“The Hobbit” Finale Retitled

Peter Jackson

Director Peter Jackson has changed the subtitle of The Hobbit finale. From a post on his Facebook page, he simply put:

Our journey to make The Hobbit Trilogy has been in some ways like Bilbo’s own, with hidden paths revealing their secrets to us as we’ve gone along. “There and Back Again” felt like the right name for the second of a two film telling of the quest to reclaim Erebor, when Bilbo’s arrival there, and departure, were both contained within the second film. But with three movies, it suddenly felt misplaced—after all, Bilbo has already arrived “there” in the “Desolation of Smaug”.

When we did the premiere trip late last year, I had a quiet conversation with the studio about the idea of revisiting the title. We decided to keep an open mind until a cut of the film was ready to look at. We reached that point last week, and after viewing the movie, we all agreed there is now one title that feels completely appropriate.

And so: “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” it is.

As Professor Tolkien intended, “There and Back Again” encompasses Bilbo’s entire adventure, so don’t be surprised if you see it used on a future box-set of all three movies.

First of all, when Peter Jackson decided to adapt J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy book into a trilogy, I had mixed feelings. I had no idea how if it was necessary to add more subplots that weren’t in the original source material. When Tolkien was alive, he didn’t want anyone to adapt any of his work to the big screen. As a big fan of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, it was quite refreshing to revisit Middle-Earth. Although it will never surpass its epic scale of The Lord of the Rings, I love the first two Hobbit films on their own terms. Despite the countless subplots, it does not necessarily mean the movies are slow. It stays true to the original source material, and it captures the heart and soul of Middle-Earth.

With the finale retitled to The Battle of the Five Armies: it’s not that bad of a subtitle. Although its title may attract more to the action junkies, it makes sense on why Peter Jackson made the change. I am still looking forward to see how the underrated trilogy will unfold. I have a feeling the climactic battle will be considered the best movie battle since The Return of the King. Please make December 17th come quicker!

What are your thoughts about this title change? Are you still looking forward to the last installment to The Hobbit trilogy?

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Movie Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Marvel's First Avenger comes back to face against the Winter Soldier

Marvel’s First Avenger comes back to face against the Winter Soldier

I am not a comic book reader, but I am quite a comic book movie aficionado. Either if they are based on the DC or Marvel Comics, I would become invested in the superhero’s motivations; how the characters got their powers and knowing what it means to become a true hero in our society. Captain America is one of the more fascinating of all of the superheroes I have seen. He’s right up there with Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, and Iron Man–to name a few.

The new movie featuring the iconic hero, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is more than just another Marvel superhero movie. It is, on its own terms, a political thriller featuring enough action, twists, turns, and laughs to rank it among the best of Marvel’s movies, which are The Avengers and Iron Man.

Providing a more complex story than its predecessor from 2011, the movie opens up with Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) living a quiet life in Washington, D.C. Because he has been struggling to fit into our society after being frozen for 70 years, he decides to catch up on all the pop culture he missed out on since the 1940s. When S.H.I.E.L.D. becomes threatened by an assassin known as the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) coming into our nation’s capital, Rogers suits up, once again, as Captain America, teams up with Natasha Romanoff a.k.a. Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Sam Wilson a.k.a. The Falcon (Anthony Mackie) to solve the mystery.

Chris Evans brings a lot more depth into his role of Steve Rogers/Captain America. You can tell how much he has gone through over the years. Although he still has the charm and confidence, he realizes how powerful his abilities are. Becoming  skilled in parkour, martial arts, running, and boxing, he could probably set plenty of records in the Olympic Games.

Samuel L. Jackson proves how awesome he truly is as Nick Fury in one of the movie’s biggest action sequence. Scarlett Johansson is always great as Black Widow; I think it’s time for a Black Widow movie. Robert Redford’s Alexander Pierce, the senior leader of S.H.I.E.L.D., makes a fantastic antagonist in one marvelous film.

4/4

Movie Review: Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

The characters in "Moonrise Kingdom"

The characters in “Moonrise Kingdom”

Wes Anderson’s 2012 romance film, Moonrise Kingdom, was the film that introduced me into his wonderfully surreal world of zaniness. Right from the first viewing, I knew I wanted to watch it again and again and again. Anderson creates a love story that is sentimental (although not sappy), quirky, charming, and oh so joyful.

During the summer of 1965, two pen pals make a secret pact to run off together into the wilderness after meeting a year earlier at a church performance of Noye’s Fludde. Sam Shakusky (Jared Gilman) is a 12-year-old orphan and Khaki scout living on New Penzance Island. One day, he escapes his boy scout camp with some belongings; making scoutmaster Randy Ward (Edward Norton) feel worried. He makes a call to police captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) to find the missing boy and decides to organize a search party to find him.

On the other side of the island, Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward), also 12-years-old, is living with her three younger brothers and her parents (Frances McDormand and Bill Murray). She’s a reader, likes to look at things through her binoculars, and doesn’t like to be bothered. She escapes the house with her books, binoculars, a record player, and her cat. Then, her parents become involved in this search party before a violent storm comes through the island.

From the first sequence, I knew I was in for a treat. Seeing Wes Anderson’s gorgeously odd style is like watching a painting coming to life or a dream coming true right before one’s eyes. Seeing Bob Balaban narrating the story is like watching a news reporter dressed up as a gnome. Seeing the sweet romance between Sam and Suzy blossoming is like watching two real kids having an affection for each other. The music by Benjamin Britten (mainly “Cuckoo”) resembles their love for one another. Seeing the climactic storm sequence is like something read out of the book of Genesis. This movie reminds us why we don’t get a lot of good romance films that avoid cliches.

Moonrise Kingdom is a symbol of nostalgia, young love and a need to escape. Personally, this is Wes Anderson’s most personal film and will always be my favorite of his films.

4/4

Movie Review: Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

Mr. Fox (George Clooney) and his group of animals in "Fantastic Mr. Fox"

Mr. Fox (George Clooney) and his group of animals in “Fantastic Mr. Fox”

Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox is one of Wes Anderson’s favorite books. Ever since he was child, he thought no one can make a better adaptation of the book other than himself. Once he became a filmmaker (as of today), he succeeded in creating a stop-motion animated adaptation not only for kids, but also for adults.

Mr. Fox (George Clooney) is living a fantastic life as a newspaper columnist, has a fantastic wife (Meryl Streep), a fantastic – albeit different – son (Jason Schwartzman), and fantastic friends. Before he moves into a tree home, Fox gets advice from Badger (Bill Murray) that the tree is located near the homes of three wealthy and mean farmers, Boggis (Robin Hurlstone), Bunce (Hugo Guinness) and Bean (Michael Gambon).

One day, Fox and his buddy Kyle the Opossum (Wally Wolodarsky) decide to raid the farmers’ to get some food. This drives the three farmers up the wall once they found out their food has been stolen. So Fox and his furry friends are forced to move underground to prevent from getting killed.

I had never seen animation that was funny and colorful until seeing Fantastic Mr. Fox. Wes Anderson puts so much energy into making the film. His usual quirks are so ingenious that it’s impossible not to laugh-out-loud. Not to mention the running gag where every character replaces every bad word in the book with the word “cuss”. That is censorship at its finest.

4/4

Movie Review: The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman in "The Darjeeling Limited"

Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman in “The Darjeeling Limited”

After making his first four films, Wes Anderson wanted make a movie in India. He became so fascinated with India, mainly the films of Satyajit Ray. His 2007 film, The Darjeeling Limited, should not only be viewed as entertainment, but as an art form.

A year after their father’s funeral, three brothers decide to reunite on a train in India to bond with each other. The older brother, Francis Whitman (Owen Wilson) got in a motorcycle accident (that’s why he has bandages on his face) before coming on the train. He planned the trip as more of a spiritual journey for the brothers. Peter (Adrien Brody), the middle brother, left his pregnant wife fearing that their marriage would end in a divorce. He’s the one who keeps his father’s belonging claiming that he was the favorite. The young brother, Jack (Jason Schwartzman), is a writer who has written short stories similar to his life.

Out of Wes Anderson’s first five films, The Darjeeling Limited is among his most stunning work. The scenery of India is nothing short of exquisite. The movie contains lots of good symbolism (the luggage), quirky characters getting into quirky arguments; Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman all act like real-life brothers, even on-screen. The terrific terrific makes The Darjeeling Limited an unforgettable train ride.

3.5/4

Movie Review: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)

Bill Murray and his crew stare off into the distance in "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou"

Bill Murray and his crew stare off into the distance in “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”

Paying tribute and parodying the adventures of Jacques Cousteau (with a touch of Moby-Dick), Wes Anderson’s 2004 film, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou follows oceanographer Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) and his ship crew going on a revenge mission to kill a mysterious creature who ate his partner.

Upon its release, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou got mixed reviews. Like with Wes Anderson’s other films, it gained a cult following over the years. For being a fan of Wes Anderson, this is, unfortunately, my least favorite of his. That doesn’t mean I hated the film. The cast (led by Bill Murray) perform very well. It features a fun story, the same subtle humor like in Anderson’s other films, a great soundtrack (kudos to Seu Jorge for performing songs by David Bowie; in Portuguese, no less), oddly brilliant animation by Henry Selick, and a beautiful finale.

At times, the humor can be a bit dry (almost too dry for my cup of tea), the set-ups seem a bit off, even with the gunplay. I understand it’s intended to be comical, but it didn’t seem to go well. Nevertheless, I enjoyed The Life Aquatic.

3/4

Movie Review: The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

The cast in "The Royal Tenenbaums"

The cast in “The Royal Tenenbaums”

There’s a scene in The Royal Tenenbaums where an author has a breakdown on a talk show similar to the Charlie Rose show. Not only did Wes Anderson play the scene out as satire, but as one of his inspirations for this movie. He came up with that scene after he was interviewed by Charlie Rose while talking about Rushmore. But that’s only one of the artistic achievements in his 2001 film.

The movie involves the Tenenbaums, a dysfunctional family living in a 1970’s-style New York City. Royal (Gene Hackman) and Etheline (Angelica Huston) have three children with very unique personalities. When the children become adults, they realized how much change they had gone through over the years.

Chas (Ben Stiller) became a genius in international finance as a child, and sued his father for stealing money. Following his wife’s death, he becomes really overprotective of his two sons, Ari and Uzi. Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow), the adopted daughter of the Tenenbaum family, became a playwright, ran away from home and came back with a missing finger. Out of all the three children, she is the most clandestine; becoming a smoker at the age of 12 and having plenty of love affairs including Western author Eli Cash (Owen Wilson). Richie (Luke Wilson) became a tennis prodigy and secretly in love with Margot. After having a nervous breakdown at a tennis match, he decided to retire from tennis.

When Royal announces he has stomach cancer, all the Tenenbaum children come back to reunite with their father.

What a delightfully quirky and artsy movie this is. One of the reasons why The Royal Tenenbaums works is how it’s structured. The movie plays out like a novel. In the beginning, we see someone buying the book in the library and giving stills of the beginning page of the first chapter. The narrator (voiced by Alec Baldwin) begins to narrate the story. It’s just downright genius.

The cast does such an terrific job portraying their characters with a bit of vibrancy and irony on the side. Wes Anderson can do no wrong.

4/4