An interesting premise (hey, what if Harry had turned into Voldemort?) that doesn't lose it's cool factor thanks to some good scripting and obvious, yet imaginatively shot magical 'what if' scenarios. Radcliffe (and the rest of the cast) are compelling, SPOILERS AHOY but once the eventual unveiling of his demonic powers happens, the scripting fizzles and creates a fastidious (yet, to the movie's credit, still not cliche) wrap-up that can leave some (including almost everyone on RT, yikes) wanting more.
What's to like - Smaug's big scene (did anyone else think Sean Connery should have been Smaug? No one?...ok, moving on...), Gandalf's rescue from the Necromancer, and Martin Freeman's excellent anchoring performance as Bilbo (who gets shuffled around a bit for the sake of other dramatic arcs, but is without a doubt still the heart of the story).
Unfortunately, the CGI is basically what continues to drag this trilogy down, and that's mostly my only gripe - some characters are wholly greenscreen creations, while others are plagued by 'uncanny valley'-esque visages that don't quite look like fantasy characters or real people from either respect (sadly, one of those blobs is Billy Connelly, who really shouldn't need any 'shopping in order to look like a dwarf, amirite). Overall, the intended audience is going to drool over all the epic Orc battling, and hardcore Tolkienites will find some manner of enjoyment (aside from every scene involving Tauriel and Legolas) from within the CGI-laden 'epic'-ness. LotR will always trump this trilogy, no question, but there's a whole movie's worth of warmth and energy to keep this fan afloat.
A cooler (and deeper) take on 'Sliding Doors' that makes for a fun bit of mindfuckery... making for a 'could happen anywhere/anytime' feel that holds on for awhile after the end. What could have been a trite piece of 'low-budget found footage' Hollywood pablum ends up being a solid mystery/thriller that doesn't fall into any of the cliche traps that plague the handicam genre. Highly, highly recommended.
This year's Tom Cruise vehicle boasts enough solid action elements to appease popcorn munchers, as well as a smarter, quicker story that takes a generic concept and spins it into blockbuster gold...well, maybe silver, depending on how well you can tolerate His Cruiseness in another sci-fi epic extravaganza. 4/5 A wild sci-fi romp that doesn't get too over-serious (re: last year's Oblivion) yet packs a serious sequence of good ideas and major action - this is a worthy movie that sits alongside Minority Report in Tom Cruise's belt.
Keanu Reeves may be far from my favorite actor (and his appearance in this film is adequate, if not a little more compelling than his usual fare), but his directing style is spot on - the machismo from this movie doesn't come from posing and 'cool special effects', but from kinetic motion and serious characters that are fighting for real stakes. This is a real version of Street Fighter, where competitors are given extreme amounts of money to compete in an underground circuit - Tiger Chen plays the main contender, and luckily, there's no montage of training sequences where he finds his resolve to take action... he's artful and passionate from the very beginning, and it's his dedication to those strengths within the fights and without, that make this movie. I'll admit, I thought this movie was going to be a cult 'so bad it's good' flick, but it earns a solid 4/5 from me. If it doesn't hook you all the way through, make sure you stay for Keanu's fight at the end - it's bloody and totally worth the wait.