The Hobbit II

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On The Hobbit :: In the first installment of a three-part film prequel series based on the 1937 novel The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien called An Unexpected Journey, we saw thirteen dwarves accompanied by one wizard and a hobbit, going on a mission to reclaim the dwarf lands which was earlier claimed by a fire-breathing dragon, Smaug. It was then that our hobbit had attained possession of a ring from Gollum which will make a difference in many ways later. The film had ended with a vision of the Lonely mountain with the dragon, and the creature opening its eyes. This movie has released almost exactly an year after the first movie released, and the third movie There and Back Again will be there on December 17th, 2014. It would have been even better if Guillermo del Toro was more involved with the movie, and it was his vision that was there, but even now, this movie is incredibly strong, and one would wonder if how different this would have been if he was in charge – may be something which was so different that one has to wonder so much? Who knows?

What is it about? :: After taking refuge from the orcs at the home of a skin-changer, the team of fifteen splits up as Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) who separates from them with a promise to meet them before they reach their destination. After fighting giant spiders, they are caught by the wood-elves from where the escape hidden in empty wine barrels. Bilbo Baggins’ (Martin Freeman) invisibility ring helps in both cases. Meanwhile, Gandalf fights a legion of orcs as well as an entity known as the Necromancer. They are later helped by a human bowman Bard (Luke Evans) and later receives a great send-off when the talk about the riches come into play. But the orcs are after them, and so are two elves, Legolas and Tauriel who have more obvious reasons. With Gandalf missing, the fourteen are on their own in their battle against the dragon, and the questions remain about how they would get inside the mountain, how will they get the Arkenstone which is needed to rule, and how they will slay, defeat or at least survive from the dragon if they could. Another interesting question might be about who all will survive, with a dragon, an evil necromancer and lots of orcs involved.

The defence of The Hobbit II :: Talking about The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, this is exactly what I had expected from this movie, and the movie has provided me with exactly what I was expecting. The fans of the book might disagree, but I haven’t read it and the whole movie remains a spectacle for me. The movie is an improvement from the previous one of the series, and it is a huge improvement as the action sequences and special effects are considered – may be I am a little prejudiced with this point as I watched the first movie on television in Sony Pix and this one in a multiplex in 3D, first day third show. But you can’t deny the strength of action sequences here, especially with the team’s barrel run chased by the orcs who are chased by the elves, and then when Legolas is involved. The dragon is also well-designed and it is an interesting character with its fire breath adding to the special effects more burning beauty. The spiders, the web and the forest remains another area which makes the whole thing interesting. One can actually take time to talk about almost every character out there, but I would rather not do the same.

Positives and Negatives :: We know the dragon is an impressive creature here, and so are all the creatures of different races, but there is one thing that doesn’t stand that good, it is the female elf Tauriel who seems to do nothing interesting other than create a bad love triangle. But we can still think that she never existed as the dwarf whom she healed was treated by other dwarves or humans. But the character is awesome in the action sequences, so may be she can be of interest in the next movie as long as the significance of that unnecessary love triangle will become less. As a character who is not in the book, I would think that she won’t be liked by the book fans. The movie is very long, but there is no dull moment in it, so just take that length negativity out of the equation. May be some people don’t like journeys like this, but obviously this was what one was supposed to expect, and the ending is quick, but better executed than The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and gives people more interest in going for the third movie which is surely going to be heavily packed with action. The 3D is fine and even excellent at times, nothing spectacular considering the overall quality of the movie, but I wasn’t looking for that in this movie.

Performers of the soul :: As the movie gets into action very early unlike The Hunger Games: Catching Fire which takes an eternity, our people are also prepared. Martin Freeman steals the show, and Ian McKellen comes as the big tree which holds things together. Richard Armitage’s dwarf king gets better, and Luke Evans’ presence is something which will be strong only by fulfilling his character’s destiny in the next movie if it is indeed the fate. Orlando Bloom is the ultimate action hero of the movie, and the number of claps he received in the theatre can’t be counted. The movie needed the character from Lord of the Rings, even as I hear people say that he is not The Hobbit character. He is more an archer magician right there making most of his screen presence. Despite Evangeline Lilly’s nice portrayal of her character, it is an avoidable she-elf – otherwise she is good and excellent in the action sequences. Well, elves are crowd favourites! Aidan Turner is equally detestable for that love triangle even as one has to like the way he has performed. Lee Pace makes a fine elf king, while the other dwarves work as good as they did in the first movie. Above all, love Benedict Cumberbatch’s fire-breathing red dragon, for that one rules.

Soul exploration :: The movie deals with the courage of a hobbit yet again, as despite his weaknesses and the lack of abilities, he joins the dwarf warriors, and continues his journey here. He is more heroic than he was in the first movie and even saves the dwarves from being eaten by giant spiders as well as being eternally imprisoned in the elf prisons – he even talks to the dragon face to face, and there is the courage that he has found, along with the ring. Meanwhile, Bard has to accomplish his destiny or rather fail in it, leaving a question mark for the final movie of the series. Elves, hobbits, dwarves, goblins, orcs, trolls and humans – they have all been in the series, and except for goblins and trolls, the rest make an impact in this movie too. The human neutrality is evident, and so is the orc alignment towards pure evil. The dwarves and hobbits remain more on the good side a little more than neutral, and the elves are good in their own way. But when we look at the ideals of the three – dwarves, elves and hobbits, they are different with variable views on each other, and if given a choice, I would think that most would chose the elves, and so would I. This racial difference is an incredible thing, and I have loved this variety in creatures since playing Age of Wonders.

How it finishes :: I would sincerly hope that all who are praising the special effects and CGI of some of the worst movies of the year, to watch this one (Krrish 3 fans can look at Dhoom 3 when it releases if waiting for an opponent of equal platform). The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is one of the best movies of the year and also a visual treat which entertains with its witty dialogues, incredible action sequences and a flurry of special effects. It indeed makes The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey feel that it could have been a better movie. Peter Jackson has indeed created the right hobbit movie which will surely make me choose Halflings as the race the next time I play Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic – something which I had given up in favour of the Draconians and the Undead. Meanwhile, I hope you all had a great Friday the 13th. It is the favourite day (and night) of the Vampire Bat, and on this occasion, he has decided to go lenient on his ratings, but The Hobbit II actually deserves it. Still, the one year wait for the third movie is going to be so depressing!

Release date: 13th December 2013
Running time: 161 minutes
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Starring: Martin Freeman, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Ken Stott, James Nesbitt

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

The Hobbit

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✠ This shall be the second review that features the major excerpts from the fictional interview with Count Dracula by the Vampire Bat during the last unreal full moon night. Any relation to any person living, dead, undead, going to die, half-dead, partially alive or those is not intentional, and if you are looking for an original review of serious nature, do not read. To add to it, I once again add that no vampires, werewolves, zombies, demons, monsters or aliens (both Avatar blue and general green) were harmed while this interview was going on. These are one of those movies about which Count Dracula should surely have a say considering its nature. The format of my earlier review of Hotel Transylvania (https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/hotel-transylvania/) is to be used here, but as the world has changed, both the Vampire Bat, Count Dracula and the nature of the dialogues between them are prone to undergo some changes. They are still brethren, and of the same race which have blood shake quite often.

Count Dracula: Welcome, brother bat. Its been a long time. I am still suffering from the effects of Twin-date, New Moan, Ellipsis and Breaking Teeth with a constant fear of a Midnight Bun which might release some day. Every time I think about those books and movies, I feel so weakened and depressed that I want to go and watch that recently released Bollywood movie Besharam and throw myself from the top of a cliff. It is a sad thing that I can fly and I might never reach the ground, otherwise it would have been an awesome idea.

Vampire Bat: I can see that you have gotten better as the Twilight movie series has ended. Your kind do have a small role to play in Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, and it is a pathetic depiction for sure, but as the story itself is so bad, and there are too many creatures taken right out of nonsense, you might not be affected by that.

Count Dracula: Don’t talk about that, for it burns so much – just the name of that series itself. I was in good terms with the Shadow Demons until this series of novels came into existence. Now they won’t talk to me because orcs and goblins are laughing at them after watching the movie and reading the novels, and the demonic version is that it is my dirty plot against them to create a future unholy alliance with humanity.

Vampire Bat: I had to watch that movie City of Bones. Most of the people in the theatre wanted to get out and run for their lives, but just because the AC was good and most of them had already ordered food, they stayed. The others just wanted to make efficient use of their tickets and the rest just wanted to see the lovely Lily Collins. Did you just talk about orcs and goblins? That reminds me of something; even as this was actually supposed to be a secret talk about the Mortal Instruments: City of Bones which was not to come to light, why can’t this be a discussion about The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, one of the best movies of the year 2012, even as I know that you find The Cabin in the Woods as the best of them all? Then, I can also publish this review rather than just keep it for further reference.

Count Dracula: I know why you are changing the topic. With The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug right around the corner, you wish to write about this movie so that you can remember that movie which you watched last year, and be prepared for this upcoming sequel. You can also make sure that you have written about the first movie before getting into this sequel, the same reason why you wrote about The Hunger Games earlier. I am such a bloody genius with awesome fangs, right?

Vampire Bat: That should be partially right. I watched The Hobbit just a few days ago in Sony Pix, as I missed it in the theatres due to reasons that I can’t remember. I had to miss a few parts of the movie due to frequent power cuts and some disturbing phone calls, and therefore I would like your help to fill the empty spaces; even if you use some random thing there, that should be okay.

Count Dracula: It doesn’t make any sense that you are asking me about this movie, as I am repelled by the existence of orcs, dwarves, hobbits (halflings), goblins, elves and dragons. But I have to tell you something, this is surely one of my favourite movies of the year too, and therefore you can add it to the list of Dracs Certified, or Certified by Dracula list. That shall give no credit to any non-vampire mythical creature though.

Vampire Bat: Talking about the non-mythical involvement, I was interested about the involvement of Guillermo del Toro, even as he didn’t direct the movie as planned. It was still great the same person who directed The Lord of the Rings trilogy had come back. But the fact remains that I can’t remember much about that series, as I watched it so long ago, at a time when I was less interested in English movies and I cared not much. But as I recollect them in parts and after I watched the second part of The Hobbit, I shall go and watch that much critically acclaimed and financial successful trilogy again.

Count Dracula: You have to watch them, for sure. I have always loved the types of mythical creatures in the series, and I know you can connect them with Age of Wonders, especially with the availables races in that game which includes Halflings (Hobbits) Orcs, Goblins, Elves, Humans, Dwarves and a lot more along with those dragon units and magical creatures. I would have loved to play that game, but I have no computer with me right now. I used to have a magical device which supports more realistic games which includes vampires drinking the blood of evil humans, but I am a little low in magic right now, and has to replenish it during the next time the Dark Elf merchants pass through this way.

Vampire Bat: The creatures are the major reason why I love the series, and The Hobbit is no different. It has our own gollum along with the goblins, orcs, dwarves, elves and of course the humans and our great little hobbit. I was actually quite suprised about Bilbo Baggins going on a dangerous journey with the great wizard Gandalf and thirteen dwarves, led by their king Thorin Oakenshield to reclaim the lost dwarf kingdom of Erebor, and its riches from a fire-breathing dragon. Actually it is a pleasant surprise, as the underdog gets another chance, and this time with the little fighters who are almost same as his size, but different in attitude and bravery plus ability to combat.

Count Dracula: I like that hobbit, much more than I like the guy in The Lord of the Rings. I got a feeling that I am going to love Smaug the dragon too, when the sequel comes. The orcs and goblins are pretty awesome too. It is just sad that so many of them got killed. I remember going to a goblin market to buy some mechanical devices and to the orc armouries to buy some defence for my castle. I liked their depiction though, and their nature is also rightly shown, in my opinion.

Vampire Bat: I would agree to what you said last. But I have to say that the major reason I like this one is because the whole thing is so clear. There are no ambiguities in the story or in the screen. The visuals are so beautiful and crystal clear. I can’t remember seeing such a visually magnificent movie for such a long time. I am quite sad that I missed it on the big screen. It was surely a great honour for my television, as the whole thing looked so good on it, not a usual thing for my normal LED TV and the local cable tv network. Glory be to its visual effects, make-up and the twin feelings of light and dark which the movie managed to portray.

Count Dracula: I am more in support of its darker side, as I feel that the lighter side was meant to keep the dark world within control, as they always do. It is the same thing that they try in my case too, for most of these human audience are not prepared to face all these darkness at once, especially the kind of people whom they target with this type of movies. So, such combination was a must, and they have done well in combining both.

Vampire Bat: We can do nothing other than admire J.R.R. Tolkien for what he has provided us with, unlike what kind of teenage nonsense which has taken over the literature and movie world these days. May be I should write some fiction myself; well I do write something, and it is still fair nonsense. I love this world which the man has created. There is so much in it, not only to see for its visual beauty, but also a lot to think about. We are all hobbits or halflings in this world run by the so called influential people of the higher race, I guess. Therefore, we are all both Frodo and Bilbo in one.

Count Dracula: Except for me, as I am rather that orc person living in an elvish world with my inherent undead qualities, and thus rather a kind of Undead Dark Elf rather than a Wood Elf or a High Elf. But as we consider The Hobbit, I suggest you heavily recommend it.

Vampire Bat: I shall do the same and have to watch it many more times in my immortal hours, Count. Now, it is the time to go home and have that cup of tea, and therefore until we collide on a hunt again, good bye, Count.

Count Dracula: Good bye, best of my winged brethren; for now.

Vampire Bat (to himself): It might have been sad for such a legendary Gothic horror character to live through something like Twilight, but The Hobbit is one of those movies which can cheer him up. He has that opportunity to remember those beautiful days of magic and sorcery and the telepathic connections to the mythical world before science took over and branded all of them as vague imaginations, thus ending the connection. The Hobbit is for all vampires and good humans, that is for sure.

✠ There a few things which are to be kept in mind while going for this movie. It has great visual imagery, and the way in which each person of different races is detailed needs special mention, especially the dwarves. As the beauty of worlds are considered, the elf world stays incredibly beautiful. The collision of the worlds of light and darkness, and the assertion of faith exists with strength in this movie. It can also be considered a fable for the modern world and its life, as a group goes to claim glory, or rather try to get back their nostalgia, whichever is more applicable. So do they go and steal the gold or do they claim what is rightfully theres? Such remains the moral questions of the movie. Yes, I am looking forward to the sequels, The Desolation of Smaug (2013) and There and Back Again (2014). There would still be the question if these movies can stand the horrible weight of expectations, or will those strengthen the movie to such a huge extent that there is awesomeness. I do wish that Guillermo del Toro comes back for the final movie, even if that would make revolutionary changes in the movie making that last one entirely different from the rest.

Release date: 14th December 2012
Running time: 169 minutes
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Starring: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, James Nesbitt, Ken Stott, Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm,Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood, Graham McTavish, Manu Bennett, Barry Humphries, Sylvester McCoy, Lee Pace, Benedict Cumberbatch, Andy Serkis

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Now You See Me

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There has always been something special about magic, going as far as the wizards and sorcery, often even into necromancy summoning the apparitions or even the living corpses from the grave. That should be black magic or witchcraft, and Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus had the hero ending up giving his soul for it in not that romantic a way as in the movie Bedazzled. One can’t really abandon Goethe’s Faust in that case. But this movie has none of these deals with Mephistopheles, Lucifer, or Belzebub, and neither does it have walking dead, nor does it lead you to Hogwarts or to Narnia as the lord of a particular, incredibly powerful ring which will change your life in that fairy tale style. This is magic purely of this world, and connected to a crime as an engaging, powerful thriller. Magic has always been a thing arousing curiosity among the common cats of the world, but none of them stays killed or dead as part of it. Magic shows still have some of its essence which still affects the minds of the common man over his mundane existence, for being able to manipulate and create illusions still have that mysterious charm for the unexplained, no matter how much science and technology and the reason has improved. One needs to see how this movie has managed to do nothing special and still manages to be special!

But it is not yet a magic movie, or something which takes you to a magical environment like Harry Potter, Narnia or Lord of the Rings, and there are no goblins, hobbits, dwarves or elves, and this one is the story of tricks, illusions and deception, which doesn’t really make it of lesser quality. This is more of that magic which is closer to reality and the real world, and it is a caper movie – a crime fiction supported by magic; and it is Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen all of them explored with the support of magic provided in the right manner. If you loved Tower Heist and Entrapment, there is no option not to like this one, as there are the additions which you can’t reject. The focus of the story is still magic, and the four magicians who performs it not for money or for entertainment, but for a greater cause. There are thefts, and there are police, FBI and even Interpol involved in this heist movie, but what forms the base of all this is still magic, not as the fantasy and the mythological wonder that attracts the generations starting from kids, this one is more of that thriller which keeps you at the edge of your seats. The world of these magicians are more than what meets the eye, and therefore you see me at one moment and then you don’t, and for now you watch what is justified by the title Now You See Me!

We have to start by introducing our wonderful protagonists of deception; the four magicians—Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) the illusionist, Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) the escape artist and former assistant of Daniel, Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) the street magician and master thief along with Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) the mentalist specialized in mind-reading abilities —are brought together by a mysterious benefactor who is shown only as a man in a hood and, one year later, they have a performance in Las Vegas identifying themselves as “The Four Horsemen” and is sponsored by a billionaire Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine). During their first grand performance, the magicians invite a random member of the audience to help them in their next trick which is the first of its kind to be ever performed on stage, that is robbing a bank. The man is teleported to his bank in Paris, where he activates an airduct which vacuums up the money which brough down from the top onto their audience in the venue at Las Vegas. It is a bank in Paris that they are supposed to have robbed, and how they have done that to an institution in France from a location in the United States would remain a mystery to many.

FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) investigates the theft and is unwillingly partnered with Interpol Agent Alma Vargas (Melanie Laurent). They interrogate the Four Horsemen, but are forced to release them when no explanation for the theft can be found other than magic. The magicianis even taunt them and says that if they charge them as criminals, it means that their magic is real and that adds to their popularity. Dylan then meets a man who was present during the show and had video-taped the whole thing, Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman). He is known to be an former magician who makes money by revealing the secrets behind other magicians’ tricks and have his fun with it. He tells them that the magicians had stolen the money long ago, and manipulated the audience as well as the police with their tricks and illusions into believing it happened at the moment of their show. He even shows a sample to Dylan after they have a look at the “site of the crime and the magic show”. He adds that the whole thing might have planned for months or even years and the group is up to something big and what was seen in Las Vegas was just the first of the samples.

The three of them attend the magicians’ next performance which is in New Orleans during the festival of Mardi Gras. The group’s manages a number of magic tricks including disappearing acts, floating in a bubble and even predicting the bank accounts of random people among the audience. Their last item involved them emptying their own sponsor’s bank account and distributing it to the audience, which had a good number of people whose insurance claims had been denied or reduced by Tressler’s insurance company in the name of a variety of reasons. The agents make an attempt to arrest the magicians, but they fails and even humiliates themselves, and becomes the breaking news in most of the television channels. Arthur hires Thaddeus to expose the fake tricks of the magicians and humiliate them before the public as revenge. Later, while researching on magic and the history of the world of illusions, Alma comes across the information about a secret society of magicians called “The Eye”, which exists unknown to the contemporary society of common man, and remains a myth. But if such a thing existed, the robberies were more of a test or initiation. She even suggests that the case might be connected to a magician whom Thaddeus had earlier exposed; the man was so embarrassed and depressed that he attempted a dangerous underwater stunt to prove his worth and drowned. Meanwhile, the Four Horsemen plan a final performance at New York City, which would decide many things.

Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco steal the show as the four horsemen who entertains not only the audience inside the movie, but also those outside with not only the thrills, but also the funny lines. They don’t really connect to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from the Book of Revelation directly with Conquest, War, Famine and Death, even as they do bring a disclosure, an uncovering which might come up more clearly in a possible sequel, as there is the concept of “The Eye” to add to it. I would suspect not only an upcoming apocalypse, but also a final judgement. It is stylish and also sure fun, and its use of CGI has been real appropriate as well as inspiring. Melanie Laurent has come a long way since Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, and successfully portrays her suspicious character and so does Morgan Freeman whose character remains in doubt of being the fifth horseman. Isla Fisher’s character has that charm which is matched only by Jesse Eisenberg’s illusionist. Forget Bruce Banner a.k.a The Hulk of The Avengers, for this should be his better or may be among the best performances, as he seems to have that balance in his character about which only the Hulk can have doubts. There might be the need for a little more explanation in case of the logic freaks, but the movie had a well-deserved clap from the audience in the multiplex after it finished, something which was this loud only with The Dark Knight Rises.

As the options at the theatre are considered, this would seem to be a clear winner at least at this part of the world. After Earth has been bulldozed by the critics as well as the viewers as far as the rottentomatoes and imdb ratings are concerned, and there are only a few shows of the movie around here, which opens that door for Now You See Me which might have been seemed locked before its release here. I would still like to watch the critically panned movie as I won’t trust them on my individual taste, even as there might be nobody to accompany me. Now You See Me has had its share of appreciation in the theatre itself, and I would expect it to bring more audience by the word of mouth, that passing of this magic, and more seats would be full even with a less known cast for the common man of the Indian subcontinent despite of the Will Smith – Jaden Smith power and the power-packed Bollywood releases which take hold of most of the shows along with its wonderful Malayalam counterparts; not to forget Hangover III, Fast & Furious 6 and Iron Man III, all three of those crowd-puller which have refused to go away from the big screens of the malls around here. I would vote for this movie as of now, as I consider this the best of the year 2013 so far, edging ahead of Star Trek: Into Darkness and Fast & Furious 6.

Release date: 7th June 2013 (India); 13th May 2013 (USA)
Running time: 115 minutes
Directed by: Louis Leterrier
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Isla Fisher, Mélanie Laurent, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.