Reviews: Hobbit, Wolf of Wall Street, Catching Fire and More


Long time no see! Reviews have been irregular lately but I wanted to start 2014 with an easy round up to get back on track. I’ve seen a lot of movies over the past few months and I wanted to write down a few quick thoughts on each one. Moving forward the review schedule will be a lot more lax than it used to be but I’m aiming to get back to writing more than I have these last four months. Somewhere along the way I felt like these reviews became very mechanical and emotionless which got away from what I really loved. I want to dial it back and focus less on formality and more on writing about films I enjoy. Anyway, here we go. First up, Ender’s Game.

Ender’s Game

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Ender’s Game was a major disappoint for me. The two weeks leading up to the film’s release I read the novel and was instantly hooked. I fell in love with the characters and was immersed in the constant struggles Ender faced. The movie does away with a lot of this struggle and instead focuses more on flashy action scenes. The battle room, which served as a major chunk of the novel, is skimmed over rather quickly along with all the relationships Ender cultivated with his time there. I never got the sense of Ender becoming the respected leader he was in the books. Also the dynamic between Bonzo and Ender is completely ruined due to a rather unfortunate casting choice that causes far more unintentional humor than it should. Simply put, the film hits the high points that were in the book but without the proper time to breathe it felt like a waste of time amounting to nothing more than popcorn fluff. I wish I could remember the Reddit user to give them proper credit but they summed it up perfectly. The Ender’s Game movie is as good an adaptation as watching someone’s vacation slideshow is a good vacation.

Thor: The Dark World

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Thor: The Dark World was satisfyingly entertaining, far more so than Iron Man 3. It was nice to get a deeper look at Asgard and how that side of the universe lives. The movie started off a little slow for me but it definitely picked up once Thor and Loki partnered up. My only concern is the film’s understandable love affair with Loki. Despite their dynamic stealing the show and being the source of the film’s fun, I felt like the film dropped all other aspects of the story to showcase them. I like Loki enough that I don’t want his character to outstay his welcome. For what it is though, Thor: The Dark World is a solid action film. I was a little surprised how much the early parts of the film reminded me of the Star Wars Prequels, in a good way of course.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

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I was caught off guard with how much I enjoyed The Hunger Games when it first released in 2012. It was a decent film and covered enough of the books for me to be happy with it. Although my interest in the film didn’t make it through all the books, specifically the third entry, my interest was still piqued for the films. Catching Fire is an incredible follow up to The Hunger Games and delivers on intense action guided by strong performances. I was impressed with Catching Fire’s ability to incite so much anxiety within me, particularly in a scene involving a swarm of Jabber Jays that did a wonderful job of conveying great panic.

One of my complaints with the first film is the way it got away with a lot of the violence by quick cutting before a character died. It was somewhat of an understandable distraction but it was still off-putting nonetheless. Catching Fire’s strength this time around is the fact that the dangers Katniss faces is more elemental based than combat based allowing for the film to be more lenient with its violence and action. It was a much more immersive experience for me this time around it made the film a lot more enjoyable. Doubt it’ll convert any new fans but it’s definitely worth the time for those who already bought in the first go around.

Frozen

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Frozen was far more enjoyable than I expected and I happily ate crow for all my previous doubts. It’s a great throwback to traditional Disney musicals and features an impressive track of catchy songs, some of which I may or may not have had on repeat in my car for days after. The story plays wonderfully on old Disney princess tropes and provides a nice message for young audiences. It’s a simple story but the execution is charming enough to be entertaining for all ages. The animation itself is wonderfully done and features incredibly beautiful scenery. I wasn’t completely sold on the character models themselves, which at times felt too clean like they were something straight out of a direct to DVD Barbie movie. However this could have been a creative choice, as the character models feel more natural as the movie progresses further into its adventures outside the fairy tale setting. If you’re a fan of animation, especially old Disney films, than this film is a must see film.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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I’ve been conflicted on my feelings for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug for quite a while. The same old song and dance is that the decision to split this simple story into three films would be too much of a good thing. The Jackson Lord of the Rings fan boy in me was thrilled for a new trilogy but it’s never been more evident than with Desolation of Smaug that this may not have been the right choice after all. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my time with Desolation of Smaug but it’s far from a film I would recommend to anyone. It feels like a series of inside jokes or stories that fans will enjoy but for everyone else it feels like it spends a lot of time accomplishing nothing.

The biggest crime the film commits is the gradual shift in focus from Bilbo to the dwarves almost completely. It’s somewhat understandable given that the Dwarves’ quest translates more to exciting cinema than Bilbo’s story but it’s only frustrating when the film decides to spend it’s screen time on superfluous subplots instead. The Legolas, Kili, and Tauriel love triangle is completely unnecessary, especially given the fact that we’re rushed through great moments from the book like Beorn’s House, Mirkwood, and the Wood Elves prison. It’s just a shame that for a movie called The Hobbit, the time we spend with the hobbit has slowly diminished. Overall it’s a narrative mess that feels like it’s obviously been spread way to thin.  Despite these troubling decisions, the film more than makes up for it with the outstanding River Barrel scene and it’s wonderful depiction of Smaug.

Smaug in particular is truly a great spectacle and is the series greatest animated character since Gollum. The dragon is emanating with power and ferocity that commands your attention every second he’s on screen. The dialogue between Bilbo and Smaug is wonderfully playful and conveys such a great sense of power Smaug holds over Bilbo. The film (surprise surprise) takes liberties with the Lonely Mountain scenes but by that point I was more than willing to forgive it and enjoy the ride. As enjoyable as these films are, in the end I can’t help but wish for a tighter film that focuses more on adapting The Hobbit than being inspired by it.

The Wolf of Wall Street

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The Wolf of Wall Street is vile, unapologetic, and downright immoral, but I loved every second of it. It’s definitely not a film for the faint of heart but if you’re willing to join the ride it’s an incredibly bizarre trip. Sex, drugs and alcohol dominates the life of Jordan Belfort and watching the slow descent into depravity and madness is a train wreck that you can’t look away from. The film’s humor is definitely dark and often reaches such ridiculous levels that you can’t help but burst out laughing. American greed through the eyes of Scorsese is extremely uncomfortable and brutally savage. Leonardo DiCaprio gives an absolutely remarkable performance that blurs the line of insanity and absurdity, undeniably making Jordan Belfort DiCaprio’s craziest character yet. Jonah Hill also delivers a wonderful performance that shows the actors incredible range of talent. Hill and DiCaprio share a wonderful on screen dynamic that is the heart of the film’s humor.

The thing I loved the most about this film is the way it’s able to bring the audience crashing down to reality no matter how bizarre the rampant drug fueled escapades ran out of control. There’s such a stark contrast between the seemingly invincible wolves of Wall Street and the real world people that they’re affecting as well as the real danger that they’re putting themselves through. It’s these brief reminders throughout the film that provides a quick realistic glimpse of the self-centered protagonist that the film seemingly shines a glamorous light on. It’s a subtle touch but it’s the point of the film that there is no moral compass here. We’re supposed to be upset and bothered by the film.

I’ll concede the movie isn’t for everyone though. Much like Jordan Belfort, the movie doesn’t know when to quit. I felt like the film could be trimmed down to make a tighter movie, and the excessive narration can feel a little spoon-fed at times. The Wolf of Wall Street may end up being my guilty pleasure, but it’s a film that more than deserves your time at least once. Oh, and trust me when I say this film earns it’s hard R rating.

Interested in writing reviews or news posts for Thinking Cinematic? Contact me at ThinkCinematicReviews@gmail.com! You can also send your guest reviews there too!

Connect with me at:
Twitter: @TreyRSolis
Twitter: @Think_Cinematic
Email: ThinkCinematicReviews@Gmail.com

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Movie Monday Update Week of April 22st


Hello and Happy Monday TC readers! A lot to choose from on the retail front but another pretty lax week at the theaters! Don’t forget to check out my Community review Intro to Knots (4.10) here! Also don’t forget to read my review on Oblivion here if you haven’t done so already! Alright let’s get right to it!

In Case You Missed It:

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A trailer for the movie The Hunger Games: Catching Fire hit the web last week and you can check it out here! After the events of the previous movie Katniss has stirred a new feeling of hope within the districts.  Fearing a revolution President Snow begins to conspire again Katniss and the rest of the previous Hunger Games victors! The Hunger Games: Catching Fire stars Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks, and Jennifer Lawrence. The movie is set to hit theaters on November 22nd, 2013!

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A new trailer for the Man of Steel hit the web last week and you can check it out here! This third trailer reveals more footage and additional plot points. Man of Steel stars Amy Adams, Russel Crowe, Kevin Costner, Michael Shannon, and Henry Cavil. Man of Steel is expected to hit theaters on June 14th, 2013!

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A new trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness hit the web last week and you can check it out here! The newest trailer shows off additional footage and more plot points! Star Trek Into Darkness stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Zoe Saldana, and Chris Pine. The movie is expected to hit theaters on May 17th, 2013.

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A new trailer for the movie The Long Ranger hit the web last week and you can check it out here! The newest trailer shows off additional footage and more plot points! The Lone Ranger stars Armie Hammer, Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp. The movie is expected to hit theaters on July 3rd, 2013!

That does it for a glimpse of last week’s trailers. Which one is your favorite? Leave a comment below and let us know! Let’s go ahead and move on into home releases.

Coming to Blu-ray/DVD:

April 23rd:

Coming to Theaters:

April 26th Wide Releases:

See anything that’s missing? Comment and let us know!

That does it for this week! Be sure to keep coming back every Monday and Saturday for new Thinking Cinematic content!

As always, I want to end with this. Thinking Cinematic is looking for more writers. Feel like sending in a guest post? Want to be apart of the Thinking Cinematic team? Send your emails to: Rrsolis@me.com

Connect with me at:
Twitter: @Treyrs20o9
Twitter: @Think_Cinematic 

Movie Monday Update Week of March 25th


Hello and Happy Monday TC readers! Got a ton of movies to choose from on the retail front with a rather lax weekend at the theaters. Don’t forget to check out my Community Review on Economics of Marine Biology here, and my review on DreamWork’s The Croods here!  Also wanted to make a short announcement. Recently I discovered that embedding the youtube trailers has been slowing down the Thinking Cinematic site so over the next few weeks I’m going to be trying different ways of displaying the trailers in an effort to improve site speed. Alright, let’s get to it!

In Case You Missed It:

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A teaser trailer for the next Riddick movie hit the Internet last week and you can check it out here! Riddick stars, Karl Urban, Katee Sackhoff, and Vin Diesel and will release to theaters on September 6th, 2013!

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A new trailer for the Blue Sky’s new movie, Epic, hit the Internet last week and you can check it out here! A young girl accidentally gets shrunk down and discovers a world unlike any she has ever seen and embarks on an epic journey. Epic stars, Amanda Seyfried, Josh Hutcherson, Colin Farrell, Jason Sudeikis, and Christoph Waltz! Epic is set to release on May 24, 2013!

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A trailer for the DreamWorks’s new movie, Turbo hit the web last week and you can check it out here! Turbo tells the story of a snail who dreams of going fast! After a miraculous event, Turbo discovers that he posses the ability to travel fast! With his newfound powers he follows his dreams of racing in the Indy 500! Turbo stars Ken Jeong, Bill Hader, Luis Guzman, Michael Pena, Paul Giamatti and Ryan Reynolds. The movie is set to hit theaters on July 17th, 2013!

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Finally we have a new trailer for, Despicable Me 2 and you can check it out here! Gru is back and this time is enlisted for his expertise in order to help stop crime. Despicable Me 2 stars Russell Brand, Al Pacino, Miranda Cosgrove, Kristen Wiig, and Steve Carell. Despicable Me 2 will hit theaters on July 3rd, 2013!

That does it for a glimpse of last week’s trailers. Which one is your favorite? Leave a comment below and let us know! Let’s go ahead and move on into home releases.

Coming to Blu-ray/DVD:

March 26th:

Coming to Theaters:

March 28th Wide Releases:

March 29th Wide Releases:

March 29th Limited Releases (Check your Local Listings):

See anything that’s missing? Comment and let us know!

That does it for this week! Be sure to keep coming back every Monday and Saturday for new Thinking Cinematic content!

As always, I want to end with this. Thinking Cinematic is looking for more writers. Feel like sending in a guest post? Want to be apart of the Thinking Cinematic team? Send your emails to: ThinkCinematicReviews@Gmail.com

Connect with me at:
Twitter: @Treyrs20o9
Twitter: @Think_Cinematic 

Jack the Giant Slayer


Jack the Giant Slayer isn’t a bad movie, but it doesn’t make a strong enough case to be anything noteworthy. The film is very bland, never deviating enough from familiar archetypes to be exciting. It features a very childish sense of humor that takes away from any malice that the villains possess. Stylistically the film looks great, but the CGI can be a bit distracting. The strong cast gives an admirable effort, but it’s not enough to overcome stock characters leaving Jack the Giant Slayer from becoming anything more than just weak popcorn fluff.

Jack the Giant Slayer hit theatres this past Friday and aims to breath cinematic life into the classic fairy tale, Jack and the Giant Beanstalk. Does Bryan Singer’s latest film succeed where the many other fairy tale films have failed, or will it rise above the rest? Jack the Giant Slayer stars, Nicholas Hoult (Warm Bodies), Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games), and Ewan McGregor (Star Wars).


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The movie tells the story of a farm boy, Jack, who has a fascination with adventure stories, his favorite being of course about giants. Meanwhile at the castle, a young princess also shares a penchant for adventure stories, her favorite being about giants as well. Fate eventually brings the two together after many years have passed and together they’re thrust into a giant adventure of their own.

Jack the Giant Slayer isn’t a bad movie, but it doesn’t make a strong enough case to be anything noteworthy. The film is very bland, never deviating enough from familiar archetypes to be exciting. I found myself drifting in and out of the movie, admiring it for its style but never really finding myself heavily invested. The climax of the film featured impressive action sequences, and had me interested but by the time things get started it’s already over and I couldn’t shake the feeling that things were a little too convenient.

I didn’t feel like there was much struggle on Jack’s part as a character and instead the story relied heavily on Jack being in the right place at the right time. All of the film’s characters feel a bit shallow with not enough characterization to distinguish them from being more than stock characters. On top of that, the movie changes villains three different times and it left it feeling a little directionless. Jack the Giant Slayer treads a dangerous line of becoming a boring movie but luckily enough the cast keeps things fun.

Nicholas Hoult brings a very charming personality to Jack that’s reminiscent of a Michael Cera without delving too deep into painfully awkward territory. Although his character might not have been the strongest Hoult brings enough fun to the character to make it worth a watch. Ewan McGregor also delivers a performance worthy of note. McGregor’s earnest portrayal of Elmont worked really well in junction with Jack and provided for a good on screen camaraderie even if the duo is a bit underplayed. McGregor makes great work of the little character he is given and helps to make the movie a fun ride.

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Visually the movie is appealing from a distance. The stylistic choices of the costume designs and the sets all look fantastic. I really loved the design choices for the armor that the King, Princess, and the knights wore in the movie. The CGI giants feature a charming character design that looks great, until you look up close. In large numbers the CGI works well but it can get distracting once you get into the little details, especially when the live actors are in the same scene as the giants. The CGI doesn’t mesh well and it can stick out a little too much in scenes. The British countryside setting looks gorgeous on screen and the sweeping shots are fantastic to look at. It’s not as visually pleasing as some of the other Hollywood fairy tale remakes, but it still holds its own.

My biggest complaint with the film is its sense of humor. The movie interjects a lot of comedic relief in the style of fart jokes and gross out gags, like eating boogers. It gives the movie such a childish feel and is really distracting. The biggest foul is the fact that main giant villain is a two headed creature that detracts from its own self. One head is literate and vile while the other is a bumbling idiot who interjects nonsensical iterations of the previous head. It completely detracts from any villainous moment that the giant makes and ruins any sense of malice. The idea works okay in theory but definitely not as the main giant villain. I don’t mind comedic relief, but the way it’s done here isn’t clever and ruins so many scenes that could have kept the movie gripping.

The film tries its hardest but there’s too many flaws for it to overcome. The film lacks a significant punch to make the movie worthwhile, but instead it ends in a way that sticks out too much from the rest of the film. I admire the cast’s effort for keeping things fun, but Jack the Giant Slayer is too bland to be anything more than weak popcorn fluff.

Jack the Giant Slayer isn’t a bad movie, but it doesn’t make a strong enough case to be anything noteworthy. The film is very bland, never deviating enough from familiar archetypes to be exciting. It features a very childish sense of humor that takes away from any malice that the villains possess. Stylistically the film looks great, but the CGI can be a bit distracting. The strong cast gives an admirable effort, but it’s not enough to overcome stock characters leaving Jack the Giant Slayer from becoming anything more than just weak popcorn fluff.

Interested in writing reviews or news posts for Thinking Cinematic? Contact me at ThinkCinematicReviews@gmail.com! You can also send your guest reviews there too!

Connect with me at:
Twitter: @Treyrs20o9
Twitter: @Think_Cinematic
Email: ThinkCinematicReviews@Gmail.com

Movie Monday Update Week of February 4th


Hello and Happy Monday TC readers! Got a lot of great trailers from last night’s Super Bowl as well as a few solid releases both at the theaters and in retail. Don’t forget to check out the latest review on Bullet to the Head here! Also I wanted to make a correction. Last week I listed that Wreck-it Ralph was releasing to home video, but it looks as though it’s through digital distribution (iTunes, Amazon, Xbox Video etc)  only. The physical copies will hit stores in March! Let’s dive right in.

In case you missed it:


The Lone Ranger saw a new trailer during yesterday’s Super Bowl. The movie stars, Armie Hammer, Johnny Depp, and Helena Bonham Carter and the movie is scheduled to hit theaters on July 3rd, 2013!


A trailer for Fast and Furious 6 debuted last night as well. The trailer is jam packed with familiar faces and over the top driving sequences. Fast and Furious 6 stars, Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, and Dwayne Johnson. Fast and Furious 6 is set to hit theaters on May 24th, 2013!


Finally, Iron Man 3 saw a pretty exciting Super Bowl ad with an even longer look appearing online. Iron Man 3 stars, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Ben Kingsly, and Robert Downey Jr. Iron Man 3 is set to hit theaters on May 3rd, 2013!


Not a trailer but you can now watch the wonderful, Paperman short online. Paperman debuted in theaters in front of Wreck-it Ralph and I’m really glad that it’s up for everyone to view. It’s a really heart warming short.


I normally don’t do this for TV shows but I wanted to promote the return of Community season 4. On February 7th, the Greendale Seven are set to begin their senior year of college. When someone hacks into the supply closet and counterfeits class admission tickets the Dean sets up a series of games called, The Hunger Deans, to determine who gets to stay in History of Ice Cream class. Community stars, Joel McHale, Danny Puddi, Donald Glover, Alison Brie, Gillian Jacobs, Yvette Nicole Brown, Jim Rash, Ken Jeong, and Chevy Chase. Community airs on NBC, Thursdays 8/7 central. Don’t forget to DVR and watch live! #Sixseasonsandamovie

That does it for a glimpse of last week’s trailers. Which one is your favorite? Leave a comment below and let us know! Let’s go ahead and move on into home releases.

Coming to Blu-ray/DVD this week we have:

February 5th:

Here’s a look at what’s coming to the theaters!

February 8th Wide Releases:

See anything that’s missing? Comment and let us know!

That does it for this week! Be sure to keep coming back every Monday and Saturday for new Thinking Cinematic content!

As always, I want to end with this. Thinking Cinematic is looking for more writers. Feel like sending in a guest post? Want to be apart of the Thinking Cinematic team? Send your emails to: ThinkCinematicReviews@gmail.com

Connect with me at:
Twitter: @Treyrs20o9
Twitter: @Think_Cinematic