Tag Archives: Lord of the Rings

Thoughts on “The Desolation of Smaug”

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Yes, I understand that Peter Jackson will never capture the lightning from The Lord of the Rings films, but that shouldn’t give him an excuse for a bloated, extended, and poorly plotted film that is The Desolation of Smaug. And for the record, I think the liberties taken in this film are a bit too distracting that to call this The Hobbit would be somewhat a disgrace to the source material.

But first, is this film worth watching? Right now, I would say, “Yes but not entirely.” Fans of the LOTR films (that is, those who just saw the films and not read the books) shouldn’t find anything wrong with this movie. Peter Jackson manages to keep things engaging with his direction and, admittedly, creative staging of the action sequences. Visually, the picture looks really pretty, and the HFR (high frame rate) isn’t as intrusive like it was in An Unexpected Journey. The 3D isn’t much though so I guess this is still something you’d equally enjoy on non-3D cinemas.

My biggest issue, though, is the pacing in between the action sequences. There are long moments where nothing happens. We have character developments and info dumps which doesn’t contribute much in advancing the plot or in the storyline whatsoever. More time was spent on the new character, Tauriel, which could have been used more in depicting the Bilbo/Ring dynamic. There was one scene which showed the Ring’s corrupting effect on Bilbo, and it was brilliant. We could have needed more scenes like this because this is a story about Bilbo; The Hobbit. I’m guessing these problems are inherent in STRETCHING a single book into three different movies, but it could have been fixed by focusing on the novel’s themes, and choosing the APPROPRIATE events from the Tolkien legendarium in developing and creating the cinematic Middle-earth.

Like I said early on, I wouldn’t go so much to say that this is an atrocious film. It isn’t a bad film, nor is it a good one. At its worst, this is a mere fantasy flick; a decent presentation of sound and fury, but not something which sticks to you, unlike The Fellowship of the Ring.

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Pacific Rim (A Review)

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*This review contains some minor spoilers.

All I can say about Pacific Rim is that it seems to have been made by someone who understood what makes giant mechas fighting giant monsters fun. It’s not so much as adding as much computer generated mayhem on screen but also adding a basic human element alongside the spectacle. Granted, the storyline might be derivative from every blockbuster out there, and that the plot almost feels like an extended Saturday morning program (Neon Genesis Evangelion and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers come to mind). However, director Guillermo del Toro knew what made the genre fun and so he goes all out on the fun factor for this particular outing.

The Good

The biggest draw to this film was the idea of seeing giant monsters slugging it out with giant robots. That alone is the reason to watch the movie. In that aspect, the movie delivers well. The visual effects don’t overwhelm the story, they serve a purpose. Despite my appreciation of Michael Bay’s Transformers, these robots look and feel more real than Optimus Prime, Megatron, and Bumblebee. A jaeger’s footsteps send tremors to its surroundings, and so does a kaiju’s. Both the jaegers and the kaiju feel colossal. These creatures feel more like the CGI armies in The Lord of the Rings than the robots in Transformers; they have depth. It’s not just a CGI robot; it’s a fully functional CGI robot. And if that alone just describes the scale, wait till you reach the slugfests.

We see a jaeger using an oil tanker as a sword (I shouted “Power Sword Now!” in that sequence). A jaeger has rocket-powered fisticuffs, and upon making contact upon the kaiju, its snot, skin, and others comes flying from its face. Kaijus are sliced in half and blown to bits with an ion cannon. These descriptions should be sufficient.

As for the acting, while it’s not exactly Oscar worthy, they function well for the story. Some might complain that the characters are too cartoony or cliché, that they are more of sketches than actual characters. It doesn’t matter, it fits the story. It’s a live action Saturday morning cartoon, so it’s only fitting that everything about the movie feels like a cartoon. While it’s not bad to brood about the meaning of life (ala The Dark Knight Rises and Man of Steel), it wouldn’t fit in a movie whose single premise (robots vs. monsters) is the main reason for watching it.

The Bad (minor spoilers)

I don’t believe in perfect movies (even The Prestige, The Lord of the Rings and Leon the Professional have its issues) and Pacific Rim has its share of problems. However, while the rest are, for me, more nitpicking than actual criticisms, the biggest problem of the film would have to be the 3rd act underwater fight. Coming from the extremely exciting Hong Kong fight, the underwater fight near the dimensional rift seems a bit uncreative and, to an extent, overlong. Some argued that the 3rd act fight was meant to highlight the sacrifice and the not the slugfest, but if that’s the case, then how it was presented seemed to be a bit off. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t entirely bad. It’s just, coming from the previous fight, one expected an escalation. As presented, however, it just felt a bit anticlimactic.

The Verdict

As a whole, however, none of the more problematic parts of the film are deal breakers. Despite the anticlimactic feel of the 3rd act, the film’s presentation of the 2nd act slugfest mostly undoes every wrong thing about the film (plot holes included). The film set some expectations about what to expect and it delivered on it. My personal take on it when asked if it has a stupid story was this, “Story? What story? I came to watch giant robots fight giant monsters! That’s good enough for me!”

Quick Observations about the non-musical version of Les Miserables

You will pardon me as this is neither a proper film review or a 6 Word Review (for the latter, you can follow my Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/EvilDrBok 😛 ) , but sometimes one gets the urge to just go write something about something you’ve recently seen. In this case, it’s the 1998 non-musical version of Les Miserables; the one starring Liam Neeson and Geoffrey Rush.

For starters, the movie’s fairly decent. From what I’ve read, it is a heavily condensed adaptation of Victor Hugo‘s classic novel. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as the novel’s a pretty long one. If one wanted to adapt the entire novel, then a mini-series would be the better medium. Still (based on the synopsis I read from Wiki, and from the musical which I’ve recently watched), the important events of the novel are present. Also, theme of redemption is pretty much intact. Finally, I’d have to admit that Liam Neeson is definitely THE ultimate father figure in cinema (watch Taken, and to an extent, Batman Begins for proof).

For the film’s weaknesses, there is the risk of calling the characters one-dimensional: Valjean’s mercy and compassion is absolute, and Javert‘s ruthlessness is uncompromising. They’re attributes are such absolutes that one could almost say they’re cardboard cut-out characters. If this is a weakness, it’s probably the source material’s shortcoming. But then, the characters from The Count of Monte Cristo could also be considered as cardboard cut-outs, but that doesn’t diminish one’s enjoyment of the novel (not to mention that Monte Cristo is one of the most beloved novels ever written, next to The Lord of the Rings). The characterization of the characters are enough of what the plot demands of them. Besides, it isn’t like Valjean and Javert did something completely out of character during the story. I am content.

Final Verdict: it is not a perfect film. It’s probably a good companion piece to those who want to know Les Miserables in a nutshell. For now, stick to the musical version, or wait for the film adaptation of the musical to be released at the end of the year.

On Marathoning The Lord of the Rings films

As some of you know, I’m doing my Master’s Degree on The Lord of the Rings, specifically,  “Aristotle‘s Notions of Virtue in Tragedy” as applied in the characters of Boromir, Denethor, and Faramir. Now to set things straight, I’m analysing the BOOKS, not the movies (though I wish that I can just do an analysis of the films themselves). What does this have to do with my impulsive marathoning of the films? Absolutely nothing.

As this is an impulsive review, allow me to give the FINAL VERDICT of the three films (take note that these are the theatrical release of the movies).

The Fellowship of the Ring: A great introduction, and works fine as a stand-alone film.

The Two Towers: Boring as hell! Yup, you heard me. The only good part of the movie is The Battle of Helm’s Deep. But apart from that, I felt like Merry and Pippin waiting for the Entmoot to finish (only to find out that the ents just mentioned their names). Another thing, the portions with Frodo and Sam also took their sweet time, and their depiction of Faramir is almost unforgivable (he was NEVER interested in the Ring, NEVER!!!).

In other words: part two SUCKS ASS!

The Return of the King: This film totally makes up for the flaws of The Fellowship of the Ring and how The Two Towers sucks ass. This is a very powerful and emotional conclusion to the film. We see the characters grow and rise to the occasion. And we finally see that damned Ring fall into the conveniently placed volcano in the Enemy’s backyard.

Seriously though, this is easily the best among the three films.

Whew! Now I’m done. Time to go back to revising that damn thesis! 😉