Tag Archives: Ian Mckellen

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.

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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.

Beauty and the Beast (2017) Review

Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Cast:
Emma Watson as Belle
Dan Stevens as The Prince/Beast
Luke Evans as Gaston
Kevin Kline as Maurice
Josh Gad as LeFou
Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza
Ian McKellen as Cogsworth
Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts
Audra McDonald as Madame de Garderobe
Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette
Director: Bill Condon

Belle (Emma Watson), a bright, beautiful and independent young woman, is taken prisoner by a beast (Dan Stevens) in its castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the beast’s hideous exterior, allowing her to recognize the kind heart and soul of the true prince that hides on the inside.

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Although Beauty and the Beast was on my most anticipated films of 2017 list, it was a movie I was feeling mixed about. It had a lot of potential with it having a good cast. At the same time though, it’s yet another live action adaptation of a Disney movie, which feels like just another cash grab. Overall that’s pretty much what this movie is, it’s not necessarily a bad movie though. On the contrary actually, it’s a pretty decent movie. The acting and most of the execution worked really well. However some of the directional decisions made were rather questionable and took me out of the movie.

The story was good overall, I had no real problems with it. With that said, from what I can tell, this story follows the original story quite closely. So, I don’t take much issue with the story itself, it was some of the decisions made in delivering that story that I felt a little mixed about. I personally liked the second act the most (though again that’s most likely due to the directional decisions being the best).

The acting was generally good all around. Emma Watson did a pretty good job as Belle, I still saw her as Hermoine Granger as Belle, but she did well in her role. Dan Stevens was also really good. Most of the time he is under a lot of makeup and costume but yet is able to convey emotion underneath all that. Luke Evans was great as Gaston, it was a larger than life performance, it was very over the top, which it did take me out of the movie. But from what I can tell it is still less over the top than other versions of Gaston. I will say that Evans fully embraced the role. The standouts to me were Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellan, they were voicing Lumiere and Cogsworth respectively and were quite entertaining.

I like most of the directional decisions made. The effects involving the Beast were very effective, I’m not sure how they did it, but they managed to make it so that Stevens could be able to express his emotions through it. The costume design was great overall. The CGI was effective for the most part, although some of the CGI in the last act was a little fake. I liked most of the musical number. Despite many of the directional decisions I liked, there were some very over the top elements that took me out of the movie, such as the opening Belle song and the last act. Now I haven’t seen the original film, so I can’t tell if some of the decisions were to pay homage to the original film. But either way with some I just couldn’t get into it.

Beauty and the Beast was a pretty good movie overall, with the acting and most of the directional decisions made being decent. I did however have a lot of issues with some of the directional ideas chosen, these ideas really took me out of the movie. As I said, it was not necessary for this movie to exist, it’s yet another okay enough live action Disney adaptation. But despite it being unnecessary, I still think that overall I think it’s a decent movie and if you are a fan of the original film and are interested in seeing this version, see it. You’ll most likely like it a lot.

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) Review

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X-Men Days of Future Past

Time: 132 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Hugh Jackman as Logan/Wolverine
James McAvoy as Charles Xavier/Professor X (Past)
Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto (Past)
Jennifer Lawrence as Raven Darkhölme / Mystique
Halle Berry as Ororo Munroe/Storm
Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy/Beast
Ellen Page as Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat
Shawn Ashmore as Bobby Drake/Iceman
Peter Dinklage as Bolivar Trask
Ian McKellen as Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto
Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier/Professor X
Director: Bryan Singer

Convinced that mutants pose a threat to humanity, Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) develops the Sentinels, enormous robotic weapons that can detect a mutant gene and zero in on that person. In the 21st century, the Sentinels have evolved into highly efficient killing machines. With mutants now facing extinction, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) volunteers to go back in time and rally the X-Men of the past to help change a pivotal moment in history and thereby save their future.

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Dabbling into time travel is a huge risk but Days of Future Past is one of those rare movies which actually managed to apply it quite well. In fact for me, this is the best X Men movie made yet. Everything from the acting, the story and action is so greatly done by Bryan Singer. This movie showed that First Class wasn’t just a fluke, the X Men series is great again, and it looks like it will be great for a long time.

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The problem with time travelling movies is that it can be confusing and contradictive but the film offers up logical explanations that helped explain everything well. This film also blended the old and the new characters quite well, all of them are portrayed quite well. There is a good balance between action and story, and it’s quite easy to care about what was going on, which was something that I felt was sometimes lacking in the previous movies. There definitely is more past than future, but it’s quite balanced out, the time jumps never feel jarring. I will also say without spoilers that the result of the time travelling actually fixes a lot of the mistakes in the previous movies.

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The movie combines the cast of the old and new films and all of them as usual was great. So actors of the old trilogy like Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan and others as well as actors from the new series like Nicholas Hoult were great. A particular standout for me was James McAvoy as Charles Xavier. Whereas X Men First Class was Magneto’s journey, Days of Future Past was Xavier’s journey. Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique is also pretty good and also gets a good balance of action and character in this film. A scene stealer was Evan Peters as Quicksilver, he’s not in the movie a whole lot but he’s great in every scene he’s in. His scene where he demonstrates his power is one of the best scenes in a superhero movie I’ve ever seen. I also thought that Peter Dinklage did a pretty good job as the villain.

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Bryan Singer always directs X Men movies well. The action as to be expected was great and it showcased the powers of the mutants well. But it was not just the action that impressed me. The visuals in the future time looked beautifully dark and bleak, the past time looked straight out of the 70s. Days of Future Past is easily the most visually beautiful of the X Men movies. The special effects again are excellent, everything is on such a big scale, whether it be the Sentinels in the future or a scene involving Magneto and a stadium. I also love the score by John Ottoman, who returned from X Men 2.

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X Men Days of Future Past succeeded on pretty much every level, it had fantastic acting and portrayals of these characters, it had great action and it has a pretty engaging story. X Men Days of Future Past is for me the best X Men movie at the moment. We’ll have to see what happens with X Men Apocalypse and whether it can gain that title, but even if it’s close to the level of greatness of this movie, I’ll be happy.

X-Men The Last Stand (2006) Review

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X-Men The Last Stand

Time: 104 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Hugh Jackman as Logan/Wolverine
Halle Berry as Ororo Munroe/Storm
Ian McKellen as Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto
Famke Janssen as Jean Grey/Phoenix/Dark Phoenix
Anna Paquin as Marie/Rogue
Kelsey Grammer as Dr. Hank McCoy/Beast
James Marsden as Scott Summers/Cyclops
Rebecca Romijn as Raven Darkhölme/Mystique
Shawn Ashmore as Bobby Drake/Iceman
Aaron Stanford as John Allerdyce/Pyro
Vinnie Jones as Cain Marko/Juggernaut
Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier/Professor X
Director: Brett Ratner

The discovery of a cure for mutations leads to a turning point for Mutants (Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, Rebecca Romijn, Kelsey Grammer). They may now choose to give up their powers and become fully human or retain their uniqueness and remain isolated. War looms between the followers of Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who preaches tolerance, and those of Magneto (Ian McKellen), who advocates survival of the fittest.

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X Men: The Last Stand has gotten the reputation of being the worst X Men movie and I think that’s a little ridiculous (X-Men: Origins Wolverine was clearly much worse). But even if it is one of the worse X-Men movies, it’s still not as bad as many others are making it out to be. The main flaw was aspects of the story and direction, it could’ve been so much more and Bryan Singer’s absence can be definitely noticed. However I still think there’s still enough aspects that make it an above average movie.

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One thing that this film does is raise the stakes, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. An example of the latter is when the film does kill off characters, I’ve noticed a lot of complaints are aimed towards those moments. While I didn’t feel anything when these deaths happened (which is probably a flaw in the X Men movies as a whole), these deaths felt unnecessary. I guess it was because Fox thought that this would be the last X Men movie, so they tried to raise the stakes. But it felt so forced and unnecessary. A big complaint that many had was the execution of the Phoenix storyline, as I haven’t read the comics I don’t really know the differences. So I can’t really comment on that. I will say that I thought it was fine but it didn’t reach its fullest potential. The final act of the movie is a big mutants against mutants fight and I personally thought that was enjoyable to see.

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The cast was again good in their role, with Hugh Jackman of course stealing the show. Some of the additions to the cast were great, for example I loved what they did with Kelsey Grammer’s Beast. One flaw that I have acknowledged was the fact that so many new mutants are introduced and nothing is done with them. Vinnie Jones for example plays the Juggernaut, he was really entertaining (in a funny way, not in a badass way) in his 2 scenes but didn’t add anything. Ben Foster’s Angel didn’t do much either, his character was in the first scene of the movie but he’s only in a few scenes.

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The special effects are as usual good, they are on the same level as the other X Men movies. Even if you don’t like the movie, there’s no denying that there are many visually great moments. One example is in the final act involving the Golden Gate Bridge. The final action scenes was great and after seeing small groups of mutants fighting other groups of mutants (or in the case of X2, human soldiers) it felt so exciting and refreshing to see a great mutant on mutant war.

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I don’t really get a whole lot of the hate for X Men 3. Sure it doesn’t hold up to the previous movies but it still holds up as a decent movie. The action is still good, the actors do reasonably well and I liked aspects of the direction in the story. The main flaw is in the story, there are so many parts of the movie that could’ve been improved. I felt like Brett Ratner might’ve been the main flaw, Bryan Singer skipped this movie for Superman Returns (great choice by the way), and given Ratner’s track record, it’s easy to see why this movie would fail. The Last Stand is by no means a great movie but it isn’t a bad movie either.

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.

X2: X Men United (2003) Review

Time: 134 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier/Professor X
Hugh Jackman as Logan/Wolverine
Ian McKellen as Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto
Halle Berry as Ororo Munroe/Storm
Famke Janssen as Dr. Jean Grey
James Marsden as Scott Summers/Cyclops
Rebecca Romijn as Raven Darkholme/Mystique
Brian Cox as Col. William Stryker
Alan Cumming as Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler
Bruce Davison as Sen. Robert Kelly
Shawn Ashmore as Bobby Drake/Iceman
Aaron Stanford as John Allerdyce/Pyro
Kelly Hu as Yuriko Oyama/Lady Deathstrike
Anna Paquin as Marie/Rogue
Director: Bryan Singer

After the events on Liberty Island, everyone at Xavier’s (Patrick Stewart) School for Gifted Youngsters is settling in. Magneto (Ian McKellen) is locked up in a plastic cell, Rogue (Anna Paquin) and Bobby Drake (Shawn Ashmore) have finally gotten together, and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) has set off to find his origins. But it won’t stay quiet for long. After a mutant attack on the President, everyone starts to fear any type of mutant. William Stryker (Brian Cox), who plans to stop all mutants, takes over the school, causing Wolverine and his team of mutants to go into hiding. Stryker has managed to capture Xavier and will use him to create another version of Cerebro. Wolverine and the team must now team up with their enemy, Magneto, to stop Stryker before it’s too late.

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X Men was a pretty good movie and was one of the movies that brought back the superhero genre. Director Bryan Singer returns to deliver an even better X Men movie. With more characters, more development of the characters and a plot which isn’t just a rehash of the original, X Men 2 proves to be even better than the original. It’s still not the best X Men movie but it is the best of the original trilogy.

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I really liked the aspect of the X Men teaming up with Magneto, it would be so easy just to have them as enemies for the sequel but this time around it gives us something different. I also liked the pacing better here, while I did like the previous X Men, after watching it again I noticed that the pacing was a little slower, now that the characters are (mostly) established I think Singer could afford to have a faster pace. This also meant that more of the characters could be developed (at least a little bit). Once of the main criticisms of the first film was that aside from some characters (such as Wolverine, Rogue and Magneto) most of the characters were underdeveloped. Although I can’t call all of them fully developed (Especially Cyclops and Mystique) the film at least showed more aspects of them.

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All the actors from the previous movie return and once again are good in their roles, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, and the rest of the cast are really good but Hugh Jackman as usual steals the show as Wolverine, it’s hard imagining anyone else in his role. Brian Cox I thought did a pretty good job as the main villain, who has a lot of history with Wolverine. Alan Cumming Nightcrawler was a nice addition to the X Men, I’m actually surprised that he didn’t return for the sequel. As I said before, more of the characters are given more depth and I started to like them more, with the exception of Cyclops who doesn’t show up a lot in the movie.

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The action scenes once again are well filmed and there are much more of them as there is much more going on in the story. Highlights of the film for me were the opening scenes with Nightcrawler and the fight scenes between Wolverine and Lady Deathstrike at the end of the movie. The soundtrack again was really good and added to the movie.

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X Men 2 is for me a better movie than the original X Men. That film was a good set up to the X Men, while X Men 2 was a great X Men movie. It’s still not the best X Men movie but it’s the best X Men film of the original trilogy. It has the best action scenes, it has the best story and it used the characters the best. It’s not a perfect movie, looking back at it not all of the characters are fully developed but it is an improvement over the first film.

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.