Sunday, December 29, 2013



G.P. Manalo

Yes, when there is greatness the worst will follow through. People say that my so-called “job” is great because I only sit down and watch movies (that are not for free) and blog about them, well it’s not – because I get to see shitty movies like the movies in this list.

Again, this is MY list, I’m not putting this movie in a pedestal and say “hey, these are the shittiest of the shittiest movies of 2013” if you want to disagree feel free because I would love to see the list that you think is better than mine.

Also, I have missed a few movies this year that are pretty much raved for being the worst of the worst like Paranoia, White House Down (I have a bad history with Roland Emmerich), Smurfs 2 (thank God), Getaway, Texas Chainsaw 3D (I heard the local cut of the film was terrible so I didn’t see it), I have seen After Earth but I slept in the middle of the movie and never had the energy to watch it again and other films that are much or as worse than that. I am fully aware that those movies that I mentioned are in the poster above this, but I only added them because of what I heard from the consensus. That being said, let’s go to the mentions.

These “honourable” mentions: I’m not saying that they’re good and cannot be in this list but what I meant for this is that they got “out-shitted” by the big 10.

15. Jobs

I was very hard on this movie at first, in a second viewing at a bus I was able to watch this movie again and I somehow appreciated this quite a bit though I still stand by most of the things I have said about this movie. The problem with this movie was that it focuses more on the negative side of Steve Jobs and it tries to tell EVERYTHING (and I mean EVERYTHING). Most of the things they brought up were either rushed or half-assed metaphors and it was a pretty lazy summary for the early days of both Steve Jobs and the Apple Company. The saving grace were the performances by Josh Gad and Ashton Kutcher but in the end there’s nothing much good to say about that movie other than that.
14. Carrie

I know I gave this movie a fresh rating, but really this is just another example of a re-make gone wrong but not as horrible as most people say that Texas Chainsaw 3D is. As much as I love Chloe Moretz (as in like, LOVE) she along with the movie itself didn’t really offer anything new as a re-make slash re-imagining but the special effects that did result to some fun scenes with it, I know I praised the bullying allegory but after a second viewing of the film I thought that that could’ve been handled a little bit better especially when they are in the modern era. Still, like the other mentions in this list, this was out-shitted by an even worse horror re-make we had this year.

13. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Another movie that I gave a fairly -  decent review.  In my review (or atleast in any comedy movie I have reviewed) I have pointed out that I love comedies, I love it when comedies made me laugh, but this movie did not do that job really well as a comedy even though you have big comedic stars like Steve Carrell, Steve Buscemi, and Jim Carrey. Jim Carrey was the funniest of the bunch, but unfortunately he was in the movie for only a fraction of the film. Even if I said in my review that this movie had a great moral lesson to tell and a third act that somehow made it all up the movie could’ve been like that all throughout but instead we were given a very mediocre comedy.

12. 21 and Over

Another movie that I had a somewhat better experience in a second viewing, this movie is funny for the most part. But in reality, this movie was just scene after scene of meeting weird people after weird people and at the same time doing weird things, though it did its best Van Wilder impression pretty well (but that’s not saying much). Th

   11. Pain and Gain           


I rented this movie for the hell of it, when I rented it and saw Michael Bay’s name on it and seeing stars like Marky Mark and Dwayne Johnson I was like “yeah, this is gonna be like the old Michael Bay where it is just fun action popcorn flicks like The Rock and Armageddon, but instead this was pretty much an offensive movie.
Learning the history about it of the real criminals based on this, it is offensive that they take such a serious topic like this and turn it into a popcorn flick but worst of all, a joke. They have killed families and people who they believe are bad guys and they just treat those things like a joke. Even if the movie did have great action scenes and an (somehow) enjoyable enough comedic tone, I just can’t take it out of my system that this movie fetishizes violence being done by these real life criminals and that’s bad (that was my best Heisenberg pun).


10. Planes

I hated this movie so much that in my review I made it sound like it was gonna be in my top 5. But let’s get real here, this movie wasn’t meant for me, it’s meant for brainless children or at least children in general. Like what I said in my review, this was more of a commercial for toys (since the toys for Pixar’s Cars made more than 2 million worldwide), it goes by the numbers of all the underdog movie clich├ęs and instead comes out as a prime example of mediocrity. Disney, I’ve expected better from you after these 3 years.

                                                       9.    Battle of the Year

We get another underdog movie that is going by the numbers, but this movie... Is a fucking checklist. I know that I haven’t been knocking the Step Up movies for the past two movies; the Step Up movies has that self-aware element that adds fun for the past two movies and they did offer something new but this movie doesn’t. The film was trying hard to be original (there were a couple of elements that felt different enough), but still plays by the numbers of every underdog film. The film had some real actors, but they were pretty much asleep in this movie. They had some fun dance sequences, but it wasn’t enough to actually carry this movie.

                             7.    R.I.P.D. - Rest In Peace Department

In a year of superhero movies where we have movies that divides the opinions of Iron Man, Thor, and Superman fans. I’m pretty sure we can all agree that R.I.P.D. was pretty much a terrible film. The film is pretty much doing a bad knock-off of Men In Black, even though they have a unique enough concept that they have in the comics. R.I.P.D. was nothing special at all to avoid the comparisons between this and Men in Black, it has terrible chemistry of the two leads. Jeff Bridges character was fun for a while until his novelty white boy version of Bill Cosby died down, Ryan Reynolds was generic as always and Kevin Bacon was asleep throughout the movie. We had a tough enough year for comic book movies, this movie made it worse.

                                    6.    Percy Potter and the Chamber of Monsters

I’m a huge Percy Jackson fan, I place the books near and dear to my heart along with other series like Harry Potter and the Ender series. As I read the books I never thought that they would be made into movies but I could totally see them as a good Nickelodeon (or at least Disney XD) animated series. This adaptation was just terrible. People have been comparing this to the Harry Potter series, and I can see why despite the fact that the book is so much different than that series. The movies are just a cash grab to get that Harry Potter money, everything about this movie is uninteresting and so does the world they built and I never felt attached for the characters. As a fan, I’m saddened by this, and I do hope that a Titan’s Curse adaptation would turn things around if they do it right this time.

6.    The Lone Ranger

Like what Tonto said in the movie, the Lone Ranger should’ve stayed dead. Disney did their best to preserve this relic but really all their efforts just went to shit. At first I doubted that Lone Ranger would do successfully because The Lone Ranger is already lost and forgotten, the only people who remember the Lone Ranger could either be dead or people who are old . Like most live-action Disney films we have for the past years, it is very long (as in like – 2 ½ hours) and in those 2 ½ hours they try to tell a lot of stories that results to utter convolution, and very boring characters. Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer wasted their potential and did their worst performance in their careers.

5. Generic Bruce Willis Action Movie
(a.k.a. A Good Day to Live Free and Die Harder With a Vengeance)

Nope, not gonna call this movie a “Die Hard” movie. The Die Hard films shows that it is not the typical action flick unlike Schwarzenneger and Stallone back in the day. Instead this movie is a cartoon than it is a Die Hard film. This movie was so bad, it made Die Hard 4.0 look like a damn masterpiece. The film tries to be that good ol’ buddy cop film or at least a father and son bonding vacation movie but the bad chemistry between Bruce Willis (who is clearly phoning it in) and his son was so terribly written there wasn’t much going for it. People would be like, well dude?! It has great action, NO! it’s just Bruce Willis and some guy shooting through people and crashing through cars without getting hurt.

    4.  Grown Ups 2

I’m still kicking myself for ever thinking that this movie would have that old Adam Sandler feel but it wasn’t. Instead it was scene after scene of “hey, look at how fat this guy is”, “hey, a Deer is pissing on Adam Sandler, Isn’t that funny?!”, “hey, look at that guy’s butt – let’s all laugh”.  Rob Schneider himself even said that the last one was so terrible he didn’t join in for the second one…. Yeah, Rob freakin’ Schneider said that…..

                                                                         3. The Host

It’s Twilight with Aliens….. Need I say more? Ok fine, this year we had a lot of mediocre Young Adult adaptations (or should I call them – The Twilight Clones) and some are most similar to the Twilight series.  The movie had a lot of world building and it even had an intriguing concept as well but then the movie shifted drastically because of the romantic tone between an alien and a human for a girl who is both those traits. As the tone shifted it became such a boring movie that made me cringe all throughout. Like every adaptation of a Stephanie Meyers novel, it is packed with boring characters that spews love quotes (that feel like they were written by teenagers) and stare at each other. 

                                             2. Scary Movie V and A Haunted House (A Tie)

The parody movies are dying down very slowly for the past years but this just put the last nail in the coffin. Like the other Scary Movies in the series along with other movies by Friedberg and Seltzer (around Date Movie) now with the Wayans Brothers still go through the same flaw and it is that they beat you in the head with all these movie and pop culture references every 10 seconds that were popular for the past 6 years. Most of the jokes here are pretty much dated, they put out slapstick jokes that would be funny 70 years ago, farts and shit jokes that would have an applause by a four year old, heck, Scary Movie V even shoe horned Charlie Sheen for us to remember the time when he was funny two years ago. This movie was just sad, but not as sad as number one spot.

                                                     1. Movie 43

I still thank God for my friend for treating me to this movie because it would be terrible that I paid for this movie. This movie was just one big embarrassing scandal for these celebrities, a large percentage of the cast are great acotrs and some of them won Oscars or nominated for one, but also this movie was just a movie packed with failed Saturday Night Live sketches. I’m pretty sure the director and screenwriters got this from the trash cans of SNL writers. Scene after scene of this movie that were juvenile jokes like having balls on Hugh Jackman’s neck, Halle Barry dipping her fake breasts on some sort of sauce, Emma Stone giving a guinea pig a handjob, Chloe Moretz having her period and they made a never ending joke about it (note: I’m not making this shit up, these things happened in the movie), and they expect a cheap laugh from us. It tries to be self-aware that “yeah, we’re making a bad movie and we expect you to like it” but It wasn’t that “it’s so bad, it’s good” type of movie but it was just so bad it made me want to jump off a cliff type of movie. My friend were just facepalming and looking at each other the entire time (he even said sorry), hell there was never one laugh or chuckle from the audience - that’s how terrible this movie is.

*inhales deeply* - *exhales* alright…. Well thanks a lot for reading this post, in fact thanks a lot for the 5000+ views this year, I know it’s not much but I really appreciate that. It has been a year and the site will be improved soon with news, more articles, and more writers (hopefully). Again, Thanks again for a great 2013, may you and your family and friends have a great new years and hopefully the coming years will have a better movie season for us all.  



G.P. Manalo

72 movies that I have watched, 10,000+ words worth for reviews, and only 10 will make the list. With only a few days away till’ we welcome 2014 and say our goodbyes to 2013. Today, I take a look back at a pretty strong year for movies by listing my top 10 best movies of 2013.

Before you make any comments like “Where’s 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Saving Mr. Banks, Prisoners, The Butler, Out of the Furnace, Wolf of Wall Street, and other great movies?” . Well, almost all of those movies that came out in the late winter are scheduled for an early 2014 release or maybe they will never be released at all in the country I live in, that or I just miss them in theatres.

Also, this is MY list; I’m not saying that these are the best of the best of 2013. So when you read my list, I’m telling you to feel free to disagree, I would love to hear your list that you think is definitely better than mine. That being said let’s go with the honourable mentions first.


15. Star Trek Into Darkness

Honestly, I regret giving this film a perfect score, after seeing it in a second viewing a few months later. This is what happens when I’m fresh from drinking the kool-aid and let the inner geek do the whole movie reviewing for a movie like Star Trek Into Darkness. Nonetheless, I still enjoy watching this movie from start to finish. Sure the old Star Trek references beat you in the head too much but I still enjoy it. It had great performances as they give them a more expansive role in the sequel, not to mention from my man, Benedict Cumbebatch. People argue about it being unoriginal but really all the Wrath of Khan references occurred in the last 30 minutes of the film, there were enough twists and turns for it to be different to the original Wrath of Khan.

14. Elysium

Definitely one of the smartest sci-fi movies of the year but with a lot of brawn, as Neil Blomkamp comes back with Elysium packed with great performances, a solid allegory about American health care and classism, and action where he uses the shaky cam very well than other action directors. Will this be nominated at the Oscars like District 9? I doubt it – It’s no tour de force (nor a tour de – farce, geddit?) but it was still a fun movie nonetheless.

13. The Conjuring

In a decade of horror movies saturated by cheap scares, torture porn and found footage movies. The Conjuring gives us a look back at how horror movies used to be giving us genuine scares and disturbing imagery without relying on the cheap gimmicks and gore heavy sequences but instead gives us scenes like the staircase scene, the final scene that is very much paying homage to The Exorcist and many more. This was definitely my favourite horror movie of the year other than the Evil Dead re-make.

12. Frozen

I didn’t know what to expect as I go into this movie (only watching the trailer with Olaf and Sven) until I read and watch the reviews by 10 different film critics. As I watch the film I was very much surprised on how much I enjoy the film so much. Disney has been returning back to form for the past years and It has been a home run for them every time (again, Planes…. Doesn’t need to be mentioned).  This film has that classic Disney feel from the songs and the characters that felt so timeless and at the same time giving us something new as it departs from the formula of a typical Disney Princess film.
11. The World’s End

It is so unfortunate that this film never saw the light of day in the country I live in (though Greenbelt 1 displaying this poster at their cinema hall still gives me hope), this would’ve been a fantastic experience at the theatres with a big screen and a great crowd of people. I am such a huge fan of Edgar Wright's films that I went out to buy this movie on blu-ray and it was definitely one of the best films of the year.

This was originally tied with number 10 but I realized that I had too many ties for the lower half of the list. Like the number 10 spot, it is about the end of the world but with a fresher take as one element adds something to make it feel new and it is the whole alien invasion plot in the middle of a pub crawl. As usual, Edgar Wright breathes life into something and It is an energetic movie from start to finish. It never stops and at the same time a very good blend of both drama and great comedic timing, not to mention great performances from a bigger cast than the usual Nick Frost and Simon Pegg team-up.  



 It is very unfortunate that this movie came out during my un-official hiatus, because this would’ve been a fun movie to review. Like what I said previously in “The World’s End”, this movie adds something to make a fresh apocalyptic movie and that element is the satirical humour behind these celebrities. The movie had me laughing up to the point where my sides started to hurt and people giving me weird looks in the theatre because I’m basically laughing at some f*#%ed up imagery.  The cast was great as a comedic team that I wouldn’t mind seeing more movies with them (hell, I could watch them sitting together in a dinner table for an hour and that would be entertaining).  


Both of these movies had the same thing in common: they offer non-stop larger than life action sequences, have actors that would say lines that’ll make someone like me cringe, a plot that doesn’t make much sense, and tells science to f**k off. Despite those flaws (3/4 that I mentioned at least) that I have mentioned the movie was able to mask those flaws as they breathe life upon it. It’s something that people say that you should leave your brain outside the theatre and just enjoy the pretty colours and explosions, but really I went in not minding it. As I watch both of these movies in theatres, I found myself enjoying this movie like a kid would. They are the best experiences I had in theatre and it definitely deserves the no. 9 spot.  


This is my last tie, I swear. It is a rare case for a sequel to be better than its predecessor and these two movies really went full force for their sequels. Again, these movies have something in common and it is that they improve upon their predecessors by a huge step and at the same time be a tremendously made movie.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – after a very underwhelming intro by its predecessor, this film (like I said in my review) takes off the kid gloves and starts doing serious business. The film is on to a new road with director Francis Lawrence, as he expands the world of Panem through its characters and the world itself, well shot action, gives the best performance from the actors, and a very relevant social commentary.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – again, another underwhelming intro by its predecessor but the sequel does improve the first one in many ways (and it stopped doing its best impression of the Star Wars prequels). It’s a very energetic movie, giving us nothing but enjoyable action scenes, great performances and a better expansion and exploration in middle earth. Sure both movies had its fair share of problems but not really enough to bring it down.

                                                     7.    CAPTAIN PHILLIPS

Paul Greengrass has really outdone himself with this film, he does what he does best in this film and it is give us utter intensity from start to finish based upon a very intriguing story to tell. Tom Hanks proves in this movie why he is one of the best actors in the business right now as he sells the terrifying experience of being threatened by Somalian pirates. But it wasn’t just Tom Hanks who stood out in this movie, it is also the actors who played the pirates that sells the terror itself through their raw performance (and appearance, they really look like how pirates should be – hell they make Jack Sparrow look like a supermodel).

6.    DON JON

The reason why I never reviewed this movie is because when I watched this movie the local censorship pretty much cut a lot of stuff in this movie and I left the movie pissed because I barely understood the movie due to its lack of story and character development. I had to see the movie again online a few days ago and it was a very good movie as I went out of it. 

Really, who knew the kid from 10 Things I Hate About You will become not only a great actor but also a great screenwriter and director. I’ve always wanted a movie that tackles the genre of romance seriously (and this film did) because of how the market is overly saturated with idealism (I’m looking at you, Nicholas Sparks). This film shows how different medias can deceive us with the idea of love, giving us one-sided ideas due to our expectations.  It explores that very well in this film. I can’t wait to see what else JGL has under his sleeves as he makes more movies; it was definitely a great directorial debut for JGL.


Yeah, I’m more surprised than you are that a mainstream Filipino film made it to my Top 5 films of the year. After hearing a lot of rave (not to mention, Philbert Ortiz Dy keep tweeting about it) I went up to see this movie without watching any trailers (it’s by Star Cinema, it is better if you don’t see a trailer at all) and skipping the plot synopsis of the reviews that I have read. Without spoiling anything I could say that this movie is definitely worth your time. It’s probably the best mainstream Filipino movie packed with challenging performances, a very unique structure for the story, not to mention great direction and writing by Erik Matti and Michiko Yamamato. If you are angry about the local mainstream films, you should try this movie out. Hopefully this movie would give a new image to the mainstream industry as they make more movies like this. That’s all I could say about this movie.


The Way Way Back may not be original, it’s pretty much a coming of age film or how most critics say that it is “the summer that changed everything” movie. The film had enough heart and depth to make a great movie out of a template of a coming of age film. Sure, the main kid does come off as a bit of a 25 cent Michael Cera to me but the other performances like Sam Rockwell (who was fun all throughout) and Steve Carrell (playing a more believable asshole-type character than him in Burt Wonderstone) did make It all up.

3.    RUSH

This was another movie that was literally not on my radar until my friend brought up if whether or not I will see and review this movie on its release day. I had my doubts about this movie being released, but when it was I took the opportunity to see this movie.

I’m not much of a F1 buff but I surprisingly enjoyed this movie (it is the only racing game I’m interested in since the track is not just one big circle). For a topic that I have no clue at all, made me invested in the story. For a 2 hour film the pace never felt like I was sitting there for 2 hours because the movie is pretty much a high octane drama; it is very rare that in a rivalry movie, you get to root for both the underdog and the charming asshole (with a heart). Ron Howard was able to give us the idea of how dangerous the sport can be from the way it was filmed and give spectacular and Oscar worthy performances for Daniel Bruhl and Chris Hemsworth.


It is very rare that a movie like Gravity would success in many ways through different departments (writing, direction, special effects, etc). In such a simple concept of two astronauts surviving in space makes such a huge impact for just an 80 minute film. Alfonso Cuaron really brought out a lot of greatness from this film, but it was also the two leads that did the same thing too, not to mention the out of this world special effects. The two leads literally did their a-game in this movie and I can totally see the nominations for them. Sandra Bullock was excellent along with George Clooney as they both sell the fears of being in such an impossible scenario. This movie was definitely the best sci-fi film of the year, but it brought a big fight for the number one spot.


There’s a perfectly good reason why I didn’t review this movie and it is that…. It’s very difficult to review. This movie has secrets, secrets that can’t really be brought up. As much as I want to make a quickie review instead that is totally not me to do, not to mention it is pretty half assed. Though I did tweet (by simply saying “see it”) about this movie more times but I don’t think my so-called readers even follow me there. Anyways, I was very much blown away by this movie.

By its well kept secrets, I never had the idea of where the film will bring me, and I was very much surprised on the things that happened in the film. The message and the story Is very powerful for both parents and children. The story was presented uniquely enough to tell and connect three different stories together. yet the story is enhanced by great performances from the cast, making Ryan Gosling not be the Drive character for once, Bradley Cooper has been stepping up lately, Eva Mendes actually having a great role for once, and also Dane Dehaan – that kid is going places that’s all I have to say. This movie came out the same week as my birthday and it definitely made my week (besides the partying).

I hope you enjoyed my Top 10 Best list of 2013, I would love to hear your top 10 as well. It has been a great year for movies, despite the underwhelming summer blockbusters (I’m a superhero geek and I’m surprised this list never had one superhero movie). But with every great list there will always be a Top 10 worst list (with mentions), I will have my 10 worst list later on (that’s gonna be fun). Anyways, do you have a top 10? 5? 35? list of movies of 2013? if you do comment down below.

Monday, December 23, 2013



Review By:
G.P. Manalo

Directed by:
Peter Jackson

Martin Freeman
Richard Armitage
Sir Ian McKellen
Benedict Cumberbatch

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug picks up right after the first part where Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen) and the company of dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage)  are being chased by a pack of Orcs who are out for their heads. In order to go to the lonely mountains, they must go through the deadly forest, Mirkwood where they encounter giant spiders, cynical elves, and the same orcs hunting them. Once they escape the forest, they continue their journey to the lonely mountains and there they will slay the dragon, Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) to re-claim their homeland, Erebor. But as Gandalf leave the company, he discovers a greater threat that will return and wage war on middle earth. 

I was very much on the fence about my thoughts about the film’s enjoyable yet clumsily paced predecessor, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”. Passing through a lengthy dinner scene and another hour later for some story exposition, re-introducing an already familiar world and tone changes, the last third of the film did everything that I could’ve wanted from the first two acts of the film and it did give me hope that the second part of the film would follow through my thoughts of the last film’s remaining third act (and it did). Peter Jackson comes back with an energetic upgrade resulting to a satisfying sequel that’ll make you want more as the film end.

If you were underwhelmed by the first movie, prepare for a thrill ride in this film. With its mighty galloping pace, the film serves exhilarating and exciting action scenes with barrels, trees, ground chases (which brought back the classic running montages in the original LOTR films), fight scenes with orcs, spiders, elves and even a terribly large dragon. It departs from that child-like feel the last film did and goes to a more darker and adult route.

I watched this film in two formats which was in 2D and 3D-HFR. Comparing the two formats, I’m very much surprised on how the high frame rate didn’t overly enhance everything like the last film did. The film shows a lot of detail in the live action scenes while scenes with CGI didn’t look much like video game cinematics like the last film did to the trolls and other characters like Azog, landscapes (specifically Rivendell) and the other effects like fire and light. The HFR experience is still gives the feeling of the speedy momentum (that felt like skipping a movie on a Blu-Ray player in 2x speed), though unlike my first experience I got used to it and it didn’t hurt my eyes that much. The HFR felt like it gave emphasis on the swooping environment shots and I can actually tell what’s going on in most of the action scenes more than the 2D experience (mostly around Legolas’s action sequences), though some of the CGI moments that involve a CGI man and a force field still doesn’t look “polished” in most scenes in both formats. There are a lot of great 3D imagery such as spears and arrows flying on your face, swords slashing, barrels floating, a dragon’s snout, a bumblebee that you feel like swatting and somebody’s nose.

There is still a large amount of bickering on the internet whether or not Tolkien’s beloved 300-page novel (with the same name) should be stretched into three parts. In this second part, the book follows the parts of the book where it does involve the company going through Point A, Point B, to Point C meeting characters that goes by name of blargh son of wuzhemberg who has gone through a series of tragedies that led him to be in this kind of place in society. I don’t really blame Peter Jackson to expand some material from the chapters from Laketown and Mirkwood and even added Gandalf’s investigation for the white council. Knowing the fact that those parts of the book are rushed in the book and it did give build up to characters that popped up in the book whom had little time in the books (though I do wish they give Beorn a bit more scenes, especially with a fantastic set like that). Like every second part of the film in trilogies, this one had no beginning and no end; it’s straight to the action and ends in an actual cliff-hanger that would either piss you off, or get you excited…. It was both for me.

Though there were some flaws in the added material, namely it was the character of Tauriel being added in the movie. Sure she was badass from the start as she kills bad guys like a female Legolas and say one liners, but then she starts to fall in love with someone and that ended up giving a love triangle between her, that “guy” and Legolas which was erroneously shoehorned in this story. It’s like they only added her because (she’s a woman) for the sake of having a romance sub-plot in a Hollywood adaptation, it would’ve been cool if they made her the Eowyn of this trilogy like how Thorin is being the Aragorn and the Boromir of this trilogy. Some critics are saying that “more could’ve been less”; having the movie less room to breathe. In my experience, I only noticed the complaint once and it was the fight between the dwarves and Smaug where it was overdone up to the point where Smaug became a Scooby Doo villain, but that was just a minor gripe I had.

The performances are still brilliant, notably Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield gave his best in this film. By the middle half of the film it did feel like the spot light is on him and not Bilbo (knowing the fact that he is the title character), up to the point where it does feel like he is the Aragorn of the film and later on becomes the Boromir of the franchise. Martin Freeman’s Bilbo Baggins is more confident and courageous but also a few shades darker because of the insidious power of the ring after the events of the last film. They gave him a lot of fun scenes but like I said he was in the back seat for a little while until his big scene with Benedict Cumberbatch. Speaking of which, let’s go to the big bad, Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug. Benedict Cumberbatch never ceases to amaze me this year, he is the perfect choice for Smaug especially that menacing voice of his (but he did provide the motion capture for the character). People were complaining of never keeping Smaug’s look a secret, trust me – you haven’t seen anything yet, there’s more to see from the big bad dragon.

Both old and new cast returns, new faces like Lee Pace and Luke Evans grace the screen with a flawless performance and an enjoyable expansion of the character from the book. Though I did feel Beorn was there for a blink of an eye, which sucks because his house was one of the impressively thought out sets I have seen in the franchise by far. Reflecting about the book again, I felt like the introduction of the dwarves to Beorn would be inconsistent for the film knowing the fact that they are in a kind of situation like being chased by Orcs. The other returning character was Orlando Bloom as Legolas, whom I fear would be shoehorned in there for the sake of having a well- known character from the original LOTR films; but he wasn’t and he had a relevant part in the events of this film (it seems logical enough to put him there since his father is in the movie). The dwarves were developed a little bit, giving them little moments to be memorable enough. Last bot not the least, Sir Ian McKellen still delivering fun for a little while, like Bilbo he was in the back seat though he still felt relevant for the writer to expand his side of the story (that felt a bit lacking in the book). 

In the end, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is a very enjoyable film from start to finish with a couple of minor setbacks. If the first film was a tiring walk, this on the other hand is a fast gallop, so fast that when you got out of the theatre you couldn’t believe that you were there for three hours. It has very enjoyable action sequences, excellent performances from this humongous cast, beautiful New Zealand sights, special effects and practical sets to look at. I also forgot how much I adored the Howard Shore's score as usual, with new favorites such as the Laketown theme and some dramatic serial-esque theme in other scenes such as the scenes in Mirkwood and the scene where they were being chased by dwarves near Beorn's house and the mysterious tone in Dol Guldur.  I highly recommend you give the HFR experience another shot if you have seen it when you watched the first film and if you haven’t I’d still give it a try. For purists, go in an open mind that this isn’t the perfect adaptation you are looking for and instead enjoy the movie for what it is.




4/5 - FOR THE WIN!