The Program (2015)

The Program
Director: Stephen Frears
Writer: John Hodge
Based on: David Walsh‘s book Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong
Cast: Ben Foster, Chris O’Dowd, Lee PaceGuillaume Canet, Jesse Plemons, Dustin Hoffman, Edward Hogg, Denis Ménochet
Seen on: 21.10.2015

Plot:
Journalist David Walsh (Chris O’Dowd) is impressed by newcoming cyclist Lance Armstrong (Ben Foster), but Lance’s career doesn’t quite take off. But Lance has the will to win. When he realizes that doctor Michele Ferrari (Guillaume Canet) has a special program – which consists of doping, among other things – Lance wants in on it. Ferrari declines at first but when Lance loses a lot of weight due to testicular cancer, Ferrari does see a viable candidate in him after all. Lance starts on the program, but Walsh grows suspicious of his incredible success and decided to investigate.

I couldn’t care less about cycling and I think doping is just stupid. These are not exactly the best starting points for watching the film and might explain the lengths I felt in an otherwise excellent movie.

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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Director: Peter Jackson
Writer: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro
Based on: J. R. R. Tolkien’s novel, and other books of his
Sequel to: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Prequel to: The Lord of the Rings
Cast: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Dean O’Gorman, Aidan Turner, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, Jed Brophy, Mark Hadlow, Adam BrownOrlando BloomEvangeline Lilly, Cate Blanchett, Sylvester McCoy, Lee Pace, Manu Bennett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Luke Evans, Stephen Fry, Ryan Gage, Mikael Persbrandt, Hugo WeavingChristopher LeeBilly Connolly

Plot:
The dwarves and Bilbo (Martin Freeman) have roused Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Smaug is on his way to lay waste to Laketown. But Bard (Luke Evans) manages to save the town from that fate by killing Smaug. Now the Lonely Mountain can be claimed by Thorin (Richard Armitage), who immediately starts looking for one particular gem – the Arkenstone – and slowly succumbs to dragon sickness. In the meantime various armies start to gather outside the Lonely Mountain, all with a different claim on the treasure and/or the people within.

I thought that the last installment of the movie really was quite disappointing. I mean, neither of the three can live up to The Lord of the Rings anyway, but at least Desolation of Smaug was entertaining. Battle of the Five Armies was too much battle, too little coherence and way too much Alfrid.

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Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Guardians of the Galaxy
Director: James Gunn
Writer: James Gunn, Nicole Perlman
Based on: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning‘s comic
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Benicio Del Toro, Peter Serafinowicz, Sean Gunn, Stan Lee, [and – see if you can find them: Emmett Scanlan, Nathan Fillion, Alexis Denisof, Josh Brolin, Seth Green, Lloyd Kaufman]

Plot:
When Peter (Chris Pratt) was a little child, he was abducted by aliens. Now he is a smuggler, always looking for the next thing he can steal and sell. But his latest acquisition is also sought after by Ronan (Lee Pace) aka The Destroyer – which does not bode well for Peter. Ronan sends assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana) after Peter and at the same time bounty hunters Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel) try to collect the price on Peter’s head. In the ensuing confusion they are all arrested, which in turn forces them to work together – first for the money, then to keep Ronan from realizing his destructive plans.

I was really looking forward to Guardians of the Galaxy. The trailer looked good. The first reviews were very promising. The cast was great. I was counting down the days to its ridiculously late Austrian release. And then finally it was time to see the film and… it was a mess. A sexist, boring mess.

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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Director: Peter Jackson
Writer: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro
Based on: J. R. R. Tolkien’s novel, and other books of his
Sequel to: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Prequel to: The Lord of the Rings
Cast: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Dean O’Gorman, Aidan Turner, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, Jed Brophy, Mark Hadlow, Adam BrownOrlando BloomEvangeline Lilly, Cate Blanchett, Sylvester McCoy, Lee Pace, Manu Bennett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Luke Evans, Stephen Fry, Ryan Gage, Mikael Persbrandt

Plot:
The dwarves and Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) have come quite a way under the leadership of Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and Thorin (Richard Armitage), but they still have a long way ahead of them until they will reach the dragon. As they reach Mirkwood, Gandalf has to leave them and the group soon finds itself in the clutches of the wood elves and King Thranduill (Lee Pace).

I already enjoyed the last Hobbit movie but this was one was even better. The pacing works more smoothly (even if it could have been a little shorter), the characters are awesome as usual and it has brilliant moments (and moments of none-brilliance).

thehobbitdesolationofsmaug

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Lincoln (2012)

Lincoln
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Tony Kushner
Based on: Doris Kearns Goodwin‘s book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, John Hawkes, Jackie Earle Haley, Bruce McGill, Tim Blake Nelson, Joseph Cross, Jared Harris, Lee Pace, Michael Stuhlbarg, David Costabile, Walton Goggins, David Oyelowo, Lukas Haas, Dane DeHaan

Plot:
In the middle of the US American civil war, Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) got reelected for his second term of presidency. And he uses that position to make another push to finally do away with slavery in the US for good by adding an amendment to the constitution. But he faces a lot of opposition, not only from the Democrats, but also from within his own Republican party. As the war draws closer to its end, Lincoln and his staff have to work really hard to pass the amendment in time.

Oh boy, Lincoln is one hell of a boring movie. It’s really long, and it feels even longer. The cast is generally fantastic, but the script is unfocused and Steven Spielberg is really off his game in this one.

Lincoln

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Director: Peter Jackson
Writer: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro
Based on: J. R. R. Tolkien’s novel, and other books of his
Prequel to: The Lord of the Rings
Cast: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Dean O’Gorman, Aidan Turner, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, Jed Brophy, Mark Hadlow, Adam Brown, Ian Holm, Elijah Wood, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Andy Serkis, Sylvester McCoy, Barry Humphries, Lee Pace, Manu Bennett, Bret McKenzie, Benedict Cumberbatch

Plot:
Many, many years ago, there were dwarves living in Erebor, amassing huge riches until they were attacked by the dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch). They lost their mountains, their gold and were scattered in many directions. Now Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) last descendant of Erebor’s king, is ready to get it all back. So he put together a group of loyal dwarves, but asks the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) to find a 14th member for their party. Gandalf recruits the hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman). Bilbo is reluctant – as a hobbit, he generally doesn’t think much of adventures or leaving home at all – but he is finally convinces and so all of them set off for a great adventure. An adventure that proves more dangerous and connected to more things than initially assumed.

For practically anybody of about my age (and of a nerdy/geeky persuasion), the Lord of the Rings films were more than just movies – they were events that opened me and my friends up to many things, but especially to the intricacies of internet fandom and all that entails. It seems clear that 10 years later the Hobbit can’t quite reach that status anymore. But An Unexpected Journey is a film that I enjoyed for the most part.

The_Hobbit _An_Unexpected_Journey

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The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (2012)

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2
Director: Bill Condon
Writer: Melissa Rosenberg
Based on: Stephenie Meyer‘s book
Sequel to: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn – Part 1
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke, Ashley Greene, Jackson Rathbone, Kellan Lutz, Nikki Reed, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Michael Sheen, Christopher Heyerdahl, Jamie Campbell Bower, Mackenzie Foye, Maggie Grace, Dakota Fanning, MyAnna Buring, Rami Malek, Joe Anderson, and for me most importantly Lee Pace

Plot:
Bella (Kristen Stewart) survived the birth of her daughter Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy) and is quickly adapting to having become a vampire like Edward (Robert Pattinson). But the arrival of a half-human, half-vampire child causes quite a few ripples in the vampire community. And when the Volturi hear about it, they believe that Bella and Edward turned a human child into a vampire – a capital offense they will make sure will be punished.

Well, it is over. I think that is about the best one can say about this. But they manage to have basically nothing happen in the movie at all (though they did force some action in, and quite cleverly I might add) and to not resolve anything, really. And I think that if you haven’t read the books, the whole thing only makes a limited amount of sense. At least, with 3/4 of a rum bottle I shared with C. during the film, it was quite entertaining.

breaking-dawn-part-2

[SPOILERS]

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Ceremony (2010)

Ceremony
Director: Max Winkler
Writer: Max Winkler
Cast: Michael Angarano, Uma Thurman, Lee Pace, Reece Thompson, Jake M. Johnson

Plot:
Sam (Michael Angarano) is a children’s books author whose books are neither succesful, nor actually for children. To catch up with his old friend Marshall (Reece Thompson), they head on a weekend trip together. Or at least, that’s the reason Marshall knows. In fact, Sam wants to crash the wedding of Zoe (Uma Thurman) and Whit (Lee Pace) to convince Zoe that Whit is an ass and she should be with him.

This movie seems a bit like a RomCom, but it definitely isn’t, not even an indie one. It’s more tragic than funny (apart from Lee Pace who is funny all the way through, despite a really bad [and badly written] English accent) and never achieves much momentum.

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The Resident (2011)

The Resident
Director: Antti Jokinen
Writer: Antti Jokinen, Robert Orr
Cast: Hilary Swank, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Lee Pace, Christopher Lee

Plot:
Juliet (Hilary Swank) just broke up with her boyfriend Jack (Lee Pace), so she’s looking for a new apartment. And she can barely believe her luck when she finds a huge apartement at a very low prize and with the really sexy landlord Max (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). But things that seem too good to be true often are and so it quickly turns out that Max isn’t only into Juliet, he’s completely obsessed with her and watches her at every moment.

The movie has beautiful art direction and a great cast but it unfortunately fails to create any kind of tension whatsoever.

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Marmaduke (2010)

Marmaduke is the newest movie by Tom Dey, an adaptation from the comic, starring Owen Wilson, Lee Pace, William H. Macy, Kiefer Sutherland, Emma Stone, George Lopez, Steve Coogan, Stacy Ferguson and Christopher Mintz-Plasse.

[Don’t judge me for having seen this movie. I just love Lee Pace and Steve Coogan too much to miss it.]

Plot:
Marmaduke (Owen Wilson) is a pubescent Great Dane, belonging to the Winslow family. When Phil Winslow (Lee Pace) gets a job offer in California, they move from Kansas there. Unfortunately, Marmaduke has problems adjusting and gets into trouble with the local crowd, spearheaded by the evil Bosco (Kiefer Sutherland). And also Phil has his problems getting the new job done.

Marmaduke is a movie made for kids. In a time, where the supposed kids movies (like Shrek, Toy Story, Wall-E) are made at least as much for the adults, this is quite extraordinary. It’s not a brilliant film, but I’m sure that kids enjoy it. Adults, on the other hand, will be mostly bored.

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