Movie Reviews: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies & Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

hobbit_the_battle_of_the_five_armiesposterThe Hobbit simply should not have been made into three movies. One would have sufficed, two at most. Three was just ridiculous.

I had some big problems with the second movie, mainly the overly-dramatic and poorly produced barrel escape scene and the ridiculous “cliffhanger” ending that cut the movie off before a climax even hit. The third movie is just a continuation of the overblown nature of the trilogy, but at least it does not have as many frustrating moments.

The movie begins with what easily could have been and should have been the ending of the second movie. Within 10 to 15 minutes, we finally see Smaug meet his demise. And then the rest of the movie carries on with a completely different tone. Dear Editor of The Hobbit Trilogy, why in the heck couldn’t you have cut a few minutes from movie 2 and included the first 10 minutes of this movie at the end of the last movie? Signed, Everyone. It makes no sense.

I feel at least an hour and a half (but possibly more) of this 144 minute long movie was battle sequences. I usually get bored with non-stop action/fighting sequences within 20 minutes, so kudos to Peter Jackson for actually keeping me engaged in these fighting sequences, but I have to say I would be surprised if I will retain such interest upon a rewatch of the film.

And then there’e that dang love triangle again that is crazy ridiculous…

And in the end, this movie did not leave me with the same satisfaction as The Return of the King. It was just a showy display of CGI (it’s not as bad in this movie as it was in the second, but the LOTR movies seriously look better than The Hobbit movies do) and drawn-out storytelling. It has its good moments, but for the love of New Zealand and second breakfast, don’t do this to us again, Peter Jackson.

Rating: I gave this one 3.5 stars on Letterboxd, but I think I felt obligated to do so because that’s what I rated the second one and this one made me less upset. I’ll have to rewatch both before I can determine if both ratings hold up.

Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry-Potter-and-the-Prisoner-of-Azkaban-movie-posterThough at first I thought this book felt too much like the first two (especially considering everyone said this was the book where the series got better), the ending certainly set-up for something more promising. I was less than impressed with the way the first two movies adapted the book, and was hoping with the change in direction would come a better adaptation. Um, not so much. If anything, the direction was MORE awkward.

It’s like Alfonso Cuarón knows nothing about how to stage a scene. (But a look at his IMDB credits shows he directed well-regarded films such as Children of Men and Gravity, though I haven’t seen either of these so I can’t attest to them.) Maybe they just gave him super crappy sets to work with? (All the sets before Hogwarts did look super crappy. The Dursley’s house did not even look like the same place to me.) And the screenplay was again very awkward in which parts were omitted from the film (like there is no zero explanation about Buckbeak’s trial, Hagrid just suddenly talks about it). Unfortunately, it looks like Steve Kloves writes the screenplays for all the movies.

And while I think Gary Oldman is a great actor, his portrayal of Sirius Black felt way off base. I was very unhappy with the way he came off, and the epic stand-off in the book fell so flat in the movie. Then there was the movie ending on a ridiculous freeze frame of Harry… that alone deserves at least half a star knocked off the rating.

And what was up with The Knight Bus sequence? It felt totally bizarre and nothing like the book. And all those shrunken heads? Where the heck did that come from?!

I don’t hate everything about this movie… I still like our main three characters in the movie, particularly Hermione. I just really hope with the next movie and another change in director, maybe Goblet of Fire will launch a better era in Harry Potter adaptations? (Just looked at the next director’s resume… hmmm… not sure about that either…)

Rating: 3 stars

What are your thoughts on the ending of The Hobbit Trilogy? How do you feel about how The Prisoner of Azkaban was adapted? 

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Review: The Desolation of Smaug

I finally saw the second installment of The Hobbit trilogy, The Desolation of Smaug. And while I mostly enjoyed my viewing experience, I have been uncertain as to how to review this film because of two really big bones I have to pick at this movie. So finally I’ve decided to just go ahead and rant…

Rant #1: The Barrel Escape Scene

hobbit-barrelescapeThis is literally the worst scene I have seen in a movie in I don’t know how long, and I don’t mean the content of it, I mean the production of it. First off, there was some pretty lousy CGI in the movie (alongside some pretty decent CGI, like Smaug, for instance, looked good), and the crappiest of it was in this scene. Whether it was the orcs or the way the dwarves were flying down the river in the barrels, it was painfully obvious at times that these things were computer generated. And considering that I have watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the first Hobbit movie without ever feeling this way, I was stunned by this.

Secondly, apparently they decided to incorporate what were probably GoPro cameras on the actors or barrels or stunt doubles or fill-in props or whatever, to get these water shots that were designed to make you feel as if you were in the water. But these weren’t the high-quality shots you see in the rest of the movie; they looked more like a home movie or a documentary. That’s fine for certain movies, but for for this movie, that particular style was so inconsistent with what is in the rest of the movie it completely took me out of it. Pick  a style and stick with it, Peter Jackson.

Rant #2: There is no Act 3

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the three act structure, but in case you aren’t, here’s a reference:

ThreeActStructureFlat

The Desolation of Smaug ends at the crisis point, right before the climax. THERE IS NO CLIMAX IN THIS 2 HOUR AND 41 MINUTE MOVIE. That’s a serious problem. It’s also called the DESOLATION of Smaug. Desolation means “complete destruction.” At the end of the movie Smuag is FLYING AWAY. HE IS NOT DESOLATED IN THE SLIGHTEST. At the end of the movie I felt completely duped. What was the point of everything I just saw? To wait another 11 months for the third movie for Smaug to actually be desolated before they start the next part of the story (because there’s more to be told after Smaug, so it’s not like that had to be dragged out)? Seriously?!

Now that I’ve ranted, what did I like about the movie? It took itself more seriously than the first one I thought, my two rants aside. I appreciated that, and I think it will hold my attention better for a second viewing than the first Hobbit movie did when I watched it a second time. I liked the addition of Tauriel, though her main purpose seemed to be to insert estrogen in the movie and create an unnecessary love triangle (between a dwarf and Legolas, the latter who was a bit shoehorned into the story). She’s like an elf version of Katniss.

Hobbit-TaurielI continued to like Kili, though again, there was some added story line there for drama, and I liked Bard quite a bit. I’ll be interested in seeing what he does in the third movie (since I’ve forgotten from the book, not that following the book is exactly Peter Jackson’s forte). And of course, Benedict Cumberbatch as a sinister dragon was great. Overall, the movie was entertaining but my two rants really drag the overall score of the movie down for me. I give it 3.5 stars, though I feel like I’m being a little nice to be giving it that.

3.5starsWhat are your thoughts on The Desolation of Smaug? Did you feel duped too?

Round Up: The Secret Diary, Super Bowl, and The Hobbit

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Round Up! This is my very occasional feature where I share my favorite story and media related articles from the interwebs with you! 

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet

This is my excited face!!!

This is my excited face!!!

Guys, guys, GUYS!!!! The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is being transformed to literary format! You can add it on Goodreads! Remember how I basically wished for this?! And it’s coming this summer! YAY!!!!!!

Super Bowl Pregame Show

phillip-phillips

This is my artsy face.

I don’t talk about music much on here, but I mentioned once my love for Phillip Phillips (and several of his songs made it on my NaNoWriMo project playlist) and some of you agreed, so this might be of some interest. Apparently Phillip Phillips and The Band Perry are going to be performing for the Super Bowl pregame show! I’m definitely going to have to make a special point to watch it because (1) I love Phillip Phillips (duh) and he gives a great show and (2) my husband and I (OK, mostly my husband) know a guy in the band of The Band Perry! Not one of the Perrys themselves, but one of the guys behind them. We’ve seen him on TV before and it’s kind of fun to be able to say you know who that person. So if you have interest in either artist then be sure to check it out!

How The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Should Have Ended

hobbit

This is my, “Oh crap, I just woke up the dragon” face.

My review for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug should be coming up before too long, but if you want  to know what I thought before then, How It Should Have Ended did a pretty good job of summing it up for me. I will advise that you don’t watch the video unless you’ve seen the movie.

Also, if a Goodreads for movies sounds interesting to you, check out the website Letterboxd. I just joined (click here to see my profile) and I haven’t done a lot with it yet, but they let you rate with half stars! Yay!

Are you excited about the Lizzie Bennet book?! Are you thinking about ranking the Super Bowl ads this year like I am (former mass comm major/marketing minor nerd alert)? Did The Desolation of Smaug leave you shaking your fist at Peter Jackson? 

My Top 10 Books Featuring Travel

For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and Bookish), I wanted to break my Top 10 into two Top 5 lists: the top 5 books featuring travel that I have read, and the top 5 books featuring travel that are on my TBR list. There is travel in virtually every book if you want to get technical, but I wanted to feature books where the traveling is essential to the plot (or for the books on my TBR list, they appear to be essential), so this is what I kept in mind as I created my lists. The lists are in no particular order.

Top 5 Books Featuring Travel that I Have Read

1. The Hobbit

thehobbitBilbo Baggins was happy living out a quiet life in his hobbit home when Gandalf retrieves him for an adventure. Nearly the whole book features travel as Biblo journeys his way through Middle Earth.

2. Scarlet

scarlet

There is a decent amount of travel in Scarlet, Meyer’s follow-up to Cinder, and as a bonus, a lot of it is futuristic methods of travel! It is through travel that Cinder escapes, Scarlet gets to know Wolf, Scarlet finds her grandmother, and Scarlet and Cinder meet. Basically, there is a lot of moving forward in the novel and it’s all important.

3. Ender’s Game

enderEven though this book is set in space, there isn’t as much traveling as you would think. Still, Ender has to leave his home on Earth to attend Battle School to try to save the world, and then later in the book he takes another journey that will have a profound impact on him (but I won’t spoil that). When Ender’s does travel, it’s always important.

4. Rebecca

rebecca-by-daphne-du-maurierIt is while traveling on vacation that the heroine of this story meets the man she marries, then travels home with him where she will be haunted by his past and her life will be changed. This is a great, suspenseful story that I will be talking about again very soon, so stay turned!

5. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

lionwitchwardrobeI could really put all of The Chronicles of Narnia here, but I wanted to focus on the book that began it all. The method of travel is simple: a wardrobe. And somehow, some way, this wardrobe transports four children to a whole new world for a great adventure that will define their lives (actually, you can know how the wardrobe is able to do this if you read The Magician’s Nephew). When I was a child, I wished so badly I could transport to Narnia through a wardrobe as well, but sadly, I was never able to find the right portal.

Top 5 Books Featuring Travel on My TBR List

1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

hitchhikerArthur Dent isn’t looking for adventure when his friend, who turns out to be an alien, rescues him by taking him from Earth (which is promptly blown up after they leave), and they end up traversing through space. I’ve seen the movie several times but have not read the book yet, but as fun as the movie is, I can only imagine what a ride the book must be! Arthur learns a lot about himself and the universe on this journey, and even the meaning of life. Well, maybe. (And yes, Martin Freeman plays both Arthur AND Bilbo!)

2. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

statisticalprobabilityThough I don’t normally gravitate towards contemporary romance, I am interested in reading this one (plus I just received it this weekend after winning a giveaway so I guess I’ll be reading it sometime!). I mean, how can you resist the cover? Travel seems important in this one since the couple meets in an airport as they are going about their separate ways. I find it an interesting concept since I think the airport is the single most fascinating place to people watch.

3. A Million Suns and Shades of Earth

acrosstheuniverseI have already read Across the Universe, and while I only liked it just fine, I still want to read the continuation of the spaceship Godspeed in its sequel books. The whole mission of the Godspeed was to travel from Earth to a new world for a new home, but there lies and secrets that mar the journey along the way.

4. The Scorpio Races

scorpioFrom my understanding, the premise of this book is somewhat like that of the movie Hidalgo, except the horses are much more vicious and are raced in the sea. These horses have played a tragic role in the lives of the two main characters, and yet they both still find themselves compelled to race. I am definitely intrigued by this idea and am curious to see more about how the races impact their lives.

5. The Lord of the Rings

LOTRThe Lord of the Rings, much like The Hobbit, focuses on a journey through Middle Earth. And Frodo’s mission is imperative: to destroy The One Ring. I am so intimidated by the length of these books, but I would love to get an in-depth look at Frodo and Sam’s friendship as they travel through Middle Earth and face so many trials.

What books featuring travel are your favorite? Or what books featuring travel are on your TBR list?