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  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies 2014

    ★★½ Watched 14 Dec, 2014

    If, like me, you think the essential heart of the Lord of the Rings films are the battles—the Balrog, Helm's Deep, Gondor—then it's impossible not to get a kick out of this film, which at about two-and-a-half hours devotes the whole thing, save the last twenty minutes, to an action sequence. But the film is also a demonstration that too much of a good thing leaves one wanting less.

    There are no real standout performances. Aidan Turner as Kili is…

  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 2014

    ★★★★ Watched 20 Nov, 2014

    Having, on rewatch, come around to the first film, while maintaining some doubts about the second one, it has to be said that this is far superior to both.

    Stripped of the gore and the interpersonal love-story, which could be so mushy, replaced by a fainter, long-distance—and indirect—affair, with Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) in the rebel camp led by President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) held by President Coriolanus Snow (Donald Sutherland), the film that unfolds…

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  • Avatar 2009

    ★★ Watched 16 Jun, 2013 3

    It is simply impossible to see what the fuss was about. Was it the visuals perhaps—surely surpassed now by Life of Pi (reviewed here)? It can't be the acting—I like Sam Worthington and Sigourney Weaver as much as anybody, but reality is still reality. My impression is that the supposed wondrousness of the thing was political: this is a film that presents a vision of what idiots believe the Iraq War was about—and indeed what people now commonly take to…

  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2 2014

    ★★★★★ Watched 16 Apr, 2014 4

    It is quite simply brilliant. Trying to explain why without giving anything away is tricky but here goes ...

    It is perhaps to be expected in 2014 that visually a film will pass muster but the manner of the passing here is quite exceptional. Better still, there is none of the pretentiousness about it that occasioned Avatar (reviewed here) or—much worse—Life of Pi (see here).

    The acting is sensational. It is impossible to overpraise Andrew Garfield. As someone who actually…