THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES
Stars: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage, Luke Evans
Plot: Bilbo and Gandalf must work together to try to save Middle-Earth from the greed of its varied inhabitants.
Clint Says: Rent this when you have the time
Director Peter Jackson finishes strong with the final installment in THE HOBBIT trilogy. It's not the best film of the bunch, but it is satisfying enough that fans of the series will walk away feeling fulfilled.
I will say that it feels like there is something missing from this movie. To be quite honest I can't figure it out, but I think it's the lack of character depth. This is essentially a 2 1/2 hour CGI battle movie and I would have liked a bit more story out of it.
The action is spectacular, the creatures are fascinating and the quest is compelling. And, without giving anything away, the finale of this film ties in beautifully to the beginning of THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy.
It's the end of an era, so enjoy this one.
INTO THE WOODS
Stars: Anna Kendrick, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Chris Pine
Plot: A baker and his wife encounter several other fairy tale figures as they try to complete a task for a witch.
Clint Says: Rent this soon
I saw this musical on stage several years ago and absolutely loved it. When I heard that Disney was making it into a film I was a bit nervous that the story would get too sanitized from the original to really have any impact. Thankfully, I was wrong.
Disney did a spectacular job at making this a musical palatable for children, (although I probably wouldn't take anyone under age 8), yet still intense and dramatic for the adults. The screen version is also significantly funnier than I remember the stage performance to be.
One big mark against this film is its length. There is a point where it feels like the movie ends, but then it goes on for about an hour after that. They probably could have accomplished the same thing by editing the last hour down to about 20 minutes.
Chris Pine steals the show and his song "Agony" is the highlight of the entire film. Meryl Streep does a fine job, although I didn't consider it to be award-worthy. If I had my choice of award nominations for this movie I would give the nod to Daniel Huttlestone who plays Jack. (He also plays Gavroche in Les Mis). He is mesmerizing once again.
Fans of the musical will notice missing and new songs in this version, but I think you will like this version all the same.
Stars: Jack O'Connell, Takamasa Ishihara, Domhnall Gleeson
Plot: A former Olympian gets stranded at sea during World War II then becomes a prisoner of war inside Japan for several years.
Clint Says: Rent this after you've seen the other movies out this week
This movie could have been something special, but it never gets there. I wasn't made to care for the main character any more than the other POWs, nor did I really hate his enemies. The character development was weak at best and in many cases non-existent. We blow through the main character's childhood and Olympic career so fast that we miss anything that might have been compelling about him.
Jolie uses flashbacks during the first third of the film which are powerful and well done, but then they just stop. For the last two thirds of the film we get nothing. I think the movie could have been a lot more powerful if she had kept those flashbacks going as a way to show his resolve and something to give him hope.
This is not a bad film at all, in fact it is pretty good, it just isn't great. And a movie like this needs to be great.