Welcome to The Mundane Adventures of a Fangirl

I consider myself a Fangirl. What does that mean, you ask? A "fanboy" in the most common understanding is a hardcore fan of 'genre' based entertainment in particular. In my case - science-fiction and comic book based movies and television. Because I'm a chick - it's fangirl, not fanboy. There you have it! I am a big movie fan, however, not necessarily a 'film' fan. And now - I have the forum to present my opinions to the public! These will mainly be movie reviews -that will always be my opinion - repeat OPINION. Just what I think, and in no way do I present my opinion as fact. I hope you enjoy and maybe it will help you decide what to see at the movie theater this weekend!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Movie Review: Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug (PG13 – 161 minutes)

I gave the first Hobbit 6 out of 10.  It looked beautiful, but it went on way too long, and there just wasn’t much that happened. 

The company of dwarves showed up at Bilbo’s house, sang a bunch, set out to regain their homeland (home-under-mountain-land?).  They encountered a squad of Orcs led by Azog, the white Orc, who seemed to be hunting them at the request of a necromancer, who was gaining power.  Gandalf met with Saruman and Galadriel, who both let him know helping the dwarves was silly.  The River elves let them go, they encountered some Goblins, and Bilbo won a ring from Gollum in a game of riddles.  They eventually made it about half the way to the mountain.  That took just shy of three hours.

This second piece also clocks in at just shy of three hours, 19 minutes shy as opposed to the 11 minutes shy of the first one.  More happens in this one, or at least, the action seemed to be almost continuous.  The dwarves and Bilbo and Gandalf are running from Azog and the Orcs. 

They hide in the house of Beorn, who is sometimes a bear, and sometimes a man – but either way, doesn’t like dwarves.  As it turns out, he likes Orcs even less, so he helps them on their way. Azog is called away to serve the necromancer at Dol Guldur, and turns the hunt for the dwarves over to Bolg.  They head toward the forest, and Gandalf quickly heads off to investigate the tombs of the Nazgul with Radagast, telling the dwarves and Bilbo to stay on the path through the woods.  Sure enough, they lose the path and end up getting attacked by giant spiders.  If that isn’t enough to make sure you never leave another path ever, I don’t know what is.  Bilbo uses the ring, which is starting to corrupt him (and call out louder to its master) to help free the others. 

The wood Elves show up, including fan favorite Legolas and new addition Tauriel.  The elven King Thranduil imprisons them, and offers Thorin a deal, but he refuses, based on a grudge from long ago.  Thranduil reminds him how Elves are practically immortal, and locks him up.  Bilbo again uses the ring to set them free and they escape in a bunch of barrels, while chased by both Orcs and Elves.  One of the company, Kili, is shot with a poisoned Orc arrow during the escape, which is fortunate because Tauriel has developed a bit of a crush on him, which is unfortunate because Legolas has a bit of a crush on her.  Bam! Love Triangle! The elves interrogate an Orc to determine their plans.

The group encounters Bard, a man from Laketown and barter for transport to Laketown.  They get there, encounter the Master of Laketown, and negotiate to be let go to approach the mountain.  Gandalf discovers the Nazgul are risen (the ring-wraiths) and that the necromancer is actually Sauron.  He imprisons Gandalf as Azog leads the Orc army towards the mountain.  Half the group of dwarves heads to the mountain, and the other half stays in town while the orcs invade.  Legolas fights them off while Tauriel sees to Kili’s wound.  Meanwhile, Thorin sends Bilbo into the mountain to get the Arcenstone, because apparently you can’t be king of the dwarves without it?  Bilbo goes in, talks with Smaug the dragon, who is still in there, because – as you know – dragons love gold.  The dwarves come in, and battle the dragon, really just pissing him off enough that he takes off towards Laketown, promising to bring them death.  Then you get credits and an amazing song by Ed Sheeran.

Three main pieces, and it does move way better than the first.  It’s very entertaining, and it looks great. 
  • Ian McKellan still plays Gandalf, and plays him the same way – which is very reassuring.  It was interesting watching him face off with the rising power of the Necromancer.  I’m not sure how he will escape from being held prisoner in time for the next movie, but he is constantly escaping capture, so I guess we will see.

  • Martin Freeman continues to play young Ian Holm and is great.  I did find myself continuing to say, “stop putting the ring on” to the screen, to no avail.  Also – I really enjoyed his interaction with the dragon at the end, very entertaining.

  • Richard Armitage plays Thorin, who gets progressively more arrogant and stubborn as this seems to go on.  He believes he has the right to be King under the mountain, and will do anything to make than happen.

  • Ken Stott plays Balin, who is one of the only other dwarves to get their own identity.  He’s the old wise one.

  • Adian Turner plays Kili – worth mentioning because he’s the one who flirts with the elf in this one.  Also – he was just in Mortal Instruments as the werewolf, and is still the vampire on the UK Being Human.  He’s swiftly attempting to play all the different fantasy characters.
  • The other dwarves are played by Graham McTavish (Dwalin), William Kircher (Bifur), James Nesbitt (Bofur), Stephen Hunter (Bombur), Dean O’Gorman (Fili), John Callen (Oin), Peter Hambleton (Gloin), Jed Brophy, (Nori), Mark Hadlow (Dori), and Adam Brown (Ori).  I honestly cannot tell you which is which, they are almost indistinguishable.  To the point, I was a little shocked when they head out to the mountain from Laketown, and Thorin makes the decision to leave Kili behind because he’s injured, another dwarf says, “you can’t leave him behind”, to which Thorin reminds this one that he’s Thorin’s nephew and will rule one day (what?), and this dwarf says that he belongs with his brother – who I assume is Kili, but I have no idea.  I don’t recall ever seeing that particular dwarf before, but I’m sure that is not the case.   It’s not really anyone’s fault, there’s just too many damn dwarves in this movie.

  • Orlando Bloom steps back into the extreme wig and attitude of Legolas.  He’s exactly the same as you remember, except this time he’s all about Tauriel.  The action sequences are great, and it’s interesting to see Bloom in the same role years later.

  • Evangeline Lilly does a great job as Tauriel – and I can say that because she’s not a character in the book – so we’ll just assume she’s fantastic as this character.  It’s interesting that they added her.  I assume they did it because there are literally no other female characters in this entire movie (okay, Bard has two daughters, but they’re useless). 

  • Lee Pace was without question my favorite part of this entire movie.  He plays Thranduil with all kinds of woodland elf attitude.  He was fantastic, incredibly watchable, and really made me even more excited for Guardians of the Galaxy. 

  • Benedict Cumberbatch plays both Smaug and the Necromancer.  Let me tell you this, it’s a performance capture dragon, so that dragon is very much Cumberbatch, and it’s amazing.  It’s one of the best dragons I’ve ever seen on screen (my favorite dragon movie is Reign of Fire).  It’s also far and away the talkiest dragon of all dragons.  Once Bilbo wakes him up, he does not stop talking.  I’m not complaining, he was really interesting, but jeez… “My teeth are like swords, my claws are like spears…”  On and on and on.  Clearly he’s been beneath the mountain for far too long with no one to talk to.  I will not get into the absolute insanity of the proposal that dragons love gold (why? What are they doing with it?  Is there a dragon society somewhere that exists totally on a gold- based currency system?  And if so, what are they buying?  And that’s clearly not the case, because it’s not like Smaug took the gold back to someplace, he is just sleeping in it.) 

  • Mikael Persbrandt plays Beorn the Bear, or Beorn the Man, whichever he decides.  He was hairy and tall.  I don’t know if there’s more about this character in the book or not, but he was interesting and somber while he was on screen.
  • Sylvester McCoy plays Radagast the Brown again.  He’s got one scene in this, so I guess he’s great?  He still has that awesome sled pulled by jackrabbits.
  • Luke Evans plays Bard the Laketown guy.  I am thinking he will be key in the next movie.  In this one, he alternates between helpful and gloomy.  He’s much the same in this as he was in Fast 6 – so maybe he’s a bit one-note?  I’m excited to see where he goes.

  • Stephen Fry and his very, very crooked nose play the Master of Laketown with Ryan Gage’s Alfrid as his henchmen.  They are a grotesque combination of terrible and seem to be running Laketown into the ground – or the water in this case.  He plays the citizens just right, siding with Thorin over Bard in terms of arming the dwarves and sending them on their way.
  • The stunning Manu Bennett plays Azog, however, you cannot tell how stunning he is as a white orc.  Go back and watch Arrow, if you haven’t been, and be amazed by how exactly he looks like Deathstroke in the mid-season finale.

  • Stephen Colbert is supposedly in the Laketown sequence, but I missed him.  I did however catch Peter Jackson in his cameo appearance.  In fact, he’s the first person you see on screen.

All in all, I really enjoyed it.  It was still way too long, but I didn’t notice the length nearly as much.  In terms of 3D and the special frame-rate, I saw it in the 3D and it was beautiful, but honestly, it would be beautiful without it.  For some reason, I checked out on the spider sequence.  I’m not sure if it was the effects, or the spiders, or what.  Aside from Lee Pace, which I loved, I really enjoyed the barrel escape sequence. It was about 15 minutes of pure action and I was amazed by every single moment of it.  I loved the Cumberbatch-y dragon as well.

7 out of 10 – Really really good, just not yet fantastic.  But at this rate, the next one could be fantastic.  Gained points for the dragon, but lost points for him being all about gold.  Gained points for the barrel sequence, but lost points for the spider sequence.  Gained points for Lee Pace. 
Bonus Video 1:  Reign of Fire:  Christian Bale, Matthew McConaughey and Gerry Butler tackle Dragons in London.  It’s awesome.

Bonus Video 2:  Arrow, get on this show – it’s so good.

Bonus Video 3:  Pushing Daisies – time to Netflix this show.

Bonus Video 4: Cast Interviews

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