The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies


I know, this review is late- sorry! Also, it goes without saying, but there are spoilers. Images are from the Hobbit Facebook page.

I feel like there isn’t much to say because, well, it’s basically one big battle. As the title reflects. But here are some thoughts. Before I get started, let me just get out of the way what I didn’t like about this movie and about the Hobbit trilogy in general.

• It’s too long and drawn out. It just feels…”stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread” (Bilbo in FotR).
• The Fili-Tauriel-Legolas love triangle. So ridiculous. And the tension between Legolas and his father Thranduil because the latter doesn’t approve of her. Legolas leaves in the end because of this.
• The title. It was supposed to be called There And Back Again (which would’ve been much better) but with the move to a trilogy, the title was changed to the current one. It made a huge deal of something that took a few pages in the book and sounded like any cheesy action flick.

And I was pretty annoyed that the killing of Smaug was over in like 5 minutes. Bard was such a hero and that part was so spectacular.

20150422-214153.jpg And then- whoop, it was done. That said, this movie was a satisfying ending to the Hobbit trilogy. The focus moves from killing the dragon and taking the mountain to international relations 😛 The Elves have heard of the turn of events and come bringing relief for the people of Dale (which is really decent of them, seeing as how Thorin’s company didn’t even offer after inadvertently unleashing the dragon on the town); they also wouldn’t mind some of the treasure that’s just been freed up. Dale’s mayor and Bard, leaders of the townsfolk, agree to seek some help from Thorin’s company in the Lonely Mountain, as they’ve suffered the brunt of the dragon the company stirred up, and were also responsible for killing it. These both are reasonable requests. 20150421-230751.jpg But Thorin is so full of himself, proud, greedy, struck by gold lust, and absorbed with finding the Arkenstone and being the king that he rejects all attempts to talk. 20150421-230643.jpg He ends up sending for reinforcements and his cousin Dain comes with a Dwarf army. Talk about a mess caused by selfishness and bad communication. Tensions abound. 20150422-210921.jpg20150422-210930.jpg20150422-211617.jpg The White Council also makes an appearance as they go to rescue Gandalf and come upon the Necromancer in Dol Guldor. Elrond, Saruman and Galadriel get some epic fight scenes in. But they made Galadriel use the “dark” mode that was used in “Fellowship” to indicate how she’d become with the power of the Ring. That was weird as she had a strong, good power that she would’ve used to cast down dark powers; she wouldn’t have gone “dark.” There was a great line used by Galadriel in the White Council parts—

“I am not alone.”

While the evil feels confident against just one of the Council, Elrond and Saruman appear, showing that evil flees in the face of united goodness.

Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken. -Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

20150421-230541.jpg 20150421-230549.jpg So, battle lines are being drawn between the Elves and Men on one side, and the Dwarves on the other. Bilbo tries to smooth things over by giving the Arkenstone to the Men for them to bargain with, as he knows Thorin really wants it. He totally loses Thorin’s friendship over this. He is courageous and commendable, for all he wants to do is make peace.

If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. -Romans 12:18

20150421-230849.jpg Ultimately, Thorin’s cousin Dain arrives with a mass of Dwarves ready for battle intent on “liberating” Thorin’s company from the Lonely Mountain where the Elves and Men have “besieged” them, and a battle appears imminent. Gandalf arrives just in time to refocus them onto the real threat, Azog and Bolg’s huge Orc army arriving just then. So, finally the Elves, Dwarves and Men join forces to defeat the real enemy. There were quite a few heroic scenes as the Dwarves rally behind Thorin, their rightful King. 20150422-210248.jpg Thus, the battle that comprises most of the movie. It was filled with unrealistic but cool stuff, like Legolas jumping UP falling rocks like stairs. The killing of Fili and Kili was definitely not done in the best way either. They fell defending Thorin in the book, so I was expecting a heroic stand, but was quite disappointed. Fili being ambushed was really sad, and worked in the movie story, but Kili’s dying in defense of Tauriel was ridiculous and took the focus off the family bond among Thorin and his nephews. 20150422-212856.jpg But everyone good had a hard time against their foes. Bolg fights Legolas and Thorin and Kili and Tauriel and still is ok. Thorin is killed because of a stupid mistake in not making sure Azog was dead. But it was nice that the book was followed in Bilbo getting knocked out on a rock, and the Eagles saving the day. 🙂 20150422-212549.jpg20150422-212822.jpg So it was sad because three members of the Company were lost. But Thorin and Bilbo part friends. Then Bilbo returns to his home in the Shire only to find his house a mess and his belongings being auctioned off as everyone thinks he’s perished. So it’s not as neat an ending as Return of the King, but it works. The messy houses fades into the scene in the beginning of Fellowship, as Bilbo is making party preparations and Gandalf comes to visit. And totally made me want to watch the LOTR saga again 😀

So though it wasn’t the best Middle Earth movie or even the best of the Hobbit trilogy, this was a nice ending to the Hobbit movie trilogy. And the ending song was just perfect. So sad 😥

And to finish things off, here’s a cool wallpaper generator: http://wallpapergenerator.thehobbit.com

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Review)


(Contains spoilers.)

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Wow! This is now my second favorite Marvel movie, after The Avengers. It’s especially relevant because of all the surveillance going on now. This movie finds Cap in an America dealing with freedom, restrictions, expanding government, privacy, and how to balance it all. And he doesn’t give up on an old friend, which pays off!

Few initial observations:
•The Falcon is a nice addition to the team – a real friend for Cap.
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•Can I just say it’s really annoying whenever someone in Marvel “dies”? 🙄
•The Winter Soldier…wasn’t in the movie as much as I was expecting. The story turned out great anyway, but they only just opened up the possibilities with Bucky here.

I like how the privacy intrusions committed by SHIELD and the government all turn out to be bad, because Hydra is revealed to be in charge. The movie makes a excellent point about how complacency, apathy, and backing down results in a loss of our freedom.

Dr. Arnim Zola: “HYDRA was founded on the belief that humanity could not be trusted with its own freedom. What we did not realize was that if you tried to take that freedom, they resist. The war taught us much. Humanity needed to surrender its freedom willingly. … HYDRA created a world so chaotic that humanity is finally ready to sacrifice its freedom to gain its security. … People will fight for their freedom if people try to take it from them. But if you cause enough trouble, people will willingly give up their freedom for a more secure world.”

“Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of Liberty.” -Thomas Jefferson

Steve Rogers: “Don’t let control take the place of freedom!”

As SHIELD crumbles, Cap and Natasha Romanoff are forced to go on the run.

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The unstable situation is reflected close to home for Cap as he observes Natasha’s style—one of being willing to do anything, to play the games and tell the lies, in order to stay alive and do her spy work. Cap, on the other hand, holds to moral standards. And that’s refreshing to see in this day and age.

Nick Fury: “Now Agent Romanoff is comfortable with everything.”

Natasha Romanoff: “I find that it’s easier to keep your true self buried under several layers of untrue selves, to protect yourself.”
Steve Rogers: “That’s not a good way to live.”
Natasha Romanoff: “No, but it’s a good way not to die.”

God doesn’t ask us to sway our standards with changing situations; following God’s Word ensures success.

The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance. He will not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is established; he will not be afraid, until he sees his desire upon his enemies.
– Psalm 112:6b-8

He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He.
– Deuteronomy 23:4

Through it all, as Captain America fights for right, others join him. His dedication to truth, honesty, and friendship influence those around him to those things as well. His shining example is the cause of much good in this movie.

Steve Rogers: “The price of freedom is high, but it’s a price I’m willing to pay!”

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Summer kids movies: “Earth to Echo” & “Dragon 2”


At my work (daycare), we took the kids to see a couple kids movies recently: “Earth to Echo” and “How to Train Your Dragon 2.” Here’s what I thought 🙂 (Contains spoilers.)

Earth to Echo

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“Earth to Echo” is a movie about how some kids find a lost alien and help it get to its spaceship and get home. Just some initial observations: it’s filmed like the boys are filming it with handheld cameras, each of the pre-teen boys has his own cell phone, and they use the word “Dude” way too much. You’d think it’s a nice kids movie and all, but it actually features kids breaking rules and doing all the wrong things. But somehow that’s ok because of their quest to help the cute little alien. Quite the “ends justify the means” story.

The movie makers made the story so that these kids “have” to do all these things you’d never want your kid doing. Like lying to their parents and sneaking out of the house. Like sneaking out to bike out to the desert at night. Like going into a bar and to a wild teenager party (dim lights, drinking, dancing, women, and all). Like stealing and driving (on the road!) a car and a truck. Like avoiding and fighting police because they’re conveniently the bad guys. Like chatting about “hot” girls and kissing. Like breaking and entering. AND did I mention that these kids can’t be more than 12 or 13?! And the only kid who has any moral scruples and protests is made fun of, and then ends up just going along.

Oh, but they help the little alien escape the bad guys and get away to its home. Yeah, it’s got a message of friendship as these kids face danger, help each other, make friends with the alien, and grow to appreciate each other more…all while disobeying their parents and breaking the law… Which is supposed to make all that bad stuff not so bad at all? Quite fitting that the company that made it is named “Relativity Media” 🙄

All in all, not a recommend. This is no family-friendly movie.

How to Train Your Dragon 2

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I haven’t seen the first one in this series, but that didn’t seem to be a problem; this story was good on its own.

Dragons. They used to be the terror of the Viking village, but now the people have learned to get along with them and have domesticated some. But now rumors fly of a stranger who’s capturing dragons for a dragon army of his own, which he’ll mind control using a huge “Alpha” dragon, and then use to terrify the villages into submission. How do they stop him?

This story does stay true to the real meaning of family as a close-knit unit, though there are some problems at first.
• Hiccup has grown some years, and it’s time for him to get ready to take over as chief, but he doesn’t want to be chief, and ignores his father’s talk and training to go exploring. By the end, though, he does accept this responsibility.
• Hiccup disagrees with his father on how to handle the hostile stranger, thinking he can go and talk him into a peaceful solution (he is later shown to be wrong about this, and realizes it). Yeah, the peaceful way doesn’t always work.
• But the strangest thing regards Hiccup’s mother, who believed dragons were good even during the wars against them. She was presumed dead in a dragon raid when Hiccup was a baby, but was actually carried away, and in this movie, is revealed to have been living with the dragons for 20 years because she chose them over her family life (she didn’t know that the villagers and dragons are now friends). That, I thought, was not a right choice at all, and surprising for a mother to leave her baby (Hiccup). But when Hiccup and his father find her, she is apologetic for her selfishness and agrees to return, so that was good. The whole family fights together in a battle, which is very neat. Family is encouraged in this film.

Another positive message is the one of how powerful unity is. Hiccup’s friends don’t desert him in tough situations. He and his family together are a formidable force in battle. All the dragons standing together defeat the huge “Alpha.” Shows what being united and brave can do 😎

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
– Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

This movie was better than I expected. Still some things to think about, but a good movie overall.

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