Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) joins with Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and Thorin (Richard Armitage), the king of the dwarves, to reclaim the Arkenstone. The Arkenstone is the only thing that can unite the dwarf armies. Only by combining the armies, can they defeat Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch), the dragon who laid waste to the city of Dale, and reclaim their land.
The journey takes them through elven territory. The path through the elven woods is dangerous, but necessary, as the group is being hunted by Azog (Manu Bennett) and his army of Orcs. Their orders are to stop Thorin before he can return to his kingdom.
Along the way, they meet up with Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), an elven warrior who seems intrigued by one of the dwarves. As the dwarves flee, being chased by the Orcs, Tauriel follows behind to try to save them. Legolas (Orlando Bloom), son of the Elvenking, enforcing his father’s orders to make sure no one enters or leaves the kingdom, chases after Tauriel.
The dwarves, and their allies must make it to the mountain, steal back the Arkenstone, and defeat Smaug, all under the threat of impending war as the Orc army grows larger and more deadly under the command of the Necromancer.
It must be said that I have yet to watch any of Peter Jackson’s movies covering the J.R.R. Tolkien novels about the Hobbits and their journeys. Nor have I read any of the novels themselves. I do, however have a fair understanding of the tale. I grew up having seen animated versions of the movies from the late 1970s countless times. Without this, I fear I would have been almost completely lost in the story. I’m sure most have a rudimentary understanding of the ring and it’s powers, but the knowledge most likely ends there, if it even gets that far.
Having said that, the story moves along at a decent pace. The story, and the genre itself, lends itself to plenty of action to fill the time. Time which must be filled. Why they chose to stretch The Hobbit, a relatively short novel, into 3 films is beyond me. The original Lord of the Rings as a trilogy made sense, as the original book was divided into 3 volumes. This seems like an attempt to squeeze more money out of Hobbit fans.
Ian McKellen is as delightful as ever as Gandalf. This is no surprise. Martin Freeman gives us a very likeable Bilbo. Orlando Bloom reprises his role as Legolas the elf. While he does a decent job, most of his character’s role is just for action. And most of that is CGI. (More on that later.) From what I gather, there is supposed to be some sort of chemistry between Legolas and Evangeline Lilly’s Tauriel. My only basis for this is from comments from the elven king. I didn’t feel any real chemistry between them, especially as her sights were set on someone else. Benedict Cumberbatch fans will no doubt fawn over him as Smaug and the Necromancer, even if they only ever get to hear his voice. An excellent choice for these roles, to be sure. He gives it just enough edge without becoming grating.
The story is decent. I have no real complaints here. Granted, as I stated above, I have a fairly good understanding of where we’ve been and where we’re going in this tale. That said, this type of epic movie isn’t for everyone. It clocks in around 2 hours, 40 minutes. This will naturally keep those less interested from seeing it. Even given its long run time, I never really felt like the movie was dragging. And I wasn’t checking my watch to see how much longer it was. Surprising for such a long movie.
Where my real complaint lies is with the effects. With the budgets these films seem to have, I’m really surprised at how lacking they were. The worlds they created were magnificent. You could tell a lot of attention was paid to minor details. It is when we get to the action that things start to fall apart. The Orcs look like they were ripped from a video game. As do many of the fight scenes. It is especially evident when there is fast motion, say riding a horse or giant wolf. It comes off very fake. The CGI is nowhere near the level I expect from these blockbuster films. Maybe Peter Jackson should have thrown some money George Lucas’ way and had his team help out with the effects. (Not the directing, of course. Just making the CGI more believable.)
Overall, not a bad film, if you’re into this type of film. It just could have been done a little better. I almost recommend waiting until it comes out to buy or rent, solely in the hopes that the poor CGI won’t be as noticeable at home. If you can get past that, by all means, see it on the big screen.
Award-winning movie legends Oscar® winner Robert De Niro (“Raging Bull,” “Silver Linings Playbook”) and Oscar® nominee Sylvester Stallone (the “Rocky” films, “The Expendables”) star as old boxing rivals who come out of retirement for one final match. De Niro and Stallone play Billy “The Kid” McDonnen and Henry “Razor” Sharp, two local Pittsburgh fighters whose fierce rivalry put them in the national spotlight. Each had scored a victory against the other during their heyday, but in 1983, on the eve of their decisive third match, Razor suddenly announced his retirement, refusing to explain why but effectively delivering a knock-out punch to both their careers. Thirty years later, boxing promoter Dante Slate Jr., seeing big dollar signs, makes them an offer they can’t refuse: to re-enter the ring and settle the score once and for all. But they may not have to wait that long: on their first encounter in decades, their long-festering feud erupts into an unintentionally hilarious melee that instantly goes viral. The sudden social media frenzy transforms their local grudge match into a must-see HBO event. Now, if they can just survive the training, they may actually live to fight again.
In theaters Christmas Day.
An epic rebirth to Toho’s iconic Godzilla, this spectacular adventure, from Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures, pits the world’s most famous monster against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity’s scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence.
Gareth Edwards directs “Godzilla,” which stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson (“Kick-Ass”), Oscar® nominee Ken Watanabe (“The Last Samurai,” “Inception”), Elizabeth Olsen (“Martha Marcy May Marlene”), Oscar® winner Juliette Binoche (“The English Patient,” “Cosmopolis”), and Sally Hawkins (“Blue Jasmine”), with Oscar® nominee David Strathairn (“Good Night, and Good Luck.,” “The Bourne Legacy”) and Bryan Cranston (“Argo,” TV’s “Breaking Bad”).
In theaters May 16, 2014.
Set in the Los Angeles of the slight future, “Her” follows Theodore Twombly, a complex, soulful man who makes his living writing touching, personal letters for other people. Heartbroken after the end of a long relationship, he becomes intrigued with a new, advanced operating system, which promises to be an intuitive entity in its own right, individual to each user. Upon initiating it, he is delighted to meet “Samantha,” a bright, female voice, who is insightful, sensitive and surprisingly funny. As her needs and desires grow, in tandem with his own, their friendship deepens into an eventual love for each other.
From the unique perspective of Oscar-nominated filmmaker Spike Jonze comes an original love story that explores the evolving nature—and the risks—of intimacy in the modern world.
In select theaters December 18th, everywhere January 10th.
Based on Frank Miller’s latest graphic novel Xerxes, and told in the breathtaking visual style of the blockbuster “300,” this new chapter of the epic saga takes the action to a fresh battlefield—on the sea—as Greek general Themistokles attempts to unite all of Greece by leading the charge that will change the course of the war.
“300: Rise of an Empire” pits Themistokles against the massive invading Persian forces led by mortal-turned-god Xerxes, and Artemesia, vengeful commander of the Persian navy.
Warner Bros. Picture presents, in association with Legendary Pictures, a Cruel and Unusual Films/Mark Canton/Gianni Nunnari Production, “300: Rise of an Empire.” The action adventure stars Sullivan Stapleton (“Gangster Squad”) as Themistokles and Eva Green (“Dark Shadows,” “Casino Royale”) as Artemesia. Lena Headey reprises her starring role from “300″ as the Spartan Queen, Gorgo; Hans Matheson (“Clash of the Titans”) stars as Aeskylos; and Rodrigo Santoro stars again as the Persian King, Xerxes.
In theaters March 7th!
If you missed the first trailer for 300: Rise of an Empire, you can check it out here.
Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis star in “Jupiter Ascending,” an original science fiction epic adventure from filmmakers Lana and Andy Wachowski.
Jupiter Jones (Kunis) was born under a night sky, with signs predicting that she was destined for great things. Now grown, Jupiter dreams of the stars but wakes up to the cold reality of a job cleaning other people’s houses and an endless run of bad breaks. Only when Caine (Tatum), a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, arrives on Earth to track her down does Jupiter begin to glimpse the fate that has been waiting for her all along—her genetic signature marks her as next in line for an extraordinary inheritance that could alter the balance of the cosmos.
From the streets of Chicago to far flung galaxies whirling through space, “Jupiter Ascending” is written and directed by the Wachowskis. Award-winning producer Grant Hill, with whom they have collaborated since “The Matrix” Trilogy, is producing, together with Lana Wachowski and Andy Wachowski. Roberto Malerba and Bruce Berman serve as executive producers.
In theaters July 25, 2014.
The reboot of the Spider-Man franchise seems to be outshining its predecessor. Andrew Garfield is an improvement over Tobey Maguire. The overall quality of this version seems to be better. Better writing. Better effects. Better casting. This second installment looks to be continuing that trend. (It certainly has to be better than Spider-Man 2 and 3.)
With that said, here is the trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, coming to theaters next year.