defeated by Cyrus, had another hallucination about Tommy. Tommy encourages him to keep on fighting and stop Cyrus, he then destroys the remaining serum. Oliver revives Roy, but later worries that the serum may affect him negatively. It is revealed the mastermind of this is Slade (alive and all), he states that new Mirakuru can be made with his blood and he will corrupt or kill “The hood’s” followers or the ones he loved before killing him himself because just killing him is too easy for him. Ordering Blood to leave the vigilante alone for his plans. In flashbacks, Ivo kills Shado, but flees when Slade turns up with super-human strength and kills his men. Oliver went back to the hideout. Barry leaves a green domino mask for Oliver, to better hide his identity, and returns to Central City. A malfunction with the new particle accelerator, coupled with a lightning storm, causes an explosion and Barry is caught in the blast. Felicity helps Oliver puts on his new mask.
Three Ghosts served as an excellent season 2 mid-season finale setting up Slades return. It also sets up the Flash TV series. Every year Arrow Christmas episodes get better and better and seeing Slade alive and off the island was one of the best cliffhangers done on Arrow, it made people wanna come back to how it all turns out.
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REVIEW: AMERICAN DAD – VOLUME 12

MAIN CAST (VOICES)

Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy)
Wendy Schaal (Small Soldiers)
Scott Grimes (Robin Hood)
Rachael MacFarlane (The Batman)
Dee Bradley Baker (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

RECURRING NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Manu Bennett (Arrow)
Kevin Dunn (transformers)
Susie Essman (Bolt)
Edward Herrmann (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Richard Kind (Gotham)
Peter MacNicol (Ghostbusters II)
Jon Polito (Miller’s Crossing)
Matt McKenna (Igor)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Alan Tudyk (Firefly)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk vs)
Curtis Armstrong (New Girl)
John Cho (Sleepy Hollow)
Jeff Fischer (Happy Feet)
Michael Landes (Final Destination 2)
Eddie Kaye Thomas (Ameircan Pie)
Daisuke Suzuki (Hibakusha)
Ashley Tisdale (High School Musical)
Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead)
Patrick Stewart (Logan)
T.E. Russell (Toy Soldiers)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
Mike Henry (The Cleveland Show)
Jason Mantzoukas (Dirty Grandpa)
June Diane Raphael (Bride Wars)
George Takei (Heroes)
Billy Bob Thornton (Bad Santa)
Eric Andre (2 Broke Girls)
David Koechner (Anchorman)
Jason Lee (My Name is Earl)
Michaela Watkins (Enough Said)
Sam Elliott (The Ranch)
Patton Oswalt (Caprica)
Craig Robisnon (Zack & Miri Make a Porno)
Tyrese Gibson (Fast & Furious 8)
Missy Elliott (Shark Tale)
Betsy Brandt (Breaking Bad)
Tom Kenny (Spongebob)
Thomas Lennon (17 Again)
Max Charles (The Strain)
Stephen Merchant (Logan)
Patricia Clarkson (Lars and The Real Girl)
Billy Van Zandt (Jaws 2)
Andy Richter (Santa Clarita Diet)
Ed Gathegi (X-Men: First Class)
Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek)
Liam James (2012)
Lance Henriksen (Millenium)

American Dad! returns for an iconic series’ 11th volume. The series centers on super-patriotic CIA agent Stan Smith and the misadventures of his unconventional family in Langley Falls, Virginia. Stan’s blissfully unaware wife Francine has an unfaltering loyalty that allows her to turn a blind eye toward Stan’s unabashed arrogance. Meanwhile, Stan constantly butts heads with his 18-year-old, left-wing activist daughter Hayley who knows just how to push her father’s buttons, whether it’s by helping the homeless, demanding women’s rights or advocating gun control. Hayley’s 14-year-old brother is the geeky-yet-confident Steve, is a kid who spends his time playing video games and obsessing about the opposite sex. The Smith cabinet is rounded out by two rather unconventional members: Roger, the sassy, sarcastic and routinely inappropriate space alien who is constantly trying on new disguises and, with them, new personalities, and Klaus, the attention-starved goldfish with the brain of a German Olympic skier who always throws in his two cents, regardless of whether anyone is listening.The Highlights on this Volume are.American-Dad-Season-13-Episode-1-2-b27e

ROOTS

Stan is in favor of a new football stadium being built in Langley Falls, until he learns its construction will destroy a sacred tree from his childhood. Meanwhile, after Steve learns that he hasn’t grown an inch in several years, he considers surgery to increase his height, and turns to a child physician named Dr. Calgary, whom Steve discovers is actually a mad surgeon from Germany.

THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE SMITH

Steve is determined to become a varsity athlete in an attempt to impress some girls. Steve immediately tries to join the water polo team, but fails to, and enlists the help of Klaus to guide his swimming by hiding in Steve’s bathing suit. Meanwhile, Stan and Roger purchase a boat at a CIA auction, but Roger’s motivations to work on the boat begin to get to him.American-dad-se11e3-hayley-smith-seal-team-six

HAYLEY SMITH, SEAL TEAM SIX

In an effort to bring back a long-lost sense of joy and innocence, Roger’s persona Dr. Penguin hypnotizes Hayley to get to the root of the problem. The plan backfires when Dr. Penguin accidentally causes her mind to regress to that of a six year old instead. As the family enjoys the happier Hayley, Jeff and Klaus set out to progress Hayley back to her original state. Meanwhile, Steve and his friends are approached by a shady, trenchcoated man who talks them into buying one of his slow-cookers.

N.S.A. (NO SNOOPS ALLOWED)

Steve goes to work with Stan to help him troubleshoot his computer — and ends up entangled with the NSA after Steve gets mad at Stan for mocking him. Meanwhile, Hayley goes on a meat-eating spree after eating Klaus’ hazelnut omelette (which has veal in it).qM4YSxW8C0b7LnE29I71uR2L3iE

STAN SMITH AS KEANU REEVES AS STANNY UTAH IN POINT BREAK

Stan finds himself stressed out on his day-off from work, due to Steve’s new friendship with a murderous derelict, Hayley and Jeff’s pregnancy scare, Francine’s shoplifting, and Roger’s attempts to get the 2016 World Cup to be held in the house. As Stan returns to work, Bullock believes that surfers may be the cause of a recent cyber attack after watching Point Break, and volunteers to go undercover as a surfer in order to relax and put his stress behind him.

KISS KISS CAM CAM

Stan begins to question his marriage with Francine when they have a terrible “Kiss Cam” experience. Meanwhile, Steve and Roger travel to Carson City in order for Roger to re-elect himself on the Nevada legislature to fulfill his promise of keeping polluted water clean.

THE DEVIL WEARS A LAPEL PIN

When Stan is chosen to put together the annual CIA pin-up calendar, he attempts to find an assistant. However, when he fires assistant after assistant, Hayley takes the assistant job in order to get revenge by destroying the calendar, after having him destroy a picture she drew as a child. Meanwhile, Roger gets a Discovery Card on his first (and only) day of college, but finds that no one takes Discovery (except for a secret section of the local mall that hasn’t been touched since the 1980s) and must fake his death when he can’t pay the bill.

STAN-DAN DELIVER

Steve is sentenced to attend a class for delinquents and ghetto teenagers after Roger eats the chocolates Steve was supposed to sell for charity. Meanwhile, Stan and Francine decide to shop for retirement homes, but when Stan decides to stay, Francine, Hayley, and Jeff attempt to free him.

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ANCHORFRAN

Greg has been depressed over Terry leaving him to go on tour with the band 311, so Francine attempts to help Greg out by joining him on the newscast. However, her newfound fame on the set leads to Greg’s suffering. Meanwhile, Hayley digs up her old “Dream Phone” game, leading Roger to go on a road trip to find a character from the game.

THE TWO HUNDRED

A tattooed Stan, along with Roger and Greg, set out to find the other Smiths when an unidentified entity known as “The Two Hundred” has turned Langley Falls into an apocalyptic wasteland and all the citizens, led by Principal Lewis, turn into savages and cannibals.

THE UNINCLUDEDS

Steve and Snot set out to throw a party for the unpopular students, but when the party they throw changes their futures, they are forced to make things right. Meanwhile, Roger is upset when a waiter compliments Hayley’s order at a restaurant and not his.

THE DENTIST’S WIFE

Roger finds himself in an identity crisis after he becomes interested in a local dentist’s wife named Meredith Fields. Meanwhile, Klaus tortures Stan, Steve, Hayley, and Jeff with a party with perverted guests when they become incredibly stiff and sore from a workout session with CrossFit.

WIDOW’S PIQUE

When one of Stan’s co-workers dies on assignment, Francine prepares herself for the possibility of becoming a widow should Stan die. Meanwhile, Steve and his friends put on a wrestling show, but Principal Lewis shows up to challenge them for a championship belt.

THE NOVA CENTAURIS-BURGH BOARD OF TOURISM PRESENTS: AMERICAN DAD

When Francine becomes upset that she can’t do anything she wants to, she joins Steve in his live-action role playing game in the park. Meanwhile, Stan confiscates a shark aquarium from a drug lord and is convinced by Roger to open it as an attraction named “Oceanland”, a Seaworld knockoff.

DAESONG HEAVY INDUSTRIES

Part one of two. Stan’s faith in God is shattered when he tries to teach Steve the Bible and Steve points out all the logical errors in the stories, leading Stan on a downward spiral of hedonism and self-destruction. Under Francine’s orders, Steve restores Stan’s faith when he discovers a Korean tanker the same measurements as Noah’s Ark — and things take a turn for the worse when Stan ropes the family into going to Korea to find the fabled tanker.

DAESONG HEAVY INDUSTRIES II: RETURN TO INNOCENCE

Conclusion. The Smiths (and Jeff, but not Klaus, who was thrown off the boat at the end of the previous episode) are still stuck on the Korean tanker, which blows up after Roger’s “If They Could See Me Now”-style musical number. Now shipwrecked, Stan and Francine end up washed up on an island with no clothes and no memory of who they are and become a modern-day Adam and Eve while Jeff and Hayley are rescued by the U.S. Navy and Steve is trapped on a lifeboat with a wolf and Roger’s dangerous survival tips.

CRISS-CROSS APPLESAUCE: THE BALLAD OF BILLY JESUSWORTH

When Stan wants to play a game of basketball with Roger, he ends up being rejected by him for being too old. But when Roger ends up breaking his ankle, Stan reluctantly invites him to join his basketball league in order to deviously relent him. Meanwhile, Steve recounts his day in a send-up of R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet.

MINE STRUGGLE

After years of dirtying up the patio, Francine forces Stan to clean it, but when using Roger’s modified power washer, the modifications cause a huge hole to be formed in the ground, leading them to discover a salt mine. As Stan and the family immediately want to offer it to the Gordon Salt Company, Steve turns out to be the actual owner of the mine and refuses to sell it, in order to keep sacred memories of their backyard.

Garfield_and_Friends

GARFIELD AND FRIENDS

When Stan drags Hayley to James A. Garfield’s former house for a tour in celebration for Presidents’ Day, Stan decides to bring President Garfield back to life to teach her about his life and history, when Hayley proves to be bored with the tour. Meanwhile, Steve joins the school newspaper, but his work ends up coming out as erotic stories.

GIFTED ME LIBERTY

When someone forgets to bring a gift to the annual “evil Santa” CIA gift exchange, Bullock becomes deeply upset and forces Stan to discover who that person was. Meanwhile, Steve scores a date for the Harvest Dance, but he soon discovers that he is being used as a cover up for her “bad” boyfriend. At first, he is outraged, but later decides to do the same thing for several other girls when they offer to pay him.

NEXT OF PIN

Stan sets out to find an activity that he can share with Steve and eventually does when he finds out he’s good at bowling, but when an expert bowling coach suggests that he is holding Steve back, Stan tries to get back to bonding with Steve, by ending his career with a stab in his foot. Meanwhile, Klaus challenges Hayley and Roger to watching hours of a documentary when the two argue over who has the worst attention span.

STANDARD DEVIATION

Stan becomes angry when Hayley refuses to have a plan for her future life, but when he brings her on a suicide mission, she refuses to deal with his logic. Later on, Hayley discovers that Bullock is working daily as a disc jockey at a nightclub. She immediately tells Stan, but when he confronts Bullock, Bullock tells him he’ll step down, but only if he can defeat him in a DJ battle. Meanwhile, Jeff begins drinking psychedelic teas and hallucinates a musical instrumental, leading Roger to help him find it as a prank.americandad1222.pngThis has to be one of the best adult cartoons ever created. It’s hard for me to compare them with South Park. I think that in many aspects, American Dad is way better than South Park. Probably because it addresses to a much larger public, while South Park contains jokes that sometime require some background knowledge, before you can fully understand them. Even for non-Americans, this series are equally funny and enjoying. Great job! I recommend this to anyone who enjoys some good humor.

REVIEW: 30 DAYS OF NIGHT

CAST

Josh Hartnett (The Faculty)
Melissa George (Triangle)
Danny Huston (The Kingdom)
Ben Foster (The Punisher)
Mark Boone Junior (Batman Begins)
Mark Rendall (Open House)
Amber Sainsbury (Hex)
Manu Bennett (Arrow)
Megan Franich (Alpha Planet)
Joel Tobeck (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Elizabeth Hawthorne (Filthy Rich)
Nathaniel Lees (Power Rangers Jungle Fury)
Craig Hall (King Kong)
Andrew Stehlin (10, 000 BC)
John Rawls (The Blue Rose)
Jared Turner (The Almighty Johnsons)
Kelson Henderson (Power Rangers n inja Steel)
Pua Magasiva (Power Rangers Ninja Storm)
Kate Elliott (Power Rangers Samurai)

The town of Barrow, Alaska is preparing for its annual “30 Days of Night”, a period during the winter when there is a month-long polar night. As the town gets ready, a stranger (Ben Foster) rows ashore from a large ship and sabotages the town’s communications and transport to the outside world. Barrow’s sheriff, Eben Oleson (Josh Hartnett) investigates and also learns that his estranged wife, Stella (Melissa George), missed the last plane and must stay the 30 days. That night, a coven of feral vampires, led by Marlow (Danny Huston), attack and slaughter most of the townspeople, forcing Eben, Stella, Eben’s younger brother Jake (Mark Rendall), and several other survivors to take shelter in a boarded-up house with a hidden attic. Marlow finds the stranger locked up in the station. The stranger believed Marlow was going to turn him into a vampire. Marlow thanks him for doing what he asked, and then snaps his neck. Marlow ironically comments to his fellow vampires: “The things they believe.”Eighteen days later, when a blizzard hits, the group uses the whiteout to go to the general store for supplies, but are stranded after it ends. While the group heads for the station, Eben creates a diversion by having the vampires chase him to his grandmother’s house, where he uses one of her ultraviolet lights to burn the face of Marlow’s lover, Iris (Megan Franich), so badly that Marlow is forced to kill her. As he escapes, the town snow plow operator, Beau (Mark Boone Junior), creates another distraction with his tractor, killing many of the vampires, before trying to blow himself up; when he fails, Marlow crushes his head. Eben arrives at the station, where he is then forced to kill Carter (Nathaniel Lees), who has been bitten and is turning into a vampire.Two weeks later, Stella and Eben see the deputy, Billy (Manu Bennett), signaling them with a flashlight and bring him back to the station, after finding out he killed his family to save them from a more painful death. The trio find the others have made for the utilidor, a power and sewage treatment station that still has power, and head over there but are separated after Stella saves Gail Robbins (Rachel Maitland-Smith), a young girl whose family was slaughtered by a vampire named Zurial (John Rawls) who was stalking her. Eben and Billy make it to the utilidor but are attacked by Arvin (Andrew Stehlin), who bites Billy; Billy knocks Arvin into the heavy-duty shredder, before being killed by Eben because he is starting to turn.As the month comes to an end, with the sun due to rise, the vampires start to burn down the town to destroy evidence of their presence, and prevent any survivors from telling the world what happened. Realizing Stella is trapped and that he cannot beat the vampires in his current state, Eben turns himself into a vampire by injecting himself with Billy’s infected blood. He confronts Marlow, and they get into a vicious fight, before Marlow is finally killed by having a hole punched through his head, causing the remaining vampires to flee. Knowing he will die soon, Eben and Stella go off to watch the sunrise together, sharing one last kiss. As the sun comes up, Eben’s body burns to ash in Stella’s arms, while she stares at the sky, coming to grips with what has happened.For a movie that takes place almost completely in the dark, 30 Days Of Night is well shot. The snowbound settings and claustrophobic interiors instantly conjure up memories of Carpenter’s The Thing but the similarities are really only superficial.

REVIEW: THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES – EXTENDED EDITION

CAST
Martin Freeman (Captain American: Civil War)
Ian McKellen (X-Men)
Richard Armitage (Hannibal)
Ken Stott (Spivs)
Graham McTavish (King Arthur)
William Kircher (Xena)
James Nesbitt (Monroe)
Stephen Hunter (All Saints)
Dean O’ Gorman (Young Hercules)
Christopher Lee (Lord of The Rings)
Aidan Turner (Being Human)
John Callen (Power Rangers Jungle Fury)
Peter Hambleton (A Twist In The Tale)
Jed Brophy (Heavenly Creatures)
Mark Hadlow (King Kong 2005)
Adam Brown (Pirates of The Caribbean 5)
Ian Holm (Lord of The Rings)
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix)
Cate Blanchett (Hanna)
Sylvester McCoy (Doctor Who)
Lee Pace (Pushing Daises)
Orlando Bloom (Elizabethtown)
Evangeline Lilly (Ant-Man)
Stephen Fry (Bones)
Luke Evans (Dracula Untold)
Manu Bennett (Arrow)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Atonement)
Ryan Gage (The Musketeers)
Reaching the finish line of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit Trilogy is an accomplishment for both viewer and director.
 The film picks up seconds after The Desolation of Smaug ends: The great, fire-breathing dragon (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) descends upon Laketown, bathing its residents in a sea of fire. Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) and the dwarves watch in horror from Erebor, while Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans) battles the dragon in Laketown, earning the respect of its people. Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) remains the captive of the Necromancer – aka Sauron (also voiced by Cumberbatch) – as Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) and Elrond (Hugo Weaving) conspire to free him. Soon Thorin, like Smaug before him, becomes obsessed with the Lonely Mountain’s treasure, and incites a war with the elves, led by Thranduil (Lee Pace) and trailed by Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly). Also approaching is Azog’s orc army, which threatens to overpower any one of the protagonist armies. If you’re counting armies, that’s the dwarves, elves, men from Laketown, orcs, and wild wolves, who also show up to claim the Arkenstone.
This extended cut adds approximately twenty minutes of new footage, much of which is incorporated into the battle sequences. This version actually earned an R rating, which again proves that the MPAA is scared of its own shadow. Other than some CGI blood splatter and an over-the-top scene where Legolas decapitates a couple of orcs while hanging upside down, this is decidedly PG-13 material. The opening battle at Laketown is the film’s most exciting, as the circling, taunting Smaug remains a visually and narratively compelling character thanks to Cumberbatch and some incredible visual effects.
 This extended cut does provide a few welcome character moments that improve the film. Jackson really underwhelms with the too-brief Gandalf/Sauron fight he previewed in An Unexpected Journey, but at least that is given a bit more screen time here.  Better are added moments between Bilbo and Bofur (James Nesbitt) and extended scenes where Thorin contemplates whether or not to engage in battle against the elves and men.  We also see the annoying Alfrid (Ryan Gage) die on screen, so there’s that to look forward to.
At the end of this epic, This film  stands as a decent conclusion to Peter Jackson’s epic trilogy.  the film is presented here with 20 minutes of additional footage. Fans will no doubt want to own this extended edition, which offers fantastic picture and sound quality and hours upon hours of extras.

REVIEW: THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG- EXTENDED EDITION

CAST
Martin Freeman (Captain American: Civil War)
Ian McKellen (X-Men)
Richard Armitage (Hannibal)
Ken Stott (Spivs)
Graham McTavish (King Arthur)
William Kircher (Xena)
James Nesbitt (Monroe)
Stephen Hunter (All Saints)
Dean O’ Gorman (Young Hercules)
Aidan Turner (Being Human)
John Callen (Power Rangers Jungle Fury)
Peter Hambleton (A Twist In The Tale)
Jed Brophy (Heavenly Creatures)
Mark Hadlow (King Kong 2005)
Adam Brown (Pirates of The Caribbean 5)
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix)
Cate Blanchett (Hanna)
Sylvester McCoy (Doctor Who)
Lee Pace (Pushing Daises)
Orlando Bloom (Elizabethtown)
Evangeline Lilly (Ant-Man)
Stephen Fry (Bones)
Luke Evans (Dracula Untold)
Manu Bennett (Arrow)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Atonement)
Ryan Gage (The Musketeers)
 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug 3D Blu-ray delivers stunning video and reference-quality audio in this exceptional Blu-ray release.We Return to Middle Earth where the dwarves, along with Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey, continue their quest to reclaim Erebor, their homeland, from Smaug.
 The 3D Extended Edition release of The Desolation of Smaug includes five BD-50 discs: two for the 3D version of the 186-minute feature film (with a break midway through the extended cut), one for the 2D version of the EE (with no breaks or disc swaps to be had), and two more discs devoted to more than ten hours of high definition bonus content. Thankfully, both the MVC-encoded 3D and AVC-encoded 2D presentations are virtually identical in quality; to each other and to their April 2014 Blu-ray counterparts.
 Similar to the palette shift that occurs when moving from The Fellowship of the Ring to The Two Towers, The Desolation of Smaug is a much darker, bleaker film than An Unexpected Journey. The same goes for Warner’s 1080p/AVC-encoded 2D and MVC-encoded 3D video presentations. Shadows are greedier, the cloak of night more oppressive, delineation less forgiving, and crush a bit more of a nuisance than before. Even so, the two transfers are excellent examples of the benefits high definition affords; each one rich in detail, lovely to behold, and utterly faithful to Jackson and cinematographer Andrew Lesnie’s dramatic digital color grading. Skintones are perfectly saturated (or desaturated, as is typically the case), black levels are satisfying (albeit a touch muted in Mirkwood and Erebor), and contrast is spot on, with very little in the way of distractions. (The few that do arise trace back to the filmmakers and/or the FX.) Clarity is also remarkable in both 2D and 3D, with crisp edges free from aliasing and ringing, refined textures that capture every last subtlety of the film’s production design and costumes, and a pleasing veneer of grain that doesn’t hinder the image in any way.
 In 3D, the experience is perhaps even more stunning, with a level of depth and dimensionality reserved only for the best of the best 3D releases. The aforementioned bleakness and darkness doesn’t take a toll on the MVC-encoded 3D presentation, nor does it muddle Jackson’s imagery in any way. Orc swords pierce the screen. Forests extend into the distance. Mountains spill back to the horizon. Rivers rage as barrels race to safety. Elves leap overhead. Spiders lunge at the viewer. Drawn bows point arrows beyond the bounds of the film. The streets of Laketown snake into the city. Dwarven monoliths tower above Bilbo and the Company. And Smaug looms larger and more menacingly above the fray. Then there are the veils of cobwebs, sea of trees, canopy of leaves and butterflies, crowds of onlookers, sheets of dragon scales, oceans of gold, and columns that allow one to sense the vastness of Erebor’s halls. All of it is convincing and oh so immersive, with wide vistas boasting as much 3D oomph as the most intimate close-ups. Add to that a lack of significant aliasing, shimmering, ghosting or other issues associated with 3D and you easily have what’s already one of the finest 3D releases of the year.
 Better still, artifacting, banding and other significant enemies of the crown are held at bay; again, both in the 2D and 3D presentations of the film. There are a few negligible instances of banding and artifacting, but nothing that takes a serious toll, and nothing that will be noticed by anyone who isn’t scanning the shadows, smoke and fog looking for something to overreact to. (A half-dozen unsightly, lower definition GoPro Camera shots pepper the barrel escape sequence, and irritate me every time I watch the film. But each one only appears for a split second and, again, should be laid at Jackson and Lesnie’s doorstep, not Warner’s.) All told, The Desolation of Smaug is gorgeous regardless of which version you choose to watch. Jackson’s rabid fans will be rewarded for their allegiance.

REVIEW: THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY – EXTENDED EDITION

CAST
Martin Freeman (Captain American: Civil War)
Ian McKellen (X-Men)
Richard Armitage (Hannibal)
Ken Stott (Spivs)
Graham McTavish (King Arthur)
William Kircher (Xena)
James Nesbitt (Monroe)
Stephen Hunter (All Saints)
Dean O’ Gorman (Young Hercules)
Aidan Turner (Being Human)
John Callen (Power Rangers Jungle Fury)
Peter Hambleton (A Twist In The Tale)
Jed Brophy (Heavenly Creatures)
Mark Hadlow (King Kong 2005)
Adam Brown (Pirates of The Caribbean 5)
Ian Holm (Lord of The Rings)
Elijah Wood (Sin City)
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix)
Cate Blanchett (Hanna)
Christopher Lee (Star Wars – Episode II)
Andy Serkis (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Sylvester McCoy (Doctor Who)
Barry Humphries (The Howling III)
Jeffrey Thomas (Spartacus: Gods of The Arena)
Lee Pace (Pushing Daises)
Manu Bennett (Arrow)
Conan Stevens (Game of Thrones)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Atonement)
Jarred Blakiston (Power Rangers Dino Charge)
 The release of the three Lord of the Rings Extended Editions were something of a revelation a decade or so ago, particularly for J.R.R. Tolkien fans that wanted to immerse themselves even further in the cinematic landscape of Middle-earth. The nature of the LOTR novels dictated that the film adaptations would be packed to the brim with characters and locations while still excluding a wealth of material that couldn’t possibly be included in the movies, so introducing more material made for a fuller experience.
Peter Jackson and company have taken a similar approach with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition Blu-ray release, but the new cut of the film doesn’t feel like the definitive version that the LOTR extended cuts did. Instead, a movie that is already stretched too thin simply becomes longer, feeling like an indulgent director’s cut rather than a noteworthy superior cut.
All of that being said, An Unexpected Journey Extended as a Blu-ray release is still a worthwhile purchase for fans of the movie or the universe. The real selling point is the continuation of the Appendices, which even pick up the numbering from the LOTR Extended Editions so that this set holds Appendices 7 and 8. Spread across two different discs, the documentary material is just as rewarding to watch as the LOTR Appendices were, spanning about nine hours of in-depth production footage and interviews. The Appendices cover all aspects of building Tolkien’s world, from returning to the original LOTR sets to casting the new characters to developing the culture of the Dwarves to the score and even the early involvement of initial director Guillermo del Toro.
For fans of Middle-earth or just the process of making a film, these Appendices stand as the most thorough documentation of blockbuster movie-making in recent memory. But perhaps the most engaging part of the behind-the-scenes footage is the depiction of the friendships and bonds forged in the trenches of making a movie of this stature. For such a large scale production, seeing these relationships blossom in this footage is inspiring. The only downside to the Appendices is that unless you opt for the “Play All” option from the beginning, each segment will kick you back to the main menu after it ends rather than just continuing on from where you begin.
 The commentary track from Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens is insightful and entertaining, even if a lot of the same content is covered in the Appendices at various points. Still, their rapport was amusing enough to keep me engaged throughout the length of the movie. The other special feature included on the movie disc is the “New Zealand: Home of Middle-earth” featurette that’s a holdover from the initial Blu-ray release of the movie.

The first Hobbit Extended Edition feels bloated as a movie, but the bountiful supplemental content and absolutely stunning audio/visual presentation

REVIEW: THE HOBBIT 1,2 & 3

 

CAST

Martin Freeman (Captain American: Civil War)
Ian McKellen (X-Men)
Richard Armitage (Hannibal)
Ken Stott (Spivs)
Graham McTavish (King Arthur)
William Kircher (Xena)
James Nesbitt (Monroe)
Stephen Hunter (All Saints)
Dean O’ Gorman (Young Hercules)
Aidan Turner (Being Human)
John Callen (Power Rangers Jungle Fury)
Peter Hambleton (A Twist In The Tale)
Jed Brophy (Heavenly Creatures)
Mark Hadlow (King Kong 2005)
Adam Brown (Pirates of The Caribbean 5)
Ian Holm (Lord of The Rings)
Elijah Wood (Sin City)
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix)
Cate Blanchett (Hanna)
Christopher Lee (Star Wars – Episode II)
Andy Serkis (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Sylvester McCoy (Doctor Who)
Barry Humphries (The Howling III)
Jeffrey Thomas (Spartacus: Gods of The Arena)
Lee Pace (Pushing Daises)
Manu Bennett (Arrow)
Conan Stevens (Game of Thrones)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Atonement)
Jarred Blakiston (Power Rangers Dino Charge)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is Peter Jackson’s return to the land of middle earth, and it’s another epic adventure that is sure to delight moviegoers of all ages. The story of The Hobbit takes place before The Lord of the Rings. It connects some of the dots to Jackson’s earlier trilogy and it’s once again an adaption of the beloved writing of J.R.R. Tolkien as brought to cinematic life. This is one journey you are absolutely going to want to make because this is one of the most exciting motion pictures released in the fantasy genre since this film adventure began with The Lord of the Rings. The story takes place before the events that unfold in The Lord of the Rings. Things start to unfold in flashback style through the storytelling of a much older Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm), reflecting upon his earlier adventures as he reminiscences with Frodo. We learn about how a powerful dragon named Smaug destroyed much of the land where Dwarfs lived, and claimed their Dwarf Kingdom, leaving the dwarfs without a place to call home. Flash forward and onto the beginning encounter between young Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellan) who informs the merry hobbit that he’ll be going on an adventure and that he needs to prepare. Before the evening is even over with, Bilbo is joined at his quiet home with the presence of thirteen dwarves, including the warrior leader Thorin (Richard Armitage). The company is quick to make themselves at home, feasting and celebrating, and all before Bilbo learns of their journey to reclaim the Dwarf kingdom known as Erebor. Reluctantly at first, Bilbo eventually joins the ranks of the team as their “thief”  and journeys with them on an adventure he never expected in the first place. Gandalf saw something in him that he couldn’t even see for himself.

As the perilous journey continues, they face great danger against Trolls, Orcs, Goblins, and other obstacles on their way to Erebor. What no one expects is that Bilbo will accidentally stumble upon a small golden ring, and that there would be a chance encounter between Bilbo and a creature named Gollum. The rest of the history of Middle Earth waits from here. There was so much anticipation for this film that it is nearly unparalleled in the history of film. It sounds like an exaggeration to state that there was that much hope and anticipation surrounding this film, but the fan-base surrounding this production is unlike anything else out there. The fan base is so dedicated and enthralled in the works of Tolkien and in director Jackson’s vision for bringing these stories to life. There is a lot of dedication from the fans and from those who are involved with making the films happen.


How many big-budget films are given a prequel treatment that is massively enticing to loyal fans and the masses at large? The only film to compare it to  is that of Star Wars’s prequel The Phantom Menace. Unfortunately, we know the results of that prequel film and series was disappointing for many fans. So the question soon centers upon whether or not fans felt the same way about The Hobbit on film. Luckily, the comparisons can end there, because while some viewers may quibble over sentiments that express disappointment that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey isn’t exactly on the same precise level of filmmaking found in The Lord of the Rings trilogy it’s clear this film isn’t underwhelming, even if for some it failed to live up to the built-up anticipation.

The Hobbit is also a revolutionary film that changes the game of filmmaking. This is the first production of films to be filmed with 48fps (frames per second) technology. The entire idea behind it was to make these films take full advantage of 3D technology so as to remove the effects of motion-blur commonly found and to increase the overall resolution and clarity. It wasn’t something the studio had in mind. This was all a part of Jackson’s vision for how to impact the future of filmmaking. Theaters projecting The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and future installments had to upgrade their theater equipment just to project these films in the best format possible and that still isn’t realistic as a possibility for many theaters. Yet consider the fact that this is the first film ever produced with 48fps. And it was all because Jackson wanted to do something even greater; something audiences hadn’t even had the opportunity to experience before.

The industry standard of 24fps won’t disappear anytime soon (especially considering the higher costs associated with the technology of 48fps cameras) but at least it seems Jackson wasn’t all alone in wanting to advance the filmmaking game as James Cameron has already announced plans to film his next motion-picture with the same 48fps frame-rate. This is really quite the accomplishment. Almost everyone involved with The Lord of the Rings films creation in prominent roles came back to work with Peter Jackson in making The Hobbit films. This is perhaps one of the most notable elements of the entire production. Howard Shore has crafted another score that is just essential to the backbone of the film. Although it is highly enjoyable it is also a bit repetitive compared to earlier outings, with the greatest accomplishment in this entire outing being the stellar Misty Mountains song. Director of photography Andrew Lesnie is also back to being brilliant as the official photographer of Middle Earth and New Zealand.

Speaking of returning individuals, not only does Andy Serkis return to reprise his legendary performance of Gollum but he receives a promotion to second unit director. He continues to prove that he deserves a special Academy Award for outstanding acting in an uncomfortable outfit and suit thingymagig. Of course, he’s also brilliant all around and a real asset to these films (and now apparently in several ways). While Jackson also keeps things interesting for the adults in the audience  he clearly seems to keep in mind that the story needed to be a more jubilant one and the results are the funniest and most simply enjoyable film in the series to date. It’s the kind of film you could simply put on and get lost within for a few joyful hours. The whole family can share in enjoying this adventure story. The journey continues with an unlikely team of heroes that have set out to reclaim Erebor, their homeland, from the all-powerful Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch). Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is the hobbit that fits the role of the thief to steal from the living dragon. Little does the rest of his team know that he’s in possession of the mysterious and magical ring that he took from Gollum. The leader of their team, Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) goes off course in order to fight the very darkness that threatens the world. They soon realize that they will need the help from every race, and more, if they ever hope to defeat the great darkness that will soon overtake all of the lands.

 

 

CAST

Martin Freeman (Captain American: Civil War)
Ian McKellen (X-Men)
Richard Armitage (Hannibal)
Ken Stott (Spivs)
Graham McTavish (King Arthur)
William Kircher (Xena)
James Nesbitt (Monroe)
Stephen Hunter (All Saints)
Dean O’ Gorman (Young Hercules)
Aidan Turner (Being Human)
John Callen (Power Rangers Jungle Fury)
Peter Hambleton (A Twist In The Tale)
Jed Brophy (Heavenly Creatures)
Mark Hadlow (King Kong 2005)
Adam Brown (Pirates of The Caribbean 5)
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix)
Cate Blanchett (Hanna)
Sylvester McCoy (Doctor Who)
Lee Pace (Pushing Daises)
Orlando Bloom (Elizabethtown)
Evangeline Lilly (Ant-Man)
Stephen Fry (Bones)
Luke Evans (Dracula Untold)
Manu Bennett (Arrow)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Atonement)
Ryan Gage (The Musketeers)

The tales are still unravelling and a lot of the characters are still telling their backstories. However, Peter Jackson and co. don’t allow this picture to go without any action. The orcs continue to follow the protagonists from one place to the next, with the intention of killing each one of them. As this danger comes upon each village, audiences are introduced to a batch of insanely entertaining action sequences. One of the most impressive happening down the rapids of a fast-moving stream. Even through the more subtle scenes, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug has a much better sense of pacing that keeps it moving. Gandalf explores numerous environments, as he ventures the darkness of the curses that threaten the entire world. This team of writers don’t need to have constant battles in order to keep their audiences engaged. While some of the dialogue is intentionally cheesy, the majority of it holds its own fairly well. As expected, the film is humorous when it wants to be. There are a lot of gags against the stereotypes of dwarves that will surely gain some laughs from moviegoers. This works extremely well in bringing a change of tone to the picture every now and then. While the team continues to fight towards the mountain in which Smaug is underneath, they encounter a wide variety of different people and creatures. It’s all a matter of being able to tell the difference between friend and foe. Of course, a lot goes wrong along the way.

Despite having Smaug’s name in the title, he’s the antagonist held for the third act of the feature. This dangerous dragon makes for a meaty portion of the running time, as Bilbo attempts to sneak around the beat’s chamber without being detected. Once the group is faced with the task of fighting off the dragon, they’re forced to draw deep inside themselves in order to find the bravery and courage needed to at least put up a fight. There’s plenty of running around and fighting here, but Smaug gets quite a bit of time to speak with Bilbo before things start spinning out of control. Not only is the dragon threatening in size, appearance, and name, but is actually rather witty in his dialogue. This makes for a great final act that pulls everything together.

 

CAST

Martin Freeman (Captain American: Civil War)
Ian McKellen (X-Men)
Richard Armitage (Hannibal)
Ken Stott (Spivs)
Graham McTavish (King Arthur)
William Kircher (Xena)
James Nesbitt (Monroe)
Stephen Hunter (All Saints)
Dean O’ Gorman (Young Hercules)
Christopher Lee (Lord of The Rings)
Aidan Turner (Being Human)
John Callen (Power Rangers Jungle Fury)
Peter Hambleton (A Twist In The Tale)
Jed Brophy (Heavenly Creatures)
Mark Hadlow (King Kong 2005)
Adam Brown (Pirates of The Caribbean 5)
Ian Holm (Lord of The Rings)
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix)
Cate Blanchett (Hanna)
Sylvester McCoy (Doctor Who)
Lee Pace (Pushing Daises)
Orlando Bloom (Elizabethtown)
Evangeline Lilly (Ant-Man)
Stephen Fry (Bones)
Luke Evans (Dracula Untold)
Manu Bennett (Arrow)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Atonement)
Ryan Gage (The Musketeers)

The Battle of the Five Armies proves to be an accurate title for the last entry in the series. This entry picks up directly where The Desolation of Smaug left off with the impending doom of Laketown because of the approaching dragon Smaug. The people of the Laketown struggle during their confrontation with Smaug and try to defeat the dragon. It is ultimately up to the heroic Bard (Luke Evans) to try and stop Smaug from obliterating everything in the path and save Laketown. Thranduil (Lee Pace) now seeks the sacred jewels of his people and arrives with the elves to get them back from the dwarf kingdom. The humans of Laketown seek shelter and gold so they can rebuild their town. The dwarves, having been without their home for so long, unite and fight to protect the reclaimed mountain kingdom. Increasing chaos ensues as the orcs arrive and bring with them bats bred for war and goblins. The threat of the rise of Sauron (the Necromancer) looms in the background.

As the story progresses, it becomes clear a war is brewing in Middle Earth between the dwarves, the elves, the orcs (under the separate commands of Azog and Bolg), and the men of Laketown (who are fighting alongside Bard). Gandalf (Ian McKellen) must try and prevent the battle that looms but is faced with escaping the grasp of the necromancer with the help of Galadriel (Cate Blanchett). Upon arriving outside of the dwarf kingdom before the battle begins, Gandalf tries uniting the men, dwarves, and elves as he senses the impending war approaching with the orcs and wants the armies strengths combined so they can defeat the orcs. Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) also tries to unite the divided armies of men, dwarfs, and elves. Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) continue to be an aid to the dwarfs as needed and are thrust directly into the ensuing battle.

Dwarf leader Thorin (Richard Armitage) has become obsessed with finding the Arkenstone: the heart of the mountain. It is kept by Bilbo Baggins as he dislikes the way that power and greed has overtaken Thorin’s mind. Bilbo tries to remind Thorin of his important duties to those in need. Thorin, blinded by gold and the rage of his past, has to overcome his demons to fight as a hero once more before the war has ended. Bilbo, a true friend to Thorin, remains by his side as he faces a inner struggle to regain his sanity and to fight for what is right.

Following An Unexpected Journey and The Desolation of Smaug, The Battle of the Five Armies is easily the most action-packed of the three films. The entire film serves to act as a concluding act to the series. It concludes the story that was established in the first Hobbit film and brings additional closure to the entire six-film saga as it creates a bridge between series. With great adventure, action, and dramatic closure, The Battle of the Five Armies is another excellent experience in the cinematic land of Middle Earth.  The performances are impressive across the board in this film. Martin Freeman serves as a sort of anchor to the proceedings with his lovable performance as Bilbo.  Richard Armitage brings dramatic weight to the character of Thorin with his remarkable performance. As always, the great Ian McKellen makes Gandalf one of the series most beloved characters. Rightfully so. Evangeline Lilly does a superb job in the role of Tauriel. She brings her best to the part and makes an excellent action-hero. It’s a lot of fun to see Orlando Bloom bringing the character of Legolas back. Cate Blanchett is as good as always and Luke Evans brings something uniquely special to the film with his role as Bard. These performances mesh together remarkably well and help the film to succeed during both moments of spectacle and dramatic events occurring between the characters.