Sherlock – Series 3

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After the gripping end of series two this third series was a long time coming. One of my most anticipated series of recent times after being left in wake for over a year to find out how Sherlock managed to fake his own death. Series three progresses the crime fighting partnership of Holmes and Watson by focussing on Watson’s marriage which throws a bit of a curve ball into the duo’s relationship. Sticking to the shows unique three episode structure each lasting ninety minutes but could it live up to the previous series’ heights?

Series three is another strong, well-thought out collection of adventures that sees threat levels for the lives of the central pair reach new levels. Despite this rising threat, particularly on Watson’s life, the series never quite reaches the tension and excitement provided by series two. The first two episodes are perfectly watchable and well written adventures but it did feel as though they had lost a bit of the bite that previous episodes have had. The third episode is the stand out of the series providing us with a satisfyingly big plot twist and putting Watson in his biggest predicament yet and giving Freeman the chance to really steal the show from under Cumberbatch’s nose. Also pleasing is the teasing of things to come at the end of episode three hinting towards what will surely be an exciting fourth series.

While series three never quite gets as good as series two did the show may have set it’s own bar slightly too high. That said, this is another great collection of adventures that don’t flop in any way and point towards a new series that has the potential to reach the same brilliance it once found in series 2. If you haven’t got into this show yet don’t leave it any longer!

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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

dos4The blogs been a bit rejected of late, due to a hectic final few weeks of term but what better way to get things back up and running than with one of my most anticipated movies of the year. Part two of Jackson’s prequel trilogy takes us right to the climax of Tolkien’s book but opts to change much of the story in favour of a more action packed, crowd-pleasing adventure that can be stretched out to three two-and-a-half-hour films. I was pleasantly surprised with the first offering, An Unexpected Journey, and had every reason to believe that The Desolation of Smaug would be even better. Unfortunately, though I found it to be a much more flawed affair.

One of the main issues with the first movie was the sheer amount of dwarves none of which we had a long enough time with to get to know and understand, this issue remains throughout this second movie the only dwarf I can remember the name of is Thorin and then there’s James Nesbitt and the handsome one, which brings me to my next point. The films worst moments came from ‘the handsome ones’ love story with the new female elf, Tauriel, an entirely new character invented by Jackson and his team to make up for the lack of women in the story. Tauriel herself isn’t a bad character but the corniness of the pairs romance reaches levels of corniness that the original trilogy never even came close to (OK, maybe the original’s did come quite close, but it was a bit acceptable when they weren’t major parts of the plot). I was sceptical going in about the return of Legolas, who also doesn’t feature in the book in order to give the film some sex appeal, but I was pleasantly surprised by his role, very few lines for Bloom and lots of stunningly choreographed fight scene which inject the movie with some much-needed adrenaline. It did seem a slight cop out, however, that whenever Bilbo and his gang found themselves in trouble it just so happened that their pointy-eared friend was just round the corner to come and save them. Legolas’ prominence in the action scenes also means that we see very little of Gandalf, something that could well be fixed in the extended version, but nonetheless left me feeling like there was something missing here. The films strongest moments come in the final half an hour or so when Bilbo confronts Smaug, the effects used to design the formidable dragon are simply astounding, by far the most impressive CG rendered creature you’ll see this year and the film picks up some pace and really starts to hit stride in any scene the dragon is involved in.

Overall, I may be being slightly harsh about The Desolation of Smaug and perhaps after repeat viewing the film will grow on me somewhat. But after first viewing it must be said that it was a slight disappointment. That said it certainly sets up the final part well, and my buzz for the series is still flickering away inside.

The World’s End

131836340__430267cSince Hot Fuzz which was all the way back in 2007 Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright and Nick Frost have split off in their own directions with varying degrees of success. While I have found Pegg to become a less likeable film personality than most, with boring comedies like Run Fatboy Run and How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, and worse than average performances in big blockbuster like the Mission Impossible series and his portrayal of Scotty in the new Star Trek movies, Edgar Wright having only done the brilliant Scott Pilgrim vs. The World has proven he’s a director who that’s a cut above the rest. Frost has done a number of films in between but none of them have tickled my fancy really, and then of course there’s Paul which saw Pegg and Frost team up on screen but I’m steering well clear of that for now. So here we have the reunion then of a group of blokes who grew up in Somerset, loved zombie movie and Star Wars and somehow became some of the biggest names in film. But would The World’s End capture that magic that made Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz so much fun?

The first thing to make clear is that while bearing some similarities, for the most part, The World’s End is very different from it’s two predecessors, this is a much more polished film, and despite it’s utterly British premise the film feels a lot more Hollywood than Shaun and Fuzz. One of the most disappointing aspects is that the loveable nerdiness that was scattered in those films is not really apparent here, while they referenced countless movies and games, The World’s End really is striving more to get by on it’s own humour and appeal. It’s a shame though not to have this fanboy element but then The World’s End should really be judged on its own merit rather than comparing it to others. And when you do that it’s a film with very few faults. Adding more major British acting talent with Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan all having large roles it is still Pegg and Frost how hold the films most enticing characters and there performances are the best either of them have brought to the table since Fuzz. Pegg provides the majority of the film gags but Frost’s kung fu acrobatics are possibly the films funniest moments. The choreography is very well done here, Wright obviously having picked up some techniques from Scott Pilgrim and it does provide so the some entertaining action which still holds the comic over-the-top violence that there films are known for. Plot-wise The World’s End doesn’t exactly push any new boundaries and really plays out like an episode of Doctor Who with a world threatening alien invasion that is solved in a rather ridiculous way. It’s ending is easily it’s strongest and funniest moment I don’t want to give it away but to me the conclusion is what stops The World’s End from falling into the field of mediocrity.

It may not be as fun or original as the previous movies from the so called Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy but The World’s End does hold some fantastic moments and will have you leaving the cinema with a smile. It proves that these three guys are at their best when there together and let’s hope this isn’t the end of the Pegg, Wright and Frost output,

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

the-hobbit-an-unexpected-journeyI have been slack again this week in my posting and I had originally planned for this post to be my review of Tre, but last night I went to see The Hobbit and seeing as this is my 100th post, I thought it would be nice to coincide it with one of the biggest movie events of recent history and one of the things I’ve been anticipating for as long as I can remember. Through a troubled production with the financial problems at MGM and the loss of original director Guillermo Del Toro there were going to be questions asked from the start. Once Jackson came back on board as director things seemed to take off finally but I, along with almost everyone I know, was skeptical about the announcement that it would become a trilogy rather than the original, planned two films. There were even apprehensions that this might become the next Phantom Menace, it seemed almost an impossible feat to spread a book that is about half the size of one of the Lord of the Rings and give it three times the running length. But it’s no secret that bits of the story have been tweaked and there are bits from Tolkien’s appendices that will also be included and I can say that after seeing An Unexpected Journey it was the right move.

There have been mixed reviews to meet The Hobbit’s release most of which I have read complain mostly about the 48 fps shooting, saying that it makes the film look unrealistic since the frame rate is so fast, unfortunately I can’t comment on this matter as I went to see the film in 2D and, therefore, the normal 24 fps as my faith in 3D was lost a long time ago, but it seems a real shame that reviewers haven’t been able to look past this and I think overall this has tarnished their view and made them fail to see how great this movie really is.

One of my main worries going in to the film was the thought that some of the silly humour that is in Lord of the Rings may be taken too far in an attempt to make The Hobbit a more kid friendly film to accompany the book. I was proven wrong though and the moments of humour are actually very successful, the introduction to the dwarves and the cockney trolls being my personal favourites. The action should also be celebrated with a number of big set pieces that all hold their own and exciting moments are scattered throughout meaning you never really get the chance to get bored and it makes the long running time completely worth it.

It’s left me very excited as well for parts two and three as I can see the potential for this trilogy to become just as fantastic as The Lord of the Rings. The dwarves I’m sure will grow as the characters are given more time to breath and I expect there’ll be some camraderie to rival Merry and Pippin. Martin Freeman is, as usual, superb as Bilbo and is much better than I was expecting at coming across as how I’d always imagined him while reading the book in my childhood. Gollum is back, again being one of the strongest elements of the film – the riddle scene between him and Bilbo has to be one of my favourite of all time. And Gandalf is, well, Gandalf. So basically what I’m trying to say is ignore the mixed reviews get out out to cinema and get transported back to Middle Earth again, you won’t be disappointed.