Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Dumb and Dumber To (2014)

In my quest for nostalgia, this movie doesn’t disappoint. Unfortunately, it isn’t as funny as the first one (though on the crude scale, it’s a match).

It had a good start, though.

After a catatonic Lloyd reveals he was faking it for 20 years (the exact number of time between this movie and its first, Dumb and Dumber), Harry is need of a kidney and they both set out to find Harry's illegitimate daughter to see whether she is a donor match. Hilarity, devious plots and pranks ensue.

The movie parallels the first one almost to a ‘T’, as if trying to see whether the same formula could work 20 years later. From the road trip to the large villainous sidekick getting inadvertently killed, down to Lloyd having a fantasy sequence (where he kicks ass and then imagines his love interest's tatas to be the front of a truck) and undercover police (not so obvious, eh), from the insidious plot underway to the Lauren HollyLaurie Holden, I can go on and on.

Don't get me wrong; it's not that I didn't appreciate all the references and tie-backs to the first movie, it's just that it's exactly the same movie. The difference is that I could name so many funny things from the first movie, and not that many from this one; laugh-out-loud moments were far and rather few.

My main quibble with the movie were some plot devices that, even when proven that they weren't in fact loopholes, still weren't satisfactory at all. Like, how can the conference people not know what the renowned Dr Pinchelow looked like? Couldn't Kathleen Turner write smaller on the postcard and go, "Dear Harry, I'm pregnant so I need the 40 bucks you owe me, love Fraida"? It's as if there was no other way to create comedy (or acts of stupidity, if you will) in the film and they had to rely on such sloppy writing.

And with all the throwbacks, I thought there could be a connection between Laurie Holden toand Mary SamsoniteSwanson, because the resemblance is uncanny. Alas, it was not to be. And (again) since we're on the topic of throwbacks, it's not the same without Harland Williams nor a Jeff Daniels' explosive diarrhea scene.

On top of that, I actually feel sorry for Lloyd (easily the mean-spirited of the duo, based on the first film), when he gave up his kidney for Harry, only for him to reveal it to be a prank.

So, Dumb and Dumber To: watch, or don't watch?

If you like/love the first film and also throwbacks, do watch. If not, well, then don't. 5/10.

[Despite the long list of similarities, I left out two of the best throwbacks in the film, one of which is in the post-credits scene. It's worth the wait if you're a fan.]

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

*spoilers spoilers spoilers spoilers ON TIME!*

TBotFA is the last movie in The Hobbit trilogy, which I hear is two movies too long. It picks up immediately after the events in Desolation of Smaug, with Smaug desolatinglaying waste to Laketown. What surprised me was Smaug’s defeat 15-20 minutes into the film; I thought they would drag this on for at least a bit more.

Thorin succumbs to ‘dragon sickness’ after evicting the dragon (meaning he becomes obsessed with gold and wants to hoard all of it – like Stephen Colbert, perhaps?) and holes himself and the rest of the dwarf company under the Lonely Mountain. The humans from the now-razed Laketown camp outside the Mountain in search of shelter, and to claim some of the gold within as part of recompense for aiding the dwarves and to also rebuild their town (I don’t recall much aiding, by the way, but since Bard said it and he looks to be of upright character, I will go along with it). Legolas and Tauriel have gone a-trackin’, and find out that the Orcs (from the first two films) are mobilizing and planning to attack the Mountain in a bid to reclaim the land behind it (which is Angmar. Cue goosebumps).

The Elves have also come to the Mountain, to claim the white gems that Thranduil has always wanted, and join forces with the humans in an effort to get Thorin and Co., to budge. Thorin’s reinforcements (led by his boar-riding cousin, Billy ConnollyDain) arrive, and are about to fight with the Elf-Human contingent when the Orcs finally arrive.

The last hour or so is true to its title, with everyone duking it out with the Orcs, even though I count only four armies (Dwarf, Elf, Human and Orc), unless you include Goblin mercenaries, which were only on-screen for like, five minutes. Probably the book is clearer on this.

Really, really cool scenes in the movie are:

  • The way Bard takes down Smaug. Super-epic.

  • Elrond and Saruman fighting the pre-Lord of the Rings Ringwraiths (I think), and the Ringwraiths (I think) are bamf-ing about. Also, the return of Sauron, from mere silhouetted Necromancer to the flaming eye we all know and are familiar with. One more ‘also’: Angmar. Freaking Angmar.

  • The part when the dwarves lay down their pikes against the Orcs just when they are about to attack, and the Elves coming in at the last minute by jumping over the dwarves and combating the Orcs. I don’t know how else to describe this scene, but be assured it looks far cooler than my description.

  • I would include the Ringworms but they didn’t get much screen-time. I mean, what is the point of mentioning Ringworms if they’re going to be in it for five seconds.

  • Legolas stepping on /climbing falling stones like a staircase. Cool as this looks, I still prefer his turn in Return of the King. You know which scene I mean.

  • “The Eagles are coming!” The Eagles are always last-minutely cool. Also, that guy who rode the Eagles and transformed into a giant bear and fought the Orcs. I thought he was random, but Wikipedia reminded me that he was in the second movie.

  • Thorin Sheathing The Sword, when fighting Azog the Defiler. If I don’t get that Robert Jordan film series, this will most definitely do it, for me.

  • As with all Hollywood decisions, splitting a slim volume into three super-long movies (by using appendices) is motivated by financial reasons, however I have noticed the series’ effectiveness in getting us invested with its (main) characters. It works in getting you to care what happens to them, how they have grown, etc. And having not read the book (and not spoiled myself silly with Wikipedia beforehand), I was wowed and awed and suitably saddened by its turn of events (when I guessed wrongly who would die and who wouldn’t).

    This movie ends full circle into the original trilogy, with old Bilbo getting a visit from Gandalf. It doesn’t exactly have that the same kind of finality that Return of the King had, even as the end-credits song drums its farewell into you. I did stay for the end-credits, because with so many people in this film, it’s a lovely gesture and a very, very nice feeling to finally get to know who played whom.