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2 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Such high hopes ..., 18 June 2016

This was the X-Men movie I was waiting for. Apocalypse has always been my favorite X-Men villain. I've been waiting to see them do one with this Xavier and Magneto, but introducing the real X-Men team (namely Cyclops, Jean Grey, Storm, Nightcrawler, Archangel and Psyclocke among others). This one looked epic. Xavier with his signature bald head, a real powerful villain like Apocalypse. They had rebooted the time-line so they could really do it right. It looked like everything was falling into place for the perfect X-Men movie. So where did it all go wrong?

Was it just that Apocalypse makes a bad cinematic villain? He was always my favorite ever since I was 8 years old and I first started reading X-Men comics. Maybe he just doesn't fit into the Singer universe. I admit he may be the most "cartoon evil" of the x-men villains. And some argue he's way too overpowered. But he's also really interesting. Being the first mutant, he's very old. His Darwinist philosophy takes Magneto's Malcolm Xish ultra leftism to such an extreme that it becomes ultra right. This is why you would never see Magneto join with Apocalypse. It's horseshoe theory at its finest. Singer missed an opportunity with that. I don't think he really understood Apocalypse. As soon as he learned all there was about modern humanity by touching the TV I knew I was in for a rough two hours.

But I don't think Apocalypse was the primary problem. There were many issues I had with this film. It really seemed like they tried to squeeze too much in to please everyone. Too many characters especially. The sad thing was that these were the characters I was waiting for. Cyclops was always a favorite of mine and none of the films (or cartoons for that matter) had done his character justice. I was really hoping that maybe this time they'd finally get him right. And while I admit they did do a better job with him than before, he's still not the Cyclops I know and love from the comics. Making him the younger brother of Alex was their first mistake. And making it that his powers originated one day in high school and not in a plane crash was their second. Cyclops is a mutant born of tragedy. There's a reason he's so haunted.

Psylocke was the worst of all. She looked good, but she was basically just a costume with a psychic sword. No character to her at all. And what was with Archangel? I don't know who that metalhead was, but that was not Warren Worthington III. It's as if Singer didn't know the characters' histories, just how they looked on the covers to the comics.

The other characters weren't as bad, but still off. Storm was acted well but seemed way out of character. Nightcrawler was overpowered, but okay. And I don't want to get into too much detail without spoiling anything, but suffice it to say if they're going to retry the Phoenix saga and this time get it right, I think they already messed it up in this film because, once again, Brian Singer doesn't understand where the Phoenix power comes from.

But I can forgive them for changing the characters as long as they manage to still make a good film. But I still can't get behind it. Why? Well one more thing that bothered me was how no one aged in the 20 years since First Class. They could have at least put some gray in their hair. They could have had Professor X go bald naturally. Instead he goes bald because of some weird scifi reason that's never explained or even acknowledged. It just seemed like a very minimal amount of effort was put into details like that. Jennifer Lawrence rarely wore her blue skin. Beast rarely ever was Beast. It just felt like they didn't care all that much. Things like that I can't forgive.

All the negativity aside, there were some good moments to this film. I really liked the Quicksilver scene. Fassbender and McAvoy had great performances as usual, even given the weak script. There were also some great scenes with the younger X-Men. It reminded me how great it would be to have an X-Men TV show centered around the school. And Apocalypse, though they didn't get him right, still makes for a cool villain regardless. I enjoyed parts of this film. But overall ... not good. I think the main reason was stated in my first paragraph. The bar was set way too high. First Class and Days of Future Passed were great movies and they were setting us up for the X-Men film we all were waiting for. And ultimately, they couldn't deliver it. It was a huge letdown.

With the right planning, an Apocalypse film could have worked. Marvel Studios could have pulled it off. But Marvel Studios knows their heroes. They may take liberties with the plot, but they stay true to the characters. A villain like Apocalypse is something you build up to. And a team like the X-Men has as rich a history as the Avengers and requires just as much build up and planning. This is why the Deadpool film was so good. It focused on one character while introducing only a few other X-Men. You can't introduce too many new X-Men at once. You need to introduce them slowly in separate films, THEN bring them together in one big one. Marvel Studios knows how to make a superhero team movie, Brian Singer, take note. If you try to throw it all at us at once, you get a film like this, or like X-Men United.

The best line in the film was one Jean Grey said while the younger X-Men were walking out of Return of the Jedi "The third one's always the worst". How sad but true.

Warcraft (2016)
0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
You'll like it if you're already familiar with the Lore, 17 June 2016

Movies based on video games tend to not be so good, Warcraft might be an exception. Nevertheless it seems to have gotten a lot of bad press. I noticed that most of the critics who gave the film negative reviews were people who have never played, or were were not familiar with the games.

I've been a long-time fan of the Warcraft series since the second game came out in 1996. Since then I've played through all of the Warcraft RTS games, and was a World of Warcraft subscriber for several years. I was one of the few WoW players to earn the achievement "lore master" for completing all of the quests in the primary zones vanilla WoW (and the first few expansions). So I'm pretty well versed on the story.

I did get kind of burned out on World of Warcraft after Wrath of the Lich King. I canceled my subscription soon after reaching the level cap. I would resubscribe for brief periods here and there just to see what's going on, but for the most part I was done with WoW. Still, I'm a fan of the game and lore, so I guess I'm probably the target demographic for this film.

The film was pretty faithful to the lore of the games (and the lore of the games has, itself changed over time since the original warcraft ms-dos that came out in 1994). The film is basically about the first war from that first game Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, focusing on the characters from the first game: Garona, Lothar (probably the main characters), Medhiv, King Llane, and Blackhand. Now if they limited themselves to focusing on just these characters and limited themselves to sticking to just the story of the first game, the film, while being pretty simple, would have probably worked better for those new to the story of warcraft. There would have been fewer characters. Fewer simultaneous plots, and they would have been able to focus on developing the stories and characters and easing people into the fantasy via more relatable protagonists.

But there's one major problem with doing it this way. The story of the first game was very human-centric. The POV of the orcs was told entirely from the half-orc, Garona in the instruction booklet that came with the first game, and it didn't portray the orcs in a very good light at all. On the contrary, it portrayed the orcs as evil warlike savages with almost no redeeming qualities. You actually don't get a deeper understanding of the orcs until Warcraft 2 when we are introduced Gul'Dan, Ogrim Doomhammer and Kil'Jaeden. And it's not until Warcraft 3 that we actually start to view the orcs in a more sympathetic light with the introduction of the orcs Gromm Hellscream and, of course, the warchief Thrall, son of Durotan, a character who was not introduced until World of Warcraft (and plays a major role in the most recent expansion). In the film, Durotan is, in fact, one of the main protagonists.

So, to make a long story short, the problem with this film is exactly that, they're trying to make a long, complicated and lore rich story with a lot of characters, into a short two hour film. Perhaps if it was split into two films, one that told the story from the humans POV, and another that told the story from the Orcs POV it would have worked better, after all that's how the story was told in the original game. It split the story up into two separate narratives. And, in the end, isn't that always what war comes down to? Two opposing narratives competing for dominance. This movie tries to to be sympathetic to both sides of the conflict at the same time. And as result the audience can't get as invested in any of the characters or the conflicts they are engaged in. It loses the sense of urgency and drama. When you try to please everyone, you please no one.

Well ... that's not true. The film did please me. I enjoyed seeing the lore I've grown up with over the passed 20 years come to life on the screen. I did enjoy the spectacle and the special effects as well. It was a cool movie all things considered. But I understand why people who weren't familiar with the games walked away from this one disappointed.

4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Starts off good but outstays its welcome, 15 November 2015

I just finished watching SoA and I've come to the conclusion that most of these serial shows on TV should not be serial shows ... or if they are they should end much sooner than they're meant to. I got into SoA from the beginning. Having already watched The Shield, I had high hopes for this show. I would watch it every week, and, for the most part, found it to be a pretty awesome show on par with The Shield if not a little unrealistic (but then so was The Shield). But the story seemed to drag in the third season and I stopped watching it on a week to week basis. It wasn't until the recently that I decided to plow through it on netflix to see how the story ended. Nowadays, I usually don't binge watch TV unless I'm home sick and have a large block of time with nothing better to do. Well, I've been sick lately, so I figured "why not finish watching SoA?". Well there are plenty of reasons why not to, but I don't entirely regret it. I did seasons 3-5 last year, and seasons 6-7 this month. Overall, I think the show had its moments, but man the show went way off the rails with how ridiculous it got. It was downright stupid in certain parts.

SoA isn't the only serial show guilty of going off the rails because they overstayed their welcome. I guess not every show can be Breaking Bad. Some shows hold it together really well until their final seasons. Lost, Babylon 5 and Battlestar Galactica come to mind. But Babylon 5 at least pulled everything together for the second half of their final season. Some go off the rails much sooner than that. Heroes fell apart after the first season. Bates Motel seemed to outstay its premise after only a few episodes. And even The Shield felt like it was getting a little too crazy with what Vic Mackey could get away with towards the end. But SoA was particularly bad in this regard.

I feel like the whole Jax story would have been better served if it ended much sooner than it did. It was a great premise, but it was, at best, a four season storyline. Stretching it to seven seasons really killed it. The first two seasons were good because the story was still fresh and the writers didn't feel the need to fill it with ridiculous shock value that add little to the story. When you watch these serial shows, especially one right after the other (like many people do nowadays with netflix and on demand) each season is like a long movie. But if there's not enough meat to the story the writers tend to pad it out with convoluted BS and it often requires the characters to make really stupid decisions just to create drama and a means to carry out the episode's quota for sex, action and violence. It just gets exhausting after awhile, especially while binge watching. So perhaps, binge watching is the wrong way to go about watching this show ... but like I said earlier, I found the story to move along way too slowly for me to care enough to commit to watching on a week to week basis. SoA doesn't seem to work in either case. That being said, it was entertaining enough for me to binge watch it to the end, but I do wish it didn't require as much of my time as it did to get there.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
The Unfinished Edition, 4 January 2015

It's funny, because each year that there's a Peter Jackson Middle Earth film released, I find myself less excited by the new December theatrical release, and more excited by the November Extended Edition release. That has never more been the case with these new Hobbit films. The second film, The Desolation of Smaug, while enjoyable in theaters, felt like tiresome action schlock that cut out some of the best parts of the book in favor of exhausting nonstop action. The extended edition bluray released last November rectified and fixed pretty much every major issue I had with the theatrical version of the film.

So, when the less than stellar reviews for The third and final installment of The Hobbit came out, a part of me wondered if it was even worth seeing it in theaters at all. Should I just wait for the extended edition next November? Well, curiosity got the better of me and I went out and saw it and ... yeah you're probably better off waiting for the extended edition. Let's just call this the Unfinished Edition.

It's no secret that there was a lot difficulty getting these Hobbit films made. First there was all the difficulty getting the rights to the film, then there was the New Zealand actors strike, then Del Toro's departure during pre-production leaving Peter Jackson holding the boat, and lastly, there was the last minute decision to turn this from a duology into a trilogy. Keep in mind also Peter Jackson had 3 years of pre-production time on the original Lord of the Rings Trilogy. On The Hobbit, he had less than one year. When you watch all the behind the scenes footage on the appendices of the Extended Editions, you can see that they really are working themselves to the nub right up until the very last minute to get everything done in time for release.

As a result, The Hobbit movies just don't measure up in comparison to the Lord of the Rings movies. They look and feel rushed. They rely a lot more on CGI, and just don't have that polished finish. I think the decision to go 3D was a mistake too, because it forced Peter Jackson to abandon a lot of his practical effects techniques to get his forced perspective shots since he had to use two cameras in all scenes. This resulted in green screens in nearly every scene.

The Battle of Five Armies, in particular, feels the most like a CGI cartoon or video game cutscene. Billy Connolly's character, Dain Ironfoot, looks entirely CGI in some scenes. Maybe he wasn't available for reshoots or something. Again, more evidence that the film was rushed.

But the biggest problem with the film was in what was left out. They focused on the battle, which is actually just one chapter in the book, but left out pretty much all of the aftermath of the battle, which is actually a pretty large chunk of the book. I was surprised by this because I thought that if they were going to devote a whole movie on the last quarter of the book, you'd think they devote more time to more than just a couple of chapters. I suppose Peter Jackson didn't want people complaining about "too many endings" like they did in Return of the King. But without those resolutions, the movie really feels incomplete, and truly does feel unfinished. There are too many loose ends.

All that negativity aside, I actually do think this is a really good movie and I did enjoy it quite a bit. There were a lot of great moments. When Peter Jackson stayed true to the source material, he nailed it. There were some great duels in the battle itself, some of the action sequences were stunning, although I could have done with a few less Alfrid hijinks and a bit more Master of Laketown's hijinks (he was a better character and his character's hijinks actually WERE in the book, whereas Alfrid was made up for the film).

I also am happy he adapted parts of the appendices of Lord of the Rings for these movies. The Dol Goldur scenes were a welcome addition and I was really happy to see them. It was great seeing Saruman (Christopher Lee) in action with the White Council.

Overall, yeah, I enjoyed it, but there were a lot of things that bugged me. I'm holding out hope that the Extended Edition will fix a lot of the problems I had with it. Since they have 11 months to tinker with the film before it comes out, maybe they'll have time to properly finish it.

5 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
Great adaptation of the first act, 4 January 2015

I've seen the stage production of this play, and it's one of the most cleverly written musicals of all time. This film adaptation is very true to the source material and has some of the best performances I've ever seen. It is an excellent production definitely worth seeing at least once. Disney adapted the first act of the play pretty much perfectly ... and it's not your standard Disney movie.

Sure there were cuts, and they simplified things, in particular they cut out all of the breaking of the fourth wall gags, and narrator's role in the story was almost completely removed, but it's surprising how close they stuck to the original musical, and weren't afraid to shy away from the play's darker elements. Still, this isn't a bad play to take your kids too, there are mature themes, but the lessons are important ones that kids should learn as a part of growing up.

That being said, the adaptation started to lose it's way towards the end when it got to the second act of the play, which occurred about an hour and a half into the movie. They were running out of time and they had the whole second half of the play to go so they basically did a hatchet job to the second act and squeezed it into the remaining 30 minutes. This was unfortunate, because the second act of the play is probably the most brilliant part of the musical, but the movie had to cut huge chunks of it out due to time constraints. As a result, a lot of characters just disappear from the story without any explanation and the movie leaves a lot of loose ends unresolved. It all feels quite a bit messy, and I can see people feeling unsatisfied with the ending if they haven't seen the play.

It's films like these that make me think we need to bring back the intermission. Back in the day you could see a four hour film like Gone With the Wind because there was a nice 15 minute intermission in the middle. People could get up, go the bathroom, buy some snacks, and then come back to see the second act. This film would have been perfect for that sort of structure, because it was exactly how the original musical was structured. But no, they had to awkwardly compress it to two hours. Oh well. I still enjoyed it.

The best since the original Muppet Movie, 26 October 2014

It's really hard to compare these new muppet movies to the original "classic 3" of the early 80s since they've become so iconic in our memories, but I really found no fault in this film and found myself laughing pretty much constantly throughout.

While the previous effort felt too human-centric, this one finally brought more focus back to the muppets. Yes Ricky Gervais and some of the other human stars got a lot of screen-time, but it didn't feel like they were the stars like the last one did. It was pretty clear that this was a Muppet Movie and the Muppets were the stars.

The plot drew interesting parallels with The Great Muppet Caper, a favorite of mine from the original 3, and also the funniest of those three. That too was based around a heist. The difference was in this film, the Muppets were being used as a front for a series of museum heists. As usual with the muppets, there are a lot of fourth wall jokes right from the start (the opening "sequel" song sets the tone right away), but the plot of this film is actually quite strong in comparison to other muppet films, and you soon forget that it's all them just "putting on a show". I would go so far as to say this film may have the strongest original plot of all the muppet films save for maybe the original.

As great as this one was. I wouldn't say it was as good as the original 1979 Muppet Movie. While the original muppet movie was very funny, it also had a heart to it that this one lacked. Don't get me wrong, there was definitely a lot of heart to this movie. But, it was a lighter film in tone and focused more on laughs, like Caper was in the original trilogy. Whereas The Muppets Take Manhattan maybe had a bit too much heart and not enough laughs. The original Muppet Movie had the perfect balance. I wonder if that was purposeful, and if they're going to do one more closer in tone to Muppets Take Manhattan.

I highly recommend this one, even if you aren't a big fan of the muppets. It's just a really funny movie and it's filled with great songs. There are no bad moments in it. Just constant laughs throughout and fun for all ages.

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
The X-Men movie franchise is still alive, and better than ever, 5 June 2014

It's very rare that you get to see a film franchise make it to its seventh installment and still have the ability to impress fans and critics alike. But never before has a film franchise made it to its seventh installment and actually topped all of its previous efforts.

However, when I say seventh installment, I suppose I should include an asterisk. First this includes the two Wolverine films, the second of which didn't even have X-Men in the title. And secondly, The X-Men movie series, like the comics, is a bit of a convoluted mess, and it's sometimes difficult to figure which films are part of the "official canon" and which aren't. The comics have the excuse of being around for over 50 years with dozens of spin-offs and thousands of comics/graphic novels between them. That's a lot of story continuity, so it's understandable that things will become convoluted after awhile.

The movies don't have that excuse, and the cracks in continuity began to show as early as the fourth film, X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Indeed, some would argue that the previous film, X-Men: The Last Stand, was the beginning of the end. Those two films, though entertaining, were definitely a dark period for the X-Men films, and many of us were beginning to think the franchise would end with the disappointing fourth installment.

But if Fox failed to make another X-Men movie in a timely manner, they would lose the rights to the franchise and Marvel Studios would take the reigns. For awhile I was hoping this would happen. X-Men would then be able to exist in the same universe as the Avengers, a team that has close ties with X-Men in the comics, and has shared more than a few members (one of whom, Quicksilver, actually does appear in both this X-Men movie and the upcoming Avengers film).

But then fox released X-Men: First Class. At first I thought it was a reboot since it seemed to ignore most of the continuity of the last four films. But no, it turns out it was a prequel, and a fantastic one at that. It's very rare that prequels turn out to be better than the originals they are meant to precede, but First Class managed to do this, and it even managed to do it without the star character, Wolverine, who only made a brief cameo appearance.

It seemed that the writers had learned that the key to a good X- Men movie wasn't Wolverine, it wasn't the action or even the mutant powers. It's the deeper competing philosophies that X-Men puts forward as exhibited by the two most important characters: Professor X and Magneto. The originals had these two amazing characters portrayed by Shakespearean stage play veterans Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan. But it was fascinating seeing their younger selves as portrayed by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. Both pairs nailed their respective parts to perfection.

This film, using one of my favorite science fiction plot devices: time travel, manages to bring both pairs together in the same film to brilliant effect. It's wonderful seeing the older and wiser Prof X and Magneto contrasted with their younger, more passionate selves. Peter Dinklage, playing the fanatical Bolivar Trask, manages to paint a sympathetic picture of the villain. If one thing X-Men does right, it's in its portrayals of villains. Very few of them are actually "comic book evil". They're just people, usually with deep convictions, who believe they are doing the right thing. The deeper themes of fanaticism, the horrors of war and genocide and how the road to hell is paved with good intentions is brilliantly adapted from the source material.

I remember reading the "Days of Future Passed" comic book double issue as a teenager and it had a deep impression on me. Many people have accused this film of ripping off The Terminator, but what they probably don't realize is that the original story-line was written in 1981 by Chris Claremont. If anything, The Terminator ripped off Days of Future Passed.

That being said, aside from the premise, this film is quite different from the original 1981 comic book story arc. But those changes were necessary since the movie franchise exists in a very different universe than the comic book franchise. Still, major themes and the heart of the story is preserved, and that's really all that matters.

So did this movie "fix" the plot-holes and continuity issues of the previous six installments? Well, it's hard to say. Once you introduce multiple time-lines into the equation, I guess any plot-hole or inconsistency can be explained away simply by saying "this movie exists on a different time-line where things happened differently". It doesn't exactly explain why Professor X is suddenly alive again at the beginning of this film, but I guess it doesn't require an explanation either. It's not perfect, but I try not to let it bother me. At the end of the day the film stands on its own as an excellent bit of cinema. If you're looking for plot-holes, you're going to find them. But fortunately, the movie is so good that you forget to look for them.

2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Incredible show ... a little to fast paced though, 30 March 2014

I had heard about George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire book series for years but never got around to reading it. When they announced the HBO show I was excited because I had a lot of friends who read the books.

But when I actually started watching the show, I actually found it frustrating to watch. There were too many characters with too much backstory that seemed to go unexplained. I felt like the show was moving at a breakneck pace and wasn't catering to the non-book readers at all. By the end of the fourth episode, I gave up. It was too confusing. I couldn't keep track of it all and I felt like the show was moving too fast.

Sometime later, a friend urged me to give it another chance. He lent me the blu-ray of season one and told me to watch the special features that went into the background of the show. After watching that, it clicked with me. I re-watched the first four episodes and loved them a lot more. After that I was hooked. I quickly got caught up with the series and found myself eagerly awaiting season 3.

I started reading the books around that time and only just recently finished book 5. I have to say that the books are even better than the show! While the show is great for its fast paced plot, great acting and stunning visuals, the books take a little more time to flesh out the characters, go into the backstory, and spend a little more time with exposition.

The main problem I have with the show is that it's too fast paced. You have to really pay close attention because if you miss one line of dialog, it's easy to get lost. This was why I gave up when I initially watched it. The show would benefit from the use of flashbacks and a longer season (13 episodes seems perfect). Or maybe just take a bit more time for character dialog to allow for more exposition. I know some people might complain that there's "too much talking" already, but I'm not one of those people who needs action all the time in my shows and movies.

That being said, once you understand what's going on, the show is excellent and highly addictive. It's the best ongoing show on television right now. Definitely watch it, and if you get lost, take a break, watch some of the History of Westeros featurettes from the blu-ray (also on youtube) and try again. It's definitely worth it.

10 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
Peter, Fran and Philippa's formula for adapting Tolkien's books, 13 December 2013

I saw the Hobbit DoS last night. Incredible movie! Very fast paced and action heavy, as I've come to expect.

If I have one gripe it'd be that the action in the two latest hobbit films are too over the top crazy and unrealistic. The action in LOTR was grittier and felt more real, even though it was still fantasy. You actually felt like the characters could die or get seriously wounded in the fights. But in The Hobbit, everyone's just either super lucky or just god mode powerful. Someone mentioned it's like playing a video game on easy mode. LOTR is hard mode. I agree with that assessment. Still, the films are great fun and I found them very entertaining.

Peter, Fran and Philippa tend to follow a predictable formula when adapting Tolkien's books:

1. Cut out as much exposition as possible, and for the exposition that is necessary, tell it through flashbacks if time allows for it. Some Examples: -the intros to the movies are always flashbacks, and there are several flashbacks within the story. -the council of elrond is greatly shortened -lines of dialogue are always a lot more brief in the films than they are in the books: "I am no man" vs. "But no mortal man am I, for you look upon a woman ..."

2. If there are quiet moments in the book, cut it out, or greatly shorten it. Some Examples: -a lot of the down time at lake town, the elven king's halls, and Rivendell is shortened to the point where they seem more like very brief stays, rather than the weeks that were spent there in the books. -Nearly 20 years pass between Frodo receiving the ring from Bilbo, and him finally setting out on his journey in the books. In the film, it seems like it's the next day. -The scenes with Radagast, Gandalf and the white council investigating the necromancer of Dol Guldur, and the corruption of mirkwood occurs over the course of thousands of years in the books. In the film, it all seems to happen within the same week. -The time spent worrying about how much food they have, or how tired and hungry they are on the journey. Worrying about where they're going to sleep, and other serious problems that one would run into while going on a long journey. Bad guys trying to kill you aren't the only thing the dwarfs and bilbo had to worry about on their quest. -Journeys last months in the books, in the movies it feels like only a couple of weeks. -Moments of rest and peace, minor conversations, and minor character moments.

3. Cut out anything that may seem a bit too goofy. Keep children storybook humor and whimsy to a minimum. Some Examples: -Tom Bombadil -The wacky way Gandalf introduces the dwarfs to Beorn -The anthropomorphic dogs and many of the talking animals (and wallets) -Many of the songs are cut.

4. Greatly expand on any and all action that's presented in the book, even if it's just one sentence. Some Examples: -The sentence, "They ran down the stairs and across the bridge." is adapted to a major 15 minute action scene in FOTR when they're running from the Balrog -The expansion of Azog's role in the story (keeping him alive after Moria), as well as expanding Bolg's role. The orcs attack them much more often in the films than they do in the books. -They added a lot more action to the barrel riding scene than was in the books. -The confrontation of Thorin and the dwarfs against Smaug on the Lonely Mountain was a very brief passage in the book. In the film, it's nearly 45 minutes.

5. Expand the roles of the female characters. -Arwen's role is much bigger in LOTR and she even replaces Glorfindel in her introduction. -Galadriel gets more screen time than she gets in the books, though her role in the story is true to the way Tolkien wrote it. -The Elf King's chief prison guard in The Hobbit was a nameless elf with a very small role, but in the film she's a female Sylvan Elf named Tauriel who has a much bigger role and even a romance subplot.

The Extended cuts are paced more slowly, and are closer in feel to the books. A lot of the exposition and quiet character moments are put back in, as well as some of goofy humor and whimsical moments that may have been cut. The extended editions are how the films should truly be seen, IMO.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Why don't they just adapt the other books?, 25 July 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Baum wrote 14 Oz books, and there were dozens of good ones written by other authors after he died, and yet the only adaptations you ever see are the first, second, and maybe a cartoon version of one of the others.

What's the point of writing a completely unrelated prequel that contradicts a lot of what was written in the official canon? I can understand doing this if you have a good story to tell, but this story really wasn't that good. No, I take that back. The story isn't bad, in fact in the right hands it could be great. But it just didn't seem to work and it's hard to pin down why.

The first problem is the Oz character himself (played by James Franco). He's just a very unlike- able protagonist. I know they were kind of going for a Han Solo/Jack Sparrow sort of scoundrel with a heart of gold, but he really didn't have any of the charm or humor that a character like that needs to have. Those types of characters are rarely used as protagonists, so maybe it wasn't all Franco's fault. But his performance is quite awkward at times which didn't help much.

Probably the most interesting character was Theodora (played by Mila Kunis). Theodora's tragic character arc may have sounded great when it was pitched, but it wasn't exactly executed well. Mila Kunis is beautiful and youthful which does help in winning over sympathy from the audience. But, like James Franco, she seems a little awkward in this role. There's a major turning point for this character that just seems off and doesn't seem to work. I'll come right out and spoil it, basically she gets tricked into becoming the wicked witch of the west. I can see what they were going for, and again, in the right hands it could have been brilliant. But it felt rushed, poorly written, and the acting was mixed. Mila Kunis can act and had some great moments, but also some very bad moments in this film.

Also her story is so tragic that I wonder if it's too hard a pill to swallow for young kids. Especially if they see the 1939 film after this one. In fact, it really puts a damper on the happy ending of the 1939 Wizard of Oz and really makes Oz look like a villain. If you remember, Oz sends Dorothy to kill The wicked witch of the west, and Dorothy pretty much does it without question. The witch never gets the chance to redeem herself and be restored to her former beauty. It makes Dorothy's quest look a lot less heroic and a lot more tragic. Did the writers of this movie intend this? At least Darth Vader had a redemption before he died. The poor witch was under an evil spell the whole time and had no control over her actions or fate for the decades between the events of this film and the 1939 film.

Then you have Evanora, the other wicked witch, who seems to be just evil for evil's sake. She also doesn't wear the silver shoes (or ruby slippers if going by movie canon), which I felt was a missed opportunity. Instead she carries a locket which seems to keep her young and beautiful, although it's never really explained (nor is Theodora's sudden awful reaction to contact with water).

The rest of the characters are okay. Glinda the good witch is pretty, kind and good natured if not somewhat boring, but it kind of fits her character so I can't complain. You have the flying monkey who's the cute comic relief, but he's really not that funny. The China Girl is also cute and precious and nicely animated. But there's no one here that's really all that memorable.

It's a film that seems like it could have been good with a better script and better performances. Everything seems so serious, which is a little awkward considering the over the top fantasy world the characters inhabit. There's some humor, but a lot of it falls flat, and it's not enough to really make it entertaining or make the characters memorable. With the dull performances it would have been nice to have a song here and there like the 1939 film to liven the mood. But nope. No songs, except for one munchkin sung theme that was cut short.

Honestly they could have done much better if they borrowed some of the imaginative plots from the later Oz books. Unlike the books there's little to no social commentary. The fantasy world relies more on nostalgic references to the 1939 film than to any of the thoughtful allegory or economic / political commentary that made the books so culturally relevant.

That being said, the visuals were fantastic and the final battle at the end is fun to watch. It had potential, but ultimately didn't deliver anything great. 6/10

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