The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)


If This is to End in Fire, Then We Will All Burn Together!

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)Fans of my reviews may remember that last year I was extremely upset by The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  I went into the movie unaware of the fact that Peter Jackson had split one book into three movies, leaving me angered over the fact that nothing had been resolved by the ending of the movie.  Going into today’s movie, I was aware but was perhaps still a bit sore about the perceived deception.  We’ll see how that worked out for this movie as I review The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, based on a novel by J. R. R. Tolkien, adapted for screen by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Guillermo del Toro, directed and co-written by Peter Jackson, and starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, Orlando Bloom, Luke Evans, Lee Pace, Stephen Fry, Graham McTavish, Ken Stott, Aiden Turner, Dean O’Gorman, Mark Hadlow, Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Manu Bennett, Cate Blanchett, Mikael Persbrandt, and Sylvester McCoy.

We still Hobbitin’, y’all!  Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) accompanies a group of Dwarves lead by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) to try to recapture the Arkenstone from the Lonely Mountain where it’s kept by the dragon Smaug.  The Arkenstone will somehow help Thorin become a king again or some shit.  On the way, their time is wasted by a skin-changer named Beorn (Mikael Persbrandt), some elves named Tranduil (Lee Pace), Legolas (Orlando Bloom), and Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), and some Orcs.  Also, they meet Bard (Luke Evans) when they go to the cleverly named Lake-town, led by Stephen Fry.

If Thorin decided that he wanted to share his kingdom and he wanted to divide the Arkenstone amongst the other Dwarves, do you know how he would cut the Arkenstone?  With an Arken-saw!  I thought of that joke during the movie and, though I have told many of the people that I know read these reviews, I just want it to be available to cause pain throughout the entire internet.  As far as this movie goes, I again found myself angered by my expectations for it, but that anger was tempered with the experiences I gained from the first movie.  When I saw the first Hobbit, I didn’t realize that Jackson had split one book into three movies, leaving me angry.  I expected this movie to have me see Smaug desolated.  Turns out they mean the desolation CAUSED BY Smaug.  Youse is a tricky bitch, Jackson!  But going into the movie knowing the history of anger I had with the series allowed my expectations to compensate for it and I would say that I ultimately enjoyed the movie.  I still felt like there was a lot of wasted time with walking over mountains, stumbling through the woods, and conversations between Dwarves and Elves about the moon, and still don’t feel like there’s anything beyond a financial reason for this to be three movies, but it was still pretty entertaining.  Though he was a small part in the movie, I also appreciated the “skin-changer.”  Well, I guess it’s more accurate to say that I appreciated that they called him a skin-changer.  “Were-bear” would have sounded odd.

The look was good as you’d probably expect it to be, but there were some parts that didn’t feel like they held up as well.  Mainly parts of the white water rafting scene, and mainly just the parts of those scenes that appeared to have been filmed with a GoPro for some reason.  But I liked the scenes with Smaug.  Dragons are awesome.  And those scenes were visually spectacular.  Not just was the dragon awesome, but the constantly spilling gold coins added a level of difficulty to the rendering that I respect.  And Smaug looked scary as hell through most of his scenes, but I have to imagine that there was no way he looked anything but adorable when he was burrowing down into the gold where he was sleeping.  I imagine it looked like a little puppy burrowing into a pile of blankets with his nose.

The action was also pretty good in this movie.  I particularly liked the fat dwarf barrel fight because it was pretty funny and all of the fights involving Legolas and Tauriel because elven fighting is pretty awesome.  It’s like martial arts mixed with Hawkeye from Avengers bow and arrow action.

The cast also did find jobs in this movie.  I thought it was dangerous of this movie to add Luke Evans to the cast, though.  Not because I don’t expect him to be good, but because he is so easily confusable with Orlando Bloom, who was already in this movie.  Thankfully, Evans looks more like Will Turner from Pirates of the Caribbean and Bloom looks more like Legolas in this movie, so it was easy to keep them separated.  But his character didn’t give me any problems.  Other people in relation to his character did.  What the hell kind of logic is it to not pay attention to his ideas because his great great grandfather had a shitty aim?  Thank God no one that I know ever went to the gun range with my ancestors or I’d have even fewer people reading my reviews.

If the Necromancer in this movie had a puppy that needed to go to the bathroom, would it have to use the doggy door of Dol Guldur?  Sorry, that was another terrible joke I thought of that I wanted to punish you with.  The Desolation of Smaug was another good Hobbit movie whose greatest problem is the fact that I don’t feel that they need to be 3 (or possibly even 2) movies.  There is enough wasted time and side stuff that could’ve been cut out, but it still looks great, has some exciting action, and a great cast.  So I’m still going to recommend you watch this movie, but I personally won’t be purchasing a Hobbit movie until they come in one package.  I would’ve given this movie series enough money by then.  The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug gets “I merely wanted to gaze upon your magnificence, to see if you were as great as the old tales say” out of “I did not believe them.”

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The World’s End (2013)


That’s Why I Drink Using a Crazy Straw.  Not So Crazy Now!

The World's End (2013)When this movie was out in theaters, I was very excited to see it.  It was the third outing for a director I love, two writers I love, and two actors I love.  I even saw this movie while it was still in theaters.  And then I forgot to review it.  My notes must’ve gotten covered up on my desk and I eventually just forgot that I hadn’t done it yet.  I’ve even reviewed the other two movies in the trilogy in preparation for this review!  Then, when this movie came out on DVD on Tuesday, I went to repost my review to let people know if they should buy it, only to find that I had failed you all.  Well no more!  Today, I bring you my late review of The World’s End, written by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, directed by Edgar Wright, and starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Rosamund Pike, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, David Bradley, Michael Smiley, Pierce Brosnan, and Bill Nighy.

Gary King (Simon Pegg) sets his sights on getting the band back together, recruiting his old high school friends – Andy Knightley (Nick Frost), Steven Prince (Paddy Considine), Oliver “O-Man” Chamberlain (Martin Freeman), and Peter Page (Eddie Marsan) – to finish the 12 bar pub crawl that they attempted and failed 20 years earlier.  The other friends have all grown up and none are interested in making the attempt, but Gary manages to persuade all of them anyway.  But when the group arrives in Newton Haven, they find that things have changed.  Is it because they’ve all grown older, or is it because the town has been taken over by alien robots?  Who can say, really?

The problem I had with this movie is that it was part of the Cornetto trilogy.  On its own, I imagine I would’ve thought it was fantastic.  I guess I still did, but the problem is that Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz were superior.  So it’s the worst of the Cornetto trilogy, but still one of the best comedies of this year.  It’s a lot of the writing that makes these movies so enjoyable.  They’re chock full of fantastic wordplay and the stories are so well thought out that they you have to really pay attention to the little things to see all of the hidden jokes.  But I greatly appreciate some good wordplay.  Their Peter/Paul run was good, Dr. Ink was great once I figured it out, the white lie of his mother’s death line was hilarious, and many of the selective memory jokes were all the reasons that these movies stand apart so well.  I also appreciated all the ways Gary misunderstood what people were saying to him, like when he said, “What the fuck does WTF mean?”  But I think the thing I always appreciated most about these Cornetto movies is how they foreshadow everything that’s going to happen in various different ways; be they from off-handed remarks people make to the names of the bars and the order they’re in.  They’ve always been expertly hidden in their movies.  I know that I had to watch Shaun of the Dead a second time before I truly saw the brilliance of the movie.  This movie does the same thing, but part of the problem is that I expected the foreshadowing because of their other two movies, and it can kind of spoil the outcome.  Though the outcome isn’t the biggest twist in the world, so it isn’t that big of a loss.

Another thing that sets the Cornetto movies apart from most comedies is that they are legitimately good examples of the movie types they’re parodying.  Shaun of the Dead is one of my favorite zombie movies.  Hot Fuzz is one of my favorite action movies.  And now The World’s End would definitely fit towards the top of my science fiction movies.  They have some great special effects and some fantastic action as well.  Where else might you see Simon Pegg Rock Bottom someone and Nick Frost deliver a People’s Elbow?  Then there’s a big fight where Nick Frost lays a beating down on a room full of robots and Simon Pegg fights like Jackie Chan in the Legend of Drunken Master.  I’m 100% behind all of this!

No surprises here, but I still love all the people I loved before I even started watching this movie.  And I started loving those I was indifferent to.  Simon Pegg is still fantastic.  He did a great job of being funny and always appearing jovial while still seeming like there was some depression hiding just beneath the surface.  Nick Frost was losing me towards the beginning of the movie when he was straight-laced and generally being a dick to Simon, but once he starts slamming down the shots he got back to the Nick Frost I love.  Also, this movie has the second James Bond in one of the Cornetto trilogy (Pierce Brosnan.  Hot Fuzz had Timothy Dalton) and the first one to have a Bond girl (Rosamund Pike).  Interesting fact, but not interesting enough to give me something else to say about it.

I would say that The World’s End is the weakest of the three movies in the Cornetto Trilogy, but with the level of competition offered by the other two that’s not saying much.  The World’s End is a great movie on its own, but it can be somewhat hindered by the comparison.  The story is good though it gets a little heavy handed at the end, but how well it’s planned out and how well the jokes are written can easily overcome that minor problem.  It’s also got some really good action scenes and a phenomenal cast.  This is still definitely a movie that’s worth seeing.  In fact, it’s good enough to just go out and buy.  The World’s End gets “I still think nothing that has been suggested in the last 10 minutes beats ‘smashy smashy egg men’” out of “There’s only one Gary King!”

WATCH REVIEWS HERE!  YouTube  OTHER JOKES HERE!  Twitter  BE A FAN HERE!  Facebook  If you like these reviews so much, spread the word.  Keep me motivated!  Also, if you like them so much, why don’t you marry them?!

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)


Every Good Story Deserves to Be Embellished.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)I had a perplexing amount of trepidation when it came to choosing to see today’s movie.  I don’t really know what it was though.  I had very much enjoyed the other three movies directed by the director of this movie and based on the books by the same author, but seeing that today’s movie was released did nothing to inspire me to see it.  So how did I end up watching it?  Complete dumb coincidence.  I went to the theaters with an intention to make it a double feature and, when I left the first movie and checked the show times for the next movie, it happened to be exactly the time this movie was starting.  That either had to be a sign from the heavens or just some random coincidence.  Well nothing else really struck me as worth waiting around for, so I got my ticket and sat down to watch The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, based on a novel by J. R. R. Tolkien, written for the screen by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, and Guillermo del Toro, directed by Peter Jackson, and starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Graham McTavish, Ken Stott, Aiden Turner, Dean O’Gorman, Mark Hadlow, Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee, Sylvester McCoy, Andy Serkis,  Ian Holm, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Elijah Wood.

The kingdom of Erebor is overrun by the dragon, Smaug, drawn to their kingdom by the gold they’ve amassed, and destroying the town of Dale on the way.  The king’s grandson, Thorin (Richard Armitage), is one of the survivors of the attack.  Later, the wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) brings a party of 13 Dwarves, including Thorin, to the house of an unsuspecting Hobbit named Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) in hopes of getting Bilbo to join their mission to reclaim Erebor.  He refuses at first, but Gandalf appeals to his adventurous side and the group embark on their quest.  Along the way, they encounter Trolls, Orcs, Elves, and tales of a necromancer (Benedict Cumberbatch) in the fortress Dol Guldur.

This movie made me very angry, but I suppose the bulk of it is my own fault.  I probably should’ve found out something about this movie before going in, but I went into it with no more information than I had before I even knew the movie was a possibility.  I had seen the cartoon a long time ago, and I guess I assumed that Peter Jackson was able to fit the entire story into one three hour movie.  The book was only 310 pages, and I figured one minute per page was not necessarily out of the question.  Peter Jackson, on the other hand, apparently felt that it needed to be made into its own trilogy somehow.  The other thing I knew about the original movie was that a big part of the movie was the dragon, Smaug, so I also figured this dragon would be in this movie at all!  When this long ass trudge of a movie was about 20 minutes away from finishing, I was wondering how they were going to complete the Smaug storyline so quickly, not knowing that it was not their intention to finish that story in this movie, or even to involve that story.  It wouldn’t have felt as bad if I felt they filled their movie appropriately, but a lot of it felt like wasted time.   The numerous side missions that they embarked on as they headed to the mountain made me realize why these Lord of the Rings movies are 12 hours a piece.  Also contributing to that is Jackson’s apparent love for scenes of people walking.  That joke from Clerks 2 now has some more ammunition after this movie.

All that being said, there were a pretty good amount of things that were done right in this movie.  It surprises no one to find that this movie is a visual delight.  We’ve seen that out of Jackson at least three times already.  I would say that it occasionally felt recycled as some of the scenes of the Dwarves running over mountaintops looked exactly like similar scenes of the Fellowship of the Ring running over mountaintops in the first three movies.  It’s generally completely epic in scale, but even the smaller details are impressive.  I thought the pale Orc’s prosthetic arm was too scrawny and not intimidating the first time I saw it, but then I realized that it was kind of badass when I realized that it was actually shoved all the way through the stump of his forearm.  And I liked one of the really epic scenes (that also technically had no real story impact at all) where they were going through the mountains and the mountains kind of got up and started punching each other (not a joke).  I liked this because it kind of felt like I was watching a God of War level.  The action (when it happened) was usually very well done.  I especially liked the Dwarves’ escape from Orc Mountain.  The humor of this movie was mostly lost on me, being mostly slapstick or as simple as, “This one Dwarf is fat!  Isn’t that hilarious?!”  They did have a couple of moments that worked really well, though, such as Gandalf’s story about the creation of golf.  I couldn’t blame them too much because this movie felt like it was almost trying to be a children’s movie, but it also felt like it was a little too slow and dark in parts for the younger audience.

The cast does a mostly fine job in this movie.  I really like Martin Freeman, and he was able to bring a good deal of comedy with small mannerisms in his performance.  He also got a few moments of true badassdom near the end of the movie, which I didn’t necessarily expect out of Bilbo.  Ian McKellen is Ian McKellen.  No point even bothering to say that dude is awesome.  I did think he was generally used as a sort of deus ex machina during the movie, disappearing for long stretches of time and popping in at the last minute to save the team when Tolkien may have written himself into a corner.  “We’ll just keep amping this scene up more and more until eventually everyone is at the mercy of a group of Trolls and there’s no hope for salvation.”  “Then what?”  “Uh…Gandalf…?”  “…It’ll do…”  I didn’t take issue with Sylvester McCoy’s performance of Radagast the Brown, but I did generally feel as if all of the time I spent with that character was a waste of my time.  If all parts involving him were dropped out of the movie, no one would notice.  And the movie would be about a half hour shorter.  And he did the shittiest job of leading the Orcs away from the Dwarves.  He brought them on nearly intersecting paths with the fleeing Dwarves like 20 times.  How about this?  If you want to lead a group away from another group, go in the opposite direction.  Try that out next time.  I also appreciated that they had reappearances from every character they could logically fit into the movie.  Elijah Wood is in this for a little bit, Hugo Weaving comes back, Cate Blanchett returns as that overly creepy Elf chick, Christopher Lee pops in for a bit, and Gimli is technically in this movie as well, but only because his father Glóin is one of the Dwarves and I assume Gimli was in his balls somewhere.

I found myself a little bit embittered by some of the things in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, but overall I’d say it was a pretty good movie.  It’s way too long and it felt like they wasted too much time, even though they apparently felt that the story could not be contained to one (or even two) movies, but the epic scale and great action (when it happens) make it passable.  So long as you’re more patient than I am and go in knowing that the stuff you might know about the Hobbit don’t actually happen in this movie, you should be fine seeing it in theaters.  The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey gets “True courage is not about knowing when to take a life … but when to spare one” out of “A dark power has found a way back into the world.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

What’s Your Number? (2011)


Are You Going to Rape and Kill Me Later?

The only inspiration I had for watching today’s movie was my love of the main actress in it.  I know I’ve said that I was in love with probably 20 actresses by now, but I like to keep my options open.  And that’s kind of what today’s movie is about.  I knew the basic premise of today’s movie and knew that it was a comedy, but was mainly drawn to the movie by the star.  I’m sure there was a point when it was available on RedBox, but I found the movie on Netflix and got the disc sent to me.  So let’s check in with What’s Your Number?, written by Gabrielle Allan and Jennifer Crittenden, directed by Mark Mylod, and starring Anna Faris, Chris Evans, Ari Graynor, Blythe Danner, Ed Begley Jr., Heather Burns, Eliza Coupe, Kate Simses, Tika Sumpter, Dave Annable, Joel McHale, Chris Pratt, Zachary Quinto, Martin Freeman, Andy Samberg, Thomas Lennon, Anthony Mackie, Mike Vogel, and Aziz Ansari.

Ally Darling (Anna Faris) makes the mistake of reading an article that says that the average number of sexual relationships a woman has is 10.5.  Ally has had 19.  Finding that her number is so much higher than all of the people she knows, and the article saying that women that are too sexually available never find a husband, Ally resolves to not have sex again until she’s found her husband.  It goes great for her … for all of a few hours, when she gets really drunk at her sisters bachelorette party and sleeps with her ex-boss Roger (Joel McHale).  Having reached 20, and having no desire to stay with the ball scratcher/finger sniffer Roger, Ally decides that her only solution is to find all of the other 19 guys she’s slept with to determine if they are better prospects since the last time they were in her.  She enlists the help of her neighbor, Colin (Chris Evans), and gets started on some poor decision making.

I was vaguely fond of this movie, but probably not for many reasons you’ll find in this paragraph.  The story didn’t really connect with me.  It seemed like some chick read an article in Marie Claire, got pissed because it made her look like a whore, and then decided to make a movie that vindicated her.  I don’t know if 10 is the actual number or not, but if someone is worried about how guys will feel about their number then they should probably be more discerning with their vagina.  I can’t speak for all guys, but I’d say that I personally wouldn’t care that much about what a girl’s number was as long as she didn’t have a kid or any other venereal diseases.  Most of Ally’s reactions to her predicament annoyed me with how little they made sense.  Her first reaction is to get sloppy drunk at a bar.  Yeah, ‘cause no one’s ever slept with someone under those circumstances.  Well, Ally was able to be the first person to do it, ruining her number and leaving her in the situation where she made her next poor decision to try to find old boyfriends.  As they pointed out in the movie, you probably left those guys for a reason.  Also, if you tell a guy that you had sex with 20 guys, his reaction will probably not be much different than telling him you had 21.  So, instead of locking your vag and looking through your old black book, do what you should have been doing already and hold out on the sex until you like a guy.  But that probably wouldn’t have made much of a movie premise, so we let it slide so long as they make a funny movie.  They never really manage to pull that off either.  I would say that this movie finishes as “cute”, but the actual laughs in the movie are few and far between.  They try often enough, but I’d say the movie only managed about three laughs out of me.  I appreciated that Ally realized, as she was climbing a wall to get to someone, that she probably should’ve just waited for him at his apartment.  It was what I was thinking at that point and it got a laugh out of me that they pointed out that it didn’t make that much sense.  The movie also follows a pretty basic romantic comedy pattern, but it does it so slowly that the lack of some real funniness leaves you wishing they would just get to the conclusion that you know they’re heading towards already.  Another thing that I’m pretty sure I’ve noticed in other romantic comedies is that they always pick the strangest little hobbies for the main character to enjoy and somehow find employment from.  I remember in Bridesmaids that Kristen Wiig’s character loved to make cupcakes.  In this movie, Ally strangely loves to make creepy little dioramas that Mr. Right tells her she should do for a living.  Why can’t they ever do something normal and more typical with their time, like writing reviews in all of their free time?

I think the performances are what charmed me the most in this movie.  I’ve been a big fan of Anna Faris since the first time I saw her.  Not only do I find her gorgeous, but she’s typically very funny in all of the movies she’s in.  She’s never really been given the opportunity to participate in a really good comedy, and I have no idea why.  I think she’s got great comedic timing and tends to bring it to all of her movies.  In this movie, she did what she could with material that was spotty at best.  The real thing she brought for me was intense hotness and being almost naked numerous times in the movie.  And what’s more is that I feel the exact same bunch of stuff can be said for Chris Evans.  He’s really good looking, he was nearly naked a lot in this movie, and he’s a pretty good comedic actor.  He’s had much better luck in his career than Anna Faris has, but mostly with action flicks.  Though he was the comic relief in Losers and the Fantastic Four movies, the only actual comedy I’ve seen him in before this was Not Another Teen Movie, but he was pretty funny in that.  I liked Ari Graynor as well, though the only thing that sticks with me that she did was that I liked her vows at her wedding.  I also found the crew that they got as representatives of the 20 guys Ally had sex with were interesting.  The majority of them were pretty big actors that just popped in for a scene.  People like Joel McHale, Zachary Quinto, Martin Freeman, Andy Samberg, Thomas Lennon, Anthony Mackie, the voice of Aziz Ansari, and Anna Faris’ real life husband Chris Pratt.

What’s Your Number? manages to make up for what it’s missing in quality writing and comedy with its two main actors.  It’s got a couple of solid laughs in the movie, but they’re too far spread out and left me just wanting them to cut to the chase and reach the conclusion that you can see coming from about 20 minutes in.  If you’re in the market for a romantic comedy, you could do much worse than this one and it’s at least worth a watch.  If you’ve no interest in a romantic comedy, then you have no real reason to pay this movie any mind.  What’s Your Number? gets “I know that I’m not perfect, but I wanna be with somebody who appreciates me” out of “How’s your blow job?”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.