This Lord of the Rings prequel trilogy hasn't achieved the same highs as its predecessor, but it's technically superior and I actually prefer Martin Freeman to Elijah Wood. The Hobbit trilogy has been dogged by complains each instalment's too long (which is hard to argue against), and the love/hate high-frame rate (HFR) medium overshadowed the first film's content somewhat, but I think people are being too hard on these movies. They're astonishingly rich productions and I find myself luxuriating in the pure escapism of them in my cinema seat, with 3D glasses perched on my nose. I probably won't watch them more than a handful of times (also true of LOTR for me), and I can't help agreeing with much of the criticism, but something about these films just delight me. They're visual triumphs and I enjoy the storytelling, even if everything's protracted and embellished because of Peter Jackson's desire for them to be LOTR prequels in addition to a three-part Hobbit adaptation.
Anyway, above is the first trailer for the third and final instalment: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES. That's a more badass title than There, And Back Again was, right? And it appears the final movie will be a gigantic land battle betwixt the titular hordes, with Smaug the dragon only making a brief appearance in this footage. The tone is closer to what LOTR became in its own final chapter, too. I doubt anyone who disliked the first two will come away feeling happier about this conclusion, but what do I care? For me, they work as indulgent pieces of fantasy filmmaking.
The Hobbit: Battle of the Fives Armies walks into cinemas 12 December 2014 (UK) and 17 December 2014 (US).
What took them so long? Sin City came out almost a decade ago, and only now is the follow-up about to hit cinemas. I guess director Robert Rodriguez finally realised the world doesn't want Machete and Spy Kids sequels, so he's trying to claw back some love. Anyway, this latest red band trailer for SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR is absolute bliss. Both a prequel and sequel to the original, it again stars Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson and Powers Booth... only now they're joined by Josh Brolin (replacing Clive Owen), Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dennis Haysbert, Ray Liotta, Jeremy Piven, and... yes, Lady Gaga. To be fair, Rodriguez never has a problem getting big-names involved in his projects (Gaga was in Machete Kills, as well), so don't get excited purely because of the talent assembled. Or the extensive use of greenscreen and digital backgrounds, which no longer feels as revolutionary as it did in 2005.
No, get excited because Eva Green is playing yet another femme fatale, and she's cornered the market with those. Green single-handedly kept 300: Rise of an Empire afloat (another property based on a Frank Miller comic), and was the biggest reason to watch Showtime's Penny Dreadful. Always a delight on-screen, I can't wait to see her in Sin City's gonzo, ultraviolent, black-n'-white comic strip world. Sin City 2 is comprised of four vignettes ("A Dame to Kill For", "Just Another Saturday Night", "The Long Bad Night" and "The Fat Loss"), and the latter two are original pieces written specifically for the movie... so no book-readers can spoil things. The trailer looks like a huge blast of hard-boiled fun, and I'm excited to re-enter Frank Miller's OTT film noir universe. How about you?