Thursday, December 18, 2014

"The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies" Review

To call The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies the best of Peter Jackson's second Middle Earth trilogy would be to pick the least of three evils. I enjoyed some of the fleshed-out characterizations. For example, Thorin's transformation from honorable dwarf leader to foolhardy King is interesting, but the rest of the film feels both gratuitous and lazy. 

First of all, there's no reason why the opening scene should not have been part of last year's The Desolation of Smaug. The fight with the dragon at Lake-town feels like an emotional climax to the second film's mini-narrative. It would've worked better as a cliffhanger for the events that immediately follow in Armies. Otherwise, battle scenes are more exhausting than ever before since we have nothing else important happening outside the fighting. Suddenly, I miss having Sam & Frodo climbing Mount Doom to distract me yet keep me on the edge of my seat.

Other important Hobbit character arcs, like those of Bard (Luke Evans) and Tauriel (Evangeline Lily), never reach satisfying conclusions. It's as if Jackson lost them in the frenetic clusterf**k of a battle and just forgot about them entirely.

The stage feels shoddily set for The Fellowship of the Ring. Tolkien fans, see at risk of disappointment.


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Thoughts on "The Theory of Everything"

The Theory of Everything is a marvelously well-acted love story exploring Stephen Hawking's relationship with his wife. I like how it didn't simply wallow in saccharine, Nicholas Sparks-type romance clich├ęs. It focuses more on the genesis of Hawking's neurodegenerative disease & how that influenced the life that Jane and Stephen had together. 

This is quite unlike any onscreen romantic drama I've seen because it also succeeds as a fascinating biopic of Hawking himself; it's interesting to see his work at Cambridge leading to a mini-climax with him passing his doctoral thesis in physics, and it ends essentially with Hawking as we see him today, giving a lecture soon after being fitted with his assistive wheelchair and speaking device.

I can't quite recommend the film enough, and it's a good one to take your date to.

Eddie Redmayne & Felicity Jones both deserve Oscar nominations.