2014 Shadow Awards!

Welcome to the 4th annual Shadow Awards!

This is where I rate the best of the best and the worst of the worst on various topics, mostly about movies of course. Once again, I can only rate what I have seen… so you won’t see some sappy ass shitty movie on here, but you will see Captain America.

The only movies mentioned that are not out of DVD yet are The Hobbit 3. There are some Hobbit spoilers and they are in RED so you can avoid them if you want.

And here… we… go!

Continue reading 2014 Shadow Awards!

Squat PR 475×1

Just wanted to hit a max squat before the New Year begins.

I have made some damn good progress on my squat this year. I did 425 at my last meet in January while missing 435, so to hit a pretty comfortable 475 is good stuff from me. No complaints here… especially considering my squat training the last month or two has not been 100% due to my focus on deadlifts and then hurting my knee.

Onward to 500 raw in 2015!

Sumo Deadlift PR 555×1

This is the most I have ever done without straps and the most I have deadlifted in years.

I haven’t pulled with a mix grip in a long time, hence the helicopter wobble at the top but I can’t really complain.

Just wanted to hit a max because I have been pissed at myself lately for my lack of effort with deads. I seem to get pissed and give up on them too easy instead of getting pissed and SFW.

There is more there if I ever learn to pull properly and pull often enough to not suck at the lift while not getting hurt. But, this is the first year in a long time I have been able to consistently pull without injury so I am not complaining.

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies Review

Shadow’s Overall Rating: God Status— A fitting ending to the Hobbit Trilogy, featuring epic large scale battles and epic small fights before hitting you right in the feels.

Shadow’s Theatrical Rating: God Status
Shadow’s Rewatchability Rating: God Status

Rotten Tomatoe’s Rating: 61%, 6.3/10
Audience: 81%, 8.2/10

Plot in a Nutshell: Now that Thorin has reclaimed Erebor, others want what is inside the mountain… elves, men, and legions of orcs lead by Azog. Plus… Sauron must be dealt with in Dol Goldur.

.

Spoiler FREE Thoughts…

– This was a very, very fitting end to the Hobbit Trilogy. What the first two Hobbit movies lacked in large scale battles, this one made up for it all in one go around. The last say… 45? minutes of the movie involved the actual Five Army battle. And that isn’t counting Smaug going to Lake Town or the White Council showing up in Dol Goldur to help Gandalf. This movie is (slight exaggeration) two hours of action.

– The epic, large scale battle stuff was expected to be great (it was). However, the one vs one stuff this movie featured were EPIC and leagues above the one v one stuff in the LotR series. Well, to be fair, there wasn’t much of that in LotR (Aragorn’s epic fight with the Uruk hai in Fellowship excluded) but it was a nice touch. Despite having battles for a long running time, it never felt stale.

– This movie was much, much more emotional than any of the previous Middle Earth movies. MUCH MUCH more so. We have seen death in the LotR trilogy (Boromir, Theoden, that Elf at Helm’s Deep) and Frodo leaving Middle Earth might hit you in the gut a little bit, but holy fuck this movie stuck a spear in your gut and twisted it over and over again.

– It was nice to see Elrond, Saruman, and especially Galadriel kick some fucking ass. The Lady is one of the most powerful beings on Middle Earth… EVER and it was nice to finally see that. Saruman kicking ass like he is Neo… YES!

– One thing I wanted them to show was the contrasting battle styles of Dwarves and Elves and we definitely got that. On another note, Dane was a boss.

– There was a hell of a lot more focus on Legolas than I would have guessed.

– The character designs on the orcs and trolls were fucking ON POINT. Some of them looked like stuff Del Torro would come up with. Really cool and interesting.

– The CGI was great in 99% of the movie but every once in a while it looked… awful? in spots. Everyone once in a while it would just throw you out of the experience. I name those spots below the jump.

– WAR ANIMALS YES!

– I haven’t talked much about Bilbo despite him being the “main” character of the whole thing. He was played perfectly and I have absolutely no complaints about him at all. Played a pivotal role and it nearly mirrored the book. He just gets a bit overshadowed due to HOLY FUCK SO MUCH FIGHTING AND ACTION!

– All in all… probably the best of the Hobbit trilogy, although I need to see the extended version next November (this was the shortest LotR movie yet) to confirm. I would still probably say every one of the LotR movies were better than everyone of the Hobbit movies, although this one is CLOSE to being as good as the Fellowship IMO. Need to see that extended version though.

For those who are keeping score, I generally order them like Two Towers, Return of the King, Fellowship, Five Armies, Desolation, Unexpected Journey.

.

More Spoiler FILLED Thoughts After the Jump…

Continue reading The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies Review

Why “Battle of the Five Armies” Could Be the Best Middle Earth Movie Yet (SPOILER ALERT)

1) Death

– Death can be an effective tool in movies. It adds emotion, especially if it is an important character. It can give characters motivation. It can be used to show how bad ass a bad guy is. Ect.

LotR had death. Hell, the Fellowship seemingly killed two main characters (Gandalf and Boromir). Boromir’s death is one of the best scenes in any movie ever. Faramir’s near death isn’t far behind. Even though Gollum bounced back and forth between hero/villain/whatever… I felt horrible for him when he was incinerated. Preventing Eowyn’s death was on of Aragorn’s main motivation (and Elrond’s motivation to actually help). Hell, if you want to get fancy. Frodo’s soul was nuked in LotR.

The Hobbit so far… nothing. They tried to tease Thorin’s death in the first one when he got curb stomped by Azog, but come on, no one believed that shit for 4 minutes. They once again teased death a bit in Desolation of Smaug with Kili falling ill but it wasn’t very powerful at all in my opinion.

This all changes in Battle of the Five Armies. Thorin’s death should be huge… HUGE. They are effectively killing the main character of the movie. Even more emotional could be the deaths of Kili and Fili… Thorin’s nephews. They have gotten a lot of focus (along with Balin and Dwalin) and they will effectively end the line of King Thror.

And then there is the unknown Tauriel. Will they dare kill the only female in the whole movie? Maybe… maybe not. Who knows since she isn’t in the book. Ditto for Radagast… sure he was mentioned in the LotR book but he was nowhere to be seen in the LotR movie. Could Sauron disintegrate him?

Shits about to get real.

2) Biggest Battle Ever?

– I read in Entertainment weekly and heard in many reviews that the actual battle is pushing 45 minutes-ish. FUCK YES! An army of Dwarves lead by a dwarf on a battle pig? FUCK YES! An army of elves including a King on a moose? FUCK YES! Beorn. FUCK YES! If Gandalf uses the same powers he did in the book… FUCK YES!

This battle is going to be fucking huge. Hopefully, the different fighting styles of the Dwarves, Elves, Men, Goblins, Orcs, Bats, Beorn, Trolls, ect are apparent. This could make Helm’s Deep look small.

3) The White Council 

– People keep bitching about the “added stuff” to The Hobbit but…

We get to see Elrond, Galadriel, and Saruman kick ass… and people are bitching? Seriously?

LEAVE SAURON TO ME! OMG YES!

4) The True Desolation of Smaug

– We get to see Smaug go apeshit. The destruction should be glorious. GLORIOUS I TELL YOU!

And then he takes a black arrow to the face (err heart) but whatever. Laketown is gonna get fucked.

3 Days to Kill Review (Rating Only)

Shadow’s Overall Rating: 3/10– BORING

Shadow’s Initial Rating: 3/10
Shadow’s Rewatchability Rating: 0/10

Rotten Tomatoe’s Rating: 29%, 4.5/10
Audience: 45%, 6.4/10

Plot in a Nutshell: The 3 Days to Kill is in reference to this main character (who I forgot the name) having to kill three days hanging out with his estranged daughter. Not 3 days to kill as many people as possible which would be cool as fuck. So… yeah…

Four Ways The Hobbit Has Not Lived Up to LotR (so far)

1) The Heroes are borderline unlikable

– Think about this real quick. In LotR, the main heroes for Frodo, Aragorn, Gandalf, Sam, Gimli, and Legolas. Compare that to the Hobbit series… Bilbo, Gandalf, Thorin, Thranduil, and Legolas.

Compare the two groups and what stands out? The Hobbit heroes are kind of big jackasses. Sure, Bilbo and Gandalf are just fine (and fill the Frodo/Gandalf role in LotR) but Thorin? He is obsessed with treasure and cares for nothing else. Thranduil is a giant dick who cares of nothing but his realm. Legolas is basically a younger, teenage-ish version of the LotR version… so he is basically a big dick too. If Thorin dies… would you even care right now? Compare that he Aragorn… if Aragorn dies at the end of LotR, there would be riots. If the Thorin we have seen in the first two movies dies… the reaction would be much more ho-hum.

2) The overall goal isn’t as big

– People keep comparing these two movies and end up being disappointed by the Hobbit. The thing is, the book “The Hobbit” is nothing compared to LotR.

The Hobbit is a shallow, thin CHILDREN’S book. It is great for what it is… but it is A CHILDREN’S BOOK. The characters can essentially be interchangeable except for Thorin, Bilbo, and Gandalf. The stakes are not nearly as high (especially the book as it has none of the Sauron stuff in it). There is no central villain to focus on (hence the addition of Azog’s role in the book). It is a really good, albeit quick read. The whole point of The Hobbit is “reclaim the Thorin’s home.”

Compare that to a dense, dense LotR book which plot can simply be stated as, “Save the World.”

3) Lack of Epic Battles

– This will be somewhat rectified in the third one, but the Hobbit has lacked truly epic battles (once again source material problem). It wouldn’t be so bad if The Hobbit came first, but LotR really spoiled us on the “epic battle” front.

Helm’s Deep. Minas Tirith. Pelennor Fields. Black Gate. All huge battles that make what we have seen so far in the Hobbit (trolls, Goblin Kingdom, Spider’s, Barrels) look downright tiny.

Hell, some of LotR’s minor battles (Moria, Last Stand of Boromir, Warg’s) are better than the best of The Hobbit so far.

4) Lack of Emotional Moments

– Other than Riddles in the Dark and Smaug/Bilbo… there haven’t exactly been a lot of emotional moments in The Hobbit.

Faramir’s death charge. Last Stand of Boromir. Last March of the Ents. Balrog. Sam being sent away. Aragorn passing on taking the Ring.

The Battle of the Five Armies SHOULD change this, but Jackson really needs to stick the landing here.