It has been a long time; some people had relationships that were of a shorter duration. When we first met my eyes were dazzled by your beauty and my mind was tickled by your fanciful creativity. You showed me places I had only read about in books, never imagining I would see them come to life. I so enjoyed listening to your stories as the images you created appeared before my very eyes. You had this ability to sweep me away to a place where I could forget my problems and let the little boy inside of me come out to play. The years have been good to us. Like any relationship we settled into an easy comfort as we grew old together. Though my hearing and vision may not be as good as it used to be, I still looked forward to the tales you would tell me. After all this time I very much appreciated the fact you did not judge me if it looked like I was about to doze off during your storytelling; you know I never did. By the way, whenever I needed to take a bathroom break I always quickly ran there and back so I would not miss much. DIRECTOR Peter Jackson (King Kong, The Lovely Bones) and I started our journey back in 2001 at the release of his first film from his Lord of the Rings trilogy. Twenty-three years later we meet again for the last movie of his Hobbit franchise. This film festival winning adventure fantasy was just as spectacular visually as the previous ones. I particularly admired Peter’s eye for detail when it came to the scenes. Besides returning cast members Ian McKellen (X-Men franchise, Gods and Monsters) as Gandalf and Martin Freeman (Hot Fuzz, The World’s End) as Bilbo Baggins, there was newcomer Billy Connolly (The Boondock Saints, Quartet) adding a bit of life with his character Dain. Let me start by saying I enjoyed this film more than the previous one. Smaug the dragon, voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imagination Game, Sherlock-TV), who ended the last movie began this one with a fiery blast. What it boiled down to for me (no pun intended) was the script could not match the visual technical achievements of the scenes. After all this time there was a tired feeling to the last couple of pictures. It seemed as if this final installment was repetitive, with added fillers. For me watching a nearly one hour long battle scene was a laborious undertaking; it lost intensity as it went on. There was a “let us throw everything at them” quality to it. I am, however, glad I saw this movie. Our relationship may not have been as fresh as it once was, but I could not stand Peter up.
2 2/3 stars
True friends have the ability to reflect our real selves back to us. No matter how ugly, scary or false we act out; our friends have an open line to the sane part of our minds, reminding us who we are and to stop acting in such a poor fashion. I have a select group of friends who help me cut through the minutiae that spews out of my pinball brain from time to time. As the years stack up for me and my friends, we tend to communicate in a form of verbal and nonverbal shorthand. A simple look can reveal what one of us is thinking. One of the major facets established with these friendships is the supportive aspect. Whenever an event, either of a celebrating or crisis nature, comes up all the friends are right by each one’s side, ready to do whatever is necessary. There really is something to that phrase about “friends from the old neighborhood.” The people who have grown up with us have a special connection that is not affected by distance or time. BEST friends Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private; voiced by Tom McGrath (Madagascar franchise, Megamind), Chris Miller (Shrek franchise, Madagascar franchise), Conrad Vernon (Shrek franchise, Madagascar franchise) and Christopher Knights (Shrek franchise, Madagascar franchise); all agreed to work with a top secret organization called The North Wind. Led by the secretive agent referred to as Classified, voiced by Benedict Cumberpatch (Star Trek into Darkness, The Fifth Estate), the penguins would help to stop the evil Dr. Octavius Brine, voiced by John Malkovich (Red franchise, Secretariat), from wreaking havoc across the world. This animated adventure comedy was filled with a variety of clever lines and visuals, A couple of them went by so fast they easily could be missed if one was not paying close attention. The actors all did a fine job voicing their characters; each with a distinct enough voice to keep the characters separate. As for the story, it was geared more towards a younger crowd; it lacked the sophistication of some of the recent popular animated films. What did not work for me in this movie was the constant chase scenes. It began to feel monotonous to me after a short time. Fortunately I did not have time to dwell on this because I was busy trying to catch the fun twists to the printed words and sight gags flying across the movie screen. With strong themes of friendship, loyalty and commitment; I wound up enjoying this fun animated story. There was an extra scene at the end of the credits.