Tag Archives: Evangeline Lilly

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 Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) Review

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Time:
161 Minutes (Theatrical)
186 Minutes (Extended)
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins
Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey
Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield II
Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug
Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel
Luke Evans as Bard the Bowman
Lee Pace as Thranduil
Stephen Fry as Master of Lake-town
Orlando Bloom as Legolas Greenleaf
Graham McTavish as Dwalin
Ken Stott as Balin
Director: Peter Jackson

Having survived the first part of their unsettling journey, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and his companions (Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage) continue east. More dangers await them, including the skin-changer Beorn and the giant spiders of Mirkwood. After escaping capture by the dangerous Wood Elves, Bilbo and the dwarves journey to Lake-town and, finally, to the Lonely Mountain, where they face the greatest danger of all: the fearsome dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch).

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As a big fan of The Lord of the Rings movies, I found The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey to be good but a little disappointing when I first watched it. However, after repeat viewings, I’ve been liking it more over time. Still, I’ve always found the sequel, The Desolation of Smaug, to be an improvement over the first Hobbit movie in some ways.

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First of all, what is immediately noticed is that this movie is a lot faster paced than An Unexpected Journey, mainly because it didn’t need to set up anything with the story or characters, it just heads right into it. At the same time, it does build on the already established characters over time. The tone is a bit all over the place especially with the humour, but it is still a lot better than the first movie’s tone. The movie does feel overstuffed at times but as I said earlier, it moves at a respectable pace, and it still feels less crowded than the last movie. There are worldbuilding scenes with Gandalf after he separates from the Dwarves early on for certain reasons, and I did like that plotline as it was linking into the past Lord of the Rings movies. However the main focus lies with Bilbo and the dwarves as it continues to follow their adventure, and I liked watching that. If you’ve watched the first movie, you can probably tell at this point that they are doing their own thing instead of just being a straight adaptation of Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Peter Jackson is having these three movies as a prequel trilogy to the Lord of the Rings trilogy by using The Hobbit as a vessel. He’s taken liberties in deciding what to show, and for the most part I’m on board with them. These Hobbit movies are long but generally I prefer that they are longer than shorter. With regard to the extended cuts in all three movies in the Hobbit Trilogy, there are some great new scenes that add a lot to the world and characters, and there are also some unnecessary additions that weren’t needed. The Desolation of Smaug is darker than An Unexpected Journey, but doesn’t have the narrative weight of the LOTR trilogy, which is why I think these movies really suffer as their core. There are times where it tries to be as strong as LOTR but it just can’t reach those levels. The third act is pretty strong, though I’m not sure about the ending. At first I thought it was good, looking at Battle of the Five Armies though, it’s quite a wonder why they decided to end the movie where they did. There’s a whole major plot point that takes 15 minutes to end, and instead on concluding it here, they put it at the beginning of the next film. While it works as a cliff-hanger, it is a bit of a double edged sword.

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG

The cast all around are really good. As expected, Martin Freeman is once again great as Bilbo Baggins and he continues to do some great things here, even if he’s in the backseat sometime. Ian McKellen is once again great as Gandalf. The dwarves and their respective actors are good even if they are still lacking and aren’t quite fully fleshed out characters, they have more characterisation compared to in the previous movie. Orlando Bloom returns as Legolas from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, his appearance seems unneeded especially as he wasn’t in The Hobbit book, but I liked seeing him here. A new character introduced into the Lord of the Rings world in Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel. While the addition could’ve backfired, she was actually a welcome addition. I wasn’t such a fan of the romantic triangle subplot with her and Kili (Aidain Turner), it wasn’t convincing and doesn’t quite work but you can look past it. Other actors including Luke Evans and Lee Pace do well in their parts, and even Stephen Fry makes a brief but memorable appearance. Benedict Cumberbatch performs the voice and motion capture work as Smaug and everything about Smaug was great. His introduction scene with him and Bilbo and their conversation together was one of the best scenes of the movie.

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Peter Jackson once again has a great handle on this movie. There are some really good action scenes with some great creativity. One of the highlights was one involving a river and barrels in the first half of the movie. The action is unapologetically over the top for sure, even more so than the LOTR action, but is nonetheless enjoyable. Compared with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Hobbit movies have a much greater emphasis on CG than practical effects. For the most part it doesn’t bother me like it does other people, it’s just a little jarring at times. There are stunning visuals and I like the settings, whether they are made with practical sets, actual landscapes, or if they are CG created. Some special effects are great, Smaug in the last act for example looks fantastic. Some of the other effects can look a little iffy sometimes however. Not bad perse but it’s just sort of the issues that you would see in most modern blockbusters.

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The Desolation of Smaug doesn’t quite reach the level of the Lord of the Rings movies and has its problems, but is definitely the best of The Hobbit movies, and is pretty good on its own. It was directed very well, there’s some good visuals and action, and the cast are great in their roles. If you liked An Unexpected Journey it’s worth a watch, and I’d say it’s worth a watch even if you didn’t because you might like it a lot more.

Ant Man and the Wasp (2018) Review

Time: 118 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Contains violence & coarse language
Cast:
Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man
Evangeline Lilly as Hope van Dyne/Wasp
Michael Peña as Luis
Walton Goggins as Sonny Burch
Bobby Cannavale as Jim Paxton
Judy Greer as Maggie
Tip “T.I.” Harris as Dave
David Dastmalchian as Kurt
Hannah John-Kamen as Ava Starr/Ghost
Abby Ryder Fortson as Cassie
Randall Park as Jimmy Woo
Michelle Pfeiffer as Janet van Dyne
Laurence Fishburne as Bill Foster
Michael Douglas as Hank Pym
Director: Peyton Reed

Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is grappling with the consequences of his choices as both a superhero and a father. Approached by Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), Lang must once again don the Ant-Man suit and fight alongside the Wasp. The urgent mission soon leads to secret revelations from the past as the dynamic duo finds itself in an epic battle against a powerful new enemy.

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I was somewhat interested in Ant Man and the Wasp. I have to admit I wasn’t super hyped for the movie. Don’t get me wrong, I actually liked the first Ant Man, it was a simple but effective enough comic book movie that was quite entertaining. However with it being released after the juggernaut and emotional chapter that was Infinity War, Ant Man and the Wasp just felt a little off to release months after. Also I had a feeling that the sequel would just be more of the same, fun but nothing really that new. Nonetheless I was interested. Ant Man and the Wasp surprisingly worked very well for what it is, which is a fun and entertaining comedy.

Something that is quite apparent is that this movie is very focussed on being funny and entertaining. It’s like Marvel wanted a lighter movie following Infinity War, that could possibly affect your thoughts on Ant Man and the Wasp, for better or for worse. A problem which could happen with some MCU films is that while the comedy works, often times it would interrupt some more dramatic or emotional scenes. However with Ant Man and the Wasp, there aren’t a ton of emotional scenes, the most is related to Scott Lang and his daughter and Hope van Dyne and Hank Pym with Pym’s wife (played by Michelle Pfeiffer). So there really weren’t many emotional scenes to ruin with comedy. This movie might as well be called a straight up comedy and while I would’ve preferred some more emotional depth to the movie, it does well at what it sets out to do. A criticism of the movie is that it doesn’t have great consequences or stakes, like with the first movie the stake here are very small and personal and I’m completely fine with that. Even so, you don’t ever feel a sense of urgency, you felt it slightly more in the first movie but here you always just know that everything is going to be alright. It’s also rather predictable, with very rare surprises. Really the biggest spoiler of the movie is the credit scenes, you can’t really spoil most of the movie. It’s a rather straightforward superhero movie that doesn’t really do anything particularly surprising, it’s goal was for it to be fun and hilarious and it achieved that. The movie is about 2 hours long and from start to finish I was quite entertained. There are a couple credits scenes, the first is about something that everyone will want to watch following Infinity War, the second is okay but not necessary to watch.

Paul Rudd is once again great as Scott Lang/Ant Man, he’s just so likable and funny, and a real underdog character. It’s very easy to root for him, Rudd’s casting was perfect. It’s been a few years since I’ve watched the first Ant Man for the first time, but I remember him being a little less goofy in the original movie. While he’s not completely stupid or anything, they do put him in more goofy scenarios or make him do some somewhat goofy things, it’s like they were doing that to try to make Evangeline Lilly’s character of The Wasp stand out more in comparison, which wasn’t necessary as she would’ve done that perfectly fine on her own. Lilly as the Wasp is one of the standouts of the movie, she gets to do a lot here and the movie definitely utilises her well. I didn’t buy the sorta romance between her and Scott in the first movie and the same is here. It’s not constantly done again and again to the point of annoyance but it can be distracting at times and doesn’t really work. Michael Douglas is once again great as Hank Pym, perfect casting, here he gets to do even more than in the original movie. Michael Pena like in the first movie is very funny and has some great scenes. Other actors like Laurence Fishburne do their part. The villains often have a chance of being one of the weaker parts in MCU movies (or comic book movies in general), however with Black Panther and Infinity War earlier this year providing great comic book villains in Killmonger and Thanos, the MCU seemed to be making some progress in regards to them. The main villain in Ant Man and the Wasp is Hannah John-Kamen as the character of Ghost, who has unique phasing abilities which can lead to some entertaining action scenes. Also she does have a different backstory and credit from other MCU villains, you can really understand why she does the things she does here. For once the whole “this comic book movie villain isn’t really a villain” description actually applies, it could be argued that Ghost is more just an antagonist than a villain. It seems that all the main MCU villains this year have in common is that they all have strong and defined motivations. Ghost unfortunately isn’t a top tier level villain in the MCU but she’s a reasonably strong second tier villain. The biggest problem is that aside from her powers, the backstory, motivation and the performance, there isn’t enough of her as a character. She has just about enough screentime but it would’ve been a little better if they showed a little more to the character. With that said, the character was actually done well, with her arc being treated well, consistent throughout and not just being a throwaway villain. Also Hannah does do a great job in her role. She fared much better than Walton Goggins, who served to be as a leader of generic disposable henchmen. Goggins really is wasted here as a generic villain. He and his henchmen seem to only be in this movie because the movie needed a large amount of villainous characters that the main characters can fight because the main villain herself didn’t have any. Honestly if they were somehow connected to Ghost, maybe they could’ve worked in some way.

Peyton Reed turns from the first movie to direct Ant Man and the Wasp. The thing that really stood out about the first Ant Man was the unique action scenes that included resizing (mostly shrinking). The sequel really leaned into that more and they got very creative with the action scenes. Other visual aspects such as Ghost’s phasing ability are done pretty well. The visuals can look pretty stunning at times, especially when it comes to the Quantum Realm, which plays a part in this movie. On a side note, like in the first movie there is a flashback scene which utilises de-aging technology and once again it works effectively.

Ant Man and the Wasp is not anywhere near the top tier of Marvel but it is quite entertaining. The cast do well in their roles, it’s visually stunning with some entertaining action scenes and the movie is so fun. It does have its fair share of issues but it achieves what it sets out to do for the most part. If you really liked the first Ant Man, I’m pretty sure that you’ll have a good time with Ant Man and the Wasp.

Ant Man (2015) Review

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Ant Man

Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]Violence and Offensive Language
Cast:
Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man
Evangeline Lilly as Hope van Dyne
Corey Stoll as Darren Cross
Bobby Cannavale as Paxton
Michael Peña as Luis
Tip “T.I.” Harris as Dave
Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon
Wood Harris as Gale
Judy Greer as Maggie
David Dastmalchian as Kurt
Michael Douglas as Hank Pym
Director: Peyton Reed

Armed with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, con-man Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) must embrace his inner-hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats. Against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.

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Ant Man has been receiving quite a lot of scepticism before its release. Not only was this concept hard to pull off but Edgar Wright’s separation from the project concerned many. Despite this, Ant Man manages to rise above all its potential problems and makes for a great and refreshing addition to the Marvel universe. Ant Man proves once again that Marvel can take a concept that is hard to pull off but actually manage to succeed in delivering.

Marvel's Ant-Man..Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd)..Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal..© Marvel 2014

The first thing you need to know is that Ant Man is not a big movie. Go into Ant Man as if you are seeing a heist movie as opposed to a save the world type of movies like Age of Ultron. It’s actually kind of refreshing, it can get a little tiring being bogged down by the large scope and stakes of some of the big movies. It is also a very funny movie, this might actually be the funniest movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (either this or Guardians of the Galaxy). Although Edgar Wright has left the project, you can tell from a lot of the scenes, writing and dialogue his work. I would’ve liked to have seen what Wright had in mind for this film but it is still pretty good. Peyton Reed has directed this movie quite well, despite my doubts of his choice of helming this movie. The last thing to know is that Ant Man has 2 credit scenes, so be sure to stick around for them.

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Paul Rudd is great in this film, this is probably the best performance I’ve seen from him so far. He really transitioned into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with ease and I look forward to seeing more of him as Ant Man. Michael Douglas was perfect casting as Hank Pym, it is one of his best performances in a while. Evangeline Lilly was also great as Hank’s daughter, I could really sense a lot of history between her and Michael Douglas. Michael Pena was great and he provided a lot of great comic relief. Villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (for the most part) aren’t that good and while Darren Cross, the villain of this film isn’t that fleshed out, its actor’s Corey Stoll’s performance that makes him one of the better antagonists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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Like with the script, you can definitely see Edgar Wright’s style here, like with its fast editing. The effects to show Ant Man shrinking look really great and the film really takes advantage of its opportunities to create some really great, entertaining and at times hilarious scenes. This film is actually worth watching in 3D, it really does enhance and make the experience much better and that’s not something I usually say about 3D movies. The climax of this film is very enjoyable and it gets very creative and entertaining.

I said in my anticipated movies of 2015 that if Marvel can pull off Ant Man and make it great, I’ll be pretty much sold on any movie that they make, no matter how ridiculous a premise it may sound. They have done that with Ant Man and have made it much more. Looking at this film (and the end credit scenes) I’m excited for Marvel’s next films. So far it looks like today, Marvel can do no wrong (well at least movies by in the Avengers universe).