THE MAURITANIAN

THE MAURITANIAN

THE MAURITANIAN

Flower

Jodie Foster and Tahar Rahim have both been nominated for Golden Globe Awards for their incredible work in #TheMauritanian, in theaters now! Do you want a chance to see a virtual screening of the film on Wednesday, February 24 at 7PM? Just click the link to enter to win! http://stxtickets.com/WORLDVIRALTV-2 Experience a life-changing story of trust and hope. On demand everywhere March 2.

THE MAURITANIAN (STXfilms)
Genre: Drama
Cast: Jodie Foster, Tahar Rahim, Zachary Levi, Saamer Usmaniwith Shailene Woodley and Benedict Cumberbatch
Based Upon the Book: “Guantanamo Diary” by Mohamedou Ould Slahi
In Theaters: February 12, 2021

Directed by Kevin Macdonald and based on the NY Times best-selling memoir “Guantánamo Diary” by Mohamedou Ould Slahi, this is the inspiring true story of Slahi’s fight for freedom after being detained and imprisoned without charge by the U.S. Government for years.

Alone and afraid, Slahi (Tahar Rahim) finds allies in defense attorney Nancy Hollander (Jodie Foster) and her associate Teri Duncan (Shailene Woodley) who battle the U.S. Government in a fight for justice that tests their commitment to the law and their client at every turn. Their controversial advocacy, along with evidence uncovered by a formidable military prosecutor, Lt.Colonel Stuart Couch(Benedict Cumberbatch), uncovers shocking truths and ultimately proves that the human spirit cannot be locked up.

How to redeem:
Winner will go to www.STXTickets.com, click on the “Redeem” tab and enter the code. (They will just have to create a profile if they aren’t already signed up for the site, which takes 5 minutes).
· Once you RSVP for the screening, you will receive an email from STX Screenings <no-reply@stxtickets.com> to confirm you are signed up (also check your junk folder). If you do not receive an email immediately after you sign up, click here to submit an inquiry: https://stxtickets.com/main/contact
· A hour before the screening starts, you will receive a unique, encrypted link via your email to access the “online screening room.”
· Once the countdown ends, you can start the movie!
· Please note, you must start the screening at 7:00PM. There may be a 10-15 minute grace period, however if you start the screening late, you will not be able to access the screening. Also, you aren’t able to pause the screening for more than 15 minutes. If you pause the screening for too long, you may get kicked out and will not be able to access the screening after that.
· The Ticktbox platform recommends watching from one of the main browsers – Chrome, Firefox, or Safari. Unfortunately, Smart TV and game console browsers are not supported.
· Screenings can be watched on a TV if it is playing on a computer or device running one of the above browsers and then connect via HDMI or a screen mirroring to devices Airplay or Chromecast.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if I lose connection with my computer?
If you lose connection or need to pause the video, you may be allotted a brief amount of time to rejoin the screening. This allotment is typically 15-30 minutes, but depending on the security features for certain movies, this is not guaranteed. If you pause for longer than this period, the movie will automatically resume and pausing will no longer be available. If you are disconnected for an extended period, you will not be able to rejoin.

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Our online screenings are compatible with most computers, laptops, and mobile devices. We recommend Chrome or Firefox (Safari and Edge are also supported). For the best experience, we recommend watching on a large screen versus a mobile device.

How can I watch it on my TV?
If you connect a computer or laptop to your TV via HDMI, you would be able to view there. Due to security and anti-piracy measures, certain cast options such as Airplay or Fire TV Stick are restricted.

Can I pause the screening?
Typically yes, you may be allotted a brief amount of time should you need to pause. This allotment is roughly 15-30 minutes – should you exceed this time, the movie will automatically resume and pausing will no longer be available. Depending on the security features for certain movies, this is not guaranteed.

Can I watch on multiple devices?
No, unfortunately you are only able to watch from a single device. Once you start viewing the screening, you must continue with that device for the rest of the film.

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Screenings begin promptly at their start time. Unfortunately, once that time passes we cannot admit anyone else to start viewing.

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1917

1917

By: Kevin Jordan

Can you handle the truth?

If you are into war movies, there are two major ones from which to get your fix. By now, you probably already saw Midway and, depending on what city you live in, might have seen 1917 as well. If not, you are waiting with bated breath for January 10 to get here, which is when 1917 rolls out everywhere. And, I sympathize with you because Midway was not what one might describe as good. Rather, it is what one might describe as “definitely a movie,” or even “the opposite of how to make an interesting movie.”

War movies tend to be really good when the plot is narrowly focused on a specific event. For those of you who have seen neither Midway nor 1917 (or their associated previews), one is focused on a specific event and the other covers several events that take place over a significant amount of time. Based on title, you would assume Midway is the specific one. There was only one Battle of Midway during WWII, so the movie has to focus on that, right? Conversely, 1917 is an entire year of the Great War, in which at least three major battles were fought. Surely, the film will give us a look at the horrors of that year, including the Battle of Cambrai, which was the first time battle tanks were used on a massive scale. If you haven’t already guessed, the opposite is true of both films.

(Side note: Midway should have followed in Dunkirk’s footsteps, but chose to follow in Pearl Harbor’s footsteps. Even worse, Midway didn’t even have great special effects. But enough about Midway; that is not why you are here.)

If you have never seen pictures or heard first or second-hand descriptions of WWI battlefields, think of your worst nightmare, feed that nightmare into a meat grinder, then double it. What little we were taught about WWI in school probably included trench warfare, covered the deployment of new weapons like airplanes, machine guns, and tanks, and briefly described the space between opposing trenches (no-man’s land) as a mess of barbed wire and land mines and thousands of flying bullets and artillery shells. Maybe, just maybe, you had a teacher who also mentioned the bodies that littered no-man’s land, but probably only in the context of a lot of men dying whenever one side would order its men to charge the other side’s line. They never got into the facts that retrieving bodies from no-man’s land was next to impossible, the massive use of modern artillery and chemical weapons left a maelstrom of craters filled with people/poison soup, or that many of those suicidal charges involved horse-mounted cavalry. The point is do not eat any food while watching 1917.

That is not wood floating in the river next to him.

1917 corrects the error of American history classes by showing us that nightmare. British Lance Corporals Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) are ordered to make their way nine miles forward to warn a 1600-man brigade that is unwittingly marching into a trap. Like them, our immediate question is how they make it a dozen steps before being mowed down. Don’t worry, their commanding officer (Colin Firth) assures them. Aerial surveillance shows the Germans have retreated to lines further back and that the duo can cross no-man’s land safely. The surveillance is also how they know about the trap. Pshaw (or bollocks), we say in unison with Lieutenant Leslie (Andrew Scott). Leslie tells them where they can cross the barbed wire (directions which include “cross through at the horse”), while simultaneously assuring them they will die. Oh, and don’t fall into the craters because we know they are half-filled with water and nobody knows how deep they are. This is half of the recipe for the movie-long tension that begins the moment the men peek their heads above the rim of their trench.

You want to go out there on purpose?

The other half, as my Ruthless colleague John has discussed, is the lack of film cuts throughout the film. Director Sam Mendes wanted to build the tension and realism by putting the audience into the trenches, no-man’s land, and gutted towns with Schofield and Blake and removing cuts is a great way of doing that. You probably have never consciously noticed that a cut allows you take let your breath out or blink your eyes, artificially releasing a bit of tension and momentarily pulling you out from whatever film you are watching. About five minutes into 1917, I realized there had not been a cut yet (for reference, the average length of a shot is 2.5 seconds) and that my eyes were really, really dry. I did my best to look for them, but it was really difficult once the meat grinder was on full display. There are plenty of clever ways to hide cuts, but they just weren’t there. What was there were Black and Schofield crawling through mud, barbed wire, and craters filled with rancid liquids, rats, and body parts and rotting faces glaring at them for having the audacity to not also be dead. Oh, and the horses the dead rode in on.

Cut me a break already.

Since Mendes did everything possible to make the film appear as one long cut, the tension almost never breaks. Like the two corporals, we are expecting bullets to fly at any moment. For one of them to step on a land mine. For an artillery shell to explode. For Germans to be around every corner. Even worse, and just like in life, nothing happens when you expect it to, instead happening out of sync. If I chewed my fingernails when I got nervous, I would have nothing left below the elbows.

Like Saving Private Ryan and other great war films, 1917 works because the war is the setting instead of the plot. We can experience the war by observing it with Blake and Schofield. For this film and for our benefit, they channel the experience of the entire Allied army.  As they navigate the obstacles of the war to accomplish their mission, not only do we see all of those things we learned about in school (tanks, trenches, biplanes, artillery, death), but we see all of the things no one told us about. The simple plot of two men risking their lives in a suicide mission for the greater good is a far better story than trying to cram half of WWII into a two-hour Midway, I mean movie.

Rating: Do not ask for any money back and don’t forget to unclench.

Thor: Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok

By: Kevin Jordan

Party on.

Among other things, here’s what I said about Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2 – “It felt like two hours of dudes fucking around on a film set for two-plus hours and calling it a movie.”  Thor: Ragnarok is those same dudes throwing an epic party where everything goes off perfect and everyone talks about it for the rest of their lives.  Lucky for you, everyone is invited.

(Mild SPOILERS and I’m sorry for all of them.)

The film picks up two years after the events of Age of Ultron, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) dangling in a cage, then bantering with a fire demon.  This scene is extremely important in that it sets the tone of the movie at roughly a beer and a shot into the party.  Serious, semi-moody Thor is no more, replaced with a Thor who has obviously been hanging out with Star-Lord a lot.  Immediately following this scene is another in which Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is eating grapes while watching a revisionist version of Loki’s (Tom Hiddleston) death.  Since we all remember the end of Thor: The Dark World, we know that isn’t really Odin and Thor confronts him.  Like the opening scene, this one is all fun and giggles and the tone is now the same as you answering the door at the party and greeting the guy with the cooler full of Jell-O shots and he is Jeff Goldblum.

Fun Bobby is here!

In a movie bursting with great actors and brilliant performances, you can’t go wrong picking any of them.  For me, Goldblum as Grandmaster wins because the role fit him to a tee.  Grandmaster governs a planet that is one giant garbage dump (literally), running gladiatorial death games as the main entertainment.  Grandmaster is Dr. Malcolm, Jack Sparrow, and The Dude hitting a bong while hosting a game show.  Brilliant is almost an understatement in this case.

The rest of the movie is a series of those scenes featuring characters as awesome as Grandmaster.  It’s scene after scene of max fun, silliness, standout performances, and perfectly timed jokes.  And, it gets even better than that because this movie has a plot and also moves us much closer to Infinity War.  Ragnarok is a prophecy foretelling the destruction of Asgard, as Thor and Loki learn from the dying Odin.  They also learn they have an exiled sister, Hela (Cate Blanchett), the God of Death, who draws all of her power from Asgard.  Pretty ominous, right?  Don’t worry.  She is easily having as much fun in this movie as everyone else and Hela is weirdly endearing.  Anyway, she follows Thor and Loki in one of those rainbow teleporter tunnels and makes it to Asgard, while knocking Loki and Thor out prior to their arrival (that’s how they end up on the trash planet).  Unfortunately, Heimdall (Idris Elba) disappears with the big sword that works the teleporter, so she’s stuck in Asgard and can’t begin her conquest of the universe.  You might think the party just took a turn for the serious, but Blanchett is the one doing keg stands and kicking everyone’s ass at beer pong.

Best. Party. Ever.

That’s the crux of it and it’s so simple.  Thor must escape the garbage planet to stop Hela from going on a conquering spree.  Where it ties into the greater MCU narrative is in the supporting cast and where the movie ends up when the credits roll.  And what party isn’t complete without the main body of guests?  Since standalone Incredible Hulk movies have not gone well, and Ironman and Captain America got their buddy film, Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) returns after disappearing during the climactic battle against Ultron to form another Avengers buddy movie with Thor.  Since there is no way you haven’t seen a trailer for Ragnarok, you already know that Thor has to face off against Hulk in Grandmaster’s arena and it is you doing navel shots and everyone dancing to Love Shack (baby).

Dancing with you is Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) who is as badass as anyone in the film in a fight and seems as if she’s been part of this franchise since Tony Stark blasted out of that cave so many years ago.  The chemistry she has with Hemsworth and Ruffalo defies belief and she damn well better be invited to the next party.  Behind you is Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), who didn’t stay at the party too long (one scene), but reminds you why he’s always invited.  His scene is more of a foreshadowing of things to come, but he gets to show off his power and match witticisms with Thor and Loki.  If Strange’s toying with Thor and Loki and casually dismissing them means anything it’s that he’s going to be pivotal when Thanos finally makes his move.  Finally, that’s Skurge (Karl Urban) over there in the corner, wanting to join the dance, but not sure how to.  He seems out of place and uncomfortable and nobody remembers inviting him.  He hangs out with Hela for survival purposes and is basically a lost puppy dog for most of the film, but damned if he doesn’t bring it when the life-sized Jenga challenges are thrown down.  Ok, I’m really stretching the analogy, so let’s wrap this party up.

Who wouldn’t do shots off that?

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen actors visibly having as much fun in a movie as in Ragnarok.  The ease in which these characters come to life in the most entertaining ways possible is astounding, even for such seasoned actors as these.  I especially loved unrestrained Hemsworth and Blanchett knocking their performances out of the park.  The movie pushes the boundaries of action-comedy to the brink of absurdity, but there’s just enough restraint to keep it from crossing the line.  Yeah, there are tiny moments of stupidity (they couldn’t resist a bad poop joke, Hulk somehow stays Hulk for two solid years, and Hulk even manages to speak in almost complete sentences now), but what epic party doesn’t include the guy puking in the bushes?  Everyone else helps puking guy to a bed to sleep it off, then they all sing 80s rock ballads until they’re hoarse.  By the end of the night, they all pass out together in one giant mass of bodies in the living room, waking up with all their clothes on and realizing, with a smile, that everyone is still just friends.  It’s the party of the year, friends.

Rating: Worth ten times (or more) what you’ll pay for it and you won’t stop talking about it for months.

Doctor Strange

By: Kevin Jordan

Starring Bunsonburner Cucumberpatch.

doctor_strange_poster

If you are a fan of BBC’s Sherlock and haven’t laughed like a hyena lately, check out the ways people have gotten his name wrong (intentionally and unintentionally).  What I love is that everybody knows who we’re talking about – as is mentioned several times in that link – and you probably read right past me referring to just ‘him’ without a second thought.  That’s the power of Bartleby Scratchanitch and might be why he’s been cast in seemingly every movie for the past five years.  And not just random movies for paychecks either.  He’s starred in The Hobbit trilogy, Star Trek: Into Darkness, several prestige films, cameoed in TV shows and other movies, was nominated for best actor as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game, given us possibly the best Sherlock Holmes portrayal in history, and now is playing a prominent superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) – Doctor Strange.  He’s like Nicholas Cage, but getting roles that Cage can’t even sniff at any more (also, Shaggypants is a much better actor).

If he hadn’t already played Sherlock, I would have been skeptical of Bishandchips being cast as a super hero.  As it is, casting him as an acerbic, arrogant, superhero who has to learn some humility is pretty much par for his course, especially since Robert Downey Jr. is already Iron Man.  Much like Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange is another unknown Marvel property that exceeds expectations partly because of superb casting.  In addition to Biddlebosh, Doctor Strange features Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Rachel McAdams.  Wait…that can’t be right – they got four Oscar nominated actors and a James Bond villain in this movie?  Holy $#%^.  Also, they were all really, really good.

(Very mild SPOILERS ahead.)

Perhaps the trickiest component of the film was giving the audience a character with an origin story that seems far more suited to a Harry Potter movie than an MCU film.  In a nutshell, Strange is a surgeon who loses his livelihood after a car accident maims his hands.  In desperation, he goes to Nepal to track down some magicians after Benjamin Bratt explains how they helped him heal from paralysis.  Yes, that Benjamin Bratt.  Strange learns magic, is taught about the infinite universes (multiverse) by The Ancient One (Swinton), and trains with Mordo (Ejiofor) in a Hogwarts-like setting.  Except without all the dragons and elves.  But, there is a lot of hand waving and library scenes.  And magical circles and teleportation.  If not Potter, then at least The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.  Huh….Cage…anyway.

Dumbledore looks weird bald.

Dumbledore looks weird bald.

Strange learns that this group is charged with keeping the Earth safe from a world-eating cloud monster (Dormamu) from another universe and Kaecilius (Mikkelsen) is trying to help Dormamu eat the Earth by destroying the three buildings on Earth that keep him at bay.  I know, I know – it sounds ridiculous and it is.  But it also works within the context of this film, as well as the MCU.  And because this movie is following a classic playbook (the hero’s journey), Strange rejects the quest at first (he just wants to heal his hands), then reluctantly agrees to fight for the cause.  I’m not saying it’s a great plot.  In fact, there are plenty of faulty pieces that would have been much more glaring if the other components of the movie didn’t make up for it.  For all you pouty DC fans, a couple of examples are Strange’s cape is very inconsistent (it’s alive…or something, and protects him…sometimes), the mirror universe seems to be there strictly for Inception-y special effects (they can bend buildings in there), and why doesn’t Kaecilius steal some other powerful artifacts and books in addition to the two pages from one book he steals at the beginning of the movie?  I mean they’re literally just sitting out in the open.  There, happy now?

In the mirror universe, Leonardo DiCaprio is still dreaming.

In the mirror universe, Leonardo DiCaprio is still dreaming.

Even though they left some things underdeveloped and even though making the noob fight the most powerful and dangerous entity in all the universes seems a tad clichéd, the movie is still immensely entertaining.  Like all MCU movies, the comedic relief hits every mark, things introduced early on have importance later in the movie, the romantic subplot between Strange and Dr. Christine Palmer (McAdams) doesn’t feel trite, the chemistry between Strange and Mordo is great, and Swinton crushes every scene she’s in, even when she’s fight-acting.  I didn’t know she could do that.  The movie even manages to include a “crossing the streams moment” that works on multiple levels.  Yes, it’s a deus ex machina, but Marvel manages to make it fun instead of eye-rolling.

And she didn't even say hi-yah.

And she didn’t even say hi-yah.

So, what do I think of it overall?  Well, I can’t just completely dismiss those earlier complaints.  But, with a cast including Bumpysplash and a summer filled with middling popcorn flicks, we’ve been looking forward to this movie for months, so it automatically gets a little slack.  Not to mention expectations were high because Marvel hasn’t whiffed on any of their films since The Incredible Hulk.  But most importantly, Barslap Cooneylatch was so good and fun that the movie could have been much worse and I still would have forgiven it.  Luckily, it wasn’t.

Rating: Don’t ask for any money back, and thanks to Binneyloon Crazypants for having such an awesome name (and being a great sport about it).

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

By: Kevin Jordan

Ever had a root canal and a colonoscopy on the same day?

The Hobbit

Before I get into The Battle of the Five Armies, I need to apologize for a grievous error on my part.  In my review of The Desolation of Smaug, I told you not to ask for any money back even though the movie featured one of the dumbest scenes ever put to film – the dwarves riding barrels down a river while being attacked by orcs.  Not only that, I failed to even mention that scene’s existence.  I should have ripped that scene to shreds for its idiocy, forced action, bad CGI, and absurdity and I should have told you to ask for half your money for that scene alone.  For that, I’m sorry.  I’m also sorry that the barrel scene isn’t the worst scene in the entire trilogy.  In fact, it’s better than almost everything in The Battle of the Five Armies.  And that makes me really sad.

The Battle of the Five Armies was like sitting though a bad high school play.  A lot of people might accuse me of being a stuffy critic that hates fantasy, but nothing could be further from the truth.  I love fantasy and this movie was a disgrace to the genre, to its fans, and even to the machinery projecting it onto theater screens.  With the exception of Martin Freeman and Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch), I take back everything good I might have said about the entire trilogy because, as a whole, it’s a bloated, rotting carcass masquerading as worthwhile cinema.  The sad thing is that, based on the first two parts, my expectations for the final installment were set firmly at blah or meh.  I never would have guessed that this movie would rival The Phantom Menace for shittiest disappointment, even with such mediocre expectations to begin with.

(As I said in my review of An Unexpected Journey, I don’t know who this SPOILER alert is for, but here you go.  If you honestly haven’t found time to read a wildly popular, well known, short novel published in 1937 by now, I really can’t help you.)

I had honestly forgotten that The Desolation of Smaug had ended with Smaug getting ready to torch Laketown, so when The Battle of the Five Armies began with Smaug torching Laketown, I was a little disoriented.  The disorientation might also have been from spending the first two minutes of the film taking my 3-D glasses on and off; realizing that the film was not, in fact, in 3-D.  Good one, theater.  Anyway, the best scene of the film happens in the first ten minutes with Smaug slowly crawling through the burning Laketown, taunting Bard (Luke Evans) just before Bard kills him.  The visuals are stunning, Smaug is delightfully evil, and Cumberbatch has easily joined my list of actors who will get me to watch a movie just because they are in it.  I realized that this should have been the conclusion of the previous film, ending with a shot of Thorin staring obsessively at the treasure in the Lonely Mountain.  For the life of me, I can’t figure out why Peter Jackson (writer/director/producer) decided to end the second movie where did, but I don’t think he could have picked a worse place.

After Smaug dies, the movie falls off the proverbial cliff.  The last we saw of Thorin (Richard Armitage), Bilbo, and most of the dwarves, they had just finished fighting off Smaug and were watching him soar toward Laketown.  When we see them again in this film, they are still standing there, watching Smaug burn everything, but with one notable exception – Thorin is staring, trancelike, at the entrance to the mountain.  Later on, we’ll get some babble about dragon sickness (i.e. obsessive greed), but the problem is there is no transition time for Thorin basically going insane.  It’s like a switch is flipped and the viewer simply isn’t prepared for it.  On top of that, the sickness is another invention of the writers that didn’t need to exist.  In the book, Thorin is just greedy and selfish (he also never promised the people of Laketown anything – another divergence from the book), which is perfectly fine.  The only reason to invent a sickness is to make him seem more sympathetic because, then, it’s not really his fault.  While not as overt as other recent films (Dracula Untold, Maleficent), this hits on the current asinine trend of devillainizing villains by blaming something other than the person for that person being a dick.  But I digress.

The only non-battle time of the film occurs after Smaug dies, but doesn’t wait very long to pick up again.  The dwarves wall up the entrance to the mountain, the people of Laketown take shelter in the ruins of Dale (a town at the foot of the mountain), and armies march toward the mountain.  Meanwhile, Saruman (Christopher Lee), Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), and Elrond (Hugo Weaving) launch a rescue mission to retrieve Gandalf (Ian McKellan) from the Necromancer.  In a wildly stupid fight scene, Saruman and Elrond fight with the ghosts of the nine kings of men (those guys that become the Nazgul in LOTR) while Galadriel helps that brown wizard (who is still covered in bird shit for some reason) whisk Gandalf to safety.  I say it’s stupid for a couple of reasons.  (1) Saruman will actually say to the ghosts “you should have stayed dead” (aren’t ghosts dead?), (2) Saruman uses exactly no magic during the fight; instead choosing to just swing his wizard’s staff around, (3) the CGI is pretty substandard here (to be fair, it’s substandard in almost the entire movie), and (4) after a few minutes, Galadriel uses her magic to just blow the ghosts – and the necromancer – into the horizon.  I’m not much of a strategist, but why didn’t she lead with that?  Was she as confused as we were that Saruman forgot he was a wizard and thought he was Donatello from the Ninja Turtles?

If you think that’s where the unintentional comedy stopped, you’re in for a treat because the big battle scene hadn’t even started yet.  There’s no more plot at that point, so let me just share some of the other parts of the movie that had the audience laughing (seriously, we laughed a lot) in a movie that included exactly zero jokes.

  • The elvenking (Lee Pace) rides a stag with the biggest rack of antlers you’ve ever seen and at one point during the battle, the stag slams into several orcs, lifting them all of the ground by his antlers and appearing to become a galloping clothes rack.
  • Dain, Thorin’s cousin, shows up leading an army of dwarves. After getting knocked of his steed (a giant pig; which isn’t that much funnier than the stag) and losing his helmet, he proceeds to head-butt full armored orcs and send them flying.  Jar-Jar Binks’ antics during the battle of Naboo were less embarrassing.
  • Legolas grabs the legs of a giant bat flying by and proceeds to steer it to where he wants to go.
  • Not to be outdone, Legolas later runs up the falling stones of a bridge and uses WWE-style moves to take down the orc he is fighting. Incidentally, the bat and falling stones scenes are the worst bits of CGI I’ve seen since the local weatherman on the news forgot what happens when he wears green.
  • At one point, the orcs break into Dale and are fighting the humans who had retreated there. When Thorin finally breaks out of his “sickness” and joins the fight, the humans get a second wind, but the orcs are nowhere to be found.  Was it halftime or something?
  • Taking a cue from the Ewoks ability to fell stormtroopers by dropping rocks on their helmeted heads, Bilbo is able to fell orcs by throwing small rocks at their heads. It’s as preposterous as the head-butting dwarf.
  • Thorin decides to kill the pale orc (Azog) and four giant mountain goats conveniently appear to take him and three other dwarves up a small peak. Seriously, where the hell did the goats come from?
  • At the top of the peak, after Thorin and those three dwarves kill what have to be the most inept twenty-five or so orcs ever created, Bilbo shows up to warn them that a whole new army is on its way. As if to punctuate this, one hundred goblins (that number is specifically stated) start pouring over the walls to attack them.  Thorin tells two of the dwarves to look for Azog and that he and the fourth dwarf will handle the goblins.  This elicited the biggest laugh out of the audience, who I’m assuming had the same thought I did – “no, you aren’t winning in 100 vs. 2.”
  • That whole new army of orcs that’s supposed to show up ends up being a few dozen that show up sporadically and attack the dwarves one at a time to make sure the dwarves win.
  • Thorin and Azog end up fighting on a floating sheet of ice, and Thorin wins by throwing Azog’s own boulder (which we was swinging around by a chain) into Azog’s arm, thus tipping him into the water. Then, Azog floats just under the surface of the ice, appearing to be dead, when his eyes (not surprisingly) fly open, he stabs Thorin through the foot, and flies (yes – flies) out of the water as if he had jumped from a trampoline.

I guess these are the kinds of things that happen when you stage a 90+ minute battle scene designed at entertaining eight-year olds.  In addition to that nonsense, other aspects of the film are just as terrible.  The dialogue was as clichéd and soapy as you can possibly get.  The attempts at humor – as few as there were – all centered around Alfrid (the Wormtongue-y creep from Laketown) being a coward and weasel and ended with a cross-dressing scene (plus, they didn’t even have the decency to kill this annoying character).  The music was poorly timed and amateurish, sounding as if Peter Jackson outsourced the music editing to a kindergarten music class.  Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) serve no purpose whatsoever to the movie, but to sell more toys at Christmas and also challenge Edward, Jacob, and Bella for weirdest love triangle in film (the third being Killi the dwarf).

I think you’ve got the point now, but it is worth repeating that if it weren’t for Freeman and Cumberbatch, this film would have zero redeeming qualities.  And you can watch them together in three seasons of Sherlock, which is infinitely better – even when watching for the third or fourth time.

As fantastic as the LOTR trilogy was, The Hobbit trilogy is incongruously bad.  I’m sure I’ve missed other examples of putridity, but there were so many that this was the first movie that ever made me wish I had a notepad to write them all down.  I’m glad that this disaster is finally over and I sincerely hope that someone remakes The Hobbit.  Like, tomorrow.  Middle Earth deserves better than to go out like that.

Rating: Ask for all of your money back for all three films.  This last installment truly was that bad.