Sunday, August 30, 2015

Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies (2014), Dracula Untold (2014)

After a month-long summer hiatus, I'm back!  I know, you missed me.  I feel the love.  Seeing as it's nearly September, and my month-long October Horror-movie review-a-thon is coming up, I'm going to try and get some more reviews in to get used to posting regularly again.  I know, you just want me to get to the damned review.  Okay, okay!  Sheesh.  Nag.

The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies (2014) was the final entry in the Lord of the Rings Saga.  Following closely on the heels of The second installment in the series of 3 movies, the "Desolation of Smaug," the Battle of Five Armies picks up right where Desolation leaves off.  Smaug is pissed, he's heading for Laketown to burn the crap out of everything, Orcs are on the march, and Jaysus H. Christ on a popsicle stick, the Ancient Enemy is stirring once more!  :-o  Things don't look good for Bilbo and his young friends!  How will it all end?  Tune in next week to find out!  Same bat time!  Same bat channel!

Actually....  no.  It's pretty much all wrapped up in this movie.  No need to tune in next week, next month, or next year.  Without giving away too many spoilers, suffice it to say, if you've read the books, which have been out for at least 50 years now, Smaug doesn't last too long into the third movie.  Which brings me to the first point I want to bring up.

Bard the Bowman is probably a really good shot.  I get that much.  The man can ricochet an arrow off my clanking brass balls, and skewer a flying dragon in the eye at a thousand paces.  I get it.  What confuses me is how he manages to do so without a working bow.  Yea.  So Smaug is going around burning Laketown, and he stops to verbally harass bard the Bowman, who is shooting arrows at the dragon like a Spray'N'Pray n00b in a first-person shooter.  Smaug buzzes Bard's clock-tower-like sniping position, and Bard's bow gets broked.  So, Bard smushes the busted ends of his bow into a pair of convenient holes in the broken sides of the railing that is still somehow intact, giving him a handy giant crossbow!  Well, I won't give away what happens next, but come on.  There are so many things wrong with that, I don't even want to go into it.  Half the tower is busted, but the railing is still solid?  There's a pair of holes conveniently bow-sized directly across from each other?  And his bowstring, which has to be the exact length to fit his bow, otherwise it doesn't work right, somehow magically stretches to fit the new dimensions of the opposite sides of a tower.  AND, those bow pieces stay stuck in those holes like super-glue!  Riiiiiight.  Suspension of disbelief, my ass.  He may as well have shot flying unicorns out of his butt and killed Smaug with those.

My second point, is Dain Ironfoot, or whatever Thorin Oakenshield's cousin is called.  Okay, he's a brash dwarf who likes to headbutt.  Got it.  Stubborn as a petrified mule.  Got that.  Goes around headbutting helmetted Orcs.  I get that too.  Now here's where I have a problem.  That actually knocks out the helmeted Orcs. Or kills them.  With a tiny little flick of his shaggy, un-helmeted head, somehow, Dain manages to headbutt several orcs into death.  Yea, right, okay.  I don't know, after the thing with Bard's bow, maybe I should just go with it.

So here's where the story tends to get confusing.  Elves are always going on about how short the lives of men are.  So let's do a quick fact-check.  Let me take a stab in the dark here and guess Bilbo is, what, 30 or 40 years of age when he goes on this little adventure?  Certainly not over 50, tops.  And yet, Legolas' father, the King of Mirkwood, suggests that Legolas go and find Strider, a young ranger.  Which, obviously, Legolas does, because it's the setup for the beginning of the Lord of the Rings movies.  Except...  At the beginning of the Lord of the Rings movies, Bilbo is celebrating his 111th birthday.  They make a big stink of it, because Hobbits don't usually live to 111 years.  Obviously the influence of the Ring of Power has left Bilbo with an unnaturally long life span.  So, the events at the beginning of the Lord of the Rings movies occur about 60-70 years after the ending of the Hobbit.  So, how the HELL is Strider (who we know is actually Aragorn, a Man), even still alive after 60-70 years, let alone looking like he's barely past his mid-20's?  Wouldn't he look more like Gandalf by that point, instead of looking good enough to tempt Elrond's daughter from her loyalty to her own race?  Okay, so let's just skip past that obvious little flaw and say he is unusually long-lived as well.  Explain to me how 6 or 7 DECADES pass, while Gandalf, Galadriel, Saruman, Elrond and a whole crapload of other characters in this story, literally do NOTHING while they know Sauron is out looking for the One Ring?  Sure, it takes time to gather armies.  But if you're looking to gather armies, you don't start out with babies, wait til they reach the age of adulthood, and then suggest they have MORE babies, and then wait til THOSE babies reach the age of adulthood, so that you can have an army of doddering old warriors accompanied by a host of young fighters to care for them, which the time gap of 70 years would seem to suggest.  So in all that time, NOTHING at all has happened in the world of men?  Huh!  Must be a slow news day.  Followed by a whole lot more.

Okay, enough nitpicking, let me sum up.  Battle of Five Armies, a bit loopy.  Not a very good ending to the Hobbit.  Could have been better.  The fighting seemed kind of dopey, except for the final boss fight (a familiar term to us gamers) with the Orcs.  That one wasn't too bad, but I think more realism could have been shoved into the rest of the movie, too.  Would I wtch the movie again?  I did, actually, or at least, bits and pieces of it here and there.  Doesn't really stand up to the test of time, but if you absolutely MUST know what happens to Smaug and Bilbo, then this is pretty much your only chance to find out.  Battle of Five Armies is playing on HBO this month.

Dracula Untold (2014) is yet another movie about, you guessed it, Dracula.  Supposedly, Dracula appears in more books, movies and TV shows than any other character.  I wonder if Bram Stoker knew how popular his character would be when he thought him up?  Probably not.  Certainly makes a good villain, which is why I'm confused why people would want to paint him as the hero.  ANd yes, I suppose there are two sides two every story, but let me just get to the summation of the tale because it's late, and my mind is wandering.

Vlad Tepes (Dracula), the Prince of Wallachia, submits money to the Turks to maintain peace in his tiny kingdom.  But, now the Turks wants children for their armies, and Vlad just doesn't want to let go of Vlad Junior just yet.  So what happens when your tiny kingdom is invaded by Turks and you don't have an army to oppose them?  You make a deal with the Devil.  In this case, the "Devil" is played by Charles Dance, who I think was an excellent choice.  Strangely, Vlad Tepes looks suspiciously similar to Bard the Bowman, from...  HEY IT'S THE SAME GUY!  Yep, the same actor plays both parts, Bard and Dracula, in both of these movies.  KOOKY!

So, I guess Dracula Untold is yet another origin story, for a superhero/villain/antihero, but I doubt the next movie will be made.  Dracula Untold just wasn't that good.  Should have been more Charles Dance, less Luke Evans, if you ask me.  I don't know.  Not worth watching twice, honestly.  The first run-through wasn't that exciting.  No nudity, not a lot of blood and gore, lots of bats flying around.  Kind of forgettable, but I think it's on Cinemax or starz! this month, if you want to check it out.  Can't quite recall which.

Aw, Wes Craven died.  :-(  No more Nightmares on Elm Street.  Honestly, I never really thought Freddy Krueger was a good entry into the slasher genre, but still, The Hills have Eyes was kind of nutty.  Oh well.  RIP, Mr. Craven.  Hopefully you rest better than Freddy.

That's all for tonight!  Hopefully more reviews later this week, if I have time, and something good to watch.  Movies have been crap this summer, or I probably would have posted more.  Summer's been a bit of a rolly-coaster ride, where the roller coaster is more of a slow downhill coast, and not very much roll.  Weather's been all over the place, and there are moths everywhere.  Have you ever eaten a moth?  Don't, they taste HORRIBLE.  No, I didn't do it on purpose.  I'm not like a weird internet version of Renfield. It was an accident.  I opened my mouth to speak and a moth bounced off something and flew in.  Blech.  Awful.  No wonder there are so many around, nothing likes to eat them.  Blech.

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