‘The Hobbit: Battle Of The Five Armies’ (2014) Review

Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies (2014) Review: Prequels have enjoyed a resurgence in the last few years. While the more cynical movie viewer will see the movement as a bid to forever milk a franchise dry and then milk it some more, others will see it as a chance to return to the worlds that once captivated them. Regardless of your impressions going in, however, what matters is how well the job is done. Prequels are notoriously hard to do. Just imagine trying to develop tension for characters that the audience knows are going to survive, or having a world-ending plot in a world that we know remains unended. Not to mention the added pressure of having to connect your film to the original one. As difficult as it may be, it's not impossible to do it, and do it quite well. Recent forays into the prequel territory are films such as X-Men: First Class and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Both were critical and commercial successes that garnered sequels that came out this very year. These films seemed to have, in a sense, cracked the prequel code. They embrace the fact that audiences are more than familiar with their franchises, even going so far as placing the ultimate destination in the very title. The emphasis of these films rests with the characters and their development, which in a certain sense, is the obvious place to go. The difficulty of…

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‘The Fault In Our Stars’ (2014) Review

The Fault In Our Stars (2014) Review: Romance is a tricky thing to portray in cinema. Simply because, everyone has their own idea of love, relationships, and intimacy. Just recently it was revealed to me that most of my colleagues are of the opinion that one should not enter into a relationship without the intention of marriage. This was insane to me. Can you imagine the amount of build up one would have to do to ensure that the person they're pursuing is at least tolerable? Marriage is, theoretically, a lifelong commitment. To peg someone down as worthy of such a commitment is almost impossible. Mainly because it's an enormous amount of pressure to put on a person, whether they know they're being tested or not. For me, a relationship shouldn't be a litmus test for holy matrimony. Instead, it should be an exploration of another person. Getting to know their story and the idiosyncrasies that make them, them. In turn, you start to find yourself feeling more and more attached to this person. They're the first ones you think of in the morning and the last at night. You make every day about them. Pinning some grand expectation on a person only sullies the time you have with them.Of course, there are those that view romantic love as a complete lie. A fabrication by the manufacturers of greeting cards and heart-shaped chocolates. It's from these people that the greatest critiques of romantic movies come from. Complaints that the romantic film has…

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‘How To Train Your Dragon 2’ (2014) Review

How To Train Your Dragon 2 (2014) Review: I sat down recently with some friends of mine, and by friends of mine I mean the two ladies on the other side of the pharmacy whose conversation I was listening in on (I don't have any real friends). They were trying to decide which film to go and see that night, and when they came to the movie which this review is about, one woman scoffed at the idea of seeing a "cartoon thing like that". Suddenly, I put down my Oreo Cadbury chocolate bar and tried to imagine the countless hours spent designing the characters, environments, animation styles, and then on top of that, having to actually make a movie with snappy yet realistic dialogue and a story that was worth a damn. Add that to the time spent training actors used to relying on more than just their vocal performance to sell a character, an animated movie is a hell of a lot of work. And yet, there are still those in this world who would rather see 'Think Like a Man Too'. Although I liked the first one, and haven't seen the sequel, movies that are set in Vegas haven't had a very good track record as of late.  Of course, this conversation only confirmed my long-held suspicion that to the general audience, animated movies are one of the most underrated forms of cinema. I can partially understand this, as perhaps…

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‘Godzilla’ (2014) Review

Godzilla (2014) Review: The creature feature has come a long way in movie history. What once was depicted using a man in a rubber suit and a couple of cardboard boxes with windows on them, has now been revolutionized to truly embrace a scale which warrants the terrifying theme these movies cover. The arrogance of man and the danger of hubris. This is essentially what all science fiction can be boiled down to. A style of storytelling that takes dilemmas grounded in reality (science) and exaggerates them through a hyperbolic metaphor (fiction). This is arguably best done today in which we have the means to truly portray that metaphor in a way that can be realistically perceived. That's not to say that practical effects can't achieve the same level of resonance, surely the fact that David Cronenberg's 'The Fly' still scares the wits out of me is evidence of that. Computer generated imagery can most certainly go awry, depicting something that isn't so much spectacle as it is a debacle. Whether the effect is practical or otherwise, the look of the monster doesn't mean anything if the script is drivel. The original 'King Kong' is a much more poignant movie than it's 2005 remake with a photo-realistic ape. The way in which a special effect is used determines if a story has any real weight to it or if its just popcorn fodder. When a movie can find that sweet spot between a good effect and a killer…

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‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ (2014) Review

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) Review: Almost a decade ago, Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer did what many thought to be impossible. Batman, a character rooted in Gothic sensibilities, had his best film outings include: a man with literal flippers and a beak, who called himself the penguin, and a Christopher Walken playing the bride of Frankenstein. Nolan and Goyer took those Gothic sensibilities and used them to reinvent the caped crusader and in turn revolutionized the comic book genre, sometimes for the worse. Soon after that, Spider-Man donned the black suit, and superheroes stories would continue to explore the darker, angst-ridden train that 'Batman Begins' set them on. A train that would inevitably take a massive nosedive. And why wouldn't it? The Dark Knight was one of the first films in the superhero genre to make over a billion dollars at the box office. Aside from that it gained the sort of legitimacy most films can only dream of when it scored the academy award for Heath Ledger's Joker. Surely both financially and artistically it only made sense that if these movies were to evolve past the days of Bat nipples and Shrek hulk, a darker direction was essential. That's why Spider-Man has more gloom than ever and Superman is a stone cold space killer. I repeat. Superman is a stone cold space killer. That's a problem. As I mentioned in my Man of Steel review, the final scenes of…

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