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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Review


Good

Peter Jackson's expanded take on J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit comes to a conclusion in a battle epic packed with enormous action sequences that oddly distract attention from the much more engaging central plotline. By the time it thunders to its satisfying conclusion after nearly two and a half hours, there's a sense of balance restored, providing some powerfully emotional moments along with the thrills. But there's a lot of chaotic mayhem to get through first.

The action picks up immediately, as the dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) roars into Laketown causing further desolation before being stopped by the heroic Bard (Luke Evans), who then leads the survivors back to their long-abandoned city in the mountains. Meanwhile, dwarf king Thorin (Richard Armitage) has reclaimed his throne and Smaug's enormous stash of gold, which consumes his soul with greed. But he abandons his promises to Bard and the elf leader Thranduil (Lee Pace), who assembles the elf army against him. So Thorin calls in a dwarf battalion to take them on. Meanwhile, the hobbit Bilbo (Martin Freeman) is trying to diffuse the situation and snap Thorin out of his avaricious funk. And wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) discovers that two waves of ruthless orcs are descending on Thorin.

All of this strategising and squaring-off feels fragmented and uneven, as Jackson cuts back and forth between the sprawling ensemble cast while trying to build momentum toward the earth-rattling collision of these five armies. Thankfully, there's also a lot of interpersonal stuff going on to hold the interest. Elf warrior Legolas (Orlando Bloom) is still caught up in a romantic triangle with his intended Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) and her forbidden love, the unusually hot dwarf Kili (Aidan Turner). And there's some comic relief from Alfrid (Ryan Gage), a weaselly human who worms his way into Bard's inner circle for some inexplicable reason. Best of all is the push and pull between Bilbo and Thorin, which is very nicely played by Freeman and Armitage.

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Peter Jackson And Philippa Boyens - The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies Video Interview


'The Hobbit' director Peter Jackson and screenwriter Philippa Boyens discuss the magic behind the trilogy as they prepare to release the final instalment, 'The Battle of the Five Armies'.

Continue reading: Peter Jackson And Philippa Boyens - The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies Video Interview

'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies' world premiere

Philippa Boyens - 'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies' world premiere at the Empire Leicester Square cinema - Arrivals at Empire Leicester Square - London, United Kingdom - Monday 1st December 2014

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Review


Excellent

With wittier action and a few more sharply defined characters, this second episode in Peter Jackson's trilogy is more engaging than the somewhat over-packed An Unexpected Journey. Once again, the key to enjoying the film is to distance it from the beloved novel: this is a big adventure movie as opposed to Tolkien's light-hearted romp. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.

There isn't much actual plot, as we are between the set-up and conclusion, so the film consists of a series of set-pieces as Bilbo (Freeman) and his band of dwarves continue their journey to reclaim the dwarf throne in the Lonely Mountain. Gandalf (McKellen) heads off to confront the shifty, shadowy Necromancer (Cumberbatch), while Bilbo and crew head into the creepy Mirkwood, where they confront gigantic spiders before being captured by wood-elves. This is where they meet Legolas (Bloom), whose feisty sidekick Tauriel (Lilly) falls for sexy dwarf Kili (Turner) as they continue their journey to Lake-town. There they get help from Bard (Evans) as they launch their final assault on the mountain, where the dragon Smaug (also Cumberbatch) is napping on the dwarves' vast treasure.

Jackson directs with a spark of energy and humour that holds our attention even when things begin to look a little too digitally animated (basic laws of physics apparently don't apply in Middle Earth). And each sequence also provides some depth of character, especially in the overall journey of Bilbo, nicely played by Freeman as a guy who is only just discovering his own ingenuity and bravery. By contrast, McKellen's plot is much darker as he faces off against unnerving evil. As in the first film, the other strong character is Thorin (Armitage), the heir to the dwarf throne grappling with the idea of a return to power.

Continue reading: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Review

Los Angeles Film Premiere of 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug'

Philippa Boyens - Los Angeles Film Premiere of 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' at The TCL Chinese Theatre - Hollywood, California, United States - Monday 2nd December 2013

Philippa Boyens
Philippa Boyens
Philippa Boyens

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Review


Excellent

This first chapter of Peter Jackson's new Tolkien trilogy takes us back to the familiar settings and characters, inflating a simple journey into an epic adventure in the process. This film also looks strikingly different, shot both in 3D and 48 frames technology, double the definition of film. But it's the story we're really interested in.

The events take place 60 years before The Lord of the Rings, when Bilbo (Freeman) is a younger Hobbit enjoying a quiet life. Then he meets the wizard Ganfolf (McKellen) and everything changes. Suddenly he's invaded by 13 riotous dwarves led by Thorin (Armitage), who has decided to lead an expedition to reclaim their homeland from the sleeping dragon Smaug. Bilbo reluctantly agrees to help them, and their journey kicks off with a series of adventures as they are chased by wolf-riding orcs, captured by greedy goblins and terrorised by gigantic mountain-monsters. They also call in for help from the elf leaders Elrond and Galadriel (Weaving and Blanchett), and try to convince the sceptical wizard Saruman (Lee) to back their quest.

The film opens with familiar characters as the older Bilbo (Holm) chats with Frodo (Wood) before we flash back to the start. And Jackson continues to link the two trilogies like this, with connective characters and events as well as developing the simple novel into a much bigger epic, complete with tenacious villains. All of this is hugely involving, with tense moments that are nerve-shredding as well as scenes of dark emotion and broad humour. The best sequence is Bilbo's encounter with Gollum, which vividly reveals the progress in performance-capture technology over the last decade. We can even more clearly see Serkis in Gollum this time, and it gives the film a real kick.

Continue reading: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Review

The Lovely Bones Review


Weak
This film is packed with involving performances, even though Jackson takes a bloated approach to what should be a quietly emotional drama. And in the end, the production design is so lush that it swamps the story's themes.

In 1973, Susie (Ronan) is a happy 14-year-old just beginning to blossom. Her crush on a fellow student (Ritchie) is about to culminate in her first kiss, but she's instead brutally murdered by a creepy neighbour (Tucci). Her parents (Wahlberg and Weisz) are distraught, and Grandma (Sarandon) needs to come help care for Susie's younger siblings (McIver and Christian Thomas Ashdale). Susie watches all of this from "my heaven", longing for her parents to recover their balance and aching for some form of revenge.

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The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Review


Good
Need I provide a pithy introduction to The Two Towers, the second installment in The Lord of the Rings trilogy? It's more hobbits, orcs, swords, and sorcery, so if you sawThe Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (and why would you be reading this if you hadn't?), you know what to expect.

And it's expectations that director Peter Jackson has clearly found himself having to address in this movie. Given that all three films in the series were shot simultaneously, Jackson doesn't have much opportunity to introduce new stuff with each movie. We're well familiarized with the main characters and the primary settings, so much of the weight falls on the new people and creatures introduced in this episode to carry the story.

Continue reading: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Review

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Review


Good
You think Harry Potter had expectations? It's a beloved book, sure, but it was published in 1997. In 10 years it will be as forgotten as The Bridges of Madison County. But J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings series dates all the way back to 1937 (when The Hobbit was published), and it's taken all these decades for someone to even attempt a live-action recreation of the trilogy of books. And not without reason.

How do you satisfy a legion of fans, some of whom have been waiting almost 65 years to see their absolute favorite work of literature put to film? More often than not, you don't, and though Peter Jackson's production of The Lord of the Rings is painstakingly faithful and earnest, it is almost a foregone conclusion that the movie will never quite be good enough for the obsessed fans (see also the 1978 animated Lord), just is it will be far too obtuse for those who haven't read the books.

Continue reading: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Review

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Review


Excellent
Peter Jackson returns with his third and final installment in The Lord of the Rings trilogy with the explosive - and exhausting - conclusion to his acclaimed series. Let's cut to the chase: Jackson's final entry is the best of the series, largely thanks to his pushing the boundaries of digital effects to their very limits.

Picking up after a flashback to Sméagol/Gollum's discovery of the ring many years earlier, the film then takes us back to the twin stories from Fellowship andThe Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers: Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and company are basking in the glory of victory at Helm's Deep and Isengard, while Frodo (Elijah Wood), Sam (Sean Astin), and Gollum trek toward Mount Doom to destroy the ring.

Continue reading: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Review

King Kong (2005) Review


OK
After Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy earned a zillion dollars, a slew of Oscars, and a place at the tip top of the Hollywood pyramid, Jackson was able to write his own ticket. As his follow-up project, Jackson chose to remake King Kong, which had industry observers scratching their heads.

Historically, sequels and remakes of the original Kong range from bad to unwatchable, and while Jackson certainly knows effects and storytelling, Kong remakes seem to be cursed endeavors. Voodoo or no, they're probably ill-advised. 1933's Kong is one of those movie archetypes that really shouldn't be messed with. Like Citizen Kane or Metropolis (another film that has suffered from attempts at updating it), King Kong simply isn't meant to be trifled with. Alas, some will try.

Continue reading: King Kong (2005) Review

King Kong (2005) Review


OK
After Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy earned a zillion dollars, a slew of Oscars, and a place at the tip top of the Hollywood pyramid, Jackson was able to write his own ticket. As his follow-up project, Jackson chose to remake King Kong, which had industry observers scratching their heads.

Historically, sequels and remakes of the original Kong range from bad to unwatchable, and while Jackson certainly knows effects and storytelling, Kong remakes seem to be cursed endeavors. Voodoo or no, they're probably ill-advised. 1933's Kong is one of those movie archetypes that really shouldn't be messed with. Like Citizen Kane or Metropolis (another film that has suffered from attempts at updating it), King Kong simply isn't meant to be trifled with. Alas, some will try.

Continue reading: King Kong (2005) Review

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Review


Good
Need I provide a pithy introduction to The Two Towers, the second installment in The Lord of the Rings trilogy? It's more hobbits, orcs, swords, and sorcery, so if you saw The Fellowship of the Ring (and why would you be reading this if you hadn't?), you know what to expect.

And it's expectations that director Peter Jackson has clearly found himself having to address in this movie. Given that all three films in the series were shot simultaneously, Jackson doesn't have much opportunity to introduce new stuff with each movie. We're well familiarized with the main characters and the primary settings, so much of the weight falls on the new people and creatures introduced in this episode to carry the story.

Continue reading: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Review

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Review


Good
You think Harry Potter had expectations? It's a beloved book, sure, but it was published in 1997. In 10 years it will be as forgotten as The Bridges of Madison County. But J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings series dates all the way back to 1937 (when The Hobbit was published), and it's taken all these decades for someone to even attempt a live-action recreation of the trilogy of books. And not without reason.

How do you satisfy a legion of fans, some of whom have been waiting almost 65 years to see their absolute favorite work of literature put to film? More often than not, you don't, and though Peter Jackson's production of The Lord of the Rings is painstakingly faithful and earnest, it is almost a foregone conclusion that the movie will never quite be good enough for the obsessed fans (see also the 1978 animated Lord), just is it will be far too obtuse for those who haven't read the books.

Continue reading: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Review

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Review


Excellent
Peter Jackson returns with his third and final installment in The Lord of the Rings trilogy with the explosive - and exhausting - conclusion to his acclaimed series. Let's cut to the chase: Jackson's final entry is the best of the series, largely thanks to his pushing the boundaries of digital effects to their very limits.

Picking up after a flashback to Sméagol/Gollum's discovery of the ring many years earlier, the film then takes us back to the twin stories from Fellowship and The Two Towers: Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and company are basking in the glory of victory at Helm's Deep and Isengard, while Frodo (Elijah Wood), Sam (Sean Astin), and Gollum trek toward Mount Doom to destroy the ring.

Continue reading: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Review

Philippa Boyens

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