REVIEW & DISCUSSION: THE HOBBIT: BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES

4/5 stars

Guess who just came back from BOTFA? Guess who cried four times? Guess who wants to have a marathon of the LOTR trilogy, right now? The answer to all those questions, is me. (this post is going to be a little messy and all over the place)

Now, you have to understand, for me, the Hobbit trilogy as a movie franchise, will never live up to the LOTR trilogy. The Hobbit, as written by JRR Tolkien, is actually one of my favorite novels, above LOTR. There’s something about it, maybe it’s the high fantasy quality in a light hearted book, that makes it one of my favorites. That being said, that kind of lead to my disappointed towards the adaptation.

Peter Jackson’s take on the adaptation didn’t really fit what I thought the Hobbit was going to be about. To me, the Hobbit is something that mixes high fantasy and children’s fantasy beautifully. The movies, portrayed them like they were part of the LOTR trilogy. And I understand that it is a prequel, but it felt like there wasn’t anything particularly unique about these films.

However, as you can tell from the 4 stars, I did enjoy this film, and I will get right on to telling you why. (Spoilers ahead!)

Starting straight from the beginning, it doesn’t really have any introduction… It gets straight into the action, so if you hadn’t watched the Desolation of Smaug in a while (like me), it can be a little disorienting. It took me a little bit to get into the movie. Smaug was killed in the first 20 minutes I’m pretty sure, and it was a little…sudden? Like why was he even in there if that was going to happen so quickly. I understand it was to end on a cliffhanger, but I wish they’d made it into two films instead of a trilogy.

Martin Freeman as Bilbo is my favorite thing. He did an excellent job portraying his character, and the tone of his character was what I sort of imagined him in the novel. Bilbo was a good comedic break between the many fight scenes, and gave my brain a chance to process what had happened. I just wish that there had been more of his character! He doesn’t have a lot of screen time, and I would have enjoyed watching more scenes that he was a part of.

As everyone knows, Legolas was not originally written in the Hobbit by Tolkien, but was added by the request of Peter Jackson. Legolas was so badass in this movie, holy crap. I found a YouTube comment and I have to add this in here:

In other words, Orlando Bloom portrayed Legolas so kickass, and I very much enjoyed it. There was a slight problem I had with his character, and that was his relationship with Tauriel. He knew that she liked Kili, and in my mind, Legolas wouldn’t keep pursuing a woman who already loves someone else. But that’s just my two cents.

Speaking of Tauriel, her and Kili’s relationship became more realistic in this film. In DOS, it seemed so awkward and forced, but in this movie, something clicked, and worked. Evangeline Lily was also very kickass in this film, although towards the end when Kili died, it turned a bit cliche. But hey, we all need a bit of cliche in our lives.

Can we talk about how Azog died?!

When Thorin toppled him over into the water, and underneath the ice, there was half a millisecond where I believed he was dead. But there was no way he could be dead that easily. As Thorin slowly followed Azog’s movement through the ice, I was thinking “Shit, shit, shit, shit”, and my friend was like “Just get out of there!!!” Azog’s eyes closed, and we all knew he was still alive. But let’s not forget how Thorin got stabbed, and then stabbed Azog straight through.

When Bilbo found him half-dead, I started crying. They had gone through so much together, and even when Thorin had been suspicious of all the others, he had always trusted Bilbo. My heart collapsed inside my rib cage when Thorin’s eyes glazed over, and his head feel back a little; we all knew he was dead. But it was Bilbo’s reaction that made me cry so hard. The way he denied that Thorin was dead and pointed up to the sky talking about the eagles. I have emotional scarring from that.

Lee Pace as Thranduil is the reason I wake up in the morning. The way he portrayed him was incredible, and I couldn’t imagine a better Thranduil. He was also very badass in this film, riding a freaking elk like creature. I want it. When he told Legolas to find the man who calls himself Strider, my friend and I were freaking out. I loved how they added in little references to the LOTR trilogy. Not only is it like a little inside joke, but it makes marathoning all six movies a little smoother. (As soon as the DVD is out, I’m having a marathon. Anyone want to join?)

Overall, there were many tears shed, and although it wasn’t what I expected, it was a good end for the Hobbit trilogy. It’s sad to think that you won’t see any Tolkien movies in the theaters anymore. This is the last one… It’s like Harry Potter all over again.

Screencaps from: http://musingsofatolkienist.blogspot.ca/

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Movies to Watch on Christmas

My family and I don’t really do anything special for Christmas. We do the usual exchanging of gifts, but our only tradition is to watch movies together. I’ve compiled a list of my favorite Christmas movies, because let’s be honest, the winter holidays = binging on Netflix and TV.

1. Home Alone (1990)

This is a Christmas classic. If you don’t watch this movie during Christmas, did you really have Christmas? For those that don’t know this movie, it’s about a boy who gets left home a lone during the holidays, and tries to keep robbers out of his house using various interesting techniques.

2. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

The animation in this movie still takes my breath away every time I watch it. Also, I love how this can interchange as a Halloween movie and a Christmas movie. Two of my favorite holidays in one! The story line follows Jack Skellington, the king of Halloweentown, who stumbles upon Christmastown. Becoming bored of Halloweentown, Skellington tries to learn the ways of Christmas.

3. Jack Frost (1998)

I remember the first time I saw this movie was when I was little, and the movie was halfway over, and I was so confused as to what was going on. But anyways, watching Michael Keaton playing someone come back to life in the body of a snowman? Who can say no the that.

4. Elf (2003)

Elf is one of my favorite movies of all time. Maybe it’s because Will Ferrell’s character (Buddy) actually thought he was an elf. Maybe it’s because the movie has a theme of accepting who you are. Or maybe it’s because you get to see Will Ferrell prance around in yellow tights.

5. Christmas with the Kranks (2004)

When their plans suddenly change, watch as the Kranks try to set up and decorate for a Christmas Party in one day. The first time I watched this movie, I really wanted to throw a Christmas Party, so I decided to have one with my stuffed animals. I think I was six haha.

6. The Nutcracker

And for all you dancers/ballet enthusiasts who weren’t able to attend the Nutcracker this year, plug your laptop into your Tv, and watch this performance from YouTube.

Watch The Nutcracker here!

Christmas just doesn’t feel complete without these movies.

-Ari

(post image from nmbcdesgin.com)

Movie Review | If I Stay

2.5/5 stars

This teen flick based on Gayle Forman’s best-selling novel If I Stay is a heartbreaking story told by a 17 year old cello prodigy. Mia’s (Chloe Moretz) biggest decision was choosing between Juilliard and her home, with her family and boyfriend. However, an unexpected accident changes all of that. In a mere matter of seconds, Mia’s decision changes into an even bigger picture: choosing between life and death.

I didn’t have high expectations for this film, not going to lie. I’d read the book beforehand, and although it was a nice story, and I liked the premise behind it, it didn’t draw me in. The movie wasn’t much better.

Adam (Jamie Blackley) was even more annoying in the film than I had ancticipated. In the novel, there’s at least some justification in his actions, however in the movie, he just comes across as a possessive freak. Not only that, but his lines seem even cheesier in the movie. When he told Mia to “Play me like a cello”, I literally cringed, I felt second hand embarassment. Don’t get me wrong, romance in a film/novel is great, but when it gets so cheesy it becomes unrealistic, that’s when it becomes a problem. Blackley did an alright job of pulling it off though, so good on him.

Kudos to Chloe Moretz for being able to fake playing cello pretty well. I heard that she actually learned the cello for the role, and I have to say it was pretty convincing. What made me read the novel in the first place was because Mia plays cello, and I am also a cellist, so having a realistic look on cello playing was an important detail to me. However, during her audition, while she was playing, she seemed very technical, but not passionate. But that’s just one complaint against Moretz. Her acting, in my opinion, was very convincing, and I look forward to seeing her again.

There’s a lot of flashbacks in the novel, and though it worked well on page, it didn’t transition onto screen very well. I found the scenes to be very choppy, and because of that, I couldn’t really empathize with what was going on. There was one time I cried, and that was when Kim (Liana Liberato) was talking to “Mia”, and showing her pictures. Getting a bit personal here, I really identified with that part, as I have had a close friend pass away from car accident induced coma.

The ending made me really pissed off, because I hated that it was Adam that woke Mia up. It made the film seem like even more of a teen flick than it already was. There’s nothing wrong with a teen movie, but the way there’s so many cliches…I hated it. My only consolation was that the audience who hadn’t read the book(s), was very shocked at the abrupt ending. That was great.

Overall, it was a decent adaptation, and I’m glad I saw it, but I wouldn’t go see it again.

Movie Review| The Breakfast Club

4.5/5 stars

“You see us as you want to see us… in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal. Correct?” -The Breakfast Club

This movie is considered a classic among people, and a lot of my friends were pushing to watch this movie. Honestly, before I watched this film I didn’t have any idea what it was about. The name doesn’t really give anything away, and I’ll be truthful, the movie was actually a lot better than I thought it would be.

Five teens meeting in detention doesn’t really seem like the most exciting movie. And The Breakfast Club doesn’t have any action, unless you count running through the halls, hiding from a teacher. It also doesn’t have a change in setting. It’s placed at a school, and they stay at that school. There wasn’t much to the plot! However, it was still entertaining.

I think the main reason that this film worked so well, was that all of the characters were complex. We saw how they interacted with each other, and we put them into their little cliques, but then we learned about their background, and why they acted the way they did. Not going to lie, the characters were still a little cliche, with the “pressured intelligent student”, and the “have to be perfect princess”, but in the movie they all clicked together.

One of the things that I liked about this film was that teenagers actually acted like teenagers. In a lot of the media these days (especially Disney Channel, ahh) teenagers are either acting way too old for their age, or way too young. They just don’t seem like teenagers. However in The Breakfast Club, the way that they interact, and their thoughts, and emotions…I can relate to them. And that’s why this film was so successful. Anyone who’s gone through high school can relate to the characters, no matter what age.

If you haven’t seen this movie, I definitely recommend you go watch it. Just lay in bed, turn on Netflix, and have a relaxing night.

 

PS: If you want to read the script: http://www.dailyscript.com/scripts/breakfast_club.html

PPS: I apologize for my inactivity, but I have finals and diplomas this month, and it has not been a fun time.

Movie Review | The Fault In Our Stars

3.5/5 stars

The Fault In Our Stars, based on the best-selling novel by John Green, is not another cancer story. Or so they say. Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) is a sixteen year old girl who got diagnosed with thyroid cancer when she was thirteen. Although the thyroid cancer is gone, she now has it in her lungs, which require her to carry an oxygen tank around.

Her mother believes Hazel to be depressed, and sends Hazel to a support group every week. Hazel hates it there, as the only thing she gets out of it is hearing stories about having no balls (because of testicular cancer). However one day, there is a newcomer; Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort). They form an immediate connection that is set to send them on a whirling ride that none of the audience is likely to forget.

The thing about this novel, is that it’s very wordy; nothing the characters say would you expect to hear in real life, especially teenagers’ mouths. But isn’t that the point of fiction? To make life seem grand more than it actually is? Well, uh, not really. And even though John Green’s words flowed while reading the novel, in a movie it just didn’t work.

I went into the movie a little sceptical. A lot of Gus’ lines from the book are very pretentious. And I knew that hearing them come from a real person’s mouth would make it sound almost douchebaggy. I was right and wrong. Gus never really comes across as douchebaggy; in times like Amsterdam where he and Hazel go on romantic adventures, he says many of the pretentious lines. It just made him seem insecure. The opposite of what Augustus Waters was supposed to portray. Ansel Elgort just didn’t fit right with me; even though I know how hard it would be to pull off those lines, he didn’t manage it, and I can’t see him as Augustus.

Honestly, I believe Nat Wolff, the actor who played Isaac, would have been a better Augustus. His performance as Isaac was incredible, sarcastic but still feeling, and I really look forward to seeing more of his work in the future.

Because The Fault In Our Stars is such a word based book, there was a lot of VoiceOver done by Hazel. Although I understand why they did it, and that a lot of thoughts probably wouldn’t have come across without it, it felt a little off to me? I’m not quite sure how to explain it, except to say that it didn’t help me get drawn into the story, it actually made me feel like I was just watching a documentary.

However, Shailene Woodley managed to pull it off. Again, I didn’t quite see her as Hazel either, but she was able to bring Hazel’s character to life in her own interpretation which was great to see. I really applaud her performance, because there were a lot of tough scenes that would’ve required intense emotion. (All the actors did a great job, but Shailene and Nat really stood out to me)

The plot? I’m still a little confused to be honest. An Imperial Affliction is what brings Hazel and Augustus together. However in the movie, the plot of the book isn’t really explained at all. I feel like if I hadn’t read the book, than I wouldn’t have fully grasped what they were talking about, and why it was so special. And even though this seems like a minor complaint to make, it is so crucial towards the plot line, that it seemed they made it too insignificant.

Of course, there were some plot points that were left out from the adaptation, which is completely understandable. One thing that I wish they hadn’t left out was about Gus’ ex-girlfriend Caroline Mathers. In my opinion, if they had left her in there, it would’ve shown that Gus did know what hew as getting into, which would then portray how much he did care for Hazel. Overall it was one of the better adaptations, with a lot of the dialogue and excerpts taken exactly from the book.

Not going to lie, even though it wasn’t my favorite movie, I did cry (4 times maybe?), although I cry over seriously every movie. Bring tissues if you’re a hardcore fan. If you’re not familiar with the novel, still go, it sane experience that you shouldn’t miss.

Movie Review | The Spectacular Now

4.5/5 stars
With sly humor and an intensity of feeling, THE SPECTACULAR NOW (directed by James Ponsoldt) creates a vivid, three-dimensional portrait of youth confronting the funny, thrilling and perilous business of modern love and adulthood. This is the tale of Sutter Keely (Miles Teller), a high school senior and effortless charmer, and of how he unexpectedly falls in love with “the good girl” Aimee Finecky (Shailene Woodley). What starts as an unlikely romance becomes a sharp-eyed, straight-up snapshot of the heady confusion and haunting passion of youth – one that doesn’t look for tidy truths. The film was written by Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber (500) DAYS OF SUMMER and also features wonderful supporting turns from Brie Larson, Kyle Chandler, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. (c) a24 Films

First of all, I would like to give a big hand to the actors in this movie, they did a phenomenal job bringing the characters to life. I really loved the book by Tim Tharp, and was a bit worried that the movie wouldn’t do it justice, but it did, it really did.

I think that the movie was paced perfectly, so that when it became too serious there were funny moments to lighten it up, and vice versa. If you are looking for a fun, easy film to watch…don’t watch this one. It’s an emotional roller coaster.

That’s it for the non-spoiler section, so if you haven’t watched the movie, I highly recommend watching it before reading on. Or you can spoil yourself, it doesn’t matter to me haha.

Let’s start with the biggest change from book to movie, the ending. Holy crap, I kept checking how much time was left to make sure that they would have ample time to have a proper closure. We were left off with Sutter going up to Aimee, and though that seems like a painful ending, it’s a lot better than the book’s, which left Sutter drinking in a bar. I don’t know which ending I like better, because even though the movie’s ending was more hopeful, the book’s ending was jarring, and left a really big impact on me. But I love both endings, just like I love both versions.

Just like any book to movie adaptation, they cut out a lot of the scenes, which most of them, I was okay with. However, I feel like cutting out some of Aimee’s more intense scenes, like the time she told Sutter how she wasn’t a virgin, was something that should have been kept in. I understand that they didn’t want the movie to be too dark and depressing, which is get, because the whole movie is about living in the moment, but I think it would have added to Aimee’s character depth and her relationship with Sutter more.

I liked Sutter and Aimee’s relationship in the movie, but it wasn’t as spectacular to me as it was in the book. Almost to the end of the film, it seemed like he still had a thing for Cassie, which made his love for Aimee not seem as important.

One thing that I think the movie did better was the car crash scene. I was expecting it, because I’d read the book, but watching it gave me chills. The whole scene with the yelling and the getting out of the car, it was hauntingly perfect. It’s definitely my favorite scene from the whole movie, it was amazingly shot and directed.

In conclusion, I loved the movie, and I’m not sure which one I like better, because they were both perfect. Let me know what you think in the comments!

Aside

Movie Review | Captain America: The Winter Soldier

 

5/5 Stars

After the cataclysmic events in New York with The Avengers, Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, lives quietly in Washington, D.C. trying to adjust to the modern world. But when a S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague comes under attack, Steve becomes embroiled in a web of intrigue that threatens to put the world at risk. Joining forces with the Black Widow, Captain America struggles to expose the ever-widening conspiracy while fighting off professional assassins sent to silence him at every turn. When the full scope of the villainous plot is revealed, Captain America and the Black Widow enlist the help of a new ally, the Falcon. However, they soon find themselves up against an unexpected and formidable enemy. (c) Metacritic

This. Movie. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, I advise you to go watch it right now. Like leave the house, right now, and go watch it. It was simply amazing. I honestly cannot think of a single flaw. Everything from the plot to the setting…Fantastic.

I found it amazing how seamlessly they made this movie, considering how it comes around 70 years later than the first Captain America. There wasn’t any discontinuity, but that being said, The Winter Soldier could easily stand by itself as a movie.

All the characters in this film were brilliant. There weren’t any “stereotypical” blocks that any of them were in. They were all unique and different, and had many layers to them, making them all the more believable. I also enjoyed the different dynamics each character brought to the plot. Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) and Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) have very different backstories and personalities, and it was refreshing to see them work together. Anthony Mackie’s character Sam Wilson really stood out to me. I loved the fact that he was just the “average guy”, but he joined forces with Captain America, and helped save the world. Like how awesome is that.

The plot…oh my gosh. It is a complete wild ride that you will not regret. There are so many plot twists and revelations that I was tense throughout the whole movie. All these plot twists just kind of punch you in the face, and you keep watching while still in shock. However, the plot is still smooth. It isn’t jumpy, and the editing doesn’t give you whiplash. The flawless transitions just make it all the more shocking when something incredible happens.

It’s one of those movies where you think, if I try and explain how good it is…I’ll ruin it. So just go watch it. It’s amazing.