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Killing Ground Review

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From Australia, this dark and edgy thriller is skilfully made by writer-director Damien Power to drag the audience right into the middle of the horror. It may be a bit simplistic thematically, with an ultimate message that's feels almost bullying, but while it lasts it's a properly intense freak-out, merging two timelines to keep us chilled to the bone.

It's set in a dense forest somewhere in the Outback, where Ian and Sam (Ian Meadows and Harriet Dyer) have gone for a weekend camping trip to celebrate Ian's new job as a doctor. Pitching their tent alongside a picturesque lake, they notice a campsite at the other end of the shoreline that seems to be eerily empty. Meanwhile, we watch the residents of that other tent earlier in the day: Rob and Margaret (Julian Garner and Maya Stange) with a cheeky young toddler and sullen teen daughter Em (Tiarnie Coupland). Each of these groups of campers has an encounter with two local thugs, German and Chook (Aaron Pedersen and Aaron Glenane), who are in the area hunting wild pigs and are just a bit trigger-happy.

Filmmaker Power crosscuts between these two timelines in clever ways that keep the tension high while quietly filling in details to make the overall story come into focus. This allows him to gently build the suspense, deepening the characters just enough so that we care what happens to them, and adding some complexities that make everyone easy to identify with. Even the aggressors aren't as simplistic as they could have been. Pedersen makes German intriguingly reticent, annoyed by Chook's sadistic tendencies but aware that he has the same urges. Oddly, the dynamic between Ian and Sam is a bit more troubling, as the script simplistically ridicules Ian's innate fear without trying to understand it.

Continue reading: Killing Ground Review

Stephen Hunter - Shots of the stars of the third in the Hobbit trilogy 'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies'as they arrive at the Los Angeles premiere which was held at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles, California, United States - Tuesday 9th December 2014

Stephen Hunter

The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies - Teaser Trailer


Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf and the mini-army of dwarves led by Thorin are facing an evermore deadly path in their pursuit of the Lonely Mountain and its mound of treasure which was stolen from the dwarves some time ago by the fiercesome dragon Smaug. Their attempt to slay him has failed, instead unleashing further horrors upon themselves. Angering the dragon has only made things worse with him now determined to murder every creature that lies in its path, demolishing a neighbouring village with little more than a breath. Gandalf remains captured and tensions are ever rising between not only friends, but elves, dwarves, orcs and goblins and it's clear that the  deadliest, brutalist war for thousands of years is well on its way.

Continue: The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies - Teaser Trailer

Stephen Hunter - 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' Australian premiere at Sydney's Event Cinema - Arrivals - Sydney, Australia - Sunday 16th December 2012

Stephen Hunter
Stephen Hunter
Stephen Hunter
Stephen Hunter
Stephen Hunter

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - International Trailer


Bilbo Baggins has narrowly escaped several deadly confrontations with the likes of trolls, stone giants and countless orcs alongside his faithful wizard partner Gandalf and the hardy Dwarves of Erebor as they passed through the treacherous Misty Mountains. Their quest to retrieve the dwarves' vast pile of treasure and the land that they once called their home is at a peak as they reach the Lonely Mountain. Guarded by a colossal dragon named Smaug, the Lonely Mountain proves to be even more perilous than where they had just been and armed only with elven swords and Bilbo's Ring, they must make the ultimate defeat while fighting giant spiders and more goblins along the way. More threats face them in the form of untrustworthy elves with intelligence that far surpasses any of the travellers' put together, and their chances of survival are becoming very slim indeed.

'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' is the second instalment of 'The Hobbit' movie trilogy directed by Peter Jackson ('King Kong', 'The Lovely Bones', 'The Lord of the Rings') and based on the novel by JRR Tolkien. Screenwriters Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Guillermo del Toro make their return as do much of the previous cast alongside some new faces. It is due to be released in the UK on December 13th 2013.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Movie Review - Click Here To Read

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Trailer


Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf and their company thirteen dwarves have managed to leave the Misty Mountains almost unscathed after a series of death-defying encounters with trolls, stone giants, goblins and orcs. Armed with the One Ring and an array of elven forged swords, Bilbo must now set out to help retrieve the mountain of treasure that once belonged to the dwarves under the Lonely Mountain that was usurped by the dragon Smaug. Unfortunately, it proves less then straight-forward as more threats lie in their way from giant spiders and yet more goblins to unforgiving elves and waterfalls. However, as they approach the dragon, they begin to feel that all their other deadly ventures were just the tip of the iceberg.

'The Hobbit' returns with the second part of the movie trilogy 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' which sees the return of director Peter Jackson ('King Kong', 'The Lovely Bones', 'The Lord of the Rings') following part one, 'An Unexpected Journey'. Writers Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Guillermo del Toro are also back, along with last year's star cast and many new faces. Based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien, this new fantasy adventure film is set to hit cinemas this winter on December 13th 2013.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Movie Review - Click Here To Read

Stephen Hunter Wednesday 12th December 2012

Stephen Hunter
Stephen Hunter

Left, Stephen Hunter, John Callen and Mark Hadlow - Left to right: Stephen Hunter, John Callen and Mark Hadlow, Thursday 6th December 2012 at premiere of 'The Hobbit: Unexpected Journey' at the Ziegfeld Theater.

Left, Stephen Hunter, John Callen and Mark Hadlow
Stephen Hunter

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Stephen Hunter Movies

Killing Ground Movie Review

Killing Ground Movie Review

From Australia, this dark and edgy thriller is skilfully made by writer-director Damien Power to...

The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies Trailer

The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies Trailer

Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf and the mini-army of dwarves led by Thorin are facing an evermore...

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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Trailer

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Trailer

Bilbo Baggins has narrowly escaped several deadly confrontations with the likes of trolls, stone giants...

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Trailer

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Trailer

Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf and their company thirteen dwarves have managed to leave the Misty Mountains...

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