Sunday, 22 December 2013

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - The scoop and digest

Due to seeing this earlier than anticipated, this year's feature curtain is definitely brought down.

An Unexpected Journey was literally all mouth and little in the trouser department.

I challenged Peter Jackson to deliver something more stimulating so is this just what the doctor ordered or another mound of shire?

Plot details and/or spoilers will be more intense than before...

The Lonely Mountain looms large for:

Martin Freeman – Bilbo
Ian McKellen – Gandalf
Richard Armitage – Thorin
Orlando Bloom – Legolas
Benedict Cumberbatch – Smaug (voice)
Evangeline Lilly – Tauriel
Luke Evans – Bard

At The Prancing Pony drinking pit, Gandalf more or less tells Thorin to help obtain the Arkenstone which lies within the Lonely Mountain.

However, it won’t be possible without the services of a light fingered burglar.

Enter Mr. Baggins...

Led by Azog, those Orcs remain pissed at Thorin.

In the first, the pint sized menace was labelled ‘scum’ but now; the insult tune is changed to ‘filth’.

Okay, whatever.

Gandalf advises to evade the company of Warg riders, they must take refuge at the home of somebody who will either help or kill them.

It’s obviously a win, win situation.

We meet skin-changer Beorm who has the ability to transform into a giant rampaging bear (as we've already seen).

Beorm isn't the greatest host but doesn't take the decision to kill and allows them to stay.

At Dol Guldur, Azog enlists the help of his son Bolg to assist with dwarf hunt.

Gandalf suddenly leaves after seeing some graffiti and warns Thorin not to enter the Mountain without him.

While in the forest, the gang find themselves woven in silk as giant spiders prepare several snacks.

Bilbo gives Boris the Spider the point and escapes.  He then releases the others as they set about destroying several eight-legged freaks.

During the massacre, Bilbo makes decent use of the invisibility that the ring provides.

Legolas and Tauriel arrive and help but the Dwarves are then imprisoned for upsetting the Elven King.

Bilbo evades capture and again proves to be their saviour as he unlocks each cell in the traditional manner.

As a raft or canoe isn't available, they’ll have to ride the rapids inside wine barrels.

The elves are right on their asses but the presence of Orcs brings a problem that is quickly dealt with.

Bard and his barge to ensure the next destination of Laketown is reached.

Apart from meeting the Sire or King of this place, we learn that the only projectile capable of penetrating Smaug’s tougher than old boots hide is a Black Arrow but these are rarer then chicken’s teeth.

Who knows, Bard might just have one conveniently hidden away...

Stephen Fry’s brandy swilling royal was completely unnecessary and Lord Melchett shouldn't be happy.

Meanwhile, Gandalf is surprised and overpowered by Azog in the ruins of Nazgul whose staff fails to bring light to the darkness the Necromancer consumes.

Okay, this dude is principal bad guy Sauron.

It’s been a long slog but the Lonely Mountain is finally reached.

Elation turns to dejection as the sun sets and they fail to locate the secret keyhole to gain access.

Bilbo hangs back and realises that when the question is asked, moonlight answers.

Hey presto, the door’s open boys and girls.

Our stealthy thief is charged with retrieving the Arkenstone and in doing so; he’d do well not to disturb the slumber of a certain dragon...

As he stumbles about searching for the glowing jewel, the flying furnace is indeed awoken.


During a lengthy chat, Bilbo notices that the Black Arrow legend is true as an old wound is brought into focus.

Back at Laketown, the Orcs are causing more mischief and Legolas has a fair old scrap with Bolg.

After an even draw, Bolg calmly retreats.

Legolas pursues him on horseback while Azog and the Orc remainder set off for the Mountain.

After a game of cat and mouse, the Dwarves give Smaug a wash and courtesy of a giant statue, drown him in molten gold.

Their attempts prove futile as the beast emerges from his golden hell and roaring ‘revenge’, he takes flight and plots the destination for Laketown.

Proceedings are brought to a close as Bilbo displays a look of horror as the town and its people look certain to be more deep fried than chips.

What a difference a year and/or instalment makes.

It’s another protracted affair but bores far less than its predecessor.

Action pie serves proficient but hardly thrilling entertainment including Orc overkill, spiders, rapids and of course Smaug, 

Smaug is a digital delight and along with performance capture, Cumberbatch impressively provides the yap.

His treasure hoard and chamber can now be appreciated on a far grander scale.

Despite such a rich appearance, are we to believe that he'd be tricked so easily?

No.  It just takes the piss out of such a formidable foe.

This CGI spectacle is quite a change from the 1977 cartoon as ‘Cat’ Dragon had eyes acting as torches.

While dialogue is an improvement, using subtitles and switching to English in the same scene is inconsistent and doesn't make sense.

As we’re talking dragons, the immortal voice of Sean Connery leaving the lips of Draco makes 1996 fantasy Dragonheart likable.

Stuff CGI, the flying nasty Vermithrax from Dragonslayer is unquestionably the cream of the crop so if you haven’t already had the pleasure; I’d recommend taking the time with some enthusiasm.

Even now, you cannot help but marvel at the special effects from 1981.

The decision of soaking Smaug with hot sauce is laughably Alien 3.

Do you know what’s really weird?

Prisoner Golic refers to the alien as a ‘dragon’ which I'm sure qualifies as an awesome coincidence.

In the violent action anime Ninja Scroll (not to be confused with the television series), molten gold proves to be downfall for the seemingly indestructible Gemma.

There is no knowledge that isn't power.

Just to annoy me, There and Back Again has been pushed back until Christmas time as it was originally set to hit the UK in July.

I guess they thought a summer blockbuster wouldn't make as much money...

Unless the running time is cut unexpectedly short, we’re a numb bum away from wrapping this epic present up and without putting the hex on matters; I await the conclusion with bated breath.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Artistic beauty in film

There are many sides to a personality and if something flips my coin, it's art.

Whether brush, pastel, pencil, oil or crayon, the maestros in charge taught these implements to stretch muscles they never thought possible.

Well boil my kettle, such magnificence made the silver screen rather more sophisticated.

Cinema can move in mysterious ways but I believe your asses won't until you're done here.

Personally, I think sculpture doesn't have the same clout as scrawl but regardless of opinion, it's still art.

I only have a solitary example of poster (also used for DVD cover art) but hey, it's better than nothing.

We see the clever use of Van Gogh's Starry Night
Now that's sorted out, take a bite of a fantastic steak sandwich.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off is the quintessential 80's movie.

Matthew Broderick, Mia Sara and pal Alan Ruck make the most of their unauthorised leave of absence which involves visiting the Art Institute of Chicago.

Here are most that tickles interest.

Three Men Walking - Alberto Giacometti
Walking Man - Alberto Giacometti
America Windows - Marc Chagall
Ferris and Sloane, get a room before I puke...
Bathers by a River - Henri Matisse
Equestrienne (at the Cirque Fernando) - Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Greyed Rainbow - Jackson Pollock
Paris Street Rainy Day - Gustave Caillebotte
Improvisation 30 (cannons) - Wassily Kadinsky
Jacques and Berth Lipchitz - Amedeo Modigliani
A Pablo Picasso triple-hit combo.  Genius.
Sloane (The Red Armchair)
Ferris (Portrait of Sylvette David)
Cameron (Seated Woman)
Nighthawks - Edward Hopper
Nude Under a Palm Tree - Pablo Picasso
Day of the Gods - Paul Gauguin
Reclining Figure - Henry Moore
Portrait of Balzac - Auguste Rodin
Shortly after, its pose is parodied by the classroom skippers.

Tanktotem - David Smith
The Old Guitarist - Pablo Picasso
The Child's Bath - Mary Cassatt
Winged Figure - Abbot Handerson Thayer
This is more famous than something really famous, hanging out in Famousland.

Cameron focuses solely on the little girl in Georges Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande-Jatte because he identifies the affection shown between her and mother.  The attention he receives from his own family is more disconnected than dial-up.

Woman Before Aquarium - Henri Matisse
Have you ever danced with the devil by the pale moonlight?

No, neither have I.

Before Jack Nicholson's Joker chats to Vicki Vale at the Flugelheim Museum in Tim Burton's original 1989 vision of Batman, he and his henchmen set about defacement.

Portrait of George Washington - Gilbert Stuart
The one dollar bill.
Pink and Blue - Pierre Auguste Renoir
The Blue Boy - Thomas Gainsborough
Self Portrait - Rembrandt
Two Dancers - Edgar Degas
Woman Holding a Balance - Johannes Vermeer
The Syndics of the Drapers - Rembrandt
So which painting was tagged by Mr Happy?
Approaching a City - Edward Hopper
"I kinda like this one, Bob.  Leave it."
Francis Bacon's Figure with Meat is spared the indiscretion of vandalism.
Based on Thomas Harris's novel Red Dragon,Tom Noonan's serial killer Francis Dolarhyde, dubbed The Tooth Fairy is obsessed with William Blake's The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun in Michael Mann's Manhunter .

From back to front.

Even the canvas was terrified of such a surreal masterpiece.

Although featuring the same characters, Red Dragon is 'apparently' not a remake of Manhunter. Despite that curious claim, Ralph Fiennes provided an admirable replacement as the antagonist.

Sleazy tabloid journalist Freddy Lounds (Philip Seymour Hoffman) watches in horror as The Dragon is revealed.  In Manhunter, Stephen Lang assumed the role. 
He's at it again In Ridley Scott's Hannibal, the very unnecessary sequel to The Silence of the Lambs.

The Ghost of a Flea is very briefly shown on a postcard.
From the back, Lecter's message reads:

"Did you ever think Clarice, why the Philistines don't understand you? It's because you're the answer to Samson's riddle: you are the honey in the lion.  Sounds like him to me.
In the darkly impressive American Psycho, Christian Bale's Patrick Bateman displays subtle taste.

A series of surrogate paintings by Alan McCollum.
Okay, This Means War (between Tom Hardy and Chris Pine).

To sweep Reese Witherspoon off her attractive feet, Pine claims to be an expert on Gustav Klimt.

Things are going well, until Tom Hardy's intervention...

"To show intimacy with the canvas, he would finger a painting and sometimes he would use mud and sticks.  If he could not find a stick, he'd use his dick."

Ha ha ha!

From the immediate left to right, admire portraits of Margaret Stonborough-Wittgenstein and Eugenia Primavesi.
The Harpist
Kick-Ass 2 promised so much but was decidedly mediocre with scenes featuring The Motherfucker leaving a bad taste.

Anyway, the original was great and guess what?

Andy Warhol's Gun pop art
What's that white canvas thing with coloured dots?
Applying the digital zoom...
Hey, point that thing away from me.
Isonicotinic Acid Ethel Ester - Damien Hirst
Barring an amazing clone, I don't see what else it can be.

Going back to what I said about Hannibal, there is a world of difference between unnecessary and pointless.

Which brings me to Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, that falls under both.

Still, Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf) observes a truly horrific piece of art.

Saturn Devouring His Son - Francisco Goya
Bretton James (Josh Brolin) later destroys it in a terror tantrum.
After Richard Donner's Lethal Weapon, John McTiernan's Die Hard set the action benchmark that others struggled to follow.

Although 'cop-related', both are completely different films.

Anyway, hired for anything apart from his charming personality, Theo (Clarence Gilyard Jr.) finally persuades the computer to open the vault that houses something other than millions of dollars.

Ecole de Dance - Edgar Degas
Humanity is on the brink of extinction in human infertility yarn Children of Men.
The large mural behind Clive Owen and co is Picasso's Guernica.
Meet Kim (Felicity Jones), from surprisingly enjoyable romcom Chalet Girl.
Looky, looky here - it's only Weeping Woman, another piece from my old mate Pablo.
World cinema cannot resist a poke.

The original Oldboy was notorious for live octopus ingestion, brutality, hammer dentistry and plot twists you didn't see coming.

It remains a great chunk of celluloid.

Right near the start, the 'imprisoned' stares at this frightening face.

The Man of Sorrows - James Ensor
Am I interested in the already released and less than publicised Spike Lee remake?

No way, never and definitely not - in that order.

Action thriller Hanna takes centre stage.

Thanks to some DNA enhancement, she was part of a since shut down super-soldier project and people are out to extinguish her flame quicker than it was lit.

While the titular character is busy researching her mysterious past, we are very briefly treated to a portion of disturbing detail from The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymous Bosch.
Die Hard With a Vengeance was the last time we saw John McClane with hair and heard "Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker".

This is probably the best shot you can capture of a two piece mural clearly displaying Georges Seurat's masterpiece.

Yeah, I'm brilliant.

The end is just the beginning as music, video games and more may just feature something of a similar vein...

Oh yeah, the silver screen will also return.

It's getting towards 'that' time again so if this proves to be my final feature of 2013, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
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