The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Movie Review

The dwarves, along with Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey, continue their quest to reclaim Erebor, their homeland, from Smaug. Bilbo Baggins is in possession of a mysterious and magical ring.

I really liked the first hobbit. It was exciting, fun and visually outstanding – which is everything I want from this sort of film. I know were not going an epic story like LOTR so I went into Hobbit 2 with a completely different mindset to a lot of people. And I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest.

Being more of a Peter Jackson fan fiction rather than keeping tightly to the book, the plot does seem stretched out a little. It seems they just pile on more and more pointless names and back stories that honestly aren’t at all that interesting. The movie just feels more convoluted because of it and one of the few flaws it has. For the most part though, the narrative, like the first, bustles along at a good pace and despite that they could have maybe cut off 20 minutes or so; the movie keeps you interested from start to finish. Things like the ring and the elf characters come to mind as highlights.

Martin Freeman as Bilbo is once again incredibly good, a man never more perfectly cast. Some of the best moments are Freeman’s genius reactions to situations and we just needed more of it. Other people to note are Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug; as the chemistry between the two Sherlock stars just shines through. Ian Mckellen is of course brilliant and another character who we didn’t see enough off. Everyone one else was fine; a nice touch from old man Orlando Bloom and Evangeline Lily as the love interest really surprised me, because she was sometimes poor in Lost.

What sells this film, like the first one. is just the ability to sit back and just enjoy the action. Peter Jackson is a master of CG; creating some of the best set pieces cinema has ever seen. The section when they’re flowing down the river in barrels is just superb. Visually this movie is perfect. Also, the darker tone and leveled up action is what makes this one better than the first.

Peter Jackson manages to entertain and amaze for another 3 hours – 4.5/5

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Mud – Film Review

Two young boys encounter a fugitive and form a pact to help him evade the bounty hunters on his trail and to reunite him with his true love.

The resurgence of Matthew McConaughey is one of the greater things come out of 2013, and in Mud he’s not even the best thing in the film. He’s brilliant of course, he delivers lines with such enormity that its hard not to listen. However, its the performance from young Tye Sheridan that pushes this picture towards a masterpiece. He is so mature beyond his years and its hard to comprehend how good he is in this film.

The quite outstanding acting is backed up with a captivating story, that even though slow paced and doesn’t really pick its self up, will keep you glued to the screen. You will be uninterested at the start, but as Mud goes on, you will keep unraveling layers of the story and find yourself eager to find out where it will end up. And apart from the slight cliche towards the end, the narrative is very very solid.

Jeff Nichols is obviously a talented writer/director. Like in his previous film ‘Take Shelter’, the screenplay has a flow and every other line is enriched with power and sentiment. Nichols has a knack for cinematography as well, with great shots throughout; such as the underwater scenes with Michael Shannon. Not to mention the simply breathtaking final act. Jeff Nichols is by far the most exciting writer/director at the moment; and I can’t wait for what he does next.

A painfully real and honest drama that will keep you engaged from start to finish – 5/5

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The Way Way Back – Film Review

Shy 14-year-old Duncan goes on summer vacation with his mother, her overbearing boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s daughter. Having a rough time fitting in, Duncan finds an unexpected friend in Owen, manager of the Water Wizz water park…

I love this type of film. Not the whole cliched ‘Coming of Age’ thing, just a good simple film. And this is just that. The story is not all that original but is definite star with its execution. The film is brilliantly written, being both sharp and witty. Also, the camera work here is actually pretty flashy considering the theme and there is a surprising amount of solid shots and edits.

What makes this film what it is, however, is the characters and how they’re played. Steve Carell as the douche-bag ‘moms boyfriend’ is great and something we rarely see from him. The rest of the supporting adult cast are fine and Allison Janney really is quite funny towards the start of the film. The younger people in this picture are also really good and play there stereotypes perfectly; with a strong chemistry between Liam James (Duncan) and AnnaSophia Robb (Susanna). The guy who steals the show of course, is Sam Rockwell as Owen, and this is yet another movie that he makes. Backed up by good writing, Rockwell is humorous, physical and able to switch into more dramatic emotion in a heartbeat.

This film has a lovely soft romantic feel brushed over it, which is often my favourite part in any film. It’s heartwarming, engaging and laugh out loud funny on the odd occasion. It flies by, and apart from the obvious the plot lines and the cringe moments every now and again, you won’t want the film to end.

The Way Way Back is beautifully written and acted – 4/5

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Savages – Movie Review

Pot growers Ben and Chon face off against the Mexican drug cartel who kidnapped their shared girlfriend.

This is one of those films that I just randomly put on out of the blue. It wasn’t carefully handpicked, so lets just say I didn’t have great expectations. Directed by Oliver Stone, you have to give props to him – this film has an actual style! Rarely do we see it and often is it overdone or misused; but in this film I quite liked Stone’s work. His action scenes are still some of the best and honestly I would have liked to see more of them in this picture. However it was pretty obvious from the start that Stone was trying to put across some distorted message, that was pretty much lost until the last 5 minutes of the film. And even though the story was more or less what we’ve seen before, it was different enough to keep you interested.

Everyone in the cast was fine, despite me still not feeling Aaron Taylor Johnson (Ben) as an actual actor, and Salma Hayek was a pretty ordinary villain. Thank god, this is counter-parted by a simply evil and wonderful performance from Benicio Del Toro who was the true bad-guy in the movie and by far the stand out performer. Oh, and one of the highlights in the movie for me was John Travolta and his character as the dodgy DEA officer – he was hilarious at the best of times and had somewhat of an emotional backing.

The ending to this movie will definitely unease you like it did me, though I feel I enjoyed where the story finally ended up. And the middle bore and basic acting can be forgiven with some nice cinematography and writing. However this film at the face of it is very shallow and often too odd for its own good.

This movie is entertaining enough to keep you listening to the message Stone is trying to put across – 3/5

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