The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, rated PG-13
We saw this film in 3D, on the giant screen theatre at the new Peoria Riverfront Museum (http://www.peoriariverfrontmuseum.org/giant-screen-theater/about-the-gst–2). We’ve been wanting to see a film there for some time and this one was a great one to see there. The picture was filmed incredibly clear, and this is one film you want to see on a big screen in 3D.
Last year’s Hobbit film, The Desolation of Smaug, based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien, the second in Peter Jackson’s trilogy, was my top movie of 2013, and I went into this film thinking the final chapter could top my list again for 2014. The film is good, very good in fact, but the overly long battle scene, taking about a third of the film, while well done, gets a half star taken off of the film’s rating, and thus it won’t be my top film of the year. Unbroken and Into the Woods still have a shot at coming in at #1 however.
This film picks up where Desolation left off, with the dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch), flying high above Laketown spewing fire across the town as their occupants, including the greedy coward Master of Laketown (Stephen Fry), attempting to flee. It’s an amazing opening scene of destruction, beautifully filmed. Bard (Luke Evans), with one final spear available, and the assistance of his son, finds the one vulnerable spot on Smaug and strikes him down dead.
Although the remaining residents (many of them wounded), of Laketown are spared, their city is destroyed. Bard leads them to the crumbling walls of Dale, near the gates of Erebor and Lonely Mountain, home to incredible treasures of gold. Food is in very short supply and they need assistance to survive.
Thorin (Richard Armitage) king of the dwarves has arrived at the mountain and the gold has changed Thorin. He barricades the dwarves inside the mountain, refusing to help the people he had given his word to. He would rather fight than share the treasure. We see greed overcome Thorin. Tolkien termed this “dragon-sickness”.
All of this builds to a great battle, as five armies come to the mountain from all sides. The battle includes men, elves, dwarves, eagles, Orcs, wargs, bats, trolls, goblins, etc., engaging in brutal combat of swords, arrows, etc. The violence is significant enough that you will want to consider what age of children you want to expose to it. Bad nightmares could certainly result. There is one incredible scene in which Thorin and the head Orc battle on a sheet of ice near a frozen waterfall.
The film boasts a strong cast. Back for this film are Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), Gandalf (Ian McKellen), Legolas (Orlando Bloom), Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), and Thranduil (Lee Pace). Saruman (Christopher Lee) and Galadriel’s (Cate Blanchett) return for a short scene that doesn’t seem to connect with the overall story.
I’ve really enjoyed the Hobbit trilogy by Peter Jackson. This is a very satisfying and well done ending.
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, rated PG-13
I’ve enjoyed the two previous Night at the Museum films, and was looking forward to this one. I wasn’t disappointed in this fun, family-friendly film, which features two performers (Robin Williams and Mickey Rooney) who have died since filming this movie. The film moves quickly with sharp writing, some good special effects, stunts and a strong cast.
Ben Stiller returns as Larry Daley, the one-time night watchman of New York’s American Museum of Natural History. Ricky Gervais plays Dr. McPhee, the museum director. As we know by now, after dark the animals and statues in the museum are brought to life. What makes this happen is a golden Tablet of Akmenrah, a magical artifact from Egypt. The new film opens by taking us back to the discovery of the tablet in the 1930’s. But the tablet is now starting to lose its power, signaling the end of the magic for Larry’s museum friends. Larry needs to take the tablet to the British Museum of Natural History in London, home of Akmenrah’s mummified parents.
So Larry and some of the gang, among them Robin Williams as Teddy Roosevelt, Rami Malek as Ahkmenrah, Owen Wilson as Jedediah Smith, Steve Coogan as Octavius, Crystal the Monkey and Stiller himself as Laaa – head to London. There they encounter Dan Stevens as Sir Lancelot and Ben Kingsley as Ahkmenrah’s father Merenkahre. We also meet Tilly, hilariously played by Rebel Wilson. Mickey Rooney, Dick Van Dyke and Hugh Jackman all appear in short cameos, adding to the fun of the film.
It does seem that every Hollywood film has to add some objectionable content. In this case, it is the overtly same-sex attraction of Steve Coogan’s Octavius. However, it probably went over the head of the majority of kids in the theatre that we enjoyed hearing laughing throughout this enjoyable film.
Another more sobering note was the ending scene with Robin Williams. I won’t spoil it for you, but it was almost prophetic.
All in all, I really enjoyed this film and think you would too.