Posts Tagged ‘Martin Freeman’

Poster

I am not the target demographic for films based on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. I’m a nerd, but not that kind of D&D nerd. While impressive in scope and unparalleled in its beautiful landscape porn, The Lord of the Rings trilogy was painfully long, boring, and overly dramatic. After only watching bits and pieces from the equally boring initial installment of The Hobbit, I completely checked out and ignored The Desolation of Smaug. I’ve never watched any of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies in a theater.

Why would I watch the finale of The Hobbit?

An experiment: can The Battle of the Five Armies stand alone as its own movie?

Although the finer details were lost, the answer to the question above is yes. The Battle of the Armies is completely suitable by itself without the 4-5 hours of backstory and fluff from the first two films.

That’s an achievement for Peter Jackson and also a condemnation. Sure, he’s a visionary and it’s scary to think how The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit would have turned out without his direction. But can someone get this man an editor? The Battle of the Five Armies did not need to approach 2 1/2 hours.

Frankly, even I could have done without the flashbacks and spoon-feeding of backstory. If those previous scenes were so important to establish motivations, then the viewers would remember that from the previous films. Don’t curtail and appeal to someone like me that didn’t watch the first two films.

But that speaks to the problem with The Hobbit: there’s way too much fluff and it’s entirely too long. Everyone knows The Hobbit did not need to be broken up into a trilogy. Good luck arguing that point with a studio and convincing them not to print money each time The Hobbit comes to theaters. The Battle of the Five Armies has been an unstoppable force at the top of the box office during a coveted Christmas stretch.

Smaug

The action is underway quickly in the opening sequence as Smaug is laying waste to what I understand is Laketown—easy enough since it is a town on a lake. For some reason, Dracula (Luke Evans playing a human character called Bard) is rotting in a jail cell until he breaks free by throwing a rope to strangle some rich prick fleeing in a boat with all of the town’s gold. Dracula then must kill the dragon and drink his blood.

I’m pretty sure he shot him with the pointy end of a sturdy metal fencepost.

With no more Smaug the Terrible for everyone to fear, armies are streaming towards the Lonely Mountain for the dragon’s hoard of dwarf gold. Apparently, there are five armies. Don’t ask me to name them. But there are a ton of elves pissed at dwarves with a ragtag group of men with shitty spears and swords just hanging around watching. I think there’s a sparkly gem at the heart of this disagreement.

Bard

Right before heads are ready to be split open, massive Middle-earth-eating monster warms crash through the mountains. Imagine the creatures from Tremors, but exponentially larger and meaner.

Oh shit! How are the good guys going to defeat the bad guys when they have these monsters leading the way in front of ever-flowing flanks of orcs? Don’t worry, those creatures just slink away and disappear off-screen. There are some very bizarre sequences, including two dwarves putting down their weapons mid-battle for a moment so they can hug. And Legolas jumps Super Mario-style from bricks crumbling off a breaking bridge to Hurricanrana one of the orc leaders. Yes, that actually happened.

Blah

Overall, there’s some entertaining action and the pace is swift enough. Your ass still feels the long runtime when in an uncomfortable theater chair. If you take this movie for the big dumb sci-fi spectacle that it embodies, then you should enjoy this experience. While I did go back and watch The Desolation of Smaug afterwards, it wasn’t necessary since the first two films from The Hobbit ended with extremely unsatisfying non-resolutions. I feel like I picked the correct one to watch in a theater.

Droves of dorks, nerds, and families of dorks and nerds will always come out to watch these movies. If another movie or series of movies based on Tolkien’s The Silmarillion gets released, then that too will print money. It’s an incredibly lucrative franchise and it makes too much sense for it to not happen at some point in the future—though probably not with Peter Jackson at the helm. And that’s a good thing.

Personally, I’m interested in seeing what will come next for Peter Jackson. He’s built a film industry in New Zealand as a result of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. But that’s eaten up more than a decade of Jackson’s time. This is a man who created two of the best horror comedies with Braindead (Dead Alive) and The Frighteners. Despite delving into the big budget PG-13 blockbuster world for the last 10+ years, Peter Jackson should be making more creative R-rated movies with all of the “fuck you” money he has made from adapting J.R.R. Tolkien works. Please, just no bloated 3-hour mess like King Kong.

While Peter Jackson certainly put his stamp on these movies, Martin Freeman is the best part of The Hobbit. Because of his impeccable comedic timing and nuanced facial expressions, Bilbo Baggins is an interesting and ultimately likable character. If you did not stick through the prolonged stretches of the Fargo television show, then you probably aren’t aware of Martin Freeman’s incredible acting. He’s always phenomenal in every work. I’m all in with my Martin Freeman stock. Remember his name but forget his role in this romp.

The Hobbit is entertaining enough and tolerable if you take it as a stupid tongue-in-cheek spectacle.

Tongue In Cheek

3 out of 5 stars

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The World's End

Amidst a summer of blockbusters that’s been heavy on the bust aspect, The World’s End is a thoughtfully hilarious film that definitely delivers as an apocalyptic comedy. But that should come as no surprise since this is the third collaborative brainchild of the Cornetto trilogy from Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost—forming the final leg of the tripod with Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.

In terms of these three films, The World’s End fits nicely in the middle as the juicy cream center of the ice cream sandwich that is the Cornetto trilogy. While Shaun of the Dead was just a perfect 5-star film, Hot Fuzz couldn’t quite live up to that prowess (I’d give it about 4 stars so it’s still a creative, above-average comedy), but The World’s End is an improvement over the last endeavor. These movies all heavily satirize their respective genres so you should know what to expect going into seeing The World’s End. If this is your first Edgar Wright experience, then strap in and enjoy the frenzied, bat shit crazy pace of The World’s End.

Trilogy

No time is wasted as the opening monologue rehashes the memory of five childhood friends attempting an epic pub crawl called the Golden Mile in their hometown. This story is told through the perspective of the main character Gary King (played by Simon Pegg). Even though they failed to complete the pub crawl, this was the greatest day of Gary King’s life. It all went downhill from there. And so the story begins.

Like any delusional individual in the depths of their desperate downhill spiral, why not try to get the gang back together to give the pub crawl another go? The beginning of The World’s End reads like a humorous rendition of an episode of Intervention—except their friends act as enablers once again.

I don’t want to give away too much with this review because the experience will be better if you know as little as possible, but Gary King successfully convinces his friends to reunite 20 years after their first failed attempt at the pub crawl. Even though The World’s End starts off strong, I was hoping they would have raced past sobriety sooner because it was considerably funnier once the drinking commenced.

If you’ve seen any of the previews, then you know some type of alien/robot invasion takes place in this charming, quaint small town. That’s still probably saying too much. But this set-up provides some great comedic fodder and a keen eye will spot some nice callbacks to Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. You should also notice familiar shooting locations from these previous movies if you pay close enough attention.

Crew

Although it should go without saying, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are fucking fantastic with their unparalleled chemistry on display once again. Out of this trilogy, The World’s End makes the best use of their supporting cast thanks to the performances of Martin Freeman as Oliver and Eddie Marsan as Peter. The writing and direction of Edgar Wright just ties everything together so beautifully (like a good rug does with a room), which is essential considering the extreme tonal shifts that are executed.

I saw The World’s End about a week ago now and it continues to resound and reverberate inside my head. At this point, only Pacific Rim has necessitated a second viewing in the theaters, but I think The World’s End may join it if nothing else worthwhile comes out in the next week or so. I’d favorably compare this movie with This Is the End, but I’d give The World’s End the edge for its re-watchability and creativity.

Another viewing would also help reveal some of the story hidden in the names of each pub. I always appreciate that extra effort and dedication to the supremely ridiculous. A lot of the art and writing I do is for my own enjoyment and any additional eyes are just an added bonus—but thank you…yes, you. Listed below are the names of each pub where a pint needs to be consumed as part of the Golden Mile. Interestingly enough, which Wright has mentioned that each name relates to the storyline.

The Names of the 12 Pubs in The World’s End:
1. The First Post
2. The Old Familiar
3. The Famous Cock
4. The Cross Hands
5. The Good Companions
6. The Trusty Servant
7. The Two Headed Dog
8. The Mermaid
9. The Beehive
10. The King’s Head
11. The Hole in the Wall
12. The World’s End

It is no coincidence that the last pub shares the movie’s namesake.

Maybe it’s a bit of a stretch, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the 12 pubs also serve as a step in the recovery process of Alcoholics Anonymous—especially since Gary King is sitting in AA in the opening recalling his glory days attempting the Golden Mile. I would have been fine with this stripped down to 8-10 pubs because there was no fucking way to remember each name in sequence of the pub crawl.

And if there are any drawbacks, the end of The World’s End isn’t as crisp as the other 90 or so minutes. But Hot Fuzz shared those same issues and I still thoroughly enjoyed it for what it was with a set of reasonable expectations in anticipation of watching. You certainly don’t have to see Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz before The World’s End because it is not an actually trilogy, but if you’re a clean slate, I’d advise watching Shaun of the Dead, The World’s End, and Hot Fuzz in that order.

If you don’t like this movie, you need to develop a sense of humor. The World’s End should be applauded for going beyond the mere conventions of the sci-fi genre because it settles into a nice absurdist niche. I would love to give this a perfect rating, but there are some aspects that I’d edit or alter if given the option.

I can’t believe I can’t give 5 stars to a movie that showcases the Rock Bottom in a pivotal scene (popping off a character’s head against a urinal) and the Most Electrifying Move in Sports Entertainment. If Dwayne Johnson made a cameo, I couldn’t stop myself from giving The World’s End a flawless victory. Hell, even the wispy strand of hair from The People’s Eyebrow would have pushed me over the top.

Go out and watch this in the theater.

4.5 out of 5 stars