The Hobbit — The Desolation of Smaug: Desolate This!

by Ethan Alter December 13, 2013 6:00 am
<i>The Hobbit — The Desolation of Smaug</i>: Desolate This!

The interesting thing about The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is that while it's ostensibly meant to continue the adventure that began in the previous installment An Unexpected Journey, it's equally concerned with setting up what's to come. And I'm not talking about the third and final installment in Peter Jackson's super-sized adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's slender fantasy tale There and Back Again (coming your way next December). I mean the original three films that started his soon-to-be-six-chapter Middle-earth opus, The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It's not just the extended re-appearance of Orlando Bloom's elfin archer Legolas that brings to minds buzzwords like Fellowship, Towers and returning Kings: Desolation of Smaug is filled with allusions to, in-jokes about and extensive set-up for the War of the Ring that rocks Middle-earth either 60-odd years from now (movie time) or 10 years in the past (real world time). A more accurate title for the movie might be: The Hobbit: The Lord of the Rings Begins… Oh Yeah, and There's Some Dragon Named Smaug Flying About, Too.

The Fifth Estate: WikiStinks

by Ethan Alter October 18, 2013 6:00 am
<i>The Fifth Estate</i>: WikiStinks

Now that the last two Twilight movies are safely in his rear view, Bill Condon is making a bid to recover some of the artistic cred he perhaps sacrificed by agreeing to close out that sneeringly-regarded (if financially lucrative) franchise. Frankly though, the "Team Edward"/"Team Jacob" nonsense that drove Twilight is more entertaining and nuanced than the "Team Daniel"/"Team Julian" conflict that's at the center of The Fifth Estate, an attempt at a modern-day All the President's Men that instead plays like a non-comedic version of the Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams-do-Watergate picture, Dick. It's amusing that the real Julian -- as in Assange a.k.a. That WikiLeaks Guy -- has been so up in arms about the movie's release when he actually comes out looking fairly good, all things considered. And besides, he can take heart in knowing that nobody is going to see this thing anyway.

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