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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

3 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Its inevitable but to draw comparisons with LOTR trilogy and rightly so. The theme, cinematography, music, some scenes are direct descendants from LOTR with some beautiful 3D visuals. Peter Jackson has played the nostalgia card to brilliant effect leaving a perfect time gap from the previous trilogy. Some scenes may feel redundant, some characters not very well developed and the overall story so far is neither as complicated nor as involving leaving everything to be done by the acting and presentation departments who deliver the goods.

In the Shire, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is getting ready for his birthday (the same day as in LOTR: Fellowship of the ring) while finishing up on his book. He recalls the 60 years earlier adventures in his mind with Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and the dwarfs led by Thorin (Richard Armitage) in a fight to reclaim their home. Also recalls his encounter with Gollum (Andy Serkis) and possession of The Ring.

Martin Freeman was cast perfectly and he oozes life into Bilbo while Ian McKellen is as solid and charming as ever. It follows the same theme as the first edition of LOTR with dwarfs, Gandalf and Bilbo forming a fellowship on a mission with a stopover at Rivendell, encounter with Orcs and a sight of the destination at the end. But the mission is less involving and even less adventurous so far, the fellowship does not have the variety of characters and Martin Freeman is not the guy who is made out to root for.

3D effects and CGI are of top quality especially the following scenes
> Introduction to the cause for which the dwarfs are fighting for
> Zooming to show the ghost warrior
> Birds, insects flying towards and away from us. The final scene with the Eagles.
> Scenes with Gollum

Also some scenes felt quite unnecessary and forced
> Mountain giants fight
> The cheesy Orcs king
> Unnecessary tension between Thorin and Bilbo does not help to reduce the flatness of screenplay

You haven't seen the actual villain of the story yet, but so far it has been the screenplay. It is flat with no effort to make it intriguing and the climax does not make you to sit up and look forward for the sequel. But it doesn't mean it is not entertaining with one set piece after another and a host of brilliant CGI effects give you more worth than what you paid for. The background score draws a lot of inspiration from the LOTR trilogy and I don't blame any of it except for the song at the end credits.

An adventure that felt a little unnecessary but entertaining and spectacular nevertheless.

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug

3 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Definitely more exciting and entertaining than its previous installment that was inevitably burdened with introductions and setting up the base which to my opinion was a little sluggish. With more references to the LOTR storyline, this would appeal better to the fans of the popular trilogy. Shot and released in premium 3D, the number of effects are comparatively very minimal considering we should wear those glasses for its exhaustive runtime. However due to lack of enough interesting characters to root for unlike the LOTR series, the screenplay completely relies on the adventure element which is again a little unsatisfactory having seen similar if not better content already.

In a prologue, Gandalf (Ian McKellen) reveals the reason why Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is part of the 'fellowship' of dwarves led by Thorin (Richard Armitage). To reclaim their Kingdom Erebor, Thorin has to unite the 7 dwarf families which is only possible with the possession of Arkenstone jewel lying beneath the fire breathing dragon Smaug inside the lonely mountain accessible through the hidden door. Bilbo as a burglar is expected to steal that. With a little help from the Elves especially Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) who is smitten by a witty dwarf Kili (Aidan Turner) and Legolas (Orlando Bloom), the dwarf pack manages to keep the Orcs off their tail, but would they be able to do the same of Smaug comprises the remaining storyline.

LOTR's effectiveness comes from its multi-layered story with characters coming from a wide variety of backgrounds each having their perceptions and approaches to the common objective and the presence of Gollum. With none of those elements present, this edition of the Hobbit still comes out to be entertaining (sans the awe element). Another major drawback was that none of the lead characters actually standout. Having mastered the craft in presenting the beauty and wonders of middle-earth, Peter Jackson's experience, expertise and his aesthetics play a major role in the making of this enormous project. The climax of the movie doesn't go too well with the title of the movie, but leaves you lingering as good as 'The Two Towers'. The special effects, locations, costumes are directly progressed from past experience, but the action set pieces were a far cry from the middle-earth battles we have seen before. The background score doesn't leave a note you would recall.
Having discussed quite a few drawbacks, there is still some good we can take from this movie like the following
1. The dwarves escape from the Elves
2. Introduction of Smaug
3. Prologue featuring the town Bree and the famous tavern 'The Prancing Pony'
4. Legolas and Tauriel's incredible battle skills
5. Witty lines from Bilbo and Kili

Bigger, better and more entertaining than the previous edition, but falls incredibly short from the adventures of middle-earth we have seen before.

The East

The East

3 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Bars raised, expectations soared and I have been eagerly waiting to see what Brit Marling as a writer was going to do next after watching her superlative 'Another Earth' and 'The Sound of my Voice'. While the previous works grabbed my attention wanting for more, this one came off as a mechanized script intended to feed off people similar to me who got hooked to their earlier formula of an intriguing premise, hum of a background score and an impossible finish.

'The East' an anarchist group claims responsibility for recent attacks on major corporations for various reasons as releasing untested drugs or contaminating lakes with chemicals. An elite private intelligence agency sends in a covert operative Sarah (Brit Marling) to infiltrate the group and find out their next move. Sarah succumbs into connecting to the group's ideologies helped by their charismatic leader Benji (Alexander Skarsgård) and an emotional Izzy (Ellen Page).

Brit Marling seems to be stuck with a layer of acting and writing which was very innovative and different when it started but beginning to feel suffocated with its repetition. The premise is not as innovative as their predecessors maybe I was over expecting and the entire execution felt disconnected. While acting is good in parts, but overall feel is pretentious. The background score has become redundant. The most compelling part of Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij was how they end, this was a complete let down.

By trying to beat the formula too often the writers got stuck with a new formula



3 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Generic, redundant, predictable and convoluted are the first thoughts that come to my mind after watching Mark Wahlberg's Contraband, but boring is not. Which means however bad or hole-ridden the script and screenplay were, the director managed to deliver a racy entertainer that doesn't let those earlier thoughts come up while watching it.

Chris Farraday (Mark Wahlberg) is an ex-con/smuggler turned legit after he started a family with Kate (Kate Beckinsale). Kate's brother Andy (Caleb Landry Jones) gets in the bad books of a local gang after a deal goes wrong. After Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi) the current boss of the local gang puts pressure on Andy to come up with the money, Chris has to go back to his old ways for the sake of the family to do one last job.

Mark Wahlberg and Ben Foster goes over their roles robotically while Giovanni Ribisi just changed his appearance a bit while rolling away his trademark accent and voice diction. Only Kate Beckinsale looked like the only one in the movie who had a little motivation to perform though the scope was for just a couple of minutes. On the direction front, the look and feel of the movie is slick with minimal but contemporary background score. Though the events unfold in blinding speed, they do not look rushed until it reaches a later part in the movie. Most of the subplots felt contrived and a bit too many considering its linear narrative. Though the screenplay relies on what-happens-next format, it hardly generates enough suspense or ends up building up pressure points on highly predictable or non-surprising revelations.

A forgettable caper unworthy of the talent representing it.

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Intel Hollywood Star Program (July 2012 - December 2012)
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