It’s time to get this show back on the road after all this Christmas vacationing, and partying it up and stuff. You guys have stuff to see, and I have stuff for you to see this weekend. There are no new films this weekend that look like they are worth mentioning. But there were some new films that came out the weekend that I did not do a “what to see”. Those will just be mixed in here, I’m going to go in order of the top grossing at the box office. Let’s dive in.
In short, this film isn’t the best thing every made but it’s worth watching.
If you were keeping up with MovieByte last year, you might recall that while I did not exactly pan the film and call it worthless or trample it to a million pieces under the feet of my bunny rabbits drawing my weird woodland sled thing, I definitely had some criticism of that film. Indeed, I had criticism even of the whole idea of making a single book into a trilogy. I continue to maintain that this trilogy would have been fantastic as a single film, trimmed to be watchable, inclusive of the parts that are important, and certainly not added unto for no good reason.
That first film was flabby, and at times aimless. And much of the flab and aimlessness can be attributed — in my opinion — to additions to the story that Tolkien did not write. I also had some harsh criticism of the CGI. Some of it was spectacular (Gollum was exceptional), and some of it was just plain amateurish to the point of laughter (Azog).
I’m spending a lot of time talking about the previous film so let me come to the point. This film is better than An Unexpected Journey. It is better paced, stays more interesting more consistently, and has a lot going for it. It was not better enough to get up into my “4 star” territory, but a decent film and worth seeing. Set the expectations that it’s not the master piece that any of the Lord of the Rings films are and you’ll be good to go. I saw this film twice, once in standard 2D 24FPS and once in 3D HFR. I far prefer the standard 2D 24FPS.
Having survived the first part of their unsettling journey, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and his companions (Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage) continue east. More dangers await them, including the skin-changer Beorn and the giant spiders of Milkwood. After escaping capture by the dangerous Wood Elves, Bilbo and the dwarves journey to Lake-town and, finally, to the Lonely Mountain, where they face the greatest danger of all: the fearsome dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch).
2 hr 40 min
PG-13 | Frightening Images and Fantasy Action Violence
Cast: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Ken Stott, James Nesbitt, Orlando Bloom
Director: Peter Jackson
Genres: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
See or not: See
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug — Review
- The MovieByte Podcast #73: The Misty DVD
- ‘Hobbit 2’ HFR is Being Kept Quiet This Time
- 4 Clips from Upcoming ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’
- ‘The Desolation of Smaug’ Latest TV Spot has New Footage
- New 3-Minute Trailer for ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’
- ‘The Desolation of Smaug’ Featuring Benedict Cumberbatch’s Voice!
- ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ Teaser Trailer
- ‘The Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug’ First Look Clip
Frozen — PG
This doesn’t look like something I’m personally all that interested in — but then, I’m known to be a little bit cranky about goofy looking films every now and then.
Chad and Joe sure liked it. I got “deathly” ill around the time this film came out, lost my voice and everything, so Joe stepped in and reviewed the film with Chad on The MovieByte Podcast, so you should check that out.
In “Frozen,” fearless optimist Anna (voice of ‘Kristen Bell’ ) teams up with rugged mountain man Kristoff (voice of ‘Jonathan Groff’ ) and his loyal reindeer Sven in an epic journey, encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf in a race to find Anna’s sister Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel), whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. Encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom.
1 hr 8 min
Cast: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana
Director: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Genres: Action/Adventure, Animated
See or not: See (Chad and Joe Recommendation)
American Hustle — R
I know almost nothing about this film. It looks like it could be kind of good, but it also doesn’t really look like my kind of film.
A fictional film set in the alluring world of one of the most stunning scandals to rock our nation, American Hustle tells the story of brilliant con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), who along with his equally cunning and seductive British partner Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) is forced to work for a wild FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). DiMaso pushes them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and mafia that’s as dangerous as it is enchanting. Jeremy Renner is Carmine Polito, the passionate, volatile, New Jersey political operator caught between the con-artists and Feds. Irving’s unpredictable wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) could be the one to pull the thread that brings the entire world crashing down. Like David O. Russell’s previous films, American Hustle defies genre, hinging on raw emotion, and life and death stakes.
2 hr 9 min
R | for pervasive language, some sexual content and brief violence
Cast: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence
Director: David O. Russell
See or not: Unknown (you’ll have to decide for yourself)
I wanted to see this film. I was interested in the story, it’s Martin Scorsese, etc. But I have to say, given what I know about this film, that my personal opinion is that under no circumstances should you go see this film. Again, that’s based on a what I know. I do not plan to see this film. My understanding is that it is filled with graphic sex (to the point of what could be considered pornography) and nudity, and all manner of debauchery. It is one thing to depict that this is the lifestyle these men led, it’s another thing to revel in it. It seems to me that The Wolf of Wall Street is doing the latter.
In 1987, Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) takes an entry-level job at a Wall Street brokerage firm. By the early 1990s, while still in his 20s, Belfort founds his own firm, Stratton Oakmont. Together with his trusted lieutenant (Jonah Hill) and a merry band of brokers, Belfort makes a huge fortune by defrauding wealthy investors out of millions. However, while Belfort and his cronies partake in a hedonistic brew of sex, drugs and thrills, the SEC and the FBI close in on his empire of excess.
2 hr 59 min
R | Graphic Nudity, Drug Use, Language Throughout, Some Violence and Strong Sexual Content
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler
Director: Martin Scorsese
See or not: NOT!!!
- A Critique of ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’
- ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ and that NC-17 Avoidance
- ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ Runs 3 Hours?
- ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ Trailer 2
- ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ Trailer
Saving Mr. Banks — PG-13
I don’t really harbor the best of feelings toward Marry Poppins, but I suspect that’s because I watched about 50 bazillion times as a kid, and then the 50 bazillionth and one broke the camels back. I did recently re-watch the film, and it’s just as weird and in some ways terrible as I remember. But it could also be delightful.
Regardless, Marry Poppins is quite the well loved classic — Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke obviously helping by bringing their enormous charms to the film. And I have found the trailers for this film quite intriguing. While I would not have thought any such film could capture my interest a couple years ago — a film about making a film — this is the second film to do so in recent time. I’d really like to see this. I’m really busy at work, but I’m hoping to make time for it very soon.
When Walt Disney’s daughters begged him to make a movie of their favorite book, P.L. Travers’ “Mary Poppins,” he made them a promise—one that he didn’t realize would take 20 years to keep. In his quest to obtain the rights, Walt comes up against a curmudgeonly, uncompromising writer who has absolutely no intention of letting her beloved magical nanny get mauled by the Hollywood machine. But, as the books stop selling and money grows short, Travers reluctantly agrees to go to Los Angeles to hear Disney’s plans for the adaptation. Armed with imaginative storyboards and chirpy songs from the talented Sherman brothers, Walt launches an all-out onslaught on P.L. Travers, but the prickly author doesn’t budge. It is only when he reaches into his own childhood that Walt discovers the truth about the ghosts that haunt her, and together they set Mary Poppins free to ultimately make one of the most endearing films in cinematic history.
2 hr 5 min
PG-13 | Thematic elements including some unsettling images
Cast: Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Colin Farrell, Bradley Whitford, Paul Giamatti
Director: John Lee Hancock
See or not: See (I think)
This looks really boring to me. It’s also not getting great critical reviews. So, I’ll pass.
Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller), an employee at Life magazine, spends day after monotonous day developing photos for the publication. To escape the tedium, Walter inhabits a world of exciting daydreams in which he is the undeniable hero. Walter fancies a fellow employee named Cheryl (Kristen Wiig) and would love to date her, but he feels unworthy. However, he gets a chance to have a real adventure when Life’s new owners send him on a mission to obtain the perfect photo for the final print issue.
1 hr 54 min
PG | Some Crude Comments, Language and Action Violence
Cast: Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Patton Oswalt, Shirley MacLaine, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn
Director: Ben Stiller
Genres: Comedy, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
See or not: Meh
- ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ SIX MINUTE Trailer
- ‘The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty’ Trailer 3
- Ben Stiller to the Rescue in ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ Clip
- ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ 3 Minute International Trailer
- ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ Theatrical Trailer
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire — PG-13
Wow! This film is SO good! The books, while having a good story behind them, are very poorly written. The first film by directory Gary Ross was decent, but also had it’s flaws which I attribute to some unfortunate decisions by Ross. This film does away with almost every complaint I might have made against the first film. It is extrememly well done. The character development is paramount, the story is sound, the cinematography is great. In short, this film improves upon the first in every conceivable way and then some.
THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE begins as Katniss Everdeen has returned home safe after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark. Winning means that they must turn around and leave their family and close friends, embarking on a “Victor’s Tour” of the districts. Along the way Katniss senses that a rebellion is simmering, but the Capitol is still very much in control as President Snow prepares the 75th Annual Hunger Games (The Quarter Quell) - a competition that could change Panem forever.
2 hr 26 min
PG-13 | For intense sequences of violence and action, some frightening images, thematic elements, a suggestive situation and language.
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Woody Harrelson, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks
Director: Francis Lawrence
See or not: SEE!!!!!!!!!
- The MovieByte Podcast #70: Might Flip Out
- ByteSized Video Reviews #4: Catching Fire
- The Hunger Games Catching Fire Clip - “Be A Distraction”
- ‘Catching Fire’ TV Spot Set to Christina Aguilera Song
- ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ Final Trailer
- ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ TV Spot
- ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ International Trailer
- ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ Theatrical Trailer
- ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ Teaser Trailer
The Book Thief - PG-13
Oh man is this good! I have been completely slammed with work and have not been able to write my review yet. But allow me to assure you that this is well worth your time! Please go see it.
Chad and I talked about this on The MovieByte Podcast Episode 71, so be sure to check that out.
In 1938, young orphan Liesel (Sophie Nélisse) arrives at the home of her new foster parents, Hans (Geoffrey Rush) and Rosa (Emily Watson). When Hans, a kindly housepainter, learns that Liesel cannot read, he teaches the child the wonders of the written language. Liesel grows to love books, even rescuing one from a Nazi bonfire. Though Liesel’s new family barely scrape by, their situation becomes even more precarious when they secretly shelter a Jewish boy whose father once saved Hans’ life.
2 hr 7 min
PG-13 | Some Violence and Intense Thematic Material
Cast: Sophie Nelisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Ben Schnetzer, Nico Liersch
Director: Brian Percival
See or not: See!