Thursday, December 4, 2014

At the Movies – December 2014 – Part 3: Most Anticipated Films

Must-See of the Month:

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – Adventure Fantasy – Dec 19
Plot Summary: The Battle of the Five Armies is the final chapter of The Hobbit Trilogy. It finds Bilbo and company on the brink of war, as they are descended upon by the mighty dragon Smaug and an army of orcs. The war will determine the fate of Middle-Earth. Key Filmmakers Involved: Writer-director-producer Peter Jackson, composer Howard Shore, cinematographer Andrew Lesnie, and production designer Dan Hennah. Actors Involved: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Benedict Cumberbatch, Luke Evans, Evangeline Lilly, Richard Armitage, Lee Pace, Manu Bennett, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Aidan Turner, James Nesbitt, Stephen Fry, Billy Connolly, and Ian Holm. Quality Potential: High/Medium. While I am not so sure that The Battle of Five Armies will be as good a film as Inherent Vice or Unbroken, I am certainly the most excited to see it of the films set for release in December. An Unexpected Journey set up the series well, but it also left many fans with the feeling that these Hobbit films would not quite match the excellence of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. The Desolation of Smaug is a much more exciting and entertaining film overall, but it is clear that The Hobbit Trilogy is not quite on the same level – but nor is the J.R.R. Tolkien novel. That said, The Battle of Five Armies looks great and should feature the biggest scale and scope of this new trilogy. It will be sad to again say goodbye to Middle-Earth. Trailer: Here.

Worth Checking Out:

Inherent Vice – Crime/Mystery Drama – Dec 12
Plot Summary: Detective Larry “Doc” Sportello is wrapped up in a world of drugs and sex in 1970s Los Angeles. When a former girlfriend goes missing, he decides to investigate, leading him down a road of bizarre characters and situations. Key Filmmakers Involved: Writer-director-producer Paul Thomas Anderson, composer Jonny Greenwood, cinematographer Robert Elswit, and production designer David Crank. Actors Involved: Joaquin Phoenix, Jena Malone, Reese Witherspoon, Josh Brolin, Sasha Pieterse, Benicio Del Toro, Owen Wilson, Michael Kenneth Williams, Eric Roberts, Maya Rudolph, Jillian Bell, and Martin Short. Quality Potential: High. There is a lot to be excited for with Inherent Vice. For one, it is written and directed by one of our best working auteurs Paul Thomas Anderson. Jonny Greenwood is composing some of the most interesting musical scores right now (his score for There Will Be Blood is utterly brilliant). And, Anderson has a fantastic cast – it will be especially great to see Joaquin Phoenix and Anderson working together again after their standout collaboration in The Master (possibly my favorite performance of 2012). The film looks really fun and weird. At face value, it reminds me of the Coen BrothersThe Big Lebowski (which is probably a very good thing). Trailer: Here.

Unbroken – War Drama – Dec 25
Plot Summary: Louis Zamperini is an Olympic runner who joined the Air Force during WWII. Serving in the Pacific Theatre, his plane is shot down and he and other members of the crew are taken prisoner and tortured by the Japanese. This is based on his true story. Key Filmmakers Involved: Director Angelina Jolie, writers the Coen Brothers, composer Alexandre Desplat, and cinematographer Roger Deakins. Actors Involved: Jack O’Connell, Jai Courtney, Domhnall Gleeson, Garrett Hedlund, and Alex Russell. Quality Potential: High/Medium. Unbroken looks like it is going to be a brilliant WWII character drama. It has a ton of Oscar buzz and some of the best people involved in its production, namely the Coen Brothers, Alexandre Desplat and Roger Deakins. The cast is also made of up very good young actors (Jack O’Connell is having a breakthrough year, at least in his native U.K., with Starred Up and ’71 playing to acclaim – most, however, will recognize his as Cook from Skins). Angelina Jolie quietly directed the war/romance drama In the Land of Blood and Honey in 2011. It was little seen and not very well received by critics. Unbroken is her second feature film. Hopefully, she has honed her skills and will take advantage of her excellent collaborators and deliver something special. Again, the film looks very good. Trailer: Here.

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