Movie Review – The Hobbit: Battle of the five armies

thehobbitbotfa-coverThis review is going to be a short one because I have already wasted a little over 2.5 hours of my life on this train wreck of a movie. (Look on the bright side: you didn’t have to read the whole review to know the verdict)

This is the final part of the Hobbit trilogy, the ‘epic’ conclusion of a story that should have ended with the second movie itself. Sometime around this time last year we watched Bilbo and the dwarves make their way to the lonely mountain where Thorin hoped to claim his rightful place as king under the mountain only to find that the its previous occupant had not vacated the mountain.

Battle of the five armies picks off right where the previous one ended:  a rather pissed off Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) making his way to Laketown to wreak havoc.

A good portion of the movie is essentially the battle of the Five armies (largely the Orcs vs the Elves and the people of lake town) which feels extremely bloated. Its sole purpose is to distract the audience from the fact that there is nothing resembling a script that is capable of filling the 2.5 hours dedicated to this movie.


Martin Freeman, the only highlight of this whole side show, doesn’t have much of screen time in this movie which, I must admit, is akin to what happens in the book. He gets knocked out at the beginning of the battle and only wakes up when the whole thing ends. Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving and Cate Blanchett make a token appearance probably for the sake of nostalgia more than anything else.

The CGI is top notch but sometimes I wonder how they are able to create an entire realistic Orc army but fail miserably at something as simple as showing Tauriel tumble down a cliff. Even LoTR is filled with inconsistent CGI like this. I thought Weta digital would have figured this out buy now.

The movie feels thin and stretched, “…like butter scraped over too much bread.”, if I may borrow as line, and the reasons for this are obvious. The writers and Jackson had so little to work on while creating the script – The book is only 289 pages long. There is not enough content in it to make 2 movies let alone 3. This along with several cringe worthy dialogues make watching this movie a real chore. (“Legolas: These bats are bred only for one purpose – War” (thanks Captain); “Tauriel: Why does it hurt so much?” “Thranduil:“Because it was real”.) There are lots more but my brain seems to have terminated the grey cells that stored that information.

And as if this wasn’t enough, there are totally ridiculous action sequences that made me roll my eyes. They also served as comic relief but I am pretty sure this was not something the director had intended. There is a scene where Thorin and his compadres decide to take on Azog who is standing on top of of a cliff. No sooner had Thorin stated his intent to the other dwarves, out of nowhere comes a bunch of Rams with golden horns. They then mount these creatures who then proceeds to climb the mountain as if it was no ones business! There is another one where Legolas (what is he doing in this movie anyway?) finds himself falling when a bridge (ok, it was actually a tower that fell on its side) he is fighting on is destroyed and get this, he just runs back up to safety by hopping on the falling stones… in mid air! I am serious. I couldn’t make this stuff up even if I tried.

To say that I was extremely disappointed is an understatement. Cringe worthy dialogues, stretched out battle scenes, totally unnecessary characters and a non existent script makes this one movie you can miss this holiday season.

Merry Christmas!

The One Review rating: 4/10

Movie review – Transformers: Age of extinction

Transformers Age of extinction.One would be forgiven for thinking that after three movies, the Transformers series had no where to go but up, right? Oh my sweet summer child.

It has been four years since the events of the last movie. The Autobot-Human alliance has officially ended. An elite CIA unit called Cemetery wind (where do they come up with these names?) has been tasked with hunting down the remaining Decepticons. However the team has a hidden agenda.

Enter failed inventor, Cade Yeager (Mark Whalberg) and his daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz). Cade is a single parent and like all responsible parents, Cade is looking to put his daughter through college fixing his neighbours’ broken tape recorders and selling scrap. During one of his Salvage hunter expeditions, he buys a beat up truck which turns out to be a Transformer.

Meanwhile, a corporation called KSI, headed by Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci) is working to replicate Transformer technology for military use.

No matter how you dress it, the movie is bad. Sure if you are into mindless explosions and cheesy dialogues, then the movie might be your kind of thing but I can’t imagine anyone who has any kind of taste for movies walking out of the theatre with anything good to say about the movie. The CG is great as usual but it is nothing you haven’t seen in the previous three movies.

The plot is essentially a rehash of the previous movie: Humans giving up on Autobots. Autobots not giving up on humans. Hidden military agenda. Fights. Explosions. Slo-mo-people-thrown-out-o-autobot-mid-air-transformation-catch-them-in-the-nick-of-time sequence. More explosions. China. Mindless mayhem. Optimus Prime’s final message. Cut to credits.

One would think that 165 million would buy you a better script writer. Wrooong! The studio brought back, Ehren Kruger, the same guy who wrote the ‘story’ for the previous two movies.

I guess the U.S military declined to sponsor Bay this time so some of the really cool military tech scenes from the previous movies are missing. Instead, half the movie is set in Hong Kong with random Chinese actors appearing along the way for no apparent reason. The movie is essentially sponsored by the Peoples republic of China.

As if that wasn’t enough, there is shameless product placement by Red Bull, Bud lights, Beats and Victoria’s secret. And they are in no way subtle.

Accompanying Prime are three new Autobots; Drift, who for some unknown bizzare reason looks (and talks) like a Japanese Samurai. He transforms into a Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse for Gods sakes. A Bugatti. It’s an Italian car. What wereTransformers-4-Age-Of-Extinction they thinking? John Goodman voices Hound, an Oshkosh defence MTV, Cross hairs, an autobot paratrooper voiced by John DiMaggio and everyone’s favourite, Bumble Bee.

Stanley Tucci, you poor man, what sort of madness made you agree to this role? Although, in his defence, he does deliver the only line in the movie that made the audience laugh.

A Transformer named Lockdown serves the role of the primary villain. Lockdown is essentially a bounty hunter travelling the galaxy looking for bad ass transformers to collect for his trophy case. Beginning to connect the dots now?

Poor editing, cringe worthy dialogues and a non existent script makes this one movie you can definitely miss. The Studio should really look for a new director and script writer if they are thinking of making any more of these movies.

The One Review Rating: 3/10 

IMDB link:


Movie Review – Godzilla (2014)

The Return of Godzilla (1984) is, if my memory serves me right, is the first monster movie I ever watched. So needless to say, the big guy has a special place in my heart. Hollywoods treatment of the monster has been nothing short of disastrous so far. The ’94 version starring Matthew Broderick (of all the people) still makes people want to cringe. And that was from Roland Emmerich, the guy who makes his living on disaster movies.

What then can, Gareth Edwards, a relatively unknown director do? Quite a bit, as it turns out. I haven’t watched any of his earlier works so I had no preconceived notion of what to expect as far as direction was concerned. Well, I am here to say that Godzillas’ latest outing is far better and more watchable than the previous one.  He has shown enormous restraint in not allowing the movie to turn into a run of the mill monster flick.

Godzilla 2014

The story for one, is different. The movie is not entirely about Godzilla wreaking havoc on a generic American/Japanese city, the chaos that ensues and the US military. Although, to be fair, it does have all that. But it is not just about that.

Dr. Ichiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe, who else) is called to a quarry site in the Philippines where a huge skeleton is discovered. Inside it, they find two egg shaped pods; one still intact and another one, that has apparently hatched.

Joe Brody (Bryan cranston) and his wife works in one of the several nuclear power plants in Japan. During a routine inspection, a tremor leads to a plant shutdown, and Brody is forced to close the containment door with his wife still inside (Loss of family moment. Check.). Cut to several years later; Brody’s son Ford is now living with his wife and son in San Francisco. Ford is an explosive ordinance disposal officer in the Army and he has just returned home on leave. However, the reunion with his family is short lived. He gets a call from Japan; apparently papa bear has been a bad boy and was caught trespassing in the quarantine area (where the plant stood earlier). Ford, now, has to get to Japan to haul Dad’s sorry ass out of jail.

We then discover that in the gap of 15 years, Dad has become something of an expert on earthquakes, echolocation, mating calls of birds and what not. He tells Ford that he believes that the incident 15 years back was not an earthquake as everyone claimed and that the government was covering something up. His son of course thinks that his old man has gone soft in the head.

Nevertheless, to humour his father, they set out together in to the quarantined zone (hey, wasn’t he just arrested… never mind) where they are, wait for it, are arrested (again) and brought to the plant site where Ken Watanabe is in charge (because, you know, thats what they do when they catch people trespassing – take them to the lead scientist).

This is where they discover that everything is not as it seems (spooky?).

What do they see? What caused those tremors 15 years back? What came out of that egg that hatched several years back? Do they even have Gojira in the movie? All answers to be had at a movie theatre near you.

There is nothing much to be said about the acting department. Sure, it has Bryan Cranston but there is nothing in there that couldn’t have been done by any other actor. The same is true for all other roles. The people are generic placeholders for the mandatory roles in a monster movie – the guy who knows everything and tells everyone else they have no idea what is coming, the soldier with a family to get to and who can do stuff that doesn’t even fit his job description, the Scientist who seems to know everything about monsters (without , you know, ever having ever seen one in real life), the US Navy commander who knows nothing but believes there is nothing that cant be solved by firing a few missiles.

Having said that, the movie is quite watchable because of the inclusion of certain key movie plots (which I shall not reveal here). This helps steer the movie away from a one dimensional monster romp to something else altogether.

Oh, before I forget, I liked this move far better than Pacific Rim. Pacific Rim was a turd, to say the least.

The One Review rating: 6/10

IMDB link:

Movie Review – RoboCop (2014)

robocopIt is the year 2028. America is doing what it does best; giving the rest of the world a healthy dose of ‘democracy’. Only this time the dirty work is done by machines: drones and robots that are fully automated military units designed not to feel, not to think, just act.

OmniCorp, the company behind these bots are rolling in moolah. But Company CEO, Raymond Sellers (Keaton), isn’t happy. Their systems are in use everywhere in the world except for America. The American people don’t want a machine patrolling their streets. People have an inherent distrust of walking machines with guns. Strange. Sellers wants the situation rectified ASAP. He calls in his top scientist, Dr Dennet Norton, and unveils his grand idea: put a man inside a machine. People will buy that right? The fire power of a machine and the intuition of a man. Geeenius!

Enter, Alex Murphy. Dedicated officer. Loving husband. The usual. There is the mandatory I-don’t-do-it-for-the-money, I-do-it-because-it-is-my-duty-bit shoot-out bit where his partner gets shot. Soon, Murphy’s car is blown to smithereens with him around. 90% burns all over. Most of his organs are failing. He is as good as dead.

But wait, whom do we know has the technology to put a man inside a machine? Who? Ok we know who. Before you can say hot chocolate, Murphy is the man in the machine. Soon he is cleaning up the crime infested city of Detroit (surprisingly like present day Detroit)

robocop center

I grew up on movies like Robocop (the original). The ’87 version was a classic and a movie far ahead of its time. The concept was new and there were
several elements that made the movie enjoyable. The lead actor was likeable and the story lent itself in a way that made the audience relate to Murphy’s situation. And then there were things like Murphy’s signature gun spinning move while holstering his gun… things that let the audience know that it was still Alex Murphy inside the suit.

The new movie takes all that was great about the original and throws it right out of the window. I couldn’t find a single character I could empathise with. The movie seemed hollow and pointless. And what the hell happened to the PRIME DIRECTIVES that were the cornerstone of the original movie?

There is the usual over the top, use of technology. The movie just ploughs through it’s 2 hour excuse for screen time and several scenes just seem to be there for no apparent reason. Run, shoot, repeat.

Nothing much is expected of Joel Kinnaman who plays the role of Alex Murphy/Robocop. He doesn’t disappoint; nothing is delivered.

Gary Oldman, as the Dr Dennet Norton, brings the only semblance of acting to the movie but he is ultimately wasted.

Samuel Jackson, as Pat Novak, a media mogul, steps in every twenty minutes, with what sounds like American War propaganda, asking why in the world America can’t have robots patrolling their streets. He repeats this every time he is on-screen to the very last scene in the movie. I never understood the reason for the existence of his role. If it was an attempt at taking a jibe at the American media, I can’t say it worked out too well.

All in all, the movie was a predictable disappointment. I know, the review sounds like a rant. It is. Even if you look at the movie without comparing it with the original, it is a clear failure. And what were they thinking giving the reins to a nobody like José Padilha?

Hollywood seems to have finally run out of ideas. It seems to have for some time now but it is movies like this that make it obvious.

Do yourself a favour; go watch the original. You can thank me later.

The One Review Rating: 4/10

IMDB Link (Robocop – 1987)

Movie review – The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall StreetIf I had to choose one word to describe The Wolf of Wall street, it would be irreverent. Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of the memoir by Jordan Belfort of the same same, is a no holds barred, unapologetic tour de force …. and may not be the movie for you if you are on self proclaimed moral high grounds.

Booze, sex and drugs is what runs this latest Scorsese outing. The movie explores the life of Jordan Belfort, a stock broker that founded a brokerage firm called Stratton Oakmont in the 90s, dealing in penny stocks and defrauding clients to the tune of over 100 million dollars. The movie shows his drive for making money, his ability to smooth talk his clients into buying worthless stocks … and his obsession with booze, drugs and women.

Yes, the movie has a hefty dose of nudity… probably the reason, non of the major studios touched it. Although that was probably good news for Scorsese; nothing much seems to have been lost at the editing table.

Di Caprio is impeccable in his role as Jordan Belfort, the drug addled, womanizer who took investors for a ride. His boyish charm and panache makes being a crook look good. Someone please give the man an oscar. God knows he deserves it.

However the same cannot be said for the the movie itself. This is Scorsese’s longest film yet, running at 3 hours, but it pales in comparison to his earlier works like GoodFellas and The Departed. Sure, the movie is enjoyable but is in no way award winning material. Editing is top notch but the movie is unnecessarily long; prolonged by booze parties and drug fests.

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Jonah Hill is quite likeable in his role as Donnie Azoff, Belfort’s partner in crime. Nice to see him depart from his comfort zone to play a role like this. He so badly wanted to work with Scorsese, that he reportedly did the movie for a lowly sum of $60,000! In comparison, Di Caprio made a cool 10 mil.

Deterrents of the movie note that the movie glorifies Belfort and doesn’t do justice is pointing out the plight of the people whom he swindled. This is largely true. The movie is devoid of any sympathetic characters or for that matter any characters you can relate to. Scrorsese said that the movie is meant to be a precautionary tale but considering how the movie is made, this is rather hard to digest. Of course, it is the Director’s vision that finally comes through. Why do movies always have to be black or white?

You want real life? Watch documentaries.

The One Review Rating: 7/10

Movie Review – Frozen

frozenLike several Disney movies, Frozen begins in a land far far away in the Kingdom of Arendelle, where the fair king and queen lives with their daughters Elsa and Anna. But this seemingly normal family hides a dark secret; Elsa, the elder princess is cyrokinetic, or in plain english she possesses the ability to manipulate the cold and ice.

One day, while playing, she accidentally knocks down Anna after which she is asked never to use her powers ever again. In typical Disney fashion, the King and Queen are soon lost at sea leaving Anna and Elsa alone in the castle. Elsa, fearing that she wont be able to control her abilities, shuts herself out from the rest of the world and Anna rarely gets to see her.

Several years later, Elsa comes of her age and she is to to be handed the reins to the kingdom: its coronation day! The doors of the castle are open, people from neighbouring kingdoms come to pay their respects. Its all happy and gay (you know what I mean). Things don’t stay that way for long. In a fit of rage, Elsa displays her powers in front of all the guests.

Unable to control her powers, Elsa decides to leave, dashes off to a mountain, a song and dance later, she has built her own ice castle where she intends to live for the rest of her life. Oh and in her fit of rage, leaves Arendelle in eternal winter.

Anna, of course, won’t have this and sets out to bring her sister back. On the way she meets Kristoff, his reindeer Sven and the adorable snowman Olaf (which Elsa inadvertently brings to life). Can they convince Elsa to return? Will they save Arendelle? Will anyone find true love? Is there scheming and backstabbing? Is the reindeer funny? Will the snow man melt?

Unless you are 10 years old, and unless this is your first Disney movie, you already know the answer to the above questions. But Frozen is great fun to watch nevertheless. As with all Disney animated movies, this one is primarily for the kids but accompanying adults will their share of the fun. I was in a theatre where 70% of the audience were kids (I acted as if I was with the kid next to me).

All classic Disney movies are musicals (Beauty and the beast, The Jungle book, Aladdin…) and this one is too. To all adults in the theatre who were grumbling about why all the characters were singing – you obviously didn’t have a memorable childhood.

There were several instances where the story was on the danger of giving into cliches but rescues itself rather smartly. Kudos to the writers.

If you haven’t already watched, go with your kids now. If you don’t have any of your own, borrow one from your neighbour. The movie is great fun, with enough comedy in it to make the kids roar and the adults smile.

The One Review Rating: 8/10

Own it? Yes, if you have kids at home.

Movie review – The Hobbit: The desolation of Smaug

the hobbit the desolation of smaugMovie goers everywhere are thronging the theatres this weekend to watch The Hobbit. My office is giving away free passes. People who haven’t even watch the first movie are watching it. I am sure you will too. After all this is a Peter Jackson movie, the man who gave us The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I have to be honest: I am disappointed with The Hobbit so far (and I don’t expect things to change in the final movie). There are bunch of reasons for this. I have read the books (The Hobbit and well as the Lord of the Rings). Neither of the movie trilogies are a 100% faithful to the books. And I am not complaining. It is next to impossible to recreate the magic that is the Lord of the Rings in its entirety. The audience would probably never survive the complexity and it would take more than a trilogy to get all the content it.

The Hobbit, on the other hand, is a rather small book. All of 280 pages. There is not enough content in it to make three movies. Peter Jackson was obviously under a lot of pressure to recreate the magic of the ‘Rings. Movies are a different medium altogether when compared to books with greatly different audiences. Most people who watched the Lord of the rings have never read any of Tolkien’s works and don’t necessarily understand (or care) what a masterpiece the Lord of the Rings is. They came for the movie magic, the suspension of disbelief, the fantasy… the epic battles. They don’t care that Tolkien created a whole new language and script just for the book. They want to come to the movies and be blown away.

The Hobbit was destined to be a three movie stretch because the audience wanted it and not because Jackson, or for that matter Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, believed in it.

To do this, the screenplay had to depart from the book in several instances. One of the major ones is the plot line concerning Azog, the white Orc that Thorin is hell bent on destroying: he doesn’t exist in the book. Legolas doesn’t make an appearance either. No Tauriel (so it goes without saying that there is no hint of romance between her and Kili). Most importantly, there is no mention of Sauron or the coming of darkness in the The Hobbit. So you can see; if you remove these plot lines the movies at best can be stretched to two.

This wouldn’t have been a problem if it didn’t strain the overall plot; but it does. A whole bunch of scenes look completely unnecessary and tacked on. (The Kili – Tauriel romance is cheesy as hell). The screenplay tries very hard to make the Hobbit look like a prequel to the Lord of the Rings when it clearly isn’t. The only thing in the Hobbit that holds any relevance to The ‘Rings is Bilbo and the finding of the Ring.

The acting isn’t a great priority as the director tries to drown you in seemingly endless orc attacks and irrelevant plot lines (oh that cheesy romance…). The action is remnant of the ‘Rings. Kill Orc. Rinse and repeat.

The only thing I found vaguely appealing were the scenes with Bilbo and Smaug.

The Hobbit isn’t the Lord of the Rings. It needlessly tries to be and fails. The only reason to watch this movie is if you watched the first one and want to know how it ends.

The final movie, There and back again will undoubtedly give us some sort of (non existent) epic battle which might serve to be the only redeeming quality of the trilogy.

The One Review Rating: 6/10

Own it? No