Tag Archives: Richard Armitage

Review: “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”

There are few things in this or any other world as satisfying as the completion of something. Like finishing a big project, eating an entire wheel of cheese, or watching the last film in a trilogy that had no right being a trilogy in the first place. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies gives you that euphoric rush of fulfillment, partly due to the bombastic ending, and partly due to finally reaching the end of this severely elongated trilogy.

We return to Middle Earth for possibly the last time. Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) is on his way to destroy Lake-town. He is harpooned by Bard (Luke Evans), but not before he sets the whole town  ablaze. Meanwhile, our plucky group of dwarves led by Thorin (Richard Armitage) and Bilbo (Martin Freeman) have take over the mountain, but now they must defend from not one or two armies, but 5. Thranduil (Lee Pace) comes with his army to take the mountain for himself, but then changes sides when the forces of darkness attack, wanting their piece of the prize.

Meanwhile, Gandalf (Ian Mckellen) is being held captive by Sauron and his forces while Sarumon (Christopher Lee), Galadriel (Cate Blanchett, and Elrond (Hugo Weaving) come to save him. Gandalf quickly gets to his feet and rushes to the battle, trying to save the situation and unites the forces of elves and dwarves. The only question is, will they be enough to take out the massives battalions of orcs and goblins?

I’ve been a long fan of Tolkien, Middle Earth and really any underdog tale involving hobbits, but this particular film trilogy took a toll on me. Everything in The Battle of the Five Armies is really the only moment I was excited to see this story created cinematically, and it Peter Jackson did a good job bringing it to life. Good, not great. The CGI explosion of fighting at the end seemed overly bombastic with a lot less emotionally invested, and a little too reminiscent from our first Middle Earth trilogy. Namely Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, except that in the vast armies we still felt a connection to the conflict. This time around, we are bombarded with a full screen, small scale battle, not really caring which side wins or loses because that is not the focus of the film. The pay-off was as satisfying as it could be, but at the same time it did not merit a trilogy.

There is little that made this entire trilogy worth even watching up to this point and it was Martin Freeman and Ian Mckellen. The charismatic and quirky Bilbo, played by Freeman, gave life to the stagnant panoramic shots and the sometimes glacially paced scenes. Coincidentally, one of my favorite scenes in the film didn’t actually occur in this book, but in “The Silmarillion”, and the sequence was also the most originally done (cinematically) in this second trilogy. That scene is when Gandalf went to face Sauron and then was saved by his friends. That intimate (in comparison) battle is what won me over this time around because it didn’t leave me feeling like I was lost in a crowd. With the heavy handed CGI and heavily watered down story, The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies manages to finally draw to a close this long, drawn-out trilogy with a feeling of satisfaction.

RATING: ★★★★★★ (6/10 stars)

 

Review: Into the Storm

Disaster movies, even those so far from the stretch of reality, serve only one purpose: Entertainment. We can take flying cows, fiery, cyclonic forces and even caricatured characters, but what really is insurmountable is when the film about a natural disaster becomes an equally disastrous force all its own. Into the Storm is a destructive force that very nearly destroys our love of disaster films.

The story in these types of films are usually the least important aspect of these kinds of films, and Into the Storm is not the exception. A family and new friends are forced to survive a relentless natural disaster that has been thrust on them with little or no warning. With every film about a disaster, there is always a group of people that decide to chase it. I mean, it’s only unpredictable force so what possibly could go wrong? Those are always their famous last words in these movies. The entire concept of the idiocy behind amateurs chasing storms is parodied in this film with a redneck group who call themselves “Twista Hunterz”. This is one of the few things this film does right, and even then, the comedic relief they are intended to provide only has us rolling our eyes throughout the film.

The weak story in this film is only a byproduct of every other element failing to make it interesting. The writing is a minor step above a Syfy channel B-movie, with the dialogue seeming almost completely unnecessary to any character development let alone plot advancement. Like a twister set aflame, the writing is full of nothing but hot air. The writing is unable to give any character any sort of dimension so they just fall flat.

Nothing they do ever seems like it matters and every character is forgettable. They are nothing but very flat leaves in the wind, just being thrown around until they are propelled into their next situation. In this case, the only truly developed character is the storm because it is the only one of them that actually furthers the story in an way.  Screenwriter John Swetnam shows us that he is more comfortable writing stories where the actual story isn’t as important as all the external action, much like he did in Step Up: All In.

Now this catastrophe of a film wasn’t all bad. Director Steven Quale does what he does best in this film, and that is kill people. One of the few saving graces in this film was the great graphics. The savage love child of mother nature and climate change is what kept this film engaging, and made it a step above a TV movie. Take away the benign dialogue and the completely convoluted attempt at a story, and Into the Storm would have fared much better as an amusement park ride than a real film.

RATING: ★★★ (3/10 stars)