The Film Review Corner

Extraneous communication, genuflection, adulation, dissection and admiration should make its way in here.

Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Chun the Unavoidable » Wed Nov 12, 2014 7:59 am

I, too, very much enjoyed Ted. Taken for itself, what's not to love about a film with a swearing teddy bear and an appreciation for Flash Gordon?
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Vivia » Sun Nov 16, 2014 12:35 pm

Basic Instinct 2:

Dull as the dullest dull. I hated the first film and I wasn't expecting anything from the sequel but my god, was it boring.
It takes place in London, the writer Catherine Tramell moved from L.A for some reason; it works fine because the film sets a more depressing mood than the first and gone is the sleazy eye of Varhoeven.
The actors are so-so, they aren't bad just uninteresting, Charlotte Dampling stands out though, nothing can touch her, not even Zardoz. At least they give the film a more elegant style of sort than the American version, one can't have elegance in a film involving Michael Douglas and Paul Verhoeven. Stone is actually perfect for her role, she is very good as a sleazy and creepy psychopath, she should play these kind of roles more often.
I love how this kind of films have to have misogyny in every corner just because there is "bad" woman involved, one cancels the other! Stone's line "Sure enough, if it makes it easier for you" is a good description.
David Morrissey in his role as a psychologist goes from dull expression to dull expression until he breaks for no real reason. Things just torn him up!
The film has very little mystery and suspense, the first 45 minutes goes into creating some sort of a build-up. It's odd how films that are supposedly erotic thrillers can be the least sex-friendly, they just reek of sexual phobia, always leading to the conclusion that sex is bad and dangerous like the best PSA: Citizens, procreation, not recreation. Apparently there were three twists, they made no sense for me, there was hardly anything leading up to it and yet there it was. Yawn.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Insomniac » Sun Nov 16, 2014 5:12 pm

Damn.

Basic Instinct 2 was awful but Verhoeven made some of the most classic and iconic late 80s - early 90s films. The comically violent Robocop, Total Recall etc. He also made Showgirls, yes yes but he's got some decent work in his filmography.

I watched State Of Grace with Gary Oldman, Sean Penn, and Ed Harris again over the weekend. A solid mob movie. Oldman plays the crazy gangster perfect.

I think I'm going to cave and do the annual Bad Lieutenant viewing soon. And I need to get Sexy Beast on DVD.

Gaspar Noe released a poster for his new film Love that looks interesting. Same with Refn's new female lead horror movie Neon Demon.

And I guess I didn't think there'd be Ted supporters haha. It was like an extended episode of Family Guy, which just isn't my thing.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Chun the Unavoidable » Sun Nov 16, 2014 9:18 pm

Watched a few films this weekend during a bi-annual get-together with friends darn sarf:

Hercules: reminiscent of that splurge of crappy Fantasy films in the eighties. Only watch if you've truly got nothing better to do.

Lucy: a few Besson quirks, but ultimately went nowhere new with its -largely unbelievable- premise, and I admit to falling asleep through parts of it.

The Grand Budapest Hotel: gorgeous -every frame was a considered picture- and funny.

Under the Skin: something very different and very affecting. Truly unnerving in places. Next to no budget, but what special effects there were were done well and had considerable impact. It's perhaps too easy to say it's a Scottish The Man Who Fell to Earth.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Vivia » Wed Nov 19, 2014 10:09 pm

One of the best film blogs around:

Le Beau's Le Blog- Home of "What The Hell Happened?"

An article series "What the hell happened" for actors that are forgotten, disappeared or gone downhill. My favourite entries are Val Kilmer (legendary troll-actor), Sylvester Stallone, Sean Young (she replied to LeBeau!), Katherine Heigl, Jean-Claude Van Damme. There is a lot of schadenfreude, some deserve it, and there is also understanding and love. Not surprisingly, many of these actors have tendencies to bad behaviour on set, that speaks tons in a city so used to freakish behaviour. It made me respect a lot of the actors that choose not to get into the sometimes doomed Hollywood carousel, Liv Tyler for example.


Reading about Linda Fiorentino made me recall watching After Hours with Grifffin Dunne, might be the only Martin Scorsese film I ever liked. It's been a while since I watched it though.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Xisor » Thu Nov 20, 2014 12:09 am

Earlier this week, I had a bit of a Games trilogy.

The Hunger Games

I only joined into it once it'd been on for half-an-hour, but it pretty well drew me in. Suffers, in a manner similar to most books-to-films, in that it felt like a lot of the worldbuilding was made such it had to be taken for granted - but that didn't damage it too much. In fact, it served it pretty well - I feel it forced them to (or perhaps rewarded) a pretty bald presentation of their wacky/weird dystopia. As my housemate quipped - it's a sort of film where you can see exactly how people would get comfortable living in such 'badness'.

Still, it put a nice enough balance in between action and plot, and was (as had been much ballyhooed) a rather solid presentation of a decent girl character. The depiction also felt far enough away from Battle Royale to be entertaining in parallel and interesting in an exploration of choices differently made. I liked it.

---

Catching Fire

Even better than the first, or perhaps I was getting into it more. In any event - liked it a lot. Less Woody from cheers, which was a bit of a shame, and crushing to see Philip Seymour Hoffman in it in a pleasing role, though it sadly building him up to be a big character in the next films. Humbug! Still, very enjoyable film.

The cast of other winners was a pretty enjoyable thing - something I imagine might've been a delight in the novels. All told, felt like a bit more of a solid film that might've been missing a little bit less from the book.

In short - well enjoyed it.

---

Ender's Game

Deary me. A few lovely bits, and a very pleasingly shot film - holy hell does its plot/pacing/everything-else feel wobbly and ropey. Moreover, conceptually realising the sort of perfect, brilliant, utterly ruthless (when needed) military leader is an immensely ambitious thing to do, but bloody hell did the concept's wheels fall off in places. Probably not in the actual events depicted, but everything that felt missing. Of course, such a character would have to be near-perfect as a technical Mary Sue, but trans-Sherlock in their capacity to cut out everything extraneous. The film didn't make me buy it.

Moreover, the film felt almost entirely empty. Like Graham McNeill's City of Sight in The Outcast Dead, I didn't just feel like the world didn't ring true, but that it kept leaving my mind screaming "IT'S FALSE, IT'S FALSE!". A bit like the Artilleryman's dream of a new world in War of the Worlds (or more enchantingly - Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds)). You hear the description and get excited, think "Wow!". Then you look at what they've created.

:|

The main point that leapt out of me, as I was getting at (and akin to TOD), is just how empty it is. The 'school' feels empty, the instructors feel empty (well, all two and a presumably-supposed-to-be-comic, short-shrifted drill sergeant of them), the sense of a vast military feels empty, the sense of the bugs feel empty, the sense of sacrifice feels empty, the sense of scale feels minuscule. Even the

Spoiler: genocide

feels totally empty.

And that's notwithstanding the other problems in the film/story.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Chun the Unavoidable » Sun Nov 30, 2014 5:44 pm

Mockingjay Part One: Very much enjoyed. They've taken things in a -for me, not knowing the books- new direction, which was certainly required seeing as the second one was little different to the first. The focus is wider now, dwelling upon propaganda, politics, and atrocity. Also, it's pretty obvious the budget's been upped. Very well acted throughout and by all concerned. A very dark and violent ending, too, for a 12A.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Vivia » Sun Nov 30, 2014 9:30 pm

Meh, I wrote a giant review of The Shining but I'm going to wait until I reread the novel, it's been so long since I read itl, I'm not sure I got everything right.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Athelassan » Fri Dec 05, 2014 4:33 am

Glancing at wikipedia (initially it was for most successful films adjusted for inflation, then segued into a more general reading) I stumbled across the list of most successful films by year. Two things caught my eye, both of which are related and arguably depressing in equal measure, but I'll start with the worse one.

Transformers 4 is on course to be the highest-grossing (and therefore most popular) film of 2014.

In the last sixteen years, all but two of the highest-grossing films of each year were "franchise" films, attached to a larger property, and all but three were sequels in some form (or prequels). The last film before that, purely as an aside, was also a Michael Bay number, Armageddon.

(In the sixteen years before that, five films were sequels, and in the sixteen years before that, only two were, to give an idea of how things have changed).

Some of these films are more depressing to find on the list than others. Phantom Menace was dire, but it was astronomically hyped and if it hadn't done very well that would have been a surprise. The Pirates of the Caribbean sequels were also quite poor, but the original (not featured) had been a great caper and audiences returning for an instalment of more of the same can't really be blamed - two is pushing it, but, hey, we all went to see Matrix Revolutions too.

The Harry Potter films aren't amazing, but the first one sold off the back of the books and then figures evidently tailed off for a couple of films until the quality improved again. The Dark Knight, Toy Story 3, the two later Lords of the Rings, Shrek 2 and Avengers (Assemble) were all follow-ups to good films and all genuinely good films in their own right; I can't begrudge any of them their place on the list.

But Transformers 4. Aside from how good the film itself is, which is apparently less mind-bendingly terrible than its immediate predecessors but still really quite bad (admittedly, I ain't seen it), it is a follow-up to what is genuinely one of the worst films ever made. I am baffled and almost angered that people continue to spend their money on Michael Bay their money after Transformers 2 and certainly that they spend it on him - "the angel of destruction sent to destroy cinema with his flaming sword of corpulent rubbish"* moreso than any other filmmaker. Perhaps this year just didn't have a massive blockbuster capable of competing, but all the same, really, filmgoers? Your lack of discernment is why we can't have nice things.

The world's going to the dogs.

The two exceptions to the "franchise/sequel" rule, incidentally, were Avatar and Frozen. Fair enough, in both cases I think.

Ath

*M. Kermode
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Major Rawne » Fri Dec 05, 2014 8:08 am

Transformers 4 was brilliant though.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Vivia » Sat Dec 06, 2014 1:08 am

Michael Bay is also incredible harmful for the film industry: His work sets the new standard for what projects will get fundings in the coming future, the advertising budget will shrink for "lesser" work aka those that aren't up to his calibre, what a terrible thing to say. He will be known for making the unprofitable profitable and that's is all that counts for thestudios. The only thing that can stop him is a bomb in Heaven's Gate style( it stopped Kevin Costner, thank you, merciful gods) but I truly doubt he will because he isn't an Otto Preminger or Stallone with ambition and hubris in combination with artistic merits. It's fortunate that Bay makes completely forgettable work that will self-die like the Tamagutchi, hopefully he'll direct a big Bible epos or anything "historical" or do a Cappola/ de Palma, and the Hollywood sharks will come out to eat him alive and he'll never work in this town again. They have to. He has no doubt made enemies with his a-hole personality. Everyone knows Hollywood is like drag queen waiting to make drama and malice never sleeps.

Stallone, why did you turn respectable and directed reasonable action films, show Bay how it's done!
Last edited by Vivia on Thu Dec 11, 2014 1:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Vivia » Thu Dec 11, 2014 1:50 pm

Exodus Gods and Kings review

A film with spray-tanned actors to look as Middle-Eastern people and a Biblical story without religion, it's not like the Middle East is the cradle of civilisation, Christian Bale isn't like very super-whitish and Moses' story isn't a Biblical story about faith. The servants and extras are of course all of darker skin. Ridley Scott, you suck.
This make me long long for Agatha Christie's mouldy talk about "colony people" (reading And Then There Were None).
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Vivia » Fri Dec 12, 2014 5:35 pm

The Shining, 1980:

Warning for TL;DR.

As a child I grew up watching horror films; I grew up in a dysfunctional family and a lot of the times they left tv to babysit us late at night, this caused me to develop a fear of the dark that never went away, so much I sleep with the lamps turned on, lights are turn on most of the time, I read certain books only during the day and some only during the long days of summer. I have always felt a connection to Stephen King after he mentioned in an interview he was equally afraid of the dark. He is very good at knowing the fears of the soul.

The Shining isn't an all-time favourite horror film, I have only watched it about four times, take for example Poltergeist that was a childhood favourite which meant we watched it once a week.
I re-watched The Shining as an adult in 2009, during Halloween, it didn't traumatise me as The Blair Witch Project, Mulholland Drive or The Ring did, I was having nightmares for months after viewing them, even though it was the first and only film so far that made me shriek in horror, I wonder what my mum's neighbours thought about it.

It's a Stanley Kubrick work and it shows in every aspect, it's a beautifully crafted film, it reminds me of Schindler's List, films that are quite unpleasant to watch story-wise but wonderfully done in production value and there is plenty to marvel about. It's very visually oriented, I love that, less dialogue more action is what I prefer.
Then why isn't it an all-time favourite? Well, as mentioned it's beautiful to watch, not to mention filled with ambience, but it isn't a character driven film, its beauty lies in the visual, the characters are non-entities in my opinion. This in no way means the actors are lacking, they are very talented, Jack Nicholson is excellent in his version of Jack Torrance, and this only due to him playing a movie character that in no way is a real person, the actors playing the ghost are masterfully creepy and weird, it's top-notch acting all the way. But it lacks a human back-story, the characters have no journey in the film, the characters aren't likeable at all, nothing in the film can make me believe that Jack LOVED his family, come on, it isn't The Haunting, a film with such depth to its main character it hurts to see the end. In The Shining, it's only the hotel and setting that are the core of the story, Jack is just an b-hole and his family is dimwitted which is unfortunate because bad horror films are littered with these types of character that deserve to die a gruesome end.

The Shining is a very good example of when film and novel aren't even remotely the same. The film is a visual feast, a cinematic experience of the kind that is suppose to entertain and hold the audience attention. The novel on the other hand has a more extensive background of the characters, and most importantly, they're depicted as a family, dysfunctional yes, but a family nevertheless; in the film we don't get the same compassionate view of them. I never had the feeling that it was sad that Torrence wanted to kill his family, they were movie people waiting to be slaughtered and not real people, and neither was he, he was just an axe wielding Hollywood maniac with frothing mouth and distorted face, it was terrifying for other reasons. (Strange how all the violent maniacs I have seen have had child-like and serene faces when in their violent states. It's not like cinema stereotypes people. Nope.)

I have read about King's dislike of the film and I fully understand where he is coming from and agree with him all the way: King wrote the novel during a time when he was having alcohol problems, he wrote what was very close to him at that point in his life, and everything that comes from growing up with an abusive father, and as someone who comes from such a home, yes, I totally see this (and again, aggressive fathers that contort their faces, behave like they had rabies and what nots, no, I don't recall that from my father's "states". King supports me in this in his description of Jack's father, his face is expressionless as he beats his wife so badly that she has to be taken to the ER.). So, when a film maker essentially says well, we are trying to make a FILM and we can't deal with that boring human stuff, and put in an axe instead of a mallet because THAT looks better for a FILM, I can understand why King got a bit miffed with what they did with his story. Here he had written a character based on himself as a way to deal with his own personal problems, and Kubrick removed that and instead turned Jack into a nutty that went more nutty in a haunted hotel and a cinema legend was born! A cinema axe-wielding "maniac" is entertainment and an author battling with alcohol and abuse problems isn't.

I also agree with King concerning the ending; Kubrick's version is nothing but a movie ending through and through, nothing more, with not a little exploitation value. Hollywood formula: A-hole nutty goes overboard nutty with all the movie props available, axe, contorting face, anger, heaving breath, flames, flames on the side of his face*, tries to kill family and gets punished, the end. It contains much of Kubrick's usual disdain of humanity and a dose of very dark humour, no compassion is to be found for the main character, or anyone else for that matter. That's not what the novel was about and the ending was different because the character of Jack had a journey in the novel, he had a background of a broken life and it led to the most unfortunate events in The Shining. Books and film are two different mediums and I can just imagine Kubrick going "Let's create movie magic!" in an Otto Preminger style, and that's okay, but I strongly disagree with many of the messages in the film and it's depiction of real life problems such as alcoholism, mental instability and abusive men. Movieland is a cold, cold place with its journey to entertain the masses.

And that is what The Shining is, it's a carnival from a master of cinema rather than a view into the human condition, if it has layers I think they concern more the director and not the story. As I see it the real star is Kubrick, the film is Kubrick's love-letter to himself to show that he could make a better horror film than most, and there is no doubt he did, but that has nothing to do with the story King was telling.

The novel has many more layers of horrors, from dish-water horror to the supernatural, and the real ultimate horror isn't the spooky hotel with creepy ghosts, it's the fact that the entity that is the hotel uses a fragile and broken human as a tool, the same is seen in the Haunting of Hill House, a mentally fragile person is brought to a malevolent place that wants to destroy and consume her soul. Eleanor and Jack are victims in several ways and they are drawn into the doom all of dooms maybe because of their despair, and there lies the tragedy. Because in all, horror stories are allegories of real life horrors such as a war, natural catastrophes and family tragedies, events that can devastate lives in a few minutes, Stephen King writes novels about supernatural horrors to dispel real life issues, to soothe us in our time of need. To me great horror stories are the ones that shakes us from the core of our beings and make us think, well, that took a nasty left-turn and we're left feeling real emotions for the characters as they spiral quite literally into hell. Sadly, horror films tend to overlook the human drama and go for all visual aspects of ghosts, blood and heaving breaths, not that is wrong, but one can incorporate all of those themes in one film. The Ring, The Haunting, Alien and Poltergeist are excellent examples of having it all.

*Reference from the Clue film.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby David Earle » Fri Dec 12, 2014 8:01 pm

RE: above, King did eventually sort out a two-part televised adaptation of The Shining that remained faithful to the novel, with a sympathetic Jack and a stronger Wendy. I watched it when it aired and enjoyed it, although I didn't see Kubrick's version until years later.

The sequel novel, Doctor Sleep, is also well worth reading.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Xisor » Sat Dec 13, 2014 12:39 am

The Hobbit: Mess of Five Armies and some other stuff

Simply put, it's all over the place. I'm happy to see some bits. Some pieces are lovely. But some pieces are atrocious too. And some of the bits I want to like/love, I just really can't even begin to indulge. which saddens me mightily.

Fundamentally, the most annoying thing is the characterisation. They've kept the characterisation of the novel (which was threadbare at best - only really Dwalin, Balin, Filli, Killi and Thorin had much going on them, of the dwarves), and introduced some other bits. And a massive chunk of Legolas. Tauriel's not so bad, really, and the interplay between her and Killi is relatively engaging (perhaps more thanks to Aidan, but Evangeline is fine in the scenes with him too, so I don't mind that), hell it's decidedly much better than the stuff with Arwen that was fleshed out in Lord of the Rings.

In short, I wish they'd just focussed 100% on Bilbo and the dwarves - have everyone else play second fiddle. (Brilliant, endearing, memorable second fiddle, sure - but they had three films, getting a good run with the twelve of them each having odd little interactions peculiar to whichever cluster was present would have been amazing.)

Instead, we're saddled with a shocking amount of time afforded to Legolas and Thranduil, perhaps the two dullest characters on the go. I appreciated what they were attempting with Bard and chums, but that would have rung more true (in my esteem) if it had been done in contrast to the familial shenanigans of the dwarves.

In all, it's a really sad turn of affairs for driving the story with characters rather than plot points. (The politics of why the armies were doing what they were doing fell into the same trap as Star Wars prequels: trade embargoes and clashes of civilisations are fairly interesting things in certain lights or to certain people, but whatever they've done here just didn't feel anywhere near enough to convey that interest compellingly on screen.)

Also, Peter Jackson's (or whoever's at the steering wheel behind it all) understanding of the interesting bits of the books don't reflect my own. Elves: boring. He's not done a huge amount to convince me otherwise.

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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Major Rawne » Sat Dec 13, 2014 12:55 am

I saw the Hobbit today too. To skip all the waffle, I thought it was great stuff.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Athelassan » Sat Dec 13, 2014 1:39 am

Xisor wrote:Also, Peter Jackson's (or whoever's at the steering wheel behind it all) understanding of the interesting bits of the books don't reflect my own. Elves: boring. He's not done a huge amount to convince me otherwise.

To be fair, from what I recall, and judging from previous comments of yours, it seems you also disagree with Tolkien as to the interesting bits of the book. Which isn't to say you're wrong.

I saw a Hobbit poster yesterday and was overwhelmed with a sort of dutiful ennui, knowing that I was going to have to go and see it but wasn't looking forward to it or excited by the prospect in any way. Kind of like going to visit elderly relatives in a dementia home.

I then thought back to how excited I had been by the imminent release of Return of the King eleven years ago. How times change. Although in this case it's the films that have changed, and not me. I'm going for the memory of how much I enjoyed LotR, not because I'm actually that bothered about seeing The Hobbit. How has one of the most anticipated film projects of the last decade come to this? I guess stringing it out into three parts didn't help, but still.

If even you didn't care for this, Xisor, given your defence of the first two, my expectations have fallen off dramatically. I was kind of hoping this would be the one that worked. Oh well.

The worst part of it all is that, talking to my friends last week, friends who at the time had enjoyed LotR, The Hobbit has stained those films by association. They now talk dismissively about the whole lot as, basically, silly fantasy. The trilogy's completely squandered any cultural capital the LotR films helped establish. Back to the film ghetto we go.

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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby David Earle » Sat Dec 13, 2014 4:14 am

Xisor wrote:Elves: boring.


*recalls the Silmarillion*

Image

But yeah, Legolas only works with Gimli. On his own he's blonde, weirdly-contacted plain toast.

Haven't seen the movie yet but I'm sure I'll get out at some point before the New Year.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Vivia » Sat Dec 13, 2014 4:32 pm

I don't think it's fair to compare El Hobito's elves with Silmarillion's elves. The Hobbit has very little of what came in LotR and Silmarillion, Gollum is hardly the multifaceted creature in The Hobbit and so on. Elves are dull in the children's classic.

David Earle wrote:RE: above, King did eventually sort out a two-part televised adaptation of The Shining that remained faithful to the novel, with a sympathetic Jack and a stronger Wendy. I watched it when it aired and enjoyed it, although I didn't see Kubrick's version until years later.

The sequel novel, Doctor Sleep, is also well worth reading.

Thanks for the tip! The Swedish title "Doktor Sömn" left me puzzled but now I know, it's in my wish list.
And yes, I know about the mini-series of The Shining. King wrote another haunted mansion tv-film, I can't remember the name, he had a small role, and there was a girl with similar powers to Danny.

Edit: Not a film but a mini-series, Rose Red (Skräckens Hus) according to IMDB.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Chun the Unavoidable » Sat Dec 13, 2014 11:06 pm

The Hobbit - The Battle of the Five Armies: wrong in so many ways. Spectacular. Thrilling. Often touching. Often beautiful. Wrong in so many ways.
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