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

Starring

Martin Freeman (Black Panther)
Ian Holm (Alien)
Ian McKellen (X-Men)
Richard Armitage (Hannibal)
Luke Evans (Dracula Untold)
Orlando Bloom (Pirates of The Caribbean)
Evangeline Lilly (Ant-Manand The Wasp)
Lee Pace (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Graham McTavish (Outlander)
Ken Stott (Fortitude)
Aidan Turner (Beautiful Darkness)
Dean O’Gorman (Young Hercules)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange)
Manu Bennett (Arrow)
Mark Hadlow (King Kong)
Jed Brophy (Heavenly Creatures)
Adam Brown (The Emoji Movie)
John Callen (The Rainbow Warrior)
Peter Hambleton (A Twist In The Tale)
William Kircher (Shark In The Park)
James Nesbitt (Jekyll)
Stephen Hunter (Blue World Order)
Cate Blanchett (Hanna)
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix)
Christopher Lee (Star Wars – Episode II)
Sylvester McCoy (Doctor Who)
John Tui (Power Rangers SPD)
Billy Connolly (The Man Who Sued God)
Stephen Fry (V For Vendetta)
Ryan Gage (Outlaw)
Mark Mitchinson (Mortal Engines)
Sarah Peirse (Heavenly Creatures)

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)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.Richard Armitage in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)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.Martin Freeman and Ken Stott in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)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.Luke Evans, John Bell, Peggy Nesbitt, and Mary Nesbitt in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)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 BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES

Starring

Martin Freeman (Black Panther)
Ian Holm (Alien)
Ian McKellen (X-Men)
Richard Armitage (Hannibal)
Luke Evans (Dracula Untold)
Orlando Bloom (Pirates of The Caribbean)
Evangeline Lilly (Ant-Manand The Wasp)
Lee Pace (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Graham McTavish (Outlander)
Ken Stott (Fortitude)
Aidan Turner (Beautiful Darkness)
Dean O’Gorman (Young Hercules)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange)
Manu Bennett (Arrow)
Mark Hadlow (King Kong)
Jed Brophy (Heavenly Creatures)
Adam Brown (The Emoji Movie)
John Callen (The Rainbow Warrior)
Peter Hambleton (A Twist In The Tale)
William Kircher (Shark In The Park)
James Nesbitt (Jekyll)
Stephen Hunter (Blue World Order)
Cate Blanchett (Hanna)
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix)
Christopher Lee (Star Wars – Episode II)
Sylvester McCoy (Doctor Who)
John Tui (Power Rangers SPD)
Billy Connolly (The Man Who Sued God)
Stephen Fry (V For Vendetta)
Ryan Gage (Outlaw)
Mark Mitchinson (Mortal Engines)
Sarah Peirse (Heavenly Creatures)

Martin Freeman in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)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.The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)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.Jed Brophy, John Callen, Martin Freeman, Peter Hambleton, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Dean O'Gorman, Ken Stott, Stephen Hunter, Aidan Turner, and Adam Brown in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)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.Evangeline Lilly and Peggy Nesbitt in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)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.Richard Armitage in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)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.

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

Starring

Martin Freeman (Black Panther)
Ian McKellen (X-Men)
Richard Armitage (Hannibal)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange)
Evangeline Lilly (Ant-Manand The Wasp)
Luke Evans (Dracula Untold)
Lee Pace (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Stephen Fry (V For Vendetta)
Orlando Bloom (Pirates of The Caribbean)
Graham McTavish (Outlander)
Ken Stott (Fortitude)
Aidan Turner (Beautiful Darkness)
Dean O’Gorman (Young Hercules)
Mark Hadlow (King Kong)
Jed Brophy (Heavenly Creatures)
Adam Brown (The Emoji Movie)
John Callen (The Rainbow Warrior)
Peter Hambleton (A Twist In The Tale)
William Kircher (Shark In The Park)
James Nesbitt (Jekyll)
Stephen Hunter (Blue World Order)
Cate Blanchett (Hanna)
Sylvester McCoy (Doctor Who)
Manu Bennett (Arrow)
Stephen Ure (Deathgasm)
Ryan Gage (Outlaw)
Peter Vere-Jones (Xena)
Mark Mitchinson (Mortal Engines)
Ed Sheeran (Game of Thrones)

Luke Evans and John Bell in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)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.Lee Pace and Evangeline Lilly in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)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.Richard Armitage, Jed Brophy, and Martin Freeman in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)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.Martin Freeman in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)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: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG

Starring

Martin Freeman (Black Panther)
Ian McKellen (X-Men)
Richard Armitage (Hannibal)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange)
Evangeline Lilly (Ant-Manand The Wasp)
Luke Evans (Dracula Untold)
Lee Pace (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Stephen Fry (V For Vendetta)
Orlando Bloom (Pirates of The Caribbean)
Graham McTavish (Outlander)
Ken Stott (Fortitude)
Aidan Turner (Beautiful Darkness)
Dean O’Gorman (Young Hercules)
Mark Hadlow (King Kong)
Jed Brophy (Heavenly Creatures)
Adam Brown (The Emoji Movie)
John Callen (The Rainbow Warrior)
Peter Hambleton (A Twist In The Tale)
William Kircher (Shark In The Park)
James Nesbitt (Jekyll)
Stephen Hunter (Blue World Order)
Cate Blanchett (Hanna)
Sylvester McCoy (Doctor Who)
Manu Bennett (Arrow)
Stephen Ure (Deathgasm)
Ryan Gage (Outlaw)
Peter Vere-Jones (Xena)
Mark Mitchinson (Mortal Engines)
Ed Sheeran (Game of Thrones)

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)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.Ian McKellen in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)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.Martin Freeman in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)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.

REVIEW: ELIZABETHTOWN

 

CAST

Orlando Bloom (Lord of The Rings)
Kirsten Dunst (All Good Things)
Susan Sarandon (Tammy)
Alec Baldwin (MIssion Impossible 5)
Bruce McGill (Lincoln)
Judy Greer (Jurassic World)
Jessica Biel (The A-Team)
Allison Munn (That 70s Show)
Jed Rees (Deadpool)

Drew Baylor (Bloom) is an intelligent young man and designer for a shoe company. When his latest design, hyped to be a great accomplishment in his life, has a flaw that will cost the company $972 million to correct, Drew is shamed by his boss (Baldwin) and his coworkers before he is dismissed. Disappointed in his failure, and the subsequent breakup with his girlfriend Ellen (Jessica Biel), he plans an elaborate suicide by taping a butcher knife to an exercise bike, only to be stopped at the last moment by a tearful call from his sister Heather (Judy Greer) that his father died of a heart attack while visiting family in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Drew volunteers to retrieve the body, following a memorial service when his mother Hollie (Sarandon) refuses to go, following a dispute between her and the rest of the Kentucky Baylors, who consider them “Californian” despite the fact they were in California for a little over a year 27 years before, and instead live in Oregon.On the flight to Kentucky, Drew meets Claire (Dunst), an optimistic, enthusiastic and kind flight attendant who gives him a seat in first class, due to the plane being empty, so she does not have to travel all the way back to coach. She proves helpful and happy to an otherwise despondent Drew, giving him directions, instructions and tips on getting to his destination before they part ways. When he gets to Elizabethtown, Drew is met with the love of the family, though he is somewhat goaded by being a “California Boy” and he makes the arrangements for a cremation at Hollie’s request despite the family’s objections. While staying at a hotel, where a wedding reception is being held for the weekend, Drew calls his mother and sister, then his ex-girlfriend as he continues to struggle with his suicidal thoughts. Finally, he calls Claire, who relieves his anxiety and the two of them talk for hours. She impulsively suggests they drive out to meet before she has to depart on a flight to Hawaii that morning and they meet and talk.Drew comes to grips with his father’s death, and while he is visiting his Aunt Dora, his uncle Bill remarks on how his father would look in the suit. Drew realizes that he hadn’t given the suit to the mortuary to be cremated, and has second thoughts on the procedure. He rushes out to stop the cremation but is too late and is given his father’s ashes. Claire returns from her flight and unexpectedly meets him at the hotel where they become friends with Chuck and Cindy, whose reception is the one being held there. Drew and Claire sleep together, but when she tells him she loves him, he responds with regret that he failed his company and failed at his life, admitting he was contemplating suicide. Claire shrugs it off, saying that it’s only money and leaves upset when Drew does not respond.Hollie and Heather arrive for the service, and Hollie gives an amusing anecdote with her eulogy, likening herself as a comedian, before dancing to their song. Claire arrives, and during a band’s presentation of the song Freebird a prop lights on fire, setting off the sprinkler system. Claire tells Drew to take one final trip with his father, giving him a map and marking special stops to make along the way. Drew follows the map home, spreading his father’s ashes at memorable sites until the map gives him a choice; to either follow the map home, or follow new directions. He chooses the latter, which leads him to a small town fair, where he encounters Claire waiting for him. The two kiss and Drew finally realizes what Claire has been telling him all along: life is going to be filled with fierce battles, but through the battles, redemption is found and results in a glorious life.Brilliant from start to finish.  Kirsten Dunst lights up the screen and gives a excellent performance. Also there is a good supporting performance form Susan Sarandon. I recommend this film to anyone, watch it!