Finally! The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug opens this weekend on the big screen

By admin
13 December 2013

One of the most anticipated movies of the year opens this week. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (10-12PG V) is the second part of the trilogy based on The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien’s beloved prequel to The Lord of the Rings.

One of the most anticipated movies of the year opens this week. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (10-12PG V) is the second part of the trilogy based on The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien’s beloved prequel to The Lord of the Rings.

The_Hobbit_-_The_Desolation_of_Smaug_theatrical_poster

Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), the hobbit of the title, and wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellan) are still accompanying a band of dwarves on their quest to reclaim their mountain home from the dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch). They’ve made it over the Misty Mountains but now the creepy Mirkwood Forest lies ahead.

The movie received mostly positive reviews. On critics’ reviews aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes it scored 74% and the consensus was that “while still slightly hamstrung by ‘middle chapter’ narrative problems and its formidable length, The Desolation of Smaug represents a more confident, exciting second chapter for the Hobbit series”.

British film magazine Empire’s Nick de Semlyen gave it five stars, writing, “Middle-earth’s got its mojo back. A huge improvement on the previous instalment, this takes our adventurers into uncharted territory and delivers spectacle by the ton.”

Those who still fondly remember the testosterone-fuelled action movies the ’80s should enjoy Escape Plan (16 LV) – the first time Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone headline a film together. Stallone plays a security expert who tests prison security systems by being locked up and escaping. But when he’s double-crossed and really imprisoned in a new facility he teams up with a fellow prisoner (Schwarzenegger) to escape.

The film received mostly mixed reviews and scored 49 out of 100 on critics’ reviews aggregate site Metacritic. Total Film’s Andy Lowry gave it three stars, describing it as “a highly enjoyable slice of in-one-eye, out-the-other nonsense. It may coast on the charisma of its leads at times, and it’s hardly deep, but there’s a Friday night to be had.”

Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch also pops up in another film released this week but here he plays the lead. The Fifth Estate (13 LSV) is a biopic about Julian Assange (Cumberbatch) and Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Rush’s Daniel Brühl), who found website Wikileaks, a platform where whistle-blowers can leak secret information that governments and corporations don’t want the public to see. But as they gain access to increasingly dangerous information, a rift begins to open up between them when they disagree on how to use their power.

James Berardinelli of Reelviews.net gave it two and a half stars, writing that “as a thriller, The Fifth Estate is strangely inert, with a lot of movement but little in the way of genuine suspense”.

Filmmaker Tyler Perry’s blend of sentimentality and coarse humour is an acquired taste, but if you’re a fan of his tough-talking matriarch, Madea, check out A Madea Christmas (10-12PG LP).

When Madea (Perry) agrees to accompany her friend to a small town to pay the friend’s daughter a surprise visit family secrets are revealed. The film hasn’t been released yet nor screened for critics so there aren’t any reviews but it’s safe to say fans should enjoy it and the rest should steer clear.

SANDRA VISSER

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