The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014) Dir. Peter Jackson
When The Lord of the Rings trilogy first came out I, like the rest of the world, was taken in by the stories of the hobbits, elves and wizardry. During my, I think, third viewing of the first film several years ago I became aware that The Fellowship is one of the most boring films of all time. Strong words I know, and I am sure there are many of you out there that disagree, but the film just takes forever to get going and ends up going nowhere.
Fast-forward to 2012 when the first of the Hobbit trilogy emerges and I was not going to waste my time or money to go see it. So I didn’t. The Desolation of Smaug followed a year later and I ended up going to see it in the cinema, as it was the lady’s choice that evening. It wasn’t horrific but I was regularly bored and I came out with an overall meh feeling about it.
And so it came to a hangover, an inability to decide on something to watch on Netflix and the fact that it was already in the DVD player (that’s right, we still play DVDs) that I ended up watching the third of the mediocre trilogy.
Throughout the film I was pretty impressed with the graphics, I had heard they were “over-used” but maybe it was not as obvious on my TV rather than an IMAX screen. Obviously in a film such as this they would have to rely heavily on CGI but I didn’t find that they hindered the movie too much. The actual story on the other hand does. I was never enthralled in the dwarves need to protect their mountain or get caught up in the Kate-from-Lost and guy-next-door dwarf romantic endeavors.
There was one thing I found a million times better in this movie than in LOTR; the ending. In that, it actually ended when it should have. I can’t watch LOTR anymore and I probably never will. I probably will never re-watch these either. They will always have their fans; I’m just not one of them.
Tremors (1990) Dir. Ron Underwood
90s Kevin Bacon is something special. He is wacky and weird, handsome as ever and not afraid of a little over acting. He also appears in movies like Tremors, Flatliners, Apollo 13 and A Few Good Men all within five years (90-95). I love Kevin Bacon and I don’t care who knows it.
Tremors is a very 90s creature-feature set out in an American dustbowl named Perfection. There is something troubling the young seismology student (Finn Carter) when unexpected tremors are felt around the secluded town. Two local handymen Val (the mighty Kevin Bacon) and Earl (Fred Ward, Escape from Alcatraz) have become tired of the mundane, menial work and decide to vacate the one horse town. On their way out however they discover the remains of a local farmer and can only assume a serial killer is on the loose.
The real culprits in the gruesome killings are actually gigantic man-eating worms living underground that grab their victims below to devour them. They aptly name them Graboids.
I hadn’t seen the film in years and I was a little hesitant when siting down for the re-watch but I never should have doubted myself. Tremors is very funny with Bacon and Ward bouncing off one another brilliantly and the rest of the eclectic townsfolk providing plenty of laughs themselves. The pick of the bunch are the survivalist couple; the hilarious Michael Gross and Reba McEntire playing straight-faced nut jobs with more firepower than Charlton Heston.
The special effects team should be proud of themselves as the non-CGI puppetry still holds up today, even if it is very B-movie-ish. All around this movie is great fun, full of action and well worth the 90 minutes of your life.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) Dir. Anthony & Joe Russo
I have banged on about this movie in many of articles about Supermovies or reviews of Marvel’s latest outings. I also have a preview and review of this film, so why include it here? Well because I love it and I just watched it again.
It came to a point where the better half and myself were trying to find a movie on Netflix (a running trend) and we stumbled across the first Captain America movie The First Avenger. She hadn’t seen it. I was a little taken aback, “But you’ve seen Winter Soldier right?”. She hadn’t seen that either. For about thirty seconds I contemplated leaving (my own house) and walking away but then I realised I now have an excuse to watch both movies again.
The first movie is good and is definitely worth a watch. It is the origin story of Steve Rogers and how he went from scrawny chancer to beefed-up warrior. The first half hour or so is CGI heavy as they have to deal with Chris Evans’ face on someone else’s body, I don’t think it affects the movie on a whole but it is obviously CGI.
The second movie is altogether different. We don’t have to deal with introductions or back-stories, it takes place after the first Avengers film and we are well acquainted with both Cap and Black Widow (who features heavily). The Winter Soldier is a brilliant mix of Marvel-style action and an espionage/political thriller. We are introduced to Falcon portrayed by Anthony Mackie and of course the Winter Soldier himself.
Mary (the aforementioned better half) had the added bonus of not being a nerd/fanboy like me. If you are not familiar with the Winter Soldier from comic books, don’t read anything about it before watching these. I think I enjoyed watching her figure shit out (shit that fanboy-me knew before watching it the first time) than she enjoyed watching it, and she loved it. I’d actually recommend not even reading my preview, just jump in an enjoy it. You do need to watch the first one though to get the full gratification.
Apart from Evans delivering a great performance, Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson), Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders, How I met Your Mother) and even Robert Redford (as the head of SHIELD) all feature in this Marvel must-see.
I’m going to put this out there; The Winter Soldier is the best stand-alone Marvel film (second only to the first Avengers). Better than Iron Man, better than Thor. They be strong words, I know. But I stand to it. The story is brilliant and the action is non-stop. The Russo brothers are now set to take over the reigns from Joss Whedon with the Avengers movies in the future. I reckon the Marvel Cinematic Universe may only get stronger.
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