Posts Tagged ‘trilogy’

I remember how magical the world of Middle Earth was to me when I first dipped into the epic Lord of the Rings trilogy. A world filled with many races all entangled in an epic battle of good and evil. When the One Ring was finally destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom, and the the elves, Gandalf, Bilbo, and Frodo left Middle Earth forever I had a moment of sadness. The Lord of the Rings was over. Years of my life involved in what was an amazing story has come to pass. Now over seven years later director Peter Jackson has brought me back to the world of Tolkien’s masterpiece with a new prequel trilogy, The Hobbit.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first part of a three part prequel trilogy based on the story of Bilbo Baggins. Bilbo (Martin Freeman) is recruited by Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) to accompany a group of thirteen dwarves on an adventure to reclaim a treasure they lost to Smaug the Dragon in the Lonely Mountain. While Hobbits don’t necessarily appreciate the mere thought of adventure, Bilbo would eventually take part in the biggest adventure of his life. An unexpected adventure where he will eventually come to pass with something “precious” that every Lord of the Rings fan knows all about. Just keep in mind that the finding of this “precious” item is just a side story to a much grander adventure.

Now when it comes to The Hobbit, most people will try to compare it to The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Sure it has some similarities, but comparing both of them will be like comparing apples to oranges. You just can’t do it. J.R.R. Tolkien originally wrote The Hobbit as a children’s book. The Lord of the Rings trilogy however was for more of a grown up audience. Peter Jackson’s vision for The Hobbit is no children’s story. The same Middle Earth I knew from The Lord of the Rings trilogy is here once again except this time there’s more CGI than ever before. In a way that takes away a bit of the magic of the previous films, but I’m not going to make a big deal about that.

One big similarity is the fact that it seems that The Hobbit is presenting me with an all new sort of Fellowship. Basically this new crew consists of Gandalf, Bilbo, twelve Gimlis and an Aragorn wannabe. Sure it’s not the Fellowship that I’m familiar with from The Lord of the Rings, but they do have their moments which I’m alright with. Of all the dwarves, it’s the leader Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) that stands out the most. He’s the badass of the group with rugged looks and his ass kicking fighting ability. While Thorin is no Aragorn he is very likable and the type of character I would want watching my back if I had to go into battle. As for the other dwarves…well they’re quite forgettable.

The Hobbit also features quite a few faces that I remember from The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Back for this adventure include Gandalf (Ian McKellen), Saruman (Christopher Lee), Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), Elrond (Hugo Weaving). older Bilbo (Ian Holm), Frodo (Elijah Wood), and Gollum (Andy Serkis). I must praise the performance of Ian McKellen because he once again nails the role of Gandalf the Grey. He is also a complete badass during the battle sequences. I also have to once again commend the performance of Andy Serkis as Gollum. I really enjoyed Gollum in the trilogy, and seeing him again in The Hobbit was amazing. His scenes and riddles with Bilbo made me both happy and a little sad at the same time, because I knew after this film I won’t see Gollum on the big screen ever again.

While The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is an amazing adventure there is something that holds it back. Length. Not in terms of the film itself, but the fact that Peter Jackson is making this one book into a trilogy. That’s a little much considering the fact that now some scenes will be extended a little longer than expected. This is noticeable in the opening hour of the film as it seems to drag on for awhile before the action begins to pick up in the second half. There was a moment where I swear that I heard a snore or two in the theater during the Shire sequences only to be woken up again when the soundtrack got a little louder and the action kicked in. Sadly, I feel like there will be more of this in the upcoming films as well.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a welcome return to the world of Middle Earth. Seeing Bilbo’s adventures and how the events of The Lord of the Rings will begin is pretty cool. The acting is wonderful even though some of the CGI moments in the battles are highly noticeable. Just a piece of advice: watch the movie in 24 frames per second because it just feels right. Peter Jackson did make the movie for 48 frames per second, but from what I’ve heard from some moviegoers is that it didn’t feel the same. Maybe the movie going audience is just not ready for the future yet. Good thing I watched it the way I’m used to. Overall, this is a film meant for the fans. For everyone else you might want to consider a rental on Blu-Ray.

Master Chief Is Back!

It’s been five years since the last appearance of the iconic Master Chief in Halo 3. The Halo rings were destroyed, 343 Guilty Spark was destroyed, and Earth was saved. The Chief and Cortana however were last seen drifting in the far reaches of space on the fractured UNSC ship Forward Unto Dawn. The Chief has gone back into cryo sleep and tells Cortana to wake him when he’s needed. Now after more than four years in space a new threat along with Covenant called the Prometheans has arisen. Add onto that Cortana’s AI is deteriorating. What does the Chief do? Kick ass, take names, and once again try to save the day. It’s time for me to take part in a brand new Halo trilogy. The Reclaimer Trilogy.

PROS:

The Story Drew Me Right In (Spoiler Free)
343 Industries sure did their homework because Halo 4’s story was amazing right from the start. I was hooked right away as the action ramped right up after the awakening. I was able to really feel the tense drama between Master Chief and Cortana throughout the campaign. Then again I’ve taken quite a keen interest in the adventures of the duo since the original Combat Evolved game more than a decade ago. At no point did I feel lost, bored, or wondered what the heck was going on. Halo 4’s story is gripping, intense, and kept me interested in between all the gunfights with Covenant and Prometheans forces.

The Visuals Are Absolutely Stunning
It’s not very often that I talk about a game’s graphics. Actually I never do, but I need to comment on the visual eye candy of Halo 4. It’s amazing. The sheer amount of detail is awe inspiring. I had to pause for a moment, pull out the disc, and put in previous Halo games just to see all the differences in both character design and the overall environment. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. While the graphics look impressive on my 1080p HD television I’ll bet that it still looks just as good on any standard television as well.

Amazing Sound
What makes Halo so unique is the amazing soundtrack. It’s almost tells a story in itself with tones that spell out the drama along with energetic beats when the action heats up. I absolutely loved it. Along with the music comes with the sounds of the weapons themselves. 343 Industries did a complete overhaul with weapon sounds making them sound even realistic than ever before. Now It really feels like I’m here to kick some ass with some awesome weapons.

Spartan Ops
Along with the thrilling campaign 343 Industries replaces Firefight with a new episodic campaign entitled Spartan Ops. The new campaign has weekly episode updates bringing me a whole new story taking place after the event s of Halo 4. Featuring both solo and co-op play Spartan Ops is quite addicting giving me even more Halo bang for the buck. It’s also great to play in between all the competitive multiplayer action. Sure I’ll miss Firefight, but all I’ll have to do is change discs to Halo: Reach and everything will be just fine.

Multiplayer Is Still Awesome
Besides a well done story, Halo is also known for some of the best multiplayer action online on Xbox Live. Yes, I said it. No, I’m not bragging. I honestly seem to enjoy Halo’s competitive multiplayer a little more than Gears of War, Battlefield, and Call of Duty. Halo: Reach made some radical changes in the multiplayer formula, but still kept it’s fun factor. Halo 4 continues that tradition by making a few tweaks here and there, but still keeps the core mechanics intact making me want to put on my Astro A50 headsets and kick some ass online. Forge mode is also back allowing me to create new game types along with making a tweak, or two, in popular maps just to change things up. Finally, there’s the customization factor allowing to create my own unique Spartan along with loadouts catering to my competitive needs.

CONS:

Honestly, throughout my gameplay time with Halo 4 I really couldn’t find any nagging issues that brought the game down for me. Maybe I was too hooked on the epic story and action to even care. It’s extremely rare for me not to have some sort of negative about a game, but I’m at a loss with this one. I’m not saying that Halo 4 is perfect, but I will say that this game is the closest thing to a near perfect experience.

IN CONCLUSION

Bungie handed 343 Industries the keys to the palace, and clearly they didn’t disappoint. Sure I had my doubts in the beginning, but they were quickly dashed once I got underway in the campaign. Combat Evolved was the bar in my opinion when it came to Halo games. Halo 4 has clearly surpassed that bar, and now sets the standards for what a first person shooter should be. I didn’t think that the Halo series needed a new trilogy, but this new Reclaimer Trilogy is a welcome addition. I can’t wait to see what 343 Industries have next up their sleeves with Halo 5, but I will say that the expectations will be at an extremely high level. Hopefully they’re up for the difficult challenge that lies ahead. Until then it will be more of the campaign, Spartan Ops, and multiplayer for me. Welcome back Master Chief!

Developer: 343 Industries
Platform: Xbox 360
Players: 1-16 (online multiplayer)
Price: $59.99

It’s been four years since The Dark Knight. A film that I consider one of the best superhero movies of all time. I’ve always said to myself “I wonder how Christopher Nolan is going to top this.” Well the wait is finally over. No more teasers. My expectations are at an all time high. Then after about 20 minutes of previews the film finally began. After the nearly three hour showing I concluded that The Dark Knight has risen once again, and the result is nothing short of absolutely amazing. Not only was The Dark Knight Rises the best film of the summer. It’s the best film of the year. Academy Awards committee take notice. This film needs to win some awards.

Eight years have passed since the events of The Dark Knight. Gotham City is at peace. Batman is still a wanted man, but hasn’t been seen. Then again neither has Bruce Wayne. He’s become a hermit hiding in the rebuilt Wayne Manor yet still contributes to society. However, a new threat has made it’s way to Gotham. Bane. This madman is looking to destroy Gotham. Of course let’s also not forget about Selina Kyle who’s causing her own mischief as Catwoman. As things take a turn for the worse the people begin to question “Where is Batman? Will he come back?”

The Dark Knight Rises starts out just a bit slow as the storyline is introduced, but doesn’t take that long for the action to pick up. The first half concentrates more on the story while the second half up to the awe inspiring ending takes the approach of occupation to an all out war for the control of Gotham City with Batman and Bane taking center stage. The ending gives you a satisfying conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s epic trilogy and in a way leaves a slight opening for more although it’s really not needed.

Christian Bale returns once again as Bruce Wayne/Batman and does an excellent job with the role as usual. While the majority of the film centers around Bruce Wayne more than Batman, I still enjoyed the journey that featured a character going from all- time low in his life to the eventual point of redemption. Gary Oldman played a good role again as Commissioner Gordon. Joseph Gordon-Levitt was outstanding as Officer John Blake.

I really have to commend the performance of Tom Hardy who played the villainous Bane. His presence and physicality was commanding, but it was his voice through the mask that gripped me. From the first moment he spoke, I began to draw back memories of James Earl Jones when he did the voice of Darth Vader. It was both amazing and creepy at the same time. This version of Bane was more than just physically strong. He was also smart and cunning. Much better than the version that was shown in the shitty Batman and Robin where he was a big dumb brute and spoke with one word sentences.

I also enjoyed Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle/Catwoman. Sure some people didn’t like the outfit when it was first revealed, but when I saw her on screen in her tight costume I immediately said “Holy shit! She looks so hot!” Then again no matter what Anne wore she still looked amazing. Her performance had just a hint of Michelle Pfeiffer when she donned the catsuit in Batman Returns, but the rest was her own interpretation making it both fun and original.

Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy is an amazement to behold. These films were a big improvement over the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher movies from the late 80s and 90s. The Dark Knight Rises is a thrilling final chapter  in the Batman story that will leave you on the edge of your seat. Once I left the theater during the ending credits I wanted to sneak into another showing just to get another fix. I can guarantee that I will be seeing this film again before it’s eventual release on Blu-Ray later this year.