The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug

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Ohmygosh…it’s finally here, isn’t it? The crown jewel of 2013’s film library.  One of my favorite movies of last year was the Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. I was on the minority,but i found it to be more enjoyable and better handled then The first Lord of the Rings film. It has some flaws,but overall, it was a great adventure back to Middle Earth. Now we have the Desolation of Smaug. Is it a worthy successor? Oh yes. Oh yes yes yes yes.

The film picks up right where the last one left off. Bilbo,Gandalf and the company of dwarfs are making their way o the lonely mountain,while still being hunted down by Azog and his army of orcs. Along he way,they come across everything but the kitchen sink. Including a shape-shifting man named Beorn, A swarm of Spiders, Elves, orcs, and of course, the stupendous dragon himself, Smaug. This movie wastes no time getting straight into the action. After a short re-introduction to the plot, the film just becomes a roller coaster ride after.

One of the earliest and most fascinating sequences of the film involves the most underused character. Beorn is a shape shifter ( or as the book says,a skin changer.) who can take the form of a man, or a bear. His kind is something that we haven’t seen before in this franchise, and his backstory and character is very interesting. unfortunately, he doesn’t have much to do in this film. He chases our main characters in his bear form, then gives them some information about his kind an their quest,and after giving them some ponies, he’s done. We never see him again. Now thankfully, we will be seeing this character again by the third movie (There and Back again) But I just wanted to see a little more of him.

Mirkwood is just fantastic. They really play up the surreal and uneasy feeling that you would get in a situation like this, and it’s one of the most frightening parts of the movie. The Spiders are wonderfully handled, and are just as frightening as Shelobe (the giant spider) from Return of the King. Bilbo’s obsession with the ring really becomes evident in this scene as well, and provides us with some nice foreshadowing but some great character development too. The Wood Elves are also great. This is where we get intruduced to legolas and tauriel. These two characters weren’t in the book,  but thankfully, they don’t feel forced in, and provide the film with some of the most memorable action scenes,and heartfelt moments.

The highlight of this entire film, is arguably the Barrel scene. It’s wonderfully choreographed, the action is great, it’s funny, it’s exiting, and every character gets a moment to shine. Especially Bombur. I know that alot of people are looking forward to this scene,and the less I say about it the better. But I have yet to talk to someone who was disappointed with this scene.

The only part of the movie that drags on a little for me is Laketown. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great location,and we are introduced to some great characters here, but it just felt very slow,and for a movie that’s 3 hours long,chances are it’s going to be hard to avoid this problem. The being said though,there’s still alot to love about this section on the movie. The King of Laketown is delightfully stupid, and his actions cleverly mirror those of the Goblin King from the first movie. He also has an assistant named Alfred,who i suppose is this movies answer to the Tow Towers’s Wormtongue. these two play off of eachother really well, and make for great side villains. And then there’s Bard, and just to set the record straight; HE IS NOT PLAYED BY ORLANDO BLOOM!!!! Sorry..i just had to get that out there. Now with that out of the way, he’s a good character. He seems to be the film’s voice of reason, and is given alot to do in the film once he arrives.

Now let’s stop for a moment, and talk about my expectations for Smaug. Last year’s Unexpected Journey really built the character up as this invincible and terrifying villain. Being a dragon lover, I got hyped. However,when I first saw the design for Smaug, I thought to myself ”….eh.” It’s not that his design was bad, it just reminded me f too many other dragons i’ve seen in hr past. I was a little worried that he could never live up to my expectations. Thankfully though, any concerns you have for Smaug can be thrown out the window. This dragon is an AMAZING villain. He’s scary,he’s cunning,he’s brilliant, he looks like he’s really there,and he’s voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch!!!!! I LOVE SMAUG!! He’s my favorite villain of this franchise. No..he’s better then that! He’s my favorite movie villain of 2013!!! Wait..I can do better. He’s the shining example of an iconic Movie villain. The entire sequence involving him and Bilbo messing with eachother is just brilliant.  Again,the less I say about Smaug the better, but believe me when I say, he does NOT disappoint!!!!

*WARNING: Minor Spoilers ahead:

The part of this film that has the most people torn though,is the ending. And..yeah, I guess I can understand that…kinda. Some people love it and say it’s perfect, while some people absolutely despise it and thinks it’s the worst way to end a movie. Me personally? I love to hate it. I think the ending works wonderfully because of how much it leaves you wanting more. Think about it this way, did the ending really anger you? Did it leave you feeling incomplete? Then the movie must have done a great job at keeping your attention for three hours. I loved the way this movie ended,and concerning the third and final film of this trilogy, I haven’t  been looking forward to how a movie is going to start off this much in a long time.

:Spoilers over:

All the characters in this movie are great. Aside from the new ones I talked about, the recurring cast does just as great of a job as they did in the first movie. Martin Freeman completely NAILS is as Bilbo Baggins. He’s just so likable,but he’s also relatable. Gandalf isn’t given as much screen time in this movie,but his subplot has a great payoff. All the dwarves get more development too, and you feel more connected to the company’s quest then ever by this point.

The music is great. It’s a little more of the same as the last Hobbit flick, but has enough new themes (as well as a great end credits song) to make it feel fresh and new. The effects are all well done,but I preferred when they had actual people play the orcs rather then have them all be CG,but thats just a minor nitpick. The pacing of this movie was better then last time around, and as I said before,it only dragged on for a little bit, then Smaug picked it right back up. As for the 3D, it’s not nearly as impressive as An Unexpected Journey’s, and after seeing it in 2D, I’d say go for the cheaper option.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is my favorite film of 2013, no question. Is it perfect? Pfft, no. But it’s damn near the best we are going to get out of this franchise. I loved nearly every frame of this beauty. And I can not WAIT to see how this story ends this time next year. That’s all for 2013. Have a safe and Happy new year everyone!!!

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Thor: The Dark World review

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Thor: The Dark World, is a perfect marvel film. I dare say it’s a perfect superhero film. Heck,perhaps it’s THE perfect comic book film altogether. But I know that’s a fairly divisive topic,so i won’t get into that. Anyone who knows me well knows that I love the first movie. Thor was one of my favourite films of 2011,but I was on the minority, and when a sequel was announced,I had pretty high expectations. After all,when has a super hero sequel actually been any go-…oh wait…as a matter of fact,when has a superhero sequel NOT been good? The Dark Knight,Spiderman 2, X-men 2 and so on are just a few examples of superhero sequels that I loved. After figuring THAT out,my expectations for Thor 2 were even higher then ever. And not only did it meet my expectations, it shattered them.

Thor 2 picks up two years after the first one,and one year after the Avengers. By now,Thor has been protecting realms beyond Asgard and Earth, but has unfortunately not been able to visit Jane,his girlfriend from the first film. All that is changed however,when jane unknowingly awakens an ancient race known as the dark elves, lead by their master Malekith, that set out to cause an eternal night across the universe. Now it’s up to Thor,jane,and an unlikely ally to save the universe from the wrath of Malekith. The film keeps the continuity that the fans of marvel films adore, and has an abundance of references and jokes related to the other marvel movies,but they are subtle enough so that newcomers won’t feel lost.

This movie has grand and rich worlds to work with,and the filmmakers use this to their advantage. The film’s creativity is one of the things that makes it stand out. One of the things that I think everyone wanted to see more of in Thor was Asgard,and The Dark World more then delvers. Asgard just looks really cool,and every time you think you’ve seen it all, it throws something even more spectacular at the the next minute. Asgard isn’t all we see though. We see several other realms,each with their own unique looking landscapes. The dark elves home world is particularly chilling,and brought to mind the likes of Mordor.

The characters in this film are just great. Thor is still Thor (Don’t worry girls) ,just not as cocky and arrogant as he was in the first movie. He’s portrayed as more of a superman-like figure,who is very aware of the consequences of his actions and does whatever he can to protect the innocent. This makes him much morel likeable,and while we did see a little of this in the Avengers,it’s showcased here even better. Jane is also a stronger character in this one. She’s really importation to the plot this time around,and you really feel more invested in what’s going on with her and Thor’s relationship. All of the side characters from the first movie are back,and also have some great moments. Malekith is a cool villain,and has a great voice and design,but he should have had a better backstory in my opinion. It doesn’t help that he shared the spotlight with another,and better realized villain,known as Loki.

Now let’s talk about Loki for a second. my first impression of Loki in the first Thor was….”eh.” I didn’t think he was a bad villain, on the contrary, he was actually a rather enjoyable villain, but he just didn’t strike me as one of the greats. But when the Avengers came out,it changed EVERYTHING. Loki was now a loveable prankster who just soaked up the fact that he was this big powerful villain. He’s evil just for the fun of it, but he’s still somehow incredibly likeable. In Thor 2 however,he moved on from being my favourite marvel villain,to being one of my favourite characters, in GENERAL,of all time. in this film he has fantastic character development, he’s clever,he’s diabolical, he’s tragic, he has a fantastic design, but they still manage to get some great comedy with him too. The scenes between him and Thor are just a joy to watch. their enemies,but they are also brothers first,and that really shines through a lot of this movie. Loki is now one of my favourite characters in film.

Even the effects in this movie are terrific! In a world where many special effects in movies are starting to look the same,Thor 2 surprisingly uses it’s fair share of real sets and models,which is really refreshing to see. One of the main villains,named Kurse, is this big lumbering monster,and instead of just animating him with computer generated effects,he’s achieved with suitmation, a man in a suit technique that’s not too unlike the Godzilla films.And the climax for this film is just…brilliant. the less i say about the final fight the better,but believe me when I say that it’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. The soundtrack complements the film perfectly.The soundtrack was scored by Brian Tyler,the same gut who did the score for this year’s other marvel film,Iron Man 3.It never feels out of place,has some surprisingly emotional moments,and never looses it’s epic feel.

Thor 2 is a triumph. It blows all the other marvel films away with it’s compelling story, loveable characters, playful humour, brilliant effects, and sophistication. I can honestly not think of many problems the film had, and even those are insignificant enough when compared to what Thor: the Dark World accomplishes. It’s the best superhero film of the year, and one of my favourite movies of 2013. I may have liked it even more then the Avengers….. Oh yeah, it’s THAT good. This movie is not to be missed. Highly, HIGHLY, recommended.

Walking With Dinosaurs: The movie review

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When I saw the trailers for “Walking With Dinosaurs” I had mixed opinions. On one hand, It was really cool to see them bring back one of my favorite shows as a kid and bring it to the big screen. On the other hand, despite the fact it was from the same team (BBC) That brought us the show,it looked completely different. It had a more light-hearted look and it seemed to clash with the gritty and realistic look of the show. After finally seeing the movie,I have to say, My opinions for the film haven’t really changed since i saw the trailer.

First off, A little History; Walking With Dinosaurs started as a BBC miniseries that came out in 1999. The series’s goal was to play out like a nature documentary,if the Dinosaurs were still alive. This was achieved with some great narration,camera work,and groundbreaking visual effects (for the time). The show was great, and I highly recommend you give it a watch sometime.

Now you would think a film based off this property might try present it’s-self the same way the show did, but nope! This film actually has a story and characters. Try and imagine Land Before Time and Disney’s Dinosaur,but instead of talking,they all just communicate with their minds. That’s right,the Dinosaurs actually talk in this version. (more or less) But at the same time the dinosaurs are narrating the story,so your not really walking with dinosaurs,your listening Dinosaurs talk about walking with dinosaurs …wha-huh? I’m sorry,but if your trying to make a film based off Walking With Dinosaurs, this is a major flaw. What the original did so well was it gave you the illusion that these were living things that were actually filmed on location. But here,they make it so cartoony with the voices and the slapstick, that it’s hard to take it seriously. it almost feels like this was a parody of the original series at times.

The characters are what you’d expect from your average children’s film. our main character, Patchi, is likable and cutsy and occasionally very funny, But he’s not all that interesting of a character to follow. His brother and love interest fall into the typical Jerky brother-perfect girl categories and they really don’t add anything to the film. Most of the characters are rather forgettable,that is except for two. John Leguizamo voices a bird named Alex that acts as our second narrator and comic relief of the movie. There are times when his humor can fall totally flat on his face, but then there are other times when he can really make you laugh. The humor in this movie actually caught me off guard at times. Sure they succumb to some potty humor here and there,but they get most of that out of the way early on in the film,and most of the humor after that is pretty spot on. Then there’s Gorgon, our antagonist of the film. He’s a gorgosaurus who’s after our main characters throughout the movie. And believe it or not,he’s a GREAT villain. He’s visually stunning, he has a great design,he’s frightening, but he can also be very funny too! In fact,the scene featuring Alex talking about him is one of the the highlights of the movie just for it’s comedy alone. (Also,his nick-name is The Dark Prince….that’s AWESOME.)

Now the best aspect of the movie that i think everyone will agree on,is it’s visuals. Holy crap, This film is beautiful. Every shot looks like you could snap-shot it and frame it on your wall. The dinosaurs are expertly designed by the professionals,and it shows. You’ve never seen Dinosaurs look this real. The movie was shot in New Zealand and Alaska,so we get to see alot of visual marvels throughout the story. (The northern lights sequence is gorgeous) If your going to go see this movie,GO SEE IT IN 3D. Seriously. The 3D is fantastic in this film! It can be in your face,It can be subtle,it’s just so well done! Why has 2013 been such a great year for 3D!?

As you can see,my opinions on this movie vary. In some ways,it’s not nearly as great as it could be. The characters need some work,the story could have been fleshed out more,but ultimately, it would have been best if they just decided to stick with the format of the show. But then again,it’s not a complete failure either. It has some majestic visuals,a few great characters, and kids are undoubtedly going to adore this flick. While adults might be checking their watches, The kid in me couldn’t help but get a little exited during the film. Yes, Walking with Dinosaurs is kind of a mess,but it’s a fun mess.

Frozen the Review

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Disney has been doing really well lately. Have you noticed? Ever since the princess and the frog,they’ve been producing hit after hit. You might even say that we are witnessing a new Disney Renaissance!! This year, they managed to make a movie that can not only stand along side the classics, But also a film that feels completely new and inspired. Frozen is one of my favorite movies of the year for a number of reasons, and I’m here to tell you why.

The characters are all fantastic. Anna is a very likable main character for us to follow on this journey, She’s smart,but very youthful. When bad things happen,you can see that all she ever wants to do is make things right. I guess you could argue the fact that she’s also very naive,but honestly, I think nearly anyone can relate to her fascination with true love at least once in their lives. Elsa is almost the exact opposite,but I think she just might be my favorite character in the film. She’s not the villain by any means,she just wants to be alone,and in doing so causes more damage then she actually realizes. Theres alot of depth to this character. We can see the pain that she’s going through when she has to shut people out in order to protect them, and her imperfections and worries make her very relatable too. The moments involving the two sisters interacting with eachother are easily the film’s highlight scenes.

But with that said, it wouldn’t be a true Disney classic without some lovable side characters,now would it? Every character feels important to the story, and are all a joy to watch. Kristoff and his pet reindeer sven are a terrific team. I won’t spoil it by telling you why,but the scenes between the two of them are just hysterical. However, it should come as no surprise (or perhaps a complete surprise,depending on your expectations) When I say that the show stealer is Olaf the Snowman. He is just SO lovable, and SO funny, that I would watch a movie that was just all about him. Olaf may be the comic relief of the film,but he’s also got alot of heart,and provides the movie with some of it’s most memorable scenes. Like I said before,there are MANY other characters in the movie that range from smaller roles to major characters. But I can’t tell you EVERYTHING about this gem of a film, now can I? (P.S you guys let me know in the comments if you want me to edit this review to include spoilers.)

Disney is really at their prime when it comes to their animation. It’s nice to see that their films have remained so reliably wonderful to look at after all these years,and Frozen is no exception. It just looks so looks Gorgeous and colorful,that it’s hard not to fall in love with the style immediately. You might think that a movie that mostly takes place in a very arctic looking environment might get old fast,but just wait until you see the song “Let it go” and what they do with the visual style from that moment on. It’s all so detailed handled with care that,like i said before,It’s hard not to fall in love with the world it creates.

The music,what can I say? It’s BRILLIANT. All the songs hit Bullseye’s. And that’s saying alot,because this movie has at least five different songs in it,and they are all memorable and a joy to listen to. My personal favorites are “For the First time in forever” and “Let it go.” Let it go has my favorite visual’s by far,but First time in forever just has that awesome Disney feeling to it that you really can’t get any place else. The score itself is very well put together, and matches the tone of the film perfectly. The soundtrack was SO good in fact, that I had to go out and buy it as soon as possible!!

You wanna know what impressed me the most about this wonderful piece of art though? The story. While I can’t say too much without giving away some major plot points, I will say this; In the past, Disney would give us some great stories,but they always seemed a little predictable. But with Frozen, it’s anything but. It just has such a modern spin on the classic Disney formula,and nowhere in the film is that more evident then in the film’s climax,which involves a very exiting chase through a snow storm.

Frozen is near perfect. It has everything that makes me love Disney movies. Great story, memorable characters,amazing animation,and epic music and songs. I can not recommend this masterpiece enough. If you haven’t seen it already, GO SEE IT NOW. If you’ve already seen it, SEE IT AGAIN. It’s the least you can do for the talented team that gives us films like this year after year.

(P.S When you go see the film,make sure you see it in 3D. Not only is the film’s use of it spectacular,but the movie is preceded by a very charming and creative short film that blew my mind with it’s effects. Also,it may be one of the only times you’ll hear Walt Disney himself voicing Mickey Mouse in a modern short film. It;s one of those rare times when the 3D will be worth the price of admission.)