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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014) Review

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The Hobbit The Battle of the Five Armies

Time:
144 Minutes (Theatrical)
164 Minutes (Extended)
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins
Ian Holm as Old Bilbo Baggins
Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey
Richard Armitage as Thorin II Oakenshield
Orlando Bloom as Legolas Greenleaf
Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel
Luke Evans as Bard the Bowman
Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug/Sauron
Lee Pace as Thranduil
Graham McTavish as Dwalin
Ken Stott as Balin
Aidan Turner as Kíli
Dean O’Gorman as Fíli
Manu Bennett as Azog the Defiler
James Nesbitt as Bofur
Cate Blanchett as Galadriel
Hugo Weaving as Elrond
Christopher Lee as Saruman the White
Billy Connolly as Dáin II Ironfoot
Stephen Fry as Master of Lake-town
Ryan Gage as Alfrid Lickspittle
Director: Peter Jackson

Having reclaimed Erebor and vast treasure from the dragon Smaug, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) sacrifices friendship and honor in seeking the Arkenstone, despite Smaug’s fiery wrath and desperate attempts by the Hobbit Bilbo (Martin Freeman) to make him see reason. Meanwhile, Sauron sends legions of Orcs in a sneak attack upon the Lonely Mountain. As the fate of Middle Earth hangs in the balance, the races of Men, Elves and Dwarves must decide whether to unite and prevail — or all die.

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While I like The Hobbit movies, The Battle of the Five Armies has a lot of issues and is arguably the weakest of the trilogy. Despite many of the problems I have however, I’d say that it works well as a conclusion to the overarching Middle Earth story.

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Director Peter Jackson said that there was enough content to justify three movies, and having seen The Battle of the Five Armies I have to disagree. There are two main events, the battle at Laketown with Smaug and the whole final battle which fills the remaining running time. The narrative focuses on these two major events left in the story and how it bridges them. Smaug is dealt with in the first 15 minutes and while it was well handled, it’s pretty clear that it should’ve been put at the end of The Desolation of Smaug. So the movie is pretty much just about the titular battle and as you can tell, the whole movie is mostly this is one big battle. Leading up to that point, they are really building up this battle. However it doesn’t feel grand and important and epic like it was trying to be. It’s not a problem with the first two movies because those were smaller scale for the most part, but The Battle of the Five Armies is trying so hard to be something big, but it doesn’t work. You don’t care about the large scale stuff but the movie is definitely leaning more towards that than its characters. There is a bit of an emotional disconnect from the story and characters, it certainly doesn’t help that you can figure out most of what happens, it doesn’t actually feel like there are many stakes. When the camera shows a big battle with none of the main players being a part of it, you wonder what the point of it is. If Jackson really wanted to stretch the movies into three, along with the movie being largely about the battle, there’s other opportunities to add some other character building moments or something similar. Unfortunately, some of the characters that have been built up and introduced over the previous two films are squandered in mere cameo roles. It feels like a lot more of the runtime should’ve been spent with characters and their interactions, especially Thorin. Thorin’s madness and greed is a notable plotline, more scenes developing that would’ve been better, and it would suit the darker approach well. There was potential there, there’s some great scenes involving Thorin and Bilbo. Unfortunately, Thorin’s storyline of a man driven to greed is played oddly camp and over the top, and it loses any of its edge and effectiveness, you don’t even really take it seriously. When it does get to the third act, it focuses up a little more onto characters we actually know (as opposed to random CGI creations), and the conclusion was satisfying enough.

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By the time it gets to The Battle of the Five Armies, it’s even more clear that we aren’t really watching an adaptation of The Hobbit, it may bother some but as someone who never read the books I was fine with that. It does try to add as much Tolkien lore as possible. It does feel like fan fiction but with fiction from a fan comes passion, and you can feel the passion throughout. Hence why I’m not with the people calling the movie a cash grab. With that said, it can get a little silly at points, such as Gandalf’s first scene. The movie often tries to throw references to the LOTR trilogy which serves no purpose and felt cheesy and placed into the screenplay to get a reaction from the audience. They don’t really add anything and almost felt lazy at points. As someone who loves The Lord of the Rings trilogy and really likes the first two Hobbit movies, I do wonder what happened with some of the decisions made here. So much of this movie is over the top ridiculous. The Hobbit movies had that and even the Lord of the Rings trilogy had that, but some moments are so silly and goofy that it almost became fascinating, like Peter Jackson is actively trolling the audience or something. At a point I just sort of accepted it but it is beyond jarring. I wasn’t expecting so much stilted and awkward dialogue from characters, I’m not really sure what happened there. The comedy is kind of ridiculous too, I generally like the comedy in the other movies but it’s so over the top here. There’s even a comic relief character that the film keeps cutting to for some reason (and no he’s not funny). While I consider the extended cuts of the original Lord of the Rings trilogy to be the defining versions of these movies, The Hobbit movies are fine enough without them, especially the case with this one. I watched the extended cut, and like with the other Hobbit extended cuts, some new scenes are great, other scenes feel like filler.

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The cast from the past Hobbit movies return, and they are generally pretty good here. Of the characters, Bilbo and Thorin get the most focus, much of the other characters are neglected. Their dynamic is great, but I wish they got a lot more to do. Martin Freeman is good as always as Bilbo, but he doesn’t get to do a whole lot, especially compared to the past movies. Richard Armitage is great as Thorin, especially as it’s going towards the greed storyline involving him. As said before though, I wish the storyline was handled better because it had a lot of potential. Other actors like Ian McKellan, Luke Evans, Orlando Bloom and Lee Pace are good in their parts, though don’t get much chances to shine. A distraction character is some side character named Alfrid, who pretty much serves as some random comic relief. He was the deputy of the Master of Lake-town (Stephen Fry) in the last movie, and he was okay in his role. If they really wanted one of the two characters to be the comic relief in this movie, I wish it was Stephen Fry instead. Apparently the reason he is in this so much is because they liked the actor Ryan Gage, and I’m not sure about that reason, because he’s quite annoying in this movie. He’s fine for the first two scenes but they keep giving him scenes. He’s not funny, he doesn’t evolve or change over the course of the movie, and he doesn’t really add anything to the movie. He even dresses up in a corset to pretend to be a woman at a point, and by that point, you just really wonder what Peter Jackson and the rest of the writers were even doing at this point. He gets even more screentime in the extended cut, so if you wanted more reason not to watch that version, there’s that. One surprising addition to the last Hobbit movie was Tauriel, played by Evangeline Lilly, who was quite good. One part relating to her that I didn’t like however was the romantic subplot with her and Kili, it wasn’t really convincing and was a bit of a distraction, but at least it was a small part. In this movie however they leaned even further into that melodramatic subplot, and the romance and the dialogue relating to it can get very soap opera-like, and not in any enjoyable way.

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I’ve generally thought Peter Jackson’s direction of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies have been great, and while I liked some of his work in The Battle of the Five Armies, it has issues. Something about the look of the movie is off, particularly here even when compared to the past movies. It’s got this overly glossy look to it. The Hobbit movies’ effects get worse with every instalment, which means it looks the worst here. Not that it’s all bad, some aspects like Smuag still look fantastic. Where you mainly notice the visual effects issues are in the action scenes, and that’s probably why some of the visuals of the film look quite off. The overuse of CGI and green screen really distracts and makes it a bit of a mess, with far too many sweeping shots of CGI landscapes, townships and castle-rubble. Those types of scenes stood out as looking a bit fake in the other two movies, but at least it wasn’t constant. This movie is mostly a big battle movie however, so they stand out a lot more. It already feels jarring with the past two movies not really being battle movies at all. The action scenes for the most part are good, there are some great set pieces like the opening sequence with Smaug. Each set piece tries so hard to top the next, with large environments being destroyed. A lot of it is really over the top and silly, even by Jackson’s Lord of the Rings standards. Stuff like Legolas jumping up on falling debris is straight out of a video game, in fact any action scene with Legolas takes the edge of the battle scene with his plot armour, though they are undeniably entertaining. A lot of the action doesn’t really have any impact and just feels like computer people attacking each other, mainly because it is. In fact, you could keep some action scenes in and remove others and it wouldn’t change much of the plot at all. The music from Howard Shore is unmemorable but fitting.

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I still like The Battle of the Five Armies but it’s by far the worst instalment in the Middle Earth series. It doesn’t do enough to justify the Hobbit movies as needing three films to deliver the story, and has multiple issues on writing and directing levels. If you didn’t like the previous two movies, you definitely won’t like this one. With that said, I do like it. It has some good moments, the action is gloriously over the top and entertaining, and I enjoyed watching it. I just wish it was much better than it was.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) Review

Time: 259 Minutes (theatrical cut) or 235 minutes (extended cut)
Age Rating: 860940[1] Medium level violence
Cast:
Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins
Sean Astin as Samwise Gamgee
Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn
Ian McKellen as Gandalf
Billy Boyd as Peregrin Took
Dominic Monaghan as Meriadoc Brandybuck
John Rhys-Davies as Gimli
Orlando Bloom as Legolas Greenleaf
Andy Serkis as Gollum/Sméagol
Bernard Hill as Théoden
Miranda Otto as Éowyn
Christopher Lee as Saruman
Liv Tyler as Arwen Undómiel
Hugo Weaving as Elrond
David Wenham as Faramir
Cate Blanchett as Galadriel
Brad Dourif as Gríma Wormtongue
Karl Urban as Éomer
Craig Parker as Haldir
John Leigh as Háma
Bruce Hopkins as Gamling
John Bach as Madril
Director: Peter Jackson

The Fellowship has been broken. Boromir is dead, Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) and Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin) have gone to Mordor alone to destroy the One Ring, Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd) have been captured by the Uruk-hai, and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Legolas (Orlando Bloom), and Gimli (John Rhys-Davs) have made friends of the Rohan, a race of humans that are in the path of the upcoming war, led by its aging king, Théoden. The two towers between Mordor and Isengard, Barad-dúr and Orthanc, have united in their lust for destruction. The corrupt wizard Saruman (Christopher Lee), under the power of the Dark Lord Sauron, and his assistant, Gríma Wormtongue (Brad Dourif), have created a grand Uruk-hai army bent on the destruction of Man and Middle-earth. One of the Ring’s original bearers, the creature Gollum (Andy Serkis), has tracked Frodo and Sam down in search of the ring, but is captured by the Hobbits and used as a way to lead them to Mt. Doom.

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The Lord of the Rings movies are among my favourite movies of all time but reviewing them isn’t that easy. Talking about the Lord of the Rings movies is very difficult, it is so famous and well known that so much of it feels redundant talking about, and plus there is just so much that can be said about it. That can be clearly seen in my review of The Fellowship of the Ring from years ago, which is easily one of the worst reviews I ever written. Years later and after watching the Lord of the Rings movies more recently, I decided to review the rest of them the best I can. If you haven’t watched any of the Lord of the Rings movies, long story short just go and watch them. The Two Towers continues on the greatness of the previous film of The Fellowship of the Ring, and it even does a lot of things better than the first film.

The film jumps between characters’ perspectives and it does it well. It mostly jumps from Frodo, Sam and Gollum to Aragon, Legolas and Gimli as well as to Merry and Pippin. Some characters and storylines are more interesting than others but all of them are done rather well. It goes even darker than the first movie and you really feel the higher stakes throughout. I generally think that the Lord of the Rings trilogy is better with the extended editions, but that’s especially the case with The Two Towers and Return of the King. The extended cut is almost an hour longer but it is worth the extra footage. Sometimes I think about the scenes that were cut from the cut and I can’t imagine the movie without them. For example, one of the scenes only in the extended cut included a flashback from Faramir (David Wenham) to his brother Boromir (Sean Bean) and his father Denethor (John Noble) and it added so much his character and what is driving him to make the decisions he made. There’s much more examples like this but that’s just one of them. The third acts of each of the Lord of the Rings movies are usually the standout of each of them, and The Two Towers is no exception, with two great battles happening at the same time. As for how it adapted the original book, I haven’t read it so I don’t have much to say regarding that.

All of the surviving characters from Fellowship of the Ring are back. Elijah Wood and Sean Astin are great as Frodo and Sam, they really do feel like best friends going on this journey. Wood also does a really good job at showing the conflict Frodo is experiencing having to bear the One Ring and with it changing him while they’re on their journey. Viggo Mortensen as Aragon, Orlando Bloom as Legolas and John Rhys-Davis as Gimli in their plotline are great, Mortensen particularly is perfectly cast as Aragon and brings a lot to his role. The only thing about Gimli that kind of got annoying was that after Fellowship of the Ring he gets cartoonishly silly and buffoonish. The same happens in reverse with Legolas, who is cartoonishly great at everything, to the point where he’s literally sliding down stairs on a shield while shooting orcs with arrows. It’s not movie breaking but it’s just a bit too much at times. There’s also a plotline focussing on Billy Boyd’s Pippin and Dominic Monaghan as Merry, and while it’s less interesting than the other plotlines, it is still done well enough. Both characters are seen as being comic relief, so it’s good that they get to have their part in what happened in the movie (though I guess it’s more of a credit to the book more than anything else). Ian McKellan is always great as Gandalf (even though instead of returning as Gandalf the Grey, he’s now Gandalf the White), flat out perfect in the role.

Christopher Lee as Saruman also gets more focus this time round as one of the main antagonists of the movie, ending up being more often than not the source of conflict in much of the plotlines here. Lee as usual is scene chewingly great as Saruman, having such a presence about him when he’s on screen. Other returning characters like Liv Tyler as Arwen, Hugo Weaving as Elrond and Cate Blanchett as Galadriel are good as always. The newer additions were also great, namely Bernard Hill as Theoden, Miranda Otto as Eowyn, David Wenham as Faramir, Karl Urban as Eomer and Brad Dourif as Grima Wormtongue. All of them did really good jobs of making themselves stand out amongst the cast. The stand out new character/performance though is from Andy Serkis as Gollum. Although it is motion capture and largely done through special effects, the way he moves, emotes and speaks all come from Serkis. They did such a fantastic job at making him one of the more complex characters in these movies, sympathetic in one scene and then treacherous in the next.

Its no surprise that Peter Jackson’s direction was great but I think he’s improved even more with his second film. The landscapes, locations and sets just feel all great, it all helps that almost all of it feels real. All the special effects are good as usual, what makes it so effective is that it mixes both practical and digital effects. Now given that its over 16 years old, some of the CGI don’t look completely fantastic and aren’t at the level of today’s CGI but most of it still holds up very well. Like Fellowship, everything feels like it’s on such a huge scale, and it feels somewhat authentic. As I said earlier when I was talking about Andy Serkis, I especially like what they did with Gollum with motion capture, it still looks seamless and real today. The action scenes are also well filmed and even better than those in The Fellowship of the Ring. The standout is the third act which consists of and cuts between the battle at Helm’s Deep and the Ents fighting against Isengard. Its just such a spectacle to watch and are amongst some of the best sequences of the whole trilogy. Directionwise, The Two Towers really was just a little better than The Fellowship of the Ring. Even little aspects are slightly improved, like I know it’s a minor thing to note but there aren’t as many awkward close up shots as in the first movie. Howard Shore’s score once again is just iconic and adds so much to the movie, I can’t imagine the Lord of the Rings movies without them.

The Two Towers is for me even better than The Fellowship of the Ring. Some of it as to do with preference with regard to the story and all that, not to mention the large scale sequences, especially the Helm’s Deep battle, are among some of the stand out moments in the movie series. However I also think that Peter Jackson’s direction has even improved, and would only continue to improve with Return of the King. Each Lord of the Rings movie is better than the last one, but all 3 of them are excellent.

Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith (2005) Retrospective Review

Time: 140 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi
Natalie Portman as Padmé Amidala
Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader
Ian McDiarmid as Supreme Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious
Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu
Jimmy Smits as Senator Bail Organa
Christopher Lee as Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
Kenny Baker as R2-D2
Frank Oz as the voice of Yoda
Director: George Lucas

Three years into the Clone Wars, the Jedi rescues Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) from Count Dooku (Christopher Lee). As Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor). As Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) pursues a new threat, Anakin (Hayden Christensen) acts as a double agent between the Jedi Council and Palpatine, and is lured into a sinister plan to rule the galaxy.

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Revenge of the Sith was already the best of the prequel trilogy, so when I was going through my rewatches of the Star Wars series, I knew I’d still like it. However I ended up loving it even more, to the point where it’s one of my favourite movies in the series, flaws and all. After the past two disappointing prequels, George Lucas handled the final film in the trilogy greatly, delivering on a satisfying conclusion and one of the highlights of the series.

Revenge of the Sith at 2 hours and 20 minutes had my attention all the way through. The dialogue is better, with some occasionally bad lines that go through, however they don’t detract too much from the movie. It’s a much darker story, and it really needed to be that, with it being the chapter of Anakin Skywalker becoming Darth Vader. This movie was the first Star Wars movie to be given a PG-13/M rating, and it uses it to great effect. Revenge of the Sith starts out on a high note, with an entertaining action sequence as Anakin and Obi Wan are in fighters as they try to rescue a ‘captured’ Chancellor Palpatine. The CGI and action are good, and it gets you really into what’s going on. The rest of the rescue was great, as they encounter droids, Count Dooku, and General Grievous, and manage to land half a ship. It’s pretty much classic Star Wars.

If there was a weakest section of the movie, it would be the one where Obi Wan is hunting Grievous, not that it’s bad or anything. It’s entertaining and all, but that’s all it really is. It doesn’t really help that Grievous wasn’t that great as an antagonist. While they really only got to shine in the third acts of their respective movies, Darth Maul and Count Dooku still got to show off. As unique as an antagonist as Grievous is physically, he ends up being a mostly normal physical threat. His lightsabre fight with Obi Wan was the most disappointing part of it, with it only lasting 30 seconds and with Kenobi seemingly easily cutting off two of his hands. Nothing bad about this section necessarily, just pales in comparison to the rest of the movie.

Surprisingly I was more interested in Anakin’s story, but that needed to be the case, with this whole trilogy being about him becoming Darth Vader after all. There had been much criticisms about the portrayal of The Jedi Council, and how unheroic and sometimes unlikable they are seen in the prequels. The portrayal is deliberate, and that’s even more so the case with Revenge of the Sith. The part where Palpatine tells Anakin about how the Jedi and the Sith are quite similar in the opera house scene, he really didn’t have to lie all that much. Much of the Jedi don’t exactly stick by their code, a chief example being Mace Windu trying to kill Palpatine even when he pretty much had him already beaten. Also remember back to after Anakin and Obi Wan’s conversation after the mission, where Kenobi lists the killing of Dooku among some of the successful things he did on that mission, whereas Skywalker didn’t feel like it was right and wasn’t the Jedi way, and only did it because Palpatine pushed him to do it. Anakin’s questionings of some of their dealings aren’t unfounded. The Jedi were also very paranoid and distrustful, especially when it came to Anakin. Mace making the point directly by himself that although Anakin was on the Jedi Council, he wouldn’t be a master (which turns out has never been done before), just solidified their distrust for him, aside from Obi Wan of course. A mix of these, along with fearing about Padme dying, would all lead to him on the path to the dark side.

This would all build up until Palpatine is revealed as the Sith lord behind everything, and there’s a direct confrontation. The scene where Palpatine and Windu fight is rather disappointing considering the skill and power of both, but the way Palpatine just kills the other 3 Jedi within like 5 seconds is so silly. It’s not that he’s shown to be quite powerful (that’s what we’d expect) but 2 of them practically let themselves get killed. I noticed that some people really had issues with how quickly Anakin makes the decision to join Palpatine, especially as it’s done right after he says “What have I done?”. Personally I saw this as Anakin reluctantly joining since there was no turning back after being involved with killing Mace Windu and helping Palpatine, mixed with his genuine disillusion with the Jedi Council, and of course still his desire to save Padme. I do remember when George Lucas once said that in this movie you’ll get to learn why he was given the name of Darth Vader. He must’ve forgotten to do that because it’s not explained anywhere here (unless you know that Vader in German means father), not that it really matters though, it’s a small detail.

The third act showing the fall of the Jedi order was really great. The Order 66 is indeed a fantastically handled sequence and one of the highlights of the entire series, as it cuts around to the Jedi being killed by the clones that they were fighting alongside minutes ago. You really feel the weight of everything going on in this last act. The final fights are also really good, with Obi Wan against Anakin and Yoda against the Emperor. With the former you get a bunch of large scale fight scenes in the volcanic planet of Mustafar, and the latter you get both parties using the force plenty as well as using the lightsabres. I do think they went a little overboard with the Anakin and Obi Wan fight, where the fight is so long and they two of them seem to be keep being placed in every ridiculous scenario possible, but the movie seemed to be leaning into the whole space opera thing, and on that end it mostly worked. Outside of that, the only slight problem I had with the Anakin and Obi Wan fight was that I was hoping to see was at least some attempt from the latter to bring Anakin back from the dark side at the beginning of it, given that just before he told Yoda that he can’t do it. I would’ve liked that instead of Kenobi just pretty much going in knowing that he’s already gone at this point. The moment of Padme giving birth being paralleled with Anakin’s turn into Darth Vader was pretty much perfect, and I was even fine with Vader’s freakout over hearing that Padme is dead, it would make sense. But I’m with everyone as not being such a fan of his giant “NOOOOOOOO” at the end of the scene, it was a little too much and rather silly. The rest of the ending is great and set things up well for the next movie. Side note but I never picked up till my most recent rewatch that C-3PO and R2-D2 had their memories wiped at the end of the movie, that made so much sense as to why they don’t recognise some of the other characters in the original trilogy.

Ewan McGregor is once again pitch perfect as Obi-Wan Kenobi, and he gets better with every subsequent Star Wars movie he appears in. He resembles Alec Guinness even more and is completely believable in the role, he’s particularly great towards the third act. Hayden Christensen gets a bad rap for his performances as Anakin Skywalker in these prequels. Indeed, I had some problems with him in Attack of the Clones. In Revenge of the Sith there are a few lines of dialogue that aren’t all that great. However most of the writing for him works, and I don’t actually have any problems with his performance here. The dynamic between him and Obi-Wan for instance was what I wanted more of from the two of them in Attack of the Clones. You just get the first act of them during the rescue, as well as some other scenes involving the council before Kenobi leaves to go after Grievous, but they work so well. It feels so natural, none of these forced “You’re like a father to me” lines from Attack of the Clones which you don’t believe. You can also really see the conflict in Anakin, and that’s something that Christensen nailed as well. Sure, Anakin is moody again, but unlike Attack of the Clones, it doesn’t come across like some whiny teenager. Christensen’s visual acting is fantastic, while I struggled to see him as Anakin in the previous movie, here I buy it. And of course when it came to him as Vader, I really bought it. Of course he does have some pretty lame lines at times that most actors would struggle with (“If you’re not with me, then you’re my enemy”, “From my point of view the Jedi are evil”), but he also delivers them as best as possible.

Natalie Portman gets to do more acting-wise here in this movie, it’s a shame though that her character of Padme is just relegated to being pregnant, being worried, crying, giving birth and then dying, especially considering that she actually did some things in the plot of the other two prequels. It’s really annoying hearing that originally in the script, Padme was involved with forming the rebellion, and that would’ve been perfect for her. Given some of the things she says in the movie, it would’ve made sense, like in one scene where she seems to be doubting the war. Surprisingly the romance between Padme and Anakin actually works here. Sure you get a few bad lines between the two (“You’re so beautiful”, “Only because I’m so in love”), but you are able to stomach it, not to mention the soap opera lines seem a little deliberate, with Star Wars being a space opera after all. You can actually buy their relationship, even with the scenes with less lines. The rest of the supporting cast also do well. Ian McDiarmid is always fantastic as Emperor Palpatine, The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones gradually showed Palpatine’s rise to power, but in Revenge of the Sith he’s at the centre of the story. His scenes with Anakin are great as he’s slowly bringing him towards the dark side, the highlight being the opera house scene, where he tells him the story about Darth Plagueis the wise. Now McDiarmid does go incredibly over the top at points (even more than in Return of the Jedi) and maybe he’s a little silly, but even those moments are just glorious to watch too. McDiarmid and McGregor are the MVPs of these Star Wars prequels, they’re fantastic in their roles. General Grievous was a character that was introduced in the animated Clone Wars series. He was quite a unique villain, a cyborg who had 4 arms, each wielding lightsabres more often than not. So he was known even before Revenge of the Sith came out. It’s unfortunate then that he’s rather underwhelming in the movie. Sure he can pose a bit of a threat, but his fight with Obi Wan was rather disappointing, and there’s not much to him as a character.

I think George Lucas did a great job at directing this movie. While the movie has its fair share of exposition, Lucas seemed to allow the movie to breathe and told the story visually at points. One of the biggest examples is when Anakin and Padme are seemingly looking at each other across buildings, which takes place right after Mace Windu and a few other Jedi go out to arrest Palpatine. Along with the great facial acting from both Christensen and Portman, it’s such an eerie and powerful moment, and manages to convey so much about both characters at that moment without needing a single line of dialogue. There definitely is a lot of reliance on CGI, but the visuals themselves are definitely better than Attack of the Clones. There are so many spectacular sequences that work really well, from the lightsabre fights, to the space battles, and so on. There are plenty of moments that are really over the top, especially some fight scenes, but again, this is a full on space opera, and seeing the movie as that certainly made it make sense. The worlds are also greatly designed and thought out, same with the robots, costumes, etc. John Williams has always been good at scoring Star Wars, but I’m pretty confident in saying that Revenge of the Sith is his best score for a Star Wars movie. It’s large, epic, emotional, tragic, and just fit perfectly with the whole movie.

I always liked Revenge of the Sith, but the more recent viewing of it made me love it even more, and solidified it as one of my favourite Star Wars movies. Its issues are noticeable and hurt the movie a lot, but it’s only because the rest of the movie works so well. It generally accomplished what the movie needed to do, and although the prequels were mostly disappointing, it’s a relief that the final film at least managed to stick the landing.

Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones (2002) Retrospective Review

Time: 142 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] contains low level violence
Cast:
Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi
Natalie Portman as Senator Padmé Amidala
Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker
Ian McDiarmid as Chancellor Sheev Palpatine/Darth Sidious
Christopher Lee as Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus
Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu
Temuera Morrison as Jango Fett
Frank Oz as the voice of Yoda
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
Kenny Baker as R2-D2
Creator: George Lucas

Jedi Knights Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) discover there is more than meets the eye behind an assassination attempt on Naboo Senator Padme Amidala’s (Natalie Portman) life. Meanwhile a Sith Lord orchestrates events between the forces of good and evil, all the while waiting to play the final move that will ensure him control of the galaxy.

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Despite much of the dislike for The Phantom Menace, many consider Attack of the Clones to be the worst Star Wars movie. I’ve always considered it to be the second worst, but decided to give it another go to see if that changed. After rewatching it… I came to the exact same conclusion, although like with my most recent viewing of The Phantom Menace, I liked it slightly more than the last time I saw it. It’s got some good things in there and could’ve been great, it’s just there there’s equally as many bad decisions that prevent it from reaching that level of greatness.

The writing is a mixed bag. I liked pretty much most of the plot and character decisions made, the execution however had much to be desired. The dialogue had the same problem as in The Phantom Menace, still sounding rather unnatural. However, most of the characters does feel slightly less stiff, even if it still comes across as forced at times. While it would take till Revenge of the Sith for the Star Wars series to start receiving M ratings and start being truly dark, The Phantom Menace is the only movie in the series that feels like it was actually made for kids, and not to say that it’s a bad thing inherently, but it seemed to be at the detriment of the movie on the whole. Attack of the Clones does take the plot a little more seriously, and outside of some cheesy moments (that the original trilogy had too), I liked the tone of the movie generally. The political angle definitely improved since The Phantom Menace, it’s very present but shown in small bursts and wasn’t as heavy handed. And again, it’s also interesting seeing the rise of Palpatine. The Phantom Menace in the beginning took a little while before you began to notice the awkwardness creep in, but Attack of the Clones immediately starts feeling quite off. It has a bit of a clunky start and doesn’t really pick up until the chase scene between Obi Wan and Anakin with the assassin, which in itself was a pretty thrilling and entertaining sequence.

From this point until the third act, the first two acts mainly consist of two main storylines, one for Obi Wan, and the other for Anakin and Padme. I’ll start with Obi Wan’s storyline, which is mostly good. After the assassination attempt on Padme, Kenobi investigates the assassin and discovers Kamino, Clones, and more. Not to say that there weren’t some odd moments, like when Kenobi couldn’t find anything about Kamino in the Jedi databases, he had to go to a class being run by Yoda to ask for help, and then a student had to point out the incredibly obvious that maybe someone erased that information. However, for this movie it’s pretty typical to have random and pointless moments like these, and I’m probably just nitpicking. Once Obi Wan actually gets to Kamino, it really picked up and I was generally interested in what was happening. I’m pretty sure that a lot of people didn’t like it, but I actually liked the introduction and formation of clones, who would eventually become Stormtroopers. Maybe linking them to being clones of Jango Fett was a weird and unneeded choice, but it’s one I just went along with. From there it takes him all the way to Geonosis, where his and Anakin and Padme’s storylines would join up in the third act.

The other main storyline is with Anakin and Padme, and the first half of that which takes place on Naboo was easily the weakest portion of the movie. I get that it’s supposed to be building up their relationship, and I’m more than fine with that. The problem is that the writing for them is absolutely terrible. It can range from being cheesy (like that scene in the field), or just ridiculously cringe worthy (when they confess their love to each other and talk about whether or not it should happen). Had the writing here been even just as average as much of the rest of the movie, I probably would’ve liked the movie slightly more, but that portion sticks out as being really bad. Once Anakin has a nightmare about his mother and the two of them head to Tatooine, their storyline noticeable improves, even if it still has some issues. It seemed like the natural way of progressing his story, especially with Anakin’s mother being particularly quite important to him in the previous movie. I will say that I always found it weird how easy it was for Padme to overlook Anakin’s outburst about him killing the sand people. Indeed the actual outburst doesn’t come across as impactful, as a result of a mix of Christensen’s performance and the writing makes him come across as whiny and throwing a tantrum more than anything. Anakin and Padme would then make their way to Geonosis to try to rescue Obi Wan, with a pretty good action scene at the factory, however Padme doesn’t really get to do anything except to get saved by R2-D2, and I have no idea why C-3PO was in there at all.

The third act is even more of a CGI fest than The Phantom Menace was, but I can’t deny I had fun with it. It starts off with a fight at an arena with Obi Wan, Anakin and Padme, and it already was a good setup. Then it introduces the Jedi, the droid army and the clones into the mix. So much of the movie doesn’t feel real and it really doesn’t allow you to get immersed in these scenes, but after a while you do get used to it, and I started to enjoy it. One thing that does irk me particularly however was that they really made way too many CGI clones, especially when it came to actual human actors having to interact with them, it was just way too distracting and just felt rather lazy. The fight with Obi Wan and Anakin against Count Dooku was pretty decent, as well as the one between Yoda and Dooku. I know some people didn’t like the idea of Yoda having a lightsabre and fighting and all that, but I personally liked it. I also liked how the movie led the way for the Clone Wars, I really wished that there was an episode that took place during the Clone Wars as the next episode would take place at the very end of it, but I guess that’s what a lot of the expansion novels and animated shows are for.

Ewan McGregor reprises his role as the younger Obi Wan Kenobi. He showed potential in The Phantom Menace but he resembled Alec Guinness even more here and has improved even more since then. Even with some of the odd lines he’s given, he absolutely sells each of them perfectly. Pretty much no complaints with him here. Hayden Christensen’s performance as Anakin Skywalker in this movie is… a very mixed bag. There is so much here that doesn’t work. To be fair, he’s not got much to work with, from some of the terrible dialogue he’s given, to the writing in general, and to how he’s directed. People have said this many times before, but he really does come across as whiny, even when he’s supposed to be angry, and it’s hard to take these moments seriously. Not to mention the rest of the time the performance and line deliveries are rather bland. Some of the romantic moments between him and Padme come across as creepy more than anything else, and most of that comes from Christensen, from the line deliveries to some of the unnerving looks he gives her. It’s a shame that both Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith keep separating him and Obi Wan, since that’s quite important. However, Revenge of the Sith would at least have shown a solid dynamic between the two, in Attack of the Clones however it wasn’t really all that convincing, outside of Kenobi being frustrated that he padawan wouldn’t do what he says and Skywalker whining about how he keeps holding him back. Then there’s that throwaway line that Anakin says about how Obi Wan is the closest thing to a father that he has, although you don’t really believe it. Christensen does get a few good acting moments, such as when he finds her mother before she dies, and then when he starts killing the Tuskin Raiders. Still, you get the idea that he could be better. Thankfully, both the writing for him and his acting certainly improved in Revenge of the Sith. Natalie Portman returns as Padme, for the most part I liked where they took her character, though I wish she got to do a little more. Much of her character is overshadowed by the romance between her and Christensen, which was handled rather badly. On paper, the idea of the romance sounds great and fitting, especially for Anakin (though this might just be from knowing what happens with them in Revenge of the Sith). The problem is that the writing for them and the dialogue between them is disastrously bad. I get that it’s been like 10 years since the two have seen each other and they’d be a little awkward, but you really don’t believe their romance at any point in the movie. It’s at best fine and at worst creepy and cringe-worthy. With that said, like their storyline, their dialogue and writing slightly improves after they leave Naboo, and becomes much more bearable.

On the antagonist side it’s about the same level as The Phantom Menace, but maybe slightly better. Ian McDiarmid of course delivers as Palpatine/The Emperor, and the movie shows his rise in power even more. This movie has Jango Fett (played by Temeura Morrison), related to Boba Fett, the fan favourite bounty hunter. To get it out of the way, Jango Fett is much better than Boba Fett, though to be honest it was never much of a competition. I never found Boba Fett to be that good in the original series, the only credible thing he did in those movies is track down Han Solo in Empire Strikes Back, otherwise he just looks cool, and ends up dead in the most embarrassing way. Here you get to actually see Jango do things, holding his own against Obi Wan, killing at least one Jedi in the final act, and being killed in battle by Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson). I’m not really sure why they decided to have Boba being a clone of Jango instead of just his son but whatever. The prospect of Christopher Lee as a Star Wars villain in Count Dooku sounds extremely exciting to say the least. Lee really does own the scenes he’s in but unfortunately you really only get to see him in the last third of the movie. It’s also a shame knowing that he doesn’t last very long in the next movie. Like with Darth Maul and General Grievous, Dooku is a Star Wars villain who seemed to shine more in a lot of the spin offs and shows than in the live action movies, and at least had a lot more to do.

The direction by George Lucas like with The Phantom Menace is a little mixed. The movie generally relies more on CGI than The Phantom Menace did, and it was really distracting a lot of the time, from Dexter’s Diner all the way through to the third act. After a while you just sort of accept it for what it is. There’s even some really good action, from the chase of the assassin by Obi Wan and Anakin, to Obi Wan fighting Jango Fett, to much of the third act. Even with some distractingly fake and empty CGI at times, Lucas generally creates some creative scenarios and makes the sequences at least somewhat entertaining. With all the prequels, the new worlds were always great to see, and Attack of the Clones continued this the likes of Kamino and Geonosis, and it was even nice going back to familiar places like Coruscant, Naboo and Tatooine. The designs of everything, from the costumes, to the production design, the worlds, creatures, etc, were also handled quite well. The score by John Williams is great once again, introducing even more iconic Star Wars themes. Across the Stars in particular is fantastic, and deserved to be used for a much better on screen romance than Anakin and Padme’s.

Attack of the Clones is a very flawed movie. There are plenty of problems, with the overreliance of CGI, the writing, some of the directing decisions, there are so many things that were handled disappointingly and at times badly. At the same time it has some potential, I liked most of the ideas, generally the plot was pretty good, I was invested in some parts of the story, and some of the cast and characters work (mainly Ewan McGregor as Kenobi). So while it’s disappointing and I’m not likely to revisit it often, I don’t think it’s without some merit.

Hugo (2011) Review

Time: 126 Minutes
Age Rating:
Cast:
Asa Butterfield as Hugo Cabret
Chloë Grace Moretz as Isabelle
Ben Kingsley as Georges Méliès/Papa Georges
Sacha Baron Cohen as Inspector Gustave Dasté
Ray Winstone as Claude Cabret
Emily Mortimer as Lisette
Jude Law as Mr. Cabret
Helen McCrory as Jehanne D’Alcy/Mama Jeanne
Michael Stuhlbarg as René Tabard
Christopher Lee as Monsieur Labisse
Director: Martin Scorsese

Hugo (Asa Butterfield) is an orphan who lives in a Paris railway station, tending to the station clocks during his uncle’s (Ray Winstone) mysterious absence. He scrounges food from the vendors and steals mechanical parts from the owner of a toy shop, Georges Melies (Ben Kinglsey). In fact, Hugo’s father was a watchmaker and he has inherited his father’s (Jude Law) talents for all things mechanical. Years before, Hugo’s father found an intricate mechanical man, but they could never figure out how it worked. Hugo befriends Melies’s ward, Isabelle (Chloe Grace-Moretz), and together they have an adventure, one that centres around Méliès himself.

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I recall Hugo being the first movie of Martin Scorsese’s that I saw, and I remember liking it quite a lot when I did. With that said, it had been a while since I’ve last seen it, and I had a feeling that I would appreciate it more upon a more recent viewing, and having watched that more recently, I was right. While it looks as a kids movie and certainly looks like that, it also works as something much more, and is overall very well made.

Hugo may be by far Martin Scorsese’s most age appropriate film, and I think there’s a lot here that kids may like, but there’s more parts to it that they aren’t going to fully get or appreciate. Teenagers are more likely to enjoy it more than kids to be honest. The movie starts off pretty well, however the second half is where the movie really takes an interesting turn, as it becomes Scorsese’s love letter to cinema. At this point of the movie, you begin to get why he chose to direct this. It focuses on an era we don’t see portrayed in film much, that being the silent era, and ends up being a tribute to filmmaker Georges Melies. The only part I didn’t like of the movie was for whatever reason there was sometimes random comedy thrown in, it wasn’t particularly funny and distracted from the rest of the movie. Thankfully it didn’t happen too often, but you are taken out a bit when its present.

The cast generally do a good job in their roles, the only thing that was a little distracting was that you often forget that Hugo is set in France, given that there aren’t many French accents present over the course of the movie. Asa Butterfield was pretty solid in the lead role, and Chloe Grace Moretz was also good, with the two of them sharing some decent chemistry. The supporting cast are also really good, with Ben Kingsley (giving his best performance in a long time here as Georges Melies), Helen McCrory, Michael Stuhlbarg, Jude Law, Christopher Lee and more doing a lot of good work. Some of the actors don’t get to really do much and maybe get like one or two scenes (like Law and Lee) but they do a lot to make you remember them. Now there are some supporting characters which really didn’t serve much purpose outside of some brief comedy. Much of the comic relief surrounds the Station Inspector played by Sacha Baron Cohen, although he occasionally poses as an antagonist to the title character, a lot of the scenes with him are just for comedy. Cohen definitely plays the role as he’s meant to, and the fault isn’t him. There are scenes where they try to imply that there’s more to this character outside of being a cartoonish and typical authority figure in a kids movie, but they never follow through with it really so those moments feel pointless.

Martin Scorsese as usual directs this very well, but this is a very different movie from him, it involves a lot of visual effects which at least up to that point you wouldn’t see him using a ton. Scorsese is one of those filmmakers who uses CGI as tools to tell his story, while Hugo is indeed fantastic to look at and there are plenty of times where you can see it in all its glory, you never get the feeling that it’s just on screen to only look pretty. It’s never at the detriment of the rest of the film. Much praise should also go towards the production design, with this visually modernized France from the 20th Century, making it really appealing to watch. Robert Richardson’s cinematography really captures the whole movie very well, it’s generally a gorgeous looking film throughout.

Putting aside some distracting comic relief, Hugo is on the whole really good and deserves more praise amongst Martin Scorsese’s filmography, even though it was widely praised upon its release, it’s unfortunately been forgotten. It’s a gorgeous movie directed excellently by Scorsese per usual, the cast generally do well in their roles, and it works as both a kids movie and a tribute to cinema, as well as the power of cinema. Definitely worth a watch.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) Review

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The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey

Time: 169 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Fantasy Violence
Cast:
Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey
Martin Freeman as Young Bilbo Baggins
Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield II
James Nesbitt as Bofur
Ken Stott as Balin
Cate Blanchett as Galadriel
Ian Holm as Bilbo Baggins
Christopher Lee as Saruman the White
Hugo Weaving as Elrond
Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins
Andy Serkis as Gollum
Director: Peter Jackson

Once upon a time, the Kingdom of Erebor in the Lonely Mountain was taken from the dwarfs by the evil dragon Smaug. One day, the young Hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is unexpectedly visited by the wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellan) and twelve homeless dwarfs led by their former king Thorin (Richard Armitage) and decided to vanquish Smaug and recover Erebor and their treasure. Bilbo joins the company in an unexpected journey through dangerous lands of the Middle-Earth where they have to fight against Trolls, Orcs and other magic creatures.

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After 9 years after The Lord of the Rings franchise, Peter Jackson returns back to the fantastical world of Middle Earth. A lot of the good things from middle earth are here, the special effects, the soundtrack, the action scenes and epic story. However there are definitely some noticeable flaws in this movie: the story is a little slow and feels a little drawn out and a lot of the characters weren’t very developed. I still enjoyed the movie but at the time of release it was a little disappointing.

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The movie did seem to drag quite a bit, especially near the beginning in Biblo’s house. Once he leaves with the dwarves and Gandalf however the story picks up. Another problem I have, is the fact that I didn’t really find many differences with the dwarves. I felt that a lot of the dwarves weren’t that developed, with the exception of Thorin. They were more developed in the next movies though.

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Martin Freeman is really good as Bilbo, he’s very convincing as a younger Ian Holm from the original LOTR movies. Freeman has such wit and humor, making Bilbo a fun character. Ian McKellan returning as Gandalf the Grey was also really good, and had a lot of good moments. Richard Armitage played Thorin, the king of the dwarves was also gave a standout performance. It is hard for me to remember many of the other dwarves unfortunately, they didn’t really get many moments to shine individually, I didn’t even remember their names. However on repeat watches, I will say that all the actors here do a good job with what they had. There is a character in this movie called Radaghast, for some people he is the Jar Jar Binks of this movie, while others don’t really have that much of a problem with him. I’m sort of in the middle, he’s fine but it wasn’t a performance that I loved. A stand out performance was Andy Serkis in his motion capture work as Gollum. It was neat seeing Gollum return and his scene with Bilbo is by far the best in the movie.

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The special effects are as good as the previous movies. The designs of the creatures are great as usual. I previously mentioned Andy Serkis as Gollum but it really needs emphasizing how good the motion capture was, I would even go so far as to say that it’s better than in Lord of the Rings. The action scenes were done quite well as was the previous movies. When it comes to the 48 frames per second, the action scenes were made even better but whenever it is just people talking like at the beginning at Bilbo’s house, it feels disjointed because it feels like it is sped up, even though it really isn’t. Howard Shore returns to conduct the score and it was great as always. Everything definitely feels like it’s in the same universe.

Gollum, performed by ANDY SERKIS in the fantasy adventure “THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY,” a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), released by Warner Bros. Pictures and MGM.

Even if the film didn’t really keep my attention the whole time, it was great to return to middle earth. The sequel, The Desolation of Smaug was even better and even fixed all its problems that I had with the first. Out of all the Middle Earth movies it’s my least favourite but I still like it quite a bit.

Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith (2005) Review

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Star Wars Episode 3 - Revenge of the Sith

Time: 120 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Medium Level Violence
Cast:
Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi
Natalie Portman as Padmé Amidala
Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader
Ian McDiarmid as Chancellor/Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious
Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu
Christopher Lee as Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
Kenny Baker as R2-D2
Frank Oz as Yoda
Director: George Lucas

It has been three years since the Clone Wars began. Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) rescue Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) from General Grievous, the commander of the droid armies, but Grievous escapes. Suspicions are raised within the Jedi Council concerning Chancellor Palpatine, with whom Anakin has formed a bond. Asked to spy on the chancellor, and full of bitterness toward the Jedi Council, Anakin embraces the Dark Side.

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Revenge of the Sith is the only Star Wars prequel that I can call in good conscious good. Everything has improved over the previous prequels like the acting, writing, dialogue, special effects, overall everything, along with adopting a much darker tone. It doesn’t get everything right, sometimes the dialogue doesn’t always work and Anakin’s turn to Darth Vader could’ve been done better but I do think that the pros outweigh the cons.

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The most notable difference between this film and the previous prequels was the darker tone, this is to date the darkest Star Wars movie and this really helped the movie. It also helps that this is the story that we wanted to see in the prequels, Anakin’s turn into Darth Vader. I do think that was the weakest element in this movie. It isn’t terribly done but I’ll just say without diving into spoilers it could’ve been done better. Occasionally this film does suffer from some stiff dialogue and some bad lines but for the most part the dialogue works. The story is actually great and it actually delivers. It’s not always executed in the best way (like Anakin turning into Darth Vader) but I do think that it works for the most part, probably because it is the story that we actually wanted to see.

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The acting has improved from everyone. Ewan McGregor like in Attack of the Clones is a great Obi Wan Kenobi. Hayden Christensen also has a lot more material to work with, I said in the past how he at least does well visually acting, he gets a lot more opportunities to do that here. Even Natalie Portman has improved, in fact I felt that there was actual chemistry between her and Christensen and their scenes (for the most part) were well done. Ian McDiarmid is also great as the Emperor, he’s the one shining point in all the prequels. At times he can be a little too over the top in this movie but even that’s fun to watch. Everyone else, even Samuel L. Jackson who I thought looked bored in the previous films, actually seemed like real characters here. All of the cast at some point have to deliver some bad dialogue but the actors still seem credible.

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The action scenes have improved immensely. The CGI has changed from Playstation 2 graphics to fantastic looking CGI, I still do think that there is too much of it used but at least it’s good CGI. Occasionally there are some scenes with noticeable CGI backgrounds but that’s it. The lightsabre fights are also greatly improved and exciting, even though at times it feels choreographed. It’s almost pointless bringing up John Williams’ score, because once again it is great.

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Revenge of the Sith isn’t a perfect movie but it’s a great improvement over the past 2 movies and at sometimes takes the series into a great direction. Despite the prequels not being up to par with how Star Wars movies should be, I do think that Revenge of the Sith deserves some credit for its qualities. Looking back at the prequels, I do think that all of them have some elements that added to the Star Wars world, so even though they are disappointing, none of them are not without their positives.

Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones (2002) Review

Star Wars Episode 2 - Attack of the Clones

Time: 142 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Cast:
Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi
Natalie Portman as Senator Padmé Amidala
Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker
Ian McDiarmid as Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious
Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu
Christopher Lee as Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
Kenny Baker as R2-D2
Frank Oz as the voice of Yoda
Director: George Lucas

The film is set ten years after the Battle of Naboo, when the galaxy is on the brink of civil war. Under the leadership of renegade Jedi Master Count Dooku (Christopher Lee), thousands of systems threaten to secede from the Republic. When an assassination attempt is made on Senator Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman), the former Queen of Naboo, Jedi apprentice Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) is assigned to protect her, while his mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) is assigned to investigate the assassination attempt. Soon the Jedi are drawn into the heart of the separatist movement, and the beginning of a new threat to the galaxy: the Clone Wars.

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I said before watching Attack of the Clones that it would be better than Phantom Menace, despite some calling it the worst Star Wars movie. After seeing this movie I still believe that, however it’s still not a very good film either. The dialogue is still bland, some of the characters aren’t well written, and it has one of the worst romances in movies I’ve seen. It still has some good ideas and potential, they just aren’t fully realised.

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This film is only slightly better written than The Phantom Menace but I can give credit to this film for introducing the Clone Wars, it wasn’t just an origin story for the Stormtroopers, it led to a lot of interesting stories in the Star Wars universe. The dialogue is still emotionless, particularly with the Jedi, however I wasn’t getting frustrated like I was with Phantom, with the exception of the dialogue between Anakin and Padme, which is very cheesy and really let the actors down. Overall the story is better than Phantom and it has some good ideas, however it needed to be put together better.

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Like I said in the past, the actors aren’t to blame for their performances, it’s the writing that lets them down. Hayden Christensen suffered greatly from this, most of the dialogue he delivers you don’t buy but that’s the same for most of the actors. It’s not all bad for him though, there is a moment halfway through the movie where he is great, as he doesn’t have to deliver any bad dialogue and can effectively act visually. Natalie Portman is the same as she was in The Phantom Menace, maybe worse as she and Christensen have forced romantic dialogue and no chemistry. Ewan McGregor was really good however, in the previous film he never seemed like Obi Wan but here, he seems like a younger Alec Guinness and can make some of the dialogue seem credible. I liked seeing Jango Fett in action, even though I don’t think that it was necessary showing the origin of Boba Fett. I also really liked seeing Christopher Lee as a villain but the film should’ve used him more, at least he played a bigger part in the story than Darth Maul.

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There are quite a lot of battle scenes that I enjoyed but you can definitely tell that they are fake because of the CGI overload. They weren’t as painful as the ones in Phantom Menace, but the effects still weren’t very good. The soundtrack by John Williams is excellent, that, and the sound effects are the only elements that are consistently great throughout the Star Wars movies.

Star Wars II, attack of the clones Année : 2002 - USA Thousands of Clone troupers on a Kamino landing platform Réalisateur : George Lucas

I still say that The Phantom Menace is the worst Star Wars movie and Attack of the Clones is better than it. However it still has a lot of flaws in the writing, dialogue and effects. I think the main reason why Attack of the Clones gets more hate is because it wasn’t that much better than Phantom Menace, and it’s still not a good movie. I still do like this film more though, I was more interested in the story, I wasn’t bored (for the most part) and it had some pretty good ideas.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

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Lord of the Rings The Fellowship of the Ring

Time: 178 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Battle violence and fantasy horror
Cast:
Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins
Ian McKellan as Gandalf the Grey
Viggo Mortensen as Aragon
Sean Astin as Samwise ‘Sam’ Gamgee
John-Rhys Davies as Gimli
Billy Boyd as Peregrin ‘Pippin’ Took
Dominic Monaghan as Meriadoc ‘Merry’ Brandybuck
Orlando Bloom as Legolas Greenleaf
Sean Bean as Boromir
Cate Blanchett as Galadrial
Christopher Lee as Saruman
Liv Tyler as Arwen
Hugo Weaving as Elrond
Ian Holm as Bilbo Baggins
Director: Peter Jackson

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his power so that he could rule all others but the One Ring was eventually taken from him. After many ages it fell into the hands of the Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins. On his eleventy-first birthday, Bilbo (Ian Holm) disappears, giving the Ring to his nephew, Frodo (Elijah Wood). When the wizard Gandalf (Ian Mckellen) discovers the Ring is the One Ring of Sauron, Frodo is joined by him, Legolas the elf (Orlando Bloom), Gimli the Dwarf (John Rhys-Davis), Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Boromir (Sean Bean) and his three Hobbit friends Merry (Dominic Monaghan), Pippin (Billy Boyd) and Sam (Sean Astin) in a quest to destroy it. They must journey across Middle-Earth and destroy the Ring by casting it into the Cracks of Doom.

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It’s not uncommon for anyone to say that the Lord of the Rings trilogy are some of the best films of all time. Peter Jackson successfully brings the much loved books to life with much unrelenting energy. With the film being visually striking, an interesting story and having unforgettable characters make it a classic and an essential film for everyone, no matter who they are, or what age they are.

THE LORD OF THE RINGS FELLOWSHIP OF THE RINGS ELIJAH WOOD

Despite the movie being quite long (at nearly 3 hours), it is always engaging from start to finish. Helping this is the opening scene; the opening scene to this movie is one of the best opening scenes I’ve seen, it’s up there with Raiders of the Lost Ark; it’s exciting, it’s interesting and it sets up the tone for the rest of the movie. I’ll be honest, I haven’t read any of The Lord of the Rings books, so I don’t know what the movie shows which are shown in the book, but I do know that these changes are well done, such as Arwen being more involved with the story. The whole story is well structured so that the audience is always invested in what’s going on.

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All the actors play their roles very well, every character have personality and are distinct from one another; I am very satisfied with the casting in this movie. I thought that Elijah Wood was really good as Frodo and was really relatable. Sir Ian McKellan doesn’t just play Gandalf here, he IS Gandalf, and every moment he lives and breathes as his character in this movie, his best scene of course involving the Balrog of Mordor. Viggo Mortensen was also well picked as Aragon. Other actors like Orlando Bloom, John Rhys-Davis, Sean Bean, Dominic Monaghan, Billy Boyd, Sean Astin and Christopher Lee also do great jobs in their roles.

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Peter Jackson’s movies are always really good when it comes to special effects and this is no exception. The action scenes are very well done, the two that stand out are in the opening scene and another which is close to the end of the movie. Helping this is the editing which is absolutely perfect. The locations are also well chosen, New Zealand’s wildlife ends up being a great location for many of the locations. The soundtrack by Howard Shore adds incredibility to this movie, giving the film great moments, whether it may be action scenes or others. The costumes are also done incredibly and are impeccably designed. Everything makes you feel like you are in middle earth.

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The Fellowship of the Ring is a great starting point in the Lord of the Rings franchise. The look of the movie, the acting, the characters and the overall story are brought to life by Peter Jackson. Peter Jackson has brought the acclaimed books to the big screen to huge success. I love the Lord of the Rings movies, and The Fellowship of the Ring, kicked the franchise off with a great start.