Welcome everyone. This blog mainly exists as a way of tracking all the movies I've been watching and some of the initial thoughts and general feelings I've had about them.

Rating System

5/5 - Fantastic movies; movies which need to be seen and enjoyed by everyone.

4/5 - Movies which are very good but don’t have that spark which compels you to make others watch them as well.

3/5 - Average movies; watchable and enjoyable, but nothing which elevates them higher. The baseline all movies are given before watching.

2/5 - Can be watched but really bland and forgettable.

1/5 - Minimal to no reason to watch these films. It may have some redeeming factors e.g. it’s so bad it’s good or there’s one character that’s awesome enough to make it not a total waste of time.

0/5- Total waste of time. Nothing redeemable about these films.

As with every review blog/site, this is all my own personal opinion so feel free to take everything with a grain of salt.

Also I'm Scottish so all reviews will be in UK English. Get used to theatre, colour and words ending in -ised.

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#456/#2 Life Is Beautiful
One man (Roberto Benigni) tries to keep the horrors of the holocaust from his young son while interned in a Nazi concentration camp by pretending the entire thing is a game. 
If nothing else you’ve got to admire Benigni for having the balls to write, direct and star in a comedy revolving around the holocaust. Not two things you generally put together and the latter being something you definitely give a great deal of reverence to usually. What’s even more impressive is that it manages to work!
This is a movie with two very distinct acts. In the first act we are introduced to the clownish Guido (Benigni) and get to watch as he moves to a new town, his interaction with the locals and his wooing of the beautiful Dora (Nicoletta Brashchi). It’s whimsical and witty with lots of great sight gags and overall a bit of a farce. It’s more Chaplin or Marx Brothers than anything else but there is the undercurrent of unrest which hints at what is to come.
The second act begins with the introduction of Guido and Dora’s young son Joshua and the whole family being taken away to the camps. From here out Guido is trying to protect Joshua from the horrors of the camp. The levels to which he goes to to make this deception continue are amazing and we the audience, being in on the terrible joke, are all the more impressed by his love and dedication in shielding his son. It also manages to still, amazingly, be comedic as the movie progresses but the underlying tragedy of the whole endeavour just elevates the movie to a new level.
It’s not a film I think I shall be returning to but the movie’s message of the human spirit and a father’s love surviving even in the harshest of circumstances is one well worth portraying. It’s also enjoyably funny, despite the subject matter, if you go in with the right mindset as well. 4/5

#456/#2 Life Is Beautiful

One man (Roberto Benigni) tries to keep the horrors of the holocaust from his young son while interned in a Nazi concentration camp by pretending the entire thing is a game. 

If nothing else you’ve got to admire Benigni for having the balls to write, direct and star in a comedy revolving around the holocaust. Not two things you generally put together and the latter being something you definitely give a great deal of reverence to usually. What’s even more impressive is that it manages to work!

This is a movie with two very distinct acts. In the first act we are introduced to the clownish Guido (Benigni) and get to watch as he moves to a new town, his interaction with the locals and his wooing of the beautiful Dora (Nicoletta Brashchi). It’s whimsical and witty with lots of great sight gags and overall a bit of a farce. It’s more Chaplin or Marx Brothers than anything else but there is the undercurrent of unrest which hints at what is to come.

The second act begins with the introduction of Guido and Dora’s young son Joshua and the whole family being taken away to the camps. From here out Guido is trying to protect Joshua from the horrors of the camp. The levels to which he goes to to make this deception continue are amazing and we the audience, being in on the terrible joke, are all the more impressed by his love and dedication in shielding his son. It also manages to still, amazingly, be comedic as the movie progresses but the underlying tragedy of the whole endeavour just elevates the movie to a new level.

It’s not a film I think I shall be returning to but the movie’s message of the human spirit and a father’s love surviving even in the harshest of circumstances is one well worth portraying. It’s also enjoyably funny, despite the subject matter, if you go in with the right mindset as well. 4/5

#545/#1 Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Following his acclimatisation to the modern word, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) begins working with the intelligence agency SHIELD but doesn’t quite mesh with their way of doing things. When is seems like SHIELD may be compromised however, Cap is the perfect man to find the truth behind the smokescreen and maybe prevent a major evil from resurfacing once again. 
I seem to be one of the few who really quite liked the first Captain America movie. It had a lacking second half but everything up to, and including, the HYDRA bass destruction montage was great. The Winter Soldier does what a good sequel should do by building off the original, and the Avengers, while still making it a compelling story in its own right. The strong central themes and character of Captain America are still there, while allowing for additional world building and character development, without just rehashing the original again.
From the cast, Evans is once again great in the title role, making the ‘truth, justice and the fight for what is right’ feel endearing, with the correct levels of humbleness and determination, where it so easily could have come off as hokey and/or false. Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff was also at her best this time around. This is the movie in which Black Widow has gotten the most characterisation of all her appearances and it really rounds her out. Avengers had some solid moments for her but this movie allowed for some of the blanks to be filled in and a great relationship with Cap to form. It never felt romantic, just allowing a good friendship to develop, and that’s rare to see between a man and a woman in any movie, let alone a superhero one. It was nice to see for a change. Anthony Mackie’s addition as Falcon was also well handled, feeling like a strong addition to the team in a time of crisis rather than a rushed new character. His relationship with Steve was also done well and added some appropriate levity when required (something the other Phase 2 Marvel movies haven’t quite nailed up until this point).
On top of being a good Captain America movie, and easily the best Black Widow movie we’ve had, it also manages to be the best Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) and SHIELD movie we’ve gotten as well. It really makes the TV series ‘Agents of SHIELD’ look piddling in comparison to the type of things going on this adventure and it manages to give some scale to this clandestine organisation we’ve been getting hints at since the original Iron Man. Robert Redford, Cobbie Smulders, Frank Grillo and Emily VanCamp each add to their different facets of the organisation and makes Roger’s job of discovering the truth behind this massive operation seem all the more daunting.
The only thing I would maybe complain about in this movie is that in a film called the Winter Soldier, the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Shaw) doesn’t actually do a whole lot. He’s more of a B storyline character who shows up from time to time rather than being the focus of the plot. I love the plot they do have, and the whole spy mystery thing going on, but if that’s the case then don’t call it the Winter Soldier. What we do get, especially the first Cap VS Soldier brawl/knife fight, is excellent and teases more to follow but it just seems an odd choice of title to me if it’s not the story’s primary focus.
There’s much more to talk about in this film, the amazing costume design for instance, but I think this is enough to outline that this is definitely a film well worth a watch. Easily my favourite of the Phase 2 Marvel movies so far and I just keep looking forward more and more to Avengers 2 next year. 4.5/5

#545/#1 Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Following his acclimatisation to the modern word, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) begins working with the intelligence agency SHIELD but doesn’t quite mesh with their way of doing things. When is seems like SHIELD may be compromised however, Cap is the perfect man to find the truth behind the smokescreen and maybe prevent a major evil from resurfacing once again. 

I seem to be one of the few who really quite liked the first Captain America movie. It had a lacking second half but everything up to, and including, the HYDRA bass destruction montage was great. The Winter Soldier does what a good sequel should do by building off the original, and the Avengers, while still making it a compelling story in its own right. The strong central themes and character of Captain America are still there, while allowing for additional world building and character development, without just rehashing the original again.

From the cast, Evans is once again great in the title role, making the ‘truth, justice and the fight for what is right’ feel endearing, with the correct levels of humbleness and determination, where it so easily could have come off as hokey and/or false. Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff was also at her best this time around. This is the movie in which Black Widow has gotten the most characterisation of all her appearances and it really rounds her out. Avengers had some solid moments for her but this movie allowed for some of the blanks to be filled in and a great relationship with Cap to form. It never felt romantic, just allowing a good friendship to develop, and that’s rare to see between a man and a woman in any movie, let alone a superhero one. It was nice to see for a change. Anthony Mackie’s addition as Falcon was also well handled, feeling like a strong addition to the team in a time of crisis rather than a rushed new character. His relationship with Steve was also done well and added some appropriate levity when required (something the other Phase 2 Marvel movies haven’t quite nailed up until this point).

On top of being a good Captain America movie, and easily the best Black Widow movie we’ve had, it also manages to be the best Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) and SHIELD movie we’ve gotten as well. It really makes the TV series ‘Agents of SHIELD’ look piddling in comparison to the type of things going on this adventure and it manages to give some scale to this clandestine organisation we’ve been getting hints at since the original Iron Man. Robert Redford, Cobbie Smulders, Frank Grillo and Emily VanCamp each add to their different facets of the organisation and makes Roger’s job of discovering the truth behind this massive operation seem all the more daunting.

The only thing I would maybe complain about in this movie is that in a film called the Winter Soldier, the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Shaw) doesn’t actually do a whole lot. He’s more of a B storyline character who shows up from time to time rather than being the focus of the plot. I love the plot they do have, and the whole spy mystery thing going on, but if that’s the case then don’t call it the Winter Soldier. What we do get, especially the first Cap VS Soldier brawl/knife fight, is excellent and teases more to follow but it just seems an odd choice of title to me if it’s not the story’s primary focus.

There’s much more to talk about in this film, the amazing costume design for instance, but I think this is enough to outline that this is definitely a film well worth a watch. Easily my favourite of the Phase 2 Marvel movies so far and I just keep looking forward more and more to Avengers 2 next year. 4.5/5

Leezy2 Reviews: The Statistics 2013

This years saw a dramatic reduction in the amount of movie I watched but it’s still interesting to see how the stats stack up against former years regardless.

Total films watched: 108, New: 79

Decade

1920s: 1 (1%), 1940s: 7 (7%), 1950s: 4 (4%), 1960s: 2 (2%), 1970s: 1 (1%), 1980s: 3 (3%), 1990s: 9 (8%), 2000s: 15 (14%) and 2010s: 66 (61%)

Last 5 years: 2009: 2 (2%), 2010: 3 (3%), 2011: 8 (7%), 2012: 36 (33%),  2013: 19 (18%)

Oldest: The Kid (1921)

Newest: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

Method of Viewing: Cinema: 16 (15%), Television 3 (3%), Internet 25 (23%), DVD 18 (17%), Netflix 4 (4%) and Sky Player 43 (40%)

Final Wilhelm Scream Tally: 2013: 10 (9%), Total: 45 (7.8%)

For comparision here are 2012 and 2011's stats.

Once again, if there are any other stats you would like me to keep track of throughout the year get in touch and I’ll try to accommodate for the 2014 list.



10 Best Films Released in 2013
You know the drill. I haven’t seen most of the films released this year so there will be gaps in my list which will undoubtedly turn up in my best of 2013 watched in 2014. These however, were the best films I watched in 2013 released in 2013.
1, Star Trek Into Darkness - Another love it or hate it I really enjoyed. It was a little homage heavy but I was on board for the ride and though it pulled it off well. Tentatively excited for Star Wars Episode 7 now.
2, Man of Steel - Some loved it while others hated it but I was firmly in the former camp. Probably my favourite Superman movie so far.
3, Frozen - Disney outdoes themselves again and create a new classic to add to the collection. The music is still rattling around my brain.
4, Thor: The Dark World - Where Iron Man 3 had little annoyances throughout, Thor 2 just came barrelling in with the amusement, action and adventure and didn’t let up till it was over. Fun times at the cinema.
5, The Wolverine - After the horror of Wolverine Origins I was remarkably surprised by this solid addition to the X Men franchise and it is the best look at the character of Wolverine since X2.
6, Pacific Rim - I went in looking to the see giant mechs fight giant monster and I got to see giant mechs fighting giant monsters. Is the story cliché and paper thin as all Hell? Yup. Did I care? Nope, because I got to see giant mechs fighting giant monsters.
7, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Again lacking that spark to push it further up this list but Bilbo’s interactions with Smaug were enjoyable enough in their own right to merit a spot here.
8, The World’s End - Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost do it again with this final addition to the cornetto trilogy. Comedy and drama in equal measure.
9, Iron Man 3 - There are a lot of little annoyances which do niggle away at the enjoyment of this movie a touch but I’d be lying if I said I still didn’t come away having liked it. If nothing else it’s one of the few superhero movies with a 3 in the title to not be out and out terrible.
10, Fast and Furious 6 - It still amazes me how much this franchise has managed to turn itself around from some really stupid car movies into quite entertaining heist flicks. Roll on number 7.

10 Best Films Released in 2013

You know the drill. I haven’t seen most of the films released this year so there will be gaps in my list which will undoubtedly turn up in my best of 2013 watched in 2014. These however, were the best films I watched in 2013 released in 2013.

1, Star Trek Into Darkness - Another love it or hate it I really enjoyed. It was a little homage heavy but I was on board for the ride and though it pulled it off well. Tentatively excited for Star Wars Episode 7 now.

2, Man of Steel - Some loved it while others hated it but I was firmly in the former camp. Probably my favourite Superman movie so far.

3, Frozen - Disney outdoes themselves again and create a new classic to add to the collection. The music is still rattling around my brain.

4, Thor: The Dark World - Where Iron Man 3 had little annoyances throughout, Thor 2 just came barrelling in with the amusement, action and adventure and didn’t let up till it was over. Fun times at the cinema.

5, The Wolverine - After the horror of Wolverine Origins I was remarkably surprised by this solid addition to the X Men franchise and it is the best look at the character of Wolverine since X2.

6, Pacific Rim - I went in looking to the see giant mechs fight giant monster and I got to see giant mechs fighting giant monsters. Is the story cliché and paper thin as all Hell? Yup. Did I care? Nope, because I got to see giant mechs fighting giant monsters.

7, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Again lacking that spark to push it further up this list but Bilbo’s interactions with Smaug were enjoyable enough in their own right to merit a spot here.

8, The World’s End - Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost do it again with this final addition to the cornetto trilogy. Comedy and drama in equal measure.

9, Iron Man 3 - There are a lot of little annoyances which do niggle away at the enjoyment of this movie a touch but I’d be lying if I said I still didn’t come away having liked it. If nothing else it’s one of the few superhero movies with a 3 in the title to not be out and out terrible.

10, Fast and Furious 6 - It still amazes me how much this franchise has managed to turn itself around from some really stupid car movies into quite entertaining heist flicks. Roll on number 7.



10 Best Films Watched in 2013 (Excluding re-watched films)
1, Pitch Perfect - A great ensemble cast bringing the comedy, the music and the heart. Is it cheesy in places? Yes but still a treat to watch.
2, The Grey - If there is a better way to actualise this concept into a movie then I would be amazed. Definitely exceeded expectations.
3, Summer Wars - One of the few anime movies I have whole heartedly enjoyed from start to finish. The action complements the slow moments and the slow moments give the action meaning. Fantastic picture.
4, The Sting - The grandfather of all con films and it still holds up as well today as it did back then. Can’t fight the pairing of Redford and Newman.
5, Dredd - Karl Urban truly gets the role of Dredd in this simple premised, but extremely awesome action flick.
6, Lincoln - Not really requiring more than a single viewing but worth checking out to see Spielberg back on his game.
7, Django Unchained - Leonardo DiCaprio and Christoph Waltz steal the show in this incredibly watchable western.
8, Silver Linings Playbook - Bradley Cooper made me a fan while Jennifer Lawrence continues to confirm her place as one of Hollywood’s brightest new stars.
9, Star Trek Into Darkness - Garnering some mixed reactions but still my favourite outing to the cinema this year, this space action adventure is worth a watch to decide for yourself at least.
10, Argo - Maybe wasn’t my pick for best picture but undeniably a great film. What we go to the movies for.

10 Best Films Watched in 2013 (Excluding re-watched films)

1, Pitch Perfect - A great ensemble cast bringing the comedy, the music and the heart. Is it cheesy in places? Yes but still a treat to watch.

2, The Grey - If there is a better way to actualise this concept into a movie then I would be amazed. Definitely exceeded expectations.

3, Summer Wars - One of the few anime movies I have whole heartedly enjoyed from start to finish. The action complements the slow moments and the slow moments give the action meaning. Fantastic picture.

4, The Sting - The grandfather of all con films and it still holds up as well today as it did back then. Can’t fight the pairing of Redford and Newman.

5, Dredd - Karl Urban truly gets the role of Dredd in this simple premised, but extremely awesome action flick.

6, Lincoln - Not really requiring more than a single viewing but worth checking out to see Spielberg back on his game.

7, Django Unchained - Leonardo DiCaprio and Christoph Waltz steal the show in this incredibly watchable western.

8, Silver Linings Playbook - Bradley Cooper made me a fan while Jennifer Lawrence continues to confirm her place as one of Hollywood’s brightest new stars.

9, Star Trek Into Darkness - Garnering some mixed reactions but still my favourite outing to the cinema this year, this space action adventure is worth a watch to decide for yourself at least.

10, Argo - Maybe wasn’t my pick for best picture but undeniably a great film. What we go to the movies for.

10 Worst Films Watched in 2013 (Excluding Rewatched Films)
I didn’t actually do too badly this year in terms of bad films. I certainly wouldn’t watch any of these again but only really numbers 1 and 3 annoyed to me to any significant degree.
1, Safe House - When a film makes me physically ill from so much shaky cam then it had better have a good story to make it worth the effort but this bog-standard action movie did not deliver. 
2, Winnie the Pooh - Really not for my demographic but I needed to watch it to round out the Disney films. Not bad just really not for me.
3, This Means War - Lacking in all chemistry this was a bore to sit through and not worth the effort.
4, The Watch - With a boring A and B plot and no comedy there really isn’t anything to care about in this one.
5, Resident Evil: Retribution - It’s a Resident Evil movie…do I need to say more.
6, Dark Shadows - This one showed promise but takes a sharp nose dive almost straight away and never recovers.
7, Saludos Amigos - Barely even long enough to be considered a movie nowadays it has a couple of nice animated sections but isn’t all that interesting.
8, Make Mine Music - A couple of nice shorts are scattered throughout but still the least interesting of Disney’s package films.
9, The Three Caballeros - Better than some of its ilk due to a strong song and some good animation but marred by a boring slog of a second half.
10, Patriot Games - Not terrible just the least interesting of the Jack Ryan movies. A good opening and ending elevate it a little, but a really sagging middle kills all forward momentum.

10 Worst Films Watched in 2013 (Excluding Rewatched Films)

I didn’t actually do too badly this year in terms of bad films. I certainly wouldn’t watch any of these again but only really numbers 1 and 3 annoyed to me to any significant degree.

1, Safe House - When a film makes me physically ill from so much shaky cam then it had better have a good story to make it worth the effort but this bog-standard action movie did not deliver. 

2, Winnie the Pooh - Really not for my demographic but I needed to watch it to round out the Disney films. Not bad just really not for me.

3, This Means War - Lacking in all chemistry this was a bore to sit through and not worth the effort.

4, The Watch - With a boring A and B plot and no comedy there really isn’t anything to care about in this one.

5, Resident Evil: Retribution - It’s a Resident Evil movie…do I need to say more.

6, Dark Shadows - This one showed promise but takes a sharp nose dive almost straight away and never recovers.

7, Saludos Amigos - Barely even long enough to be considered a movie nowadays it has a couple of nice animated sections but isn’t all that interesting.

8, Make Mine Music - A couple of nice shorts are scattered throughout but still the least interesting of Disney’s package films.

9, The Three Caballeros - Better than some of its ilk due to a strong song and some good animation but marred by a boring slog of a second half.

10, Patriot Games - Not terrible just the least interesting of the Jack Ryan movies. A good opening and ending elevate it a little, but a really sagging middle kills all forward momentum.



Best of 2012 watched in 2013 (excluding rewatched films)
Given the sporadic nature in which I review films, I often find I’m actually seeing a lot of the previous year’s films and not a lot of those actually released e.g. this year I’ve only seen 17 films released in 2013. The top 10 of those will get their own list tomorrow but for now this was the best of what I missed from 2012.
1, Pitch Perfect - First film I watched this year and it hasn’t been toppled in the intervening time. Clearly not meant to be up against Oscar winners and mega blockbusters but I genuinely had more fun with this daft film than with any other movie.
2, The Grey - Much more than Liam Neeson bare knuckle boxing wolves, this movie taps into something primal and really explores the psyches of those trapped in the wilderness.
3, Dredd - Exactly what you want from a Judge Dredd film. Really hope they get funding for more forays into this franchise.
4, Lincoln - Not one I think I’ll be coming back to but Daniel Day Lewis’ transformation is worth a spot on this list regardless of the quality for the remainder of the film. Thankfully the rest is also top notch so no qualms there.
5, Django Unchained - Tarantino at his finest and another solid revenge flick to add to his ever growing resume. Can’t wait to see what he’s up to next.
6, Silver Linings Playbook - A little silly but more enjoyable than the hundreds of other less realistic versions of rom-coms out there. Wonderful performances from everyone involved.
7, Argo - Although a tad slow in the beginning, its ending was so tension filled and edge of your seat causing that it is no wonder it took home the golden statue for best picture.
8, Zero Dark Thirty - A more level headed look at US military tactics on the war on terror than I was expecting tied to a fantastic female lead role made for one enjoyable drama.
9, Rise of the Guardians - A strong Dreamworks contribution which I think will become a solid holiday classic in years to come.
10, Les Miserables - While the singing might not have been up to my standards, and I will always prefer the stage show, there is no denying the performances and passion brought to this film.

Best of 2012 watched in 2013 (excluding rewatched films)

Given the sporadic nature in which I review films, I often find I’m actually seeing a lot of the previous year’s films and not a lot of those actually released e.g. this year I’ve only seen 17 films released in 2013. The top 10 of those will get their own list tomorrow but for now this was the best of what I missed from 2012.

1, Pitch Perfect - First film I watched this year and it hasn’t been toppled in the intervening time. Clearly not meant to be up against Oscar winners and mega blockbusters but I genuinely had more fun with this daft film than with any other movie.

2, The Grey - Much more than Liam Neeson bare knuckle boxing wolves, this movie taps into something primal and really explores the psyches of those trapped in the wilderness.

3, Dredd - Exactly what you want from a Judge Dredd film. Really hope they get funding for more forays into this franchise.

4, Lincoln - Not one I think I’ll be coming back to but Daniel Day Lewis’ transformation is worth a spot on this list regardless of the quality for the remainder of the film. Thankfully the rest is also top notch so no qualms there.

5, Django Unchained - Tarantino at his finest and another solid revenge flick to add to his ever growing resume. Can’t wait to see what he’s up to next.

6, Silver Linings Playbook - A little silly but more enjoyable than the hundreds of other less realistic versions of rom-coms out there. Wonderful performances from everyone involved.

7, Argo - Although a tad slow in the beginning, its ending was so tension filled and edge of your seat causing that it is no wonder it took home the golden statue for best picture.

8, Zero Dark Thirty - A more level headed look at US military tactics on the war on terror than I was expecting tied to a fantastic female lead role made for one enjoyable drama.

9, Rise of the Guardians - A strong Dreamworks contribution which I think will become a solid holiday classic in years to come.

10, Les Miserables - While the singing might not have been up to my standards, and I will always prefer the stage show, there is no denying the performances and passion brought to this film.

#544/#95 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
The second in the Hobbit trilogy sees Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and company fleeing from some orcs to the house of Beorn (Mikael Persbrandt), battling spiders and elves in Mirkwood before entering Laketown and attempting to confront the dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) within the Lonely Mountain.
Following last year’s enjoyable but overall lacking ‘An Unexpected Journey' I was really hoping 'the Desolation of Smaug' would kick my interest in the Middle Earth movies back up to the fervour of the Lord of the Rings films. Sadly I have much the same opinion of Smaug as I did Journey. Namely that it is a thoroughly enjoyable movie but it just doesn't have that spark or epic feel to it that makes the original trilogy so rewatchable.
This said they do a damn good job attempting it and in parts it truly does capture the imagination wonderfully. The section with the spiders in the forest, the barrel sequence on the river and especially the CGI/motion capture effects used to bring Smaug the dragon to life are absolutely wonderful. 
Cast-wise all of the returning crew are still in fine form while new additions such as Evangaline Lilly as Tauriel, Luke Evans as Bard the Bowman and Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug are all great in their roles. Tauriel’s blossoming romance with the dwarf Kili (Aidan Turner) feels a little forced but her inclusion into the narrative doesn’t detracts from it, and will probably pay off better in the third films, so I say bring on the attractive ass kicking female elves. Bard too feels like he’s going to have a larger part to play later but does well with what he’s given here. Smaug on the other hand, has the best scenes in the entire picture. His toying with Bilbo in his lair and his final parting words are easily the highlights of the movie. 
I cannot fight the feeling however, that there was once again a slightly leaner version of this narrative in here. I really don’t know if it’s the two movies into three thing which has done it but there is a lot of padding in a couple of places which could have been tightened up a touch. It’s a lot less noticeable this time around, and I was never bored at any point, but some sequences just hang about a bit longer than really needed too.
I am still excited to see how this trilogy ends, and more time in Middle Earth cannot really be a bad thing, but I think I’m just going to have to accept the fact the Hobbit franchise is more a collection of good micro-events rather than one cohesive narrative. It’s hard not to compare it to its sister series given how similar they are, but at the end of the day it is its own animal and I must see it as such. 4/5
Wilhelm Scream #44

#544/#95 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

The second in the Hobbit trilogy sees Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and company fleeing from some orcs to the house of Beorn (Mikael Persbrandt), battling spiders and elves in Mirkwood before entering Laketown and attempting to confront the dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) within the Lonely Mountain.

Following last year’s enjoyable but overall lacking ‘An Unexpected Journey' I was really hoping 'the Desolation of Smaug' would kick my interest in the Middle Earth movies back up to the fervour of the Lord of the Rings films. Sadly I have much the same opinion of Smaug as I did Journey. Namely that it is a thoroughly enjoyable movie but it just doesn't have that spark or epic feel to it that makes the original trilogy so rewatchable.

This said they do a damn good job attempting it and in parts it truly does capture the imagination wonderfully. The section with the spiders in the forest, the barrel sequence on the river and especially the CGI/motion capture effects used to bring Smaug the dragon to life are absolutely wonderful. 

Cast-wise all of the returning crew are still in fine form while new additions such as Evangaline Lilly as Tauriel, Luke Evans as Bard the Bowman and Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug are all great in their roles. Tauriel’s blossoming romance with the dwarf Kili (Aidan Turner) feels a little forced but her inclusion into the narrative doesn’t detracts from it, and will probably pay off better in the third films, so I say bring on the attractive ass kicking female elves. Bard too feels like he’s going to have a larger part to play later but does well with what he’s given here. Smaug on the other hand, has the best scenes in the entire picture. His toying with Bilbo in his lair and his final parting words are easily the highlights of the movie. 

I cannot fight the feeling however, that there was once again a slightly leaner version of this narrative in here. I really don’t know if it’s the two movies into three thing which has done it but there is a lot of padding in a couple of places which could have been tightened up a touch. It’s a lot less noticeable this time around, and I was never bored at any point, but some sequences just hang about a bit longer than really needed too.

I am still excited to see how this trilogy ends, and more time in Middle Earth cannot really be a bad thing, but I think I’m just going to have to accept the fact the Hobbit franchise is more a collection of good micro-events rather than one cohesive narrative. It’s hard not to compare it to its sister series given how similar they are, but at the end of the day it is its own animal and I must see it as such. 4/5

Wilhelm Scream #44

#543/#94 High Society
On the eve of her wedding, Tracy Lord (Grace Kelly) must deal with her feelings for her ex-husband C.K. Dexter-Haven (Bing Crosby) and the advances of journalist Mike Conner (Frank Sinatra).
I’m going to put this down to the time period the film was made in but it has some weird notions on fidelity, adultery and love to say the least. I know it’s a farcical romp, and I did enjoy it as such, but it definitely paints a very different picture of what was considered okay back in the day.
The three leads were quite entertaining in this. Kelly, in her final role before becoming actual royalty, is gorgeous as ever and rather funny to boot. Meanwhile both Crosby and Sinatra get a couple of good solo or double act songs with other characters and one song together which was the highlight of the piece. Louis Armstrong and his band also add an element of comedy and enjoyment to the whole affair.
I really doubt I’ll be coming back to this one but it was perfectly fitted to a lazy Christmas afternoon viewing with the family. 3/5

#543/#94 High Society

On the eve of her wedding, Tracy Lord (Grace Kelly) must deal with her feelings for her ex-husband C.K. Dexter-Haven (Bing Crosby) and the advances of journalist Mike Conner (Frank Sinatra).

I’m going to put this down to the time period the film was made in but it has some weird notions on fidelity, adultery and love to say the least. I know it’s a farcical romp, and I did enjoy it as such, but it definitely paints a very different picture of what was considered okay back in the day.

The three leads were quite entertaining in this. Kelly, in her final role before becoming actual royalty, is gorgeous as ever and rather funny to boot. Meanwhile both Crosby and Sinatra get a couple of good solo or double act songs with other characters and one song together which was the highlight of the piece. Louis Armstrong and his band also add an element of comedy and enjoyment to the whole affair.

I really doubt I’ll be coming back to this one but it was perfectly fitted to a lazy Christmas afternoon viewing with the family. 3/5