Saturday, 14 December 2013



Shire Class.

161 Minutes. Starring: Martin Freeman, Sir Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Richard Armitage, Evangeline Lily, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, James Nesbitt, Ken Stott, Stephen Fry, Sylvester McCoy & Benedict Cumberbatch (As The Voice Of Smaug). Director: Peter Jackson.

OK fellowship...I'll admit it. It took me the love of my life, the channeling of my inner geek (who am I kidding I am a geek and proud) and one epic, three, three hour film DVD night (that was interrupted and then moved to close the last classic, biggest battle scene on the worlds smallest television screen upstairs...I know right?!) for me to get properly into the 'Lord Of The Rings' trilogy. No, I'm not Tolkien the piss, but boy did I not know what I was in for. Something so grand and epic it's right there with the testimony trilogies of 'Star Wars' ,'Godfather'' and my own personal geek favorite 'The Dark Knight'. Peter Jackson's triumphant three part vision of J.R.R Tolkien's wonderful three part story was truly a trilogy that deserved another and as of last year we got that in the outstanding, original book that spawned it all, 'The Hobbit'. Sure compared to the 'Jurassic Park' gate doorstop 'Rings' trilogy this short story is a pamphlet but a perfect one at that and only Jackson could turn each 100 pages into a three hour film in themselves (especially with the help of the screenplay labyrinth of 'Pacific Rim' future blockbuster explorer Guillermo del Toro) for yet another holy trinity of heaven sent magical movies that are now chasing the wand of 'Harry Potter' epic spectacle stakes. After last years 'Unexpected Journey', exceeded everyone's epic expectations and saw more dwarfs than 'Snow White' and more endings than a Bruce Springsteen encore the only questions we where left with where; "why didn't those lazy eagles drop them off just a little further"? The film introduced a new quest of classic characters that would win over cult cameos from Elijah Wood, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee and Cate Blanchett and also showed that their dinner parties could be as fun as some of their escape art battles. The film even took my personal Jaa Jaa Binx, Gollum and turned him up a notch to now one of my favorite characters. In the sequel he's now sorely missed, but don't be shy. Delve deeper into the darkness of the cave and you'll love to step into the light of this warm like mulled wine Winter festive season movie just in time for an early Christmas this fall.

For now it's time for 'The Desolation Of Smaug' and for all you fans out there no my lad that's not an earthquake you hear in your IMAX theaters like those thunderous storm giants hurling rock strong set-pieces. Get ready for some blazing 3D as we're about to go 'There And Back Again' for yet another powerful part of this long saga that is anything but boring and getting nothing but absolutely better. This in fact might be the best of them all, so you know the finale's going to be a formidable foe of force. Far over the misty mountains you can see the landscape of this film is more than just a tour guide for the stunning beauty of its New Zealand set. There's so much more to this story that you can take from by the book. No wonder I delved into my parents cupboards to find their old, original illustrated version of 'The Hobbit'. As right as reading the words before the actions are, part of me wishes I left a lot of these stunning scenes to surprise. Prose purists will be satisfied to the letter though. As there are river rapid barrel rides as crazy and as exciting as those people that used to ride down Niagara Falls in kegs and web sticky, scary giant, 'your worst nightmare', spider scenes as electric as the trailer for the new 'Amazing Spider-Man' sequel at 48 sick, stunning frames per 'pass the popcorn bucket' second. From drinking at middle-earths local Prancing Pony to bear changing milk servers this film is a different animal altogether, confirming and creating this perfect prequel to one of the greatest sets of cinematic experiences of all time. In this modern movie-world it only gets graphically better to the most special effect and with all the arrows flying around no one can escape being hit to love this like Cupid. This film has so much character and we haven't even begun to talk about the cast, which is assembling the stars at a Marvel rate. Of course we're off to see the grand wizard as Sir Ian McKellen arises as Gandalf in-between his moving Magneto 'X-Men' bid to resurrect his classic career to the 'Days Of Future Past'. While 'The Hobbit' himself is truly the incredible rising leadership of Martin Freeman armed with his letter opener (now named after a certain someone from The Police (don't stand so close to him)), who takes the ring from Elijah Wood in more ways than one. Believe me this too...shall pass.

Bilbo Baggins has a lot more to deal with here though and we're not just talking about his dwarfs, from Richard Armitage's Mortensen channeling Thorin and rising 'Mortal Instrument' pin-up Aidan Turner (who really should have been the one to play Michael Hutchence in the new INXS biopic) and T.V's tuned in James Nesbitt and mini-Santa Claus Ken Stott who are back in great fan favor. There's so many big names in this series that you can even add Great British national treasure Stephen Fry (whose being making the movie sequel, classic book adaptation rounds recently as 'Sherlock Holmes' brother in 'A Game Of Shadows') and one of the original 'Doctor Who's' Sylvester McCoy complete with the luck of bird crap crusting in his hair. By the ears of Spock there's elves to deal with here too, from 'Twilight' saga star Lee Pace keeping and camping it up as a '300' worthy king to the rising red haired talent of femme-fatale Evangeline Lily who recently went to battle in 'The Hurt Locker' and 'Real Steel'. Here she throws some serious bows but that's nothing compared to her arrow-man. Yep that's right, clench up ladies because Orlando Bloom is back as Legolas with Hawkeye avenging vision. The kid with the Florida first name truly blooms, matures and grows in the 'other' franchise of the new millennium that made him a megastar alongside Disney's 'Pirates Of The Caribbean'. With better acting, hair and some serious archery skill so quick at the speed of a dart, this is a bulls-eye hit and return of redemption for the actor. The elf ear arrow action scenes really prick up the pace of this picture and give it it's range. After taking the wheel of the 'Fast & Furious' franchise to London, handing the keys to the passenger seat villain Jason Statham, Brit Luke Evans shows real humble honor as another skilled archer with more behind his bow than you think. Oh and we almost forgot there's a few Orcs too. Freeman has more than enough talent to win over this old audience to the new Jackson attraction, but it's another one of his co-stars from 'Sherlock' that really furthers this insired, influential investigation. It's all elementary for this Dear Watson as there's one part left that could take the Bilbo riddles of Gollum to school.

In a class of his own you know it's all about the red dragon (yep that's right people he's red) like a 'Hannibal' sequel and this fire-breather is really about to eat you up in stunning big-screen high-definition. If you thought that Benedict Cumberbatch gave us the best villain of the year in his Khan good/bad conflict of the light shining 'Star Trek-Into Darkness' then just wait until you hear him here. More than just blowing hot air, the man-whose voice recently had all the 'Cumberbitches' in awe of his R. Kelly 'Sex Genius', 'Black Panties' lyric reading on Jimmy Kimmel-wins the Tom Hiddleston Loki theatrical British villain war with the next impressionable voice. His army of Beatle-mania screaming female fans may wish they could see him but his studio sound, super vocal skill is enough to fill the auditoriums with an attracted audience. How to Cumberbatch your dragon with a Sean Connery 'Dragonheart' this actor deserves to be a Smaug so and so as he pitches the perfect vocal chords to go along with this classic character he makes as magic as 'Merlin'. A character only better for how it legacy lasting looks as this books pictured dragon is perfectly illustrated here for those who have been imagining and dreaming just quite how Smaug would look on screen in-between all those pools of Mr. Scrooge revenue. Here they hit gold, truly sitting on a pile of money with a breath of fire air that is hotter than the classic cast-list, or scintillating set-pieces that make this movie already that much better than the rest. Finally after all these decades, years and hours it's worth the wait to finally see this beautiful beast who takes over this film and we can only hope will soar further and help this trilogy really fly. Clawing away, this years movie competition of incredible comic-book and sci-fi imagination and creative invention is ashes now no matter how big, blockbuster or special effects the picture compared to this old story made anew. Throw as may Avengers or superheros at is as you like, even 'The Hunger Games' don't have enough arrows as this dragon 'Catching Fire' takes wing. Even 'Gravity' is grounded by the cinematography of the dragon and the fire in the belly of this story. Nothing can fan the flames now when it comes to this amazing adventure and the desolation of the box-office that reduces everything else to smoke. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

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