Django Unchained- The Review

Cinema is rarely this much fun. Films can be funny, shocking, tragic and exciting at times, but rarely are they honestly described as simple and undeniable fun. Quentin Tarantino returns to the director’s seat, in a much hyped and anticipated homage to spaghetti Westerns: Django Unchained. Set in 1858, Django Unchained tells the story of Django, a slave played by Jamie Foxx, who is freed by the German dentist-turned Bounty Hunter Dr. King Schultz, brilliantly played by Christoph Waltz, and enters into an agreement, that after paid work Django can go and free his wife from the employment of the wonderfully despicable Calvin Candie- perhaps the performance of Leonardo DiCaprio’s career. While this would be a good basis for any movie, under the direction of Tarantino it had the potential to be a quite magnificent piece of work. Thanks to his genius, and his dream cast including Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L Jackson, it may not only be the early film of the year, but it may well be the best film Tarantino has ever made.

Django Unchained is a masterpiece. From the start of the movie to the final brilliant scene, the film oozes style and has you on the edge of your seat. It’s wonderful cinema, and completely classic Tarantino. Some claimed that Tarantino has never rekindled the form that inspired him to make the epic crime masterpieces Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction; this is Tarantino back to his very best. It’s got all of his trademarks: sickeningly black humour, over-the-top gore, exceptional dialogue and career-best performances from all actors involved. It brought memories flooding back of Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, but while those were very dark and reasonably serious films, sprinkled with black humour, this is Tarantino’s silliest and most brilliantly enjoyable film ever. That’s not to say that Django Unchained is a comedy; some moments are violent, shocking and disturbing. I laughed more then I expected, but one scene involving emotional torture by Leonardo DiCaprio was brutal and dark, and the audience is arguably not ready for it. I see this as a good thing; Tarantino has an exceptional talent of comforting the viewer with violence, but still finding ways to shock you with it (there is an equivalent of the ‘Marvin head’ scene from Pulp Fiction here). There is a lot of violence, most of it deliberately over the top by Tarantino; the film is well deserving of its 18 rating, but not so much as to draw comparisons to Kill Bill: however much I loved Tarantino’s homage to Samurai films, I think Django Unchained is a lot smarter then that.

Tarantino is the definition of a fearless director; I am confident most directors would not have had the courage to go towards this era in time, let alone make such a unsubtle and brash film about it. Tarantino does not shy away from this seemingly forbidden period of history, which seems a far too sensitive and admittedly shameful time to explore. Django Unchained depicts brutal moments of violence towards black people, and does not hold back on the things that happened to slaves: and quite rightly so! If you must explore this era, Tarantino appreciates that you have to show what really happened, and not soften it for the public. If anything, it may not be violent enough; the truly horrific deeds of slavers in this era were probably worse then Tarantino makes out. Not only does he explore this area with fearlessness and style, he also is brave enough to tackle the subject head on, unlike other films which take the alternative route of tackling slavery through the abolition of the practise. I was also impressed with Tarantino’s use of setting, as for many of his films he relies heavily on atmospheric indoor spaces (the vast majority of Reservoir Dogs takes place in a warehouse). In Django Unchained, Tarantino explores the natural world, using stunning scenery throughout the seasons whether its blood landing on cotton flowers or Django practising his shooting on a snowman. Django Unchained can be seen as Tarantino’s riskiest film to date, and it benefits from it.

As earlier stated, it wouldn’t be a Tarantino movie if the cast didn’t give the performances of their careers. Jamie Foxx is brilliantly deep and brutal as ex-slave Django, and plays fantastically off Christoph Waltz, who gives a performance of a lifetime as a loveable German bounty hunter, who seems to be the only fair man in this barren and racist world, yet still kills people for a living. He talks his way out of trouble, treats Django like a human being, and constantly kills naturally and with good humour. No one in this film is perfect but Waltz nearly convinces us that his character is; he is absurdly likeable despite his flaws. If that isn’t enough to make this movie superb, the main villains, Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L Jackson raise the film to astronomical levels of greatness. DiCaprio gives the finest performance of his career as the charming Candie, who does horrific things in a excited and almost joyous mood, and for one brutal moment, steals the show. The fact people still refer to him as ‘the guy from Titanic’ baffles me, I’m a great fan of his work in Inception and The Departed, but for me this performance is a sign of how good an actor he really is. Never before has he been asked to play such a disgusting and vile character, and he delivers to perfection, giving a clever smile here and a sly line there, never shying away from his character’s horrific and vile nature. He also plays off Samuel L Jackson naturally, who is perhaps the show stealer as the black servant Stephen, a masterful and mature performance. Samuel L Jackson has always shone in Tarantino movies, Pulp Fiction probably being his most famous role, but he was also haunting and scary in the much under appreciated classic Jackie Brown. In Django Unchained he is superb, giving the film a level of maturity and creepiness that perhaps it would have lacked without him. His character is DiCaprio’s slave, but more of a butler and personal advisor, hardly acting like a slave and also treating other slaves abysmally. He skulks around the room, spying, intruding and deceiving, and even in his friendlier moments the viewer is never led to believe he is anything less then a villain. Every line is perfectly done by Samuel L Jackson, and even the much talked about use of the ‘N word’ is aggressively forced out, giving the character real menace and tasteless nature. Would any other director and actor get away with this character? Depicting the slave trade realistically is one thing, having this horrific Uncle Tom style character is another. I think it’s fearless and admirable to put such a performance in, and the film gains a much more profound and mature feeling from it. In short, not since Pulp Fiction has a Tarantino ensemble cast been this perfect, all linking up brilliantly and every actor outshining the other.

Leonardo DiCaprio is spellbinding as the brutal and charming lead villain.

I can’t think of a bad moment of this film. It’s close to flawless, the direction, the ensemble cast, the settings, even the soundtrack, all are masterful. It should be looked upon as a classic for years to come, and if this isn’t Tarantino back to his best then I don’t know what is. Arguments arise about the use of the ‘N word’ in this film, some arguing it is overused and unnecessary. I disagree; the film is historically accurate in the use of this word, and is not used lightly by any means. Some argue about the historical accuracy: slaves being forced to fight to the death is not historically proven, and also the inclusion of the Ku Klux Klan is apparently about three years too early. These arguments may or may not be true, but the fact they are entirely invalid remains. People who research into the historical accuracy of this film are taking it far too seriously, and if you have seen it, you know it is not meant to be taken entirely seriously anyway. It defies criticism and demands praise: there is one scene in the movie where DiCaprio’s character roars in triumph and raises his arms in joy after seeing something he deems to be fantastic; my reaction when the final credits rolled was similar. Django Unchained was everything I had hoped for and more, brave, bold, barmy and brash. A triumph.

Best Bit

This film has far too many moments to nominate a best, but my personal favourite was Leonardo DiCaprio’s speech at the dinner table. He slams the table and comes away with a hand of blood, but not caring, smearing Django’s wife with it as he makes his brutal speech. The blood was actually unscripted: DiCaprio cut his hand on the glass but stayed in character and Tarantino loved it. It’s moments and stories like this that raise Django Unchained into something very special.

Worst Bit

Complaints the film is overlong are valid, coming out of the cinema having spent about three hours in your seat can lead to questions about length. When asked to choose which scenes to cut however, you will inevitably struggle; every moment is a joy to behold.

Overall

Django Unchained is a Tarantino masterpiece for the modern era. It is brutal, shocking, darkly humorous and wonderfully acted, and is probably going to be my film of the year. Being such a big fan of Tarantino, I had huge hopes for Django, and I was not even slightly disappointed. It was everything I hoped it would be, and is everything a perfect Tarantino film should be. Quite simply one of the best films I have ever seen, and could be the finest Quentin Tarantino movie ever. I feel like even my top rating isn’t enough for it; Django Unchained is cinema perfection.

5/5

Les Misérables: The Review

Hugely anticipated, adapted from the world-famous stage production, Les Misérables carries a huge amount of pressure on its shoulders, with director Tom Hooper having to use all of his cinematic talent (which he used to full effect in the brilliant The King’s Speech) to make it worth the wait. Set in 19th-century France, after the French Revolution, it follows the life of Jean Valjean, Hugh Jackman, an ex-slave who is on the run for breaking his parole. He is hunted by the dedicated policeman  Javert, Russell Crowe, who seems to make it his life goal to catch and apprehend Jean Valjean. In his life, Valjean meets a prostitute called Fantine, played by Anne Hathaway, a broken woman who has a young daughter to pay debts for. After she dies, Valjean decides to care for the daughter as she would have, and their lives, through tragedy and sorrow, are played out over France in the 19th-century.

The film is a musical, with only very sparse bursts of dialogue intertwining the many songs together, and many conversations being sung just for the purpose of singing. While at times  you long for just a brief delay from the singing and just some normal talking, none of it feels dull or uninteresting; in fact, much of the singing distracts you from what would have been quite a boring script. The big challenge was to see if the ensemble cast, including some huge names in cinema, could deliver the performances and the voices that the characters deserve. Not only do these huge stars such as Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe do well, they give the performances of their careers. I know enough about music to recognize a good singer from a bad one, and Russell Crowe is no singer, but their acting and pure heart project them through. In many ways, some of the poor singing is actually a blessing in disguise; a heartbroken slave or a factory worker shouldn’t possess incredible singing, that is most likely auto tuned to perfection anyway. Instead, the majority of the singing happened on set, with the actors having earpieces to keep them in time. Not only is this hugely impressive on the actors’ part, it makes it seem vastly more realistic, and you honestly believe the characters. Most of the actors and actresses in this movie look like they have given absolutely everything for the part, and this kind of spirit and heart is rarely seen in films. They are helped of course by the fact that the songs themselves are brilliant and taken from the highly praised stage production, but the film would be very little without this casting. They fill Les Misérables with heart and soul, and I imagine they put the stage version to shame.

Hugh Jackman brings his finest ever performance to the role of Jean Valjean, for example. A surprisingly fantastic singer, he carries the film on his shoulders with gusto and passion, stealing the show from other brilliant actors. The transformations he undergoes throughout the film are staggering, and also convincing. You won’t recognize him at the end, but you have lived his life with him, and Hugh Jackman makes you fall in love with him before even halfway through the epic running length. No longer will I remember Jackman for The Prestige, or even the X-Men trilogy; this is his show and it is undoubtedly a career-defining performance, and in my view, Oscar-worthy. Then again, a lot was hyped about Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe in the two main parts: perhaps overall the women triumph greatest. I loved Samantha Barks as Éponine, a very human and touching performance from her (I believe she is reprising her role in this film, as she was in the stage production), and her solo is a late highlight. I found myself relating to her the most, for whatever reason, but I feel she will be shamefully overlooked thanks to Anne Hathaway as Fantine. Which leads me to Anne Hathaway’s performance. I gave Anne Hathaway the actress of 2012 for her role as Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises, and it looks likes she will be keeping that award this year, and it’s only January. Her famous solo, ‘I dreamed a dream’ has never been performed so movingly and with such passion. By far the defining moment of the film, I felt like breaking down in tears for her character, such was the heart and desire she gave the role. One of the most magical moments of cinema I have ever experienced.

Anne Hathaway gives a career best performance: An Oscar is deservedly on its way.

As you would expect with Tom Hooper, the direction is superb. The King’s Speech was a guilty pleasure of mine, bringing career-best performances from Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter (who is also suitably quirky and engaging in Les Misérables), he fully deserved all the credit he got, and does a similar job here. There are so many lovely touches, so many glorious camera shots, and he stays away from bringing huge amounts of special effects into the film (he, unlike most directors, acknowledges natural is best). Again, another Oscar-worthy effort, and I have to say, I hope they do win it. The settings for 19th century France are glorious, and the film is a visual treat in so many ways, much more so then some films that shower you with dazzling special effects. This is beautiful and magical in a way that only natural wonder can achieve, and does a lot that the horrendously over-hyped Life Of Pi failed to do. So, Les Misérables has the wonderful and passionate cast, it has the glorious setting, it has the rousing music, and it has a story to match any Hollywood effort. Is there anything it can’t do?

Well, it is drawn out and over-long. This was always going to be a complaint of mine, considering the 156 minute time span which is daunting and requires actual planning to work around. When I look back though, I can’t think of much that could have been cut; most scenes and songs are hugely important to the plot, and to leave any of these out would be a crime to the book and stage production. It’s a shame it has to be like this, but in hindsight it really does have to be this long; worryingly, this could alienate some of the audience. Then again, Les Misérables should be a film you can have some idea whether you will like or not. If you don’t like musicals, then it almost certainly isn’t for you. The film contains 49 songs overall, and much of the dialogue is sung anyway. In short, there is a lot of singing, and very little talking. It’s also very depressing; get prepared for a lot of hopelessness and death. Characters die quite unexpectedly, normally just after you have fallen totally in love with them. It’s not a movie for the faint hearted, and please pack some tissues. I didn’t cry, but I really wanted to. But any criticisms I have of Les Misérables are pretty forced. When you enjoy a film this much, and have to look back through for something bad to say, it’s clear you’ve seen something good. Les Misérables is a pure cinema experience, it rouses you, it depresses you and it makes you fall in love with the characters on-screen.  It’s what you always want from a film, but very rarely actually get. I won’t get it on DVD, I probably won’t ever watch it again; for me it is meant to be seen on the big screen. Go see it, before it gets demoted.

Best Bit

Anne Hathaway’s rendition of ‘I dreamed a dream’. Nothing short of outstanding, and could well win her her first Oscar. You will be blown away, I never wanted it to stop. She puts every emotion she has into that song, and is simply one of the finest things I have every experienced on the big screen. Outstanding for so many reasons.

Worst Bit

The third act is over long and introduces tons of really beautiful people who can sing really well; and with the exception of Samantha Barks as Éponine, the film suffers slightly. With the new characters being introduced very quickly, the things they do and the troubles they encounter seem to matter less than the main men. A minor complaint, but at one point I just didn’t care enough about the characters then the length of the third act required. A minor complaint, and I really had to think to develop it.

Overall

I don’t give out my top rating lightly, and I am as surprised as you that this film gets that most sought after of ratings. But it deserves it, easily one of the best British films in years and one of the finest films of the past two years. It has heart, it has soul, it has career best and Oscar-worthy performances, and it is a unique cinema experience. At 156 minutes it sure is a battle, but don’t let that put you off: if you think you would enjoy it, you will adore it. Simply unmissable.

5/5

Gangster Squad: The Review

2013 has started. Christmas is over, people have made promises for the new year they can’t keep, and a new wave of cinema has been released, shaping the horizon for the promising year of film ahead. In the first two months of 2013 the new Quentin Tarantino film, Django Unchained will be released, as will Steven Spielberg’s much anticipated Lincoln and Pixar’s new masterpiece Wreck it Ralf. But first, we have to experience the new film from Ruben Fleischer, the genius behind the highly enjoyable comedy Zombieland. Now he turns to the crime-ridden world of the 1940s, a stylish, dangerous and fascinating world where powerful and merciless gangster Mickey Cohen runs LA by use of fear and violence. The Police are in his pocket, so the small band of ones that aren’t bribed decide to put him down without the badges, like vigilante law men. The stage is set for the first high profile gangster film since Public Enemies, and with it comes either a huge disappointment or a really silly, enjoyable Gangster film. It depends how you jump into it.

I don’t think the director really knows what he wants from this film. Is it a gritty, violent and incredibly dark thriller? Is it a violent, but tongue in cheek film; half biopic of Mickey Cohen, half parody of good Gangster films? It feels like the latter, but intense moments of violence (which are horrendously over the top) and a lack of characterization suggest the director doesn’t really know what he’s doing, which is a real shame. The film feels messy, far too messy to take it entirely seriously. It shouldn’t be so confused as to what it wants to be, it should be a very serious Gangster movie, attempting to stay accurate to the supposedly true story on which it is based. It clearly has been cast with that in mind – so many talented actors shoved into a pretty bland and meaningless script, especially when compared to masterful crime films which don’t resort to mindless violence at the worst of times. Many of the conversations feel half finished, cutting out when you feel there is a lot more to say. I couldn’t help compare it to the crime classics of old, such as Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, where the director acknowledges that mindless violence means nothing compared to a well spoken and hauntingly memorable scene. This makes the violence, when it eventually happens, all the more shocking and memorable. This film had none of that; never mind the script being pretty terrible, the violence was completely overdone and stupidly gruesome.

The film opens with our main man, Sergeant John O’Mara, following a crook who has taken a pretty girl from an airport to rape her with his friends. After beating them to a savage pulp, completely without warning, he saves the girl with a smirk on his face and a cheesy line on his lips. Immediately you are confused as to what this film is intending to achieve. It would work better if the violence wasn’t so brutal and unnecessarily gruesome, shocking you, but in a different way to which the previously mentioned classics Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs does. They shock you in a haunting way, and disturb you after seeing such normal characters to terrible things. In Gangster Squad, the violence is immediate and takes no prisoners, and this ultimately defines the movie, dropping it’s IQ by about 50 points. What this eventually does is alienate the audience to the plot, and also fail to develop the characters in any way.

The cast carry the movie; even if some members are criminally underdeveloped.

Are there at least good performances? Surprisingly, yes. Sean Penn is predictably cold and brilliant as mobster and main villain Mickey Cohen, and gives the film a much needed sense of purpose. Our main hero is Sergeant John O’Mara, played by Josh Brolin, who does an average job but looks far too much like Arnie to be taken seriously, especially when a lot of the time he is just blowing stuff up. Emma Stone is extremely disappointing as Grace Faraday, the unwilling girlfriend of Mickey Cohen. She’s a damn good actress, and in most instances here she isn’t given a chance to show it. She starts off as a promising and strong female lead, making a nice change considering the film is set in the 1940’s, an era rife in sexism. The director then sways to the eras stereotypical ways and slowly degrades her into a weak and uninteresting character, and sometimes just being plain dislikeable. I was really looking forward to seeing how she would perform, after loving her in The Amazing Spider Man and Zombieland, and I was hugely disappointed by her role in the movie. At the end they actually add a cheap plot device to give her a reason to be in this film, as if the director or the actress suddenly didn’t know what she was doing there. This is contrasted with a surprisingly fantastic performance from Ryan Gosling, being by far the most interesting character in the film. He does everything right, and in fact his role is the one which has to react to situations the most, prompting a wide range of convincing reactions from Gosling. Hugely impressive, and without these performances this film would be a flat dud of a movie that falls on its face after the first hurdle. It attempts to disguise all it’s shortcomings through a veil of fantastic sets and experimental filming (some of which really work, others which fail dramatically), and you can’t help thinking if it had stuck to the basics it would have done what it set out to achieve.

As a silly and stupidly enjoyable crime film, Gangster Squad nails it. You could poke holes in this film all day, and laugh at some of it’s extremely silly efforts at being dramatic or disturbing (the ‘drill’ scene was not so much as laughable as downright hysterical), but at the end of the day the film, intentionally or not, begs you do not take it seriously. After I had gotten the vibe that this wasn’t going to be a particularly good film, I relaxed and let myself enjoy it. And shockingly, I really did. I feel guilty for knowing why the film was bad but still having a good time, but the film drew me in and made me warm to it, in it’s own flawed way. The settings were brilliant, the director nailing the extremely cool and atmospheric feel of the 1940s. The cast carry it along, just, and with a very talented line up you can’t claim they don’t do a good job. The script isn’t great, and some of the set pieces are so clichéd it feels like a decent parody of a Gangster film, but when the film takes you along for such a downright fun ride you can’t really complain. You have to take yourself out every 10 minutes to groan or laugh at it, but I found that was part of the fun. It’s hard to explain why I enjoyed this film, because it certainly wasn’t down to the quality. It’s mindless and over excessively violent, the plot device of policeman ‘taking off the badges’ just giving the director a good excuse to blow the whole of LA up through a curtain of ‘dazzling’ special effects. The characters can be dull and pointless, most of the aforementioned ‘Gangster Squad’ being either largely forgettable or a stereotypical device for some comic relief. It even has a classic Bond style ‘invincible’ henchman, Cohen’s right hand man, who fails to have a single line in the film, and is only defined by a bit of a dodgy eye; being given a suitably clichéd death scene without having uttered a word in the film is his only true involvement. There is so much to criticise, so much to poke holes through and despise. The difference between this and most other stupid movies is that I had a lot of fun watching it. I will never watch it again, nor do I want to, but neither do I regret spending my money on it, and compared to some films from 2012 (Taken 2) I’d say that’s a damn good job done. Gangster Squad, I tip my 1940’s hat off to you for giving me a good afternoon at the cinema, but when asked to analyse you I can’t help but point out the many flaws. Do I recommend this? No, I can’t say I do. Wait for Django Unchained to be released, which in a two minute trailer had far more attitude and style then this film managed in two hours. But if you have no expectations and are looking for mindless and gore filled fun, then look no further. You’ve found your afternoon filler.

Best Bit

A tense and superbly acted meeting between Mickey Cohen and his boss in a busy 1940’s restaurant, 5 minutes of style and brilliant dialogue, giving us a taster of what Gangster Squad could have been if it had known what to be.

Worst Bit

Take your pick from any of the horrendously silly moments from this film. My personal favourites were forgettable Squad member Coleman Harris (the once brilliant supporting actor Anthony Mackie from The Hurt Locker) throwing a dagger into a drug dealers hand and pinning him to the wall, then we have Mickey Cohen tearing a guy in two by chaining him to two cars and driving them in different directions, and finally we have the outstanding ‘drill’ scene. I won’t even spoil it for you. You will either laugh at it or walk out. All of these moments propel the movie from possible serious crime caper into extravagantly silly blockbuster fodder.

Overall

A horrendously enjoyable movie, which contains enough flaws and laughable moments to fill a hundred page manuscript, but somehow manages to avoid being a shambles through good casting and a desire to not be taken seriously. If you expect much from this film, you will be bitterly disappointed; a shallow and mindless version of Public Enemies essentially. If you are looking for something to distract you and to just plain enjoy, despite it’s flaws, there is no better film out right now. A missed opportunity, but through the films failings it does manage to entertain. It is stupid, pointless and a whole lot of fun. Never before has a bad film been so good.

2/5

One Night to Rule Them All: A Lord of the Rings Marathon

6:00pm- Alex arrives. Spirits are high as the night is off to a good start. Lazing about is commenced while waiting for fellow members to arrive.

6:30pm- A huge blow is struck to the night’s plans as Liam pulls out last minute. Evan also displays doubt at seeing the whole night out. Jack’s well-rehearsed plans are in peril.

6:45pm- Evan arrives, and spirits are raised. Not wanting to waste time, Jack puts in the first of the trilogy, the Fellowship of the Ring, and the sleepless night begins.

The Quest begins.
The Quest begins.

Part 1: The Fellowship of the Ring

7:10pm- Much confusion on the part of Jack over the gender of Merry, seeing as many characters pronounce the name ‘Mary’, and the Hobbit looks a bit like a girl. The statement is met with harsh words by the other two members.

7:15pm- Panic settles in as Jack cannot find his house keys, and without them cannot go out for a Subway with Alex later. Impatient Mother compromises and gives Jack her work keys with an evil eye. Jack bounds back into the room to see Gandalf be mysterious towards small people.

7:25pm- Evan argues at major plot-hole, stating Aragorn’s torch could not stick in Wraith’s face when thrown. Understanding and approval is shown by other members, who did not realise the bluntness of this torch in previous viewings.

7:30pm- Cheap blows are traded between Gandalf and Saruman, who was not the kindly chief wizard we anticipated. Jack argues that these wizards would use more powerful magic in given situation. Evan despairs.

8:00pm- The Fellowship is formed. Jack rewinds and pauses to catch a shot of Bret from Flight of the Conchords as an Elf extra. Cheers all round.

8:10pm- The remote is used yet again when rewinding and pausing on Bilbo Baggins’ scary face. Gasps and pale faces are exchanged by all members.

8:55pm- Nearing the climax, Jack debates the route the Fellowship are taking, specifically the inclusion of a dangerous waterfall. Evan eases his mind.

9:15pm- Handkerchiefs and tears are shed as Boromir, played by a bearded Sean Bean, is killed off. Makes up for being a general dick by taking three crossbow bolts to the chest for goofy members Merry and Pippin. Stares death in the face bravely, and even a physical impossibility in a later emotional scene cannot dampen our pride.

9:30pm- While Boromir is burned, the discussion as to how Legolas could use an arrow to stab someone arises. Alex and Evan argue it would snap; Jack states Elven arrows are tougher and equipped for stabbing. The logic falls on deaf ears.

9:35pm- The credits roll, and Evan says farewell. Alex and Jack depart for Subway with positive minds and a spring in their step. Next up: The Two Towers Extended Cut.

Best Argument from The Fellowship of the Ring

The question as to whether Legolas is awesome or not. Alex and Evan thought he was incredibly lame, with his tendency to stare into the distance thoughtfully and say something cryptic being their hard evidence. Jack loved the character as a kid because he rode down some stairs on a shield in The Two Towers. Fight left Jack by the end. Verdict: He is lame. Very lame.

Best Moment of The Fellowship of the Ring

Boromir taking three crossbow bolts to the chest. After being a dick for the entire film, it’s always a slight surprise with how much dignity he leaves. Coolest death of the series, although the suicide-bomber-Ork in The Two Towers runs a close second.

9:45pm- Having returned with Subways and general complaints about Subway staff, the first of two discs is put in and normal service resumes. The Two Towers begins, and we are a man down. Spirits are low.

Part 2: The Two Towers Uncut Edition

10:00pm- To liven up the Treebeard scene, Jack does his research and discovers the actor for Ghimli and Treebeard are one and the same. Cheers all round.

10:15pm- Huge shock around the room as the Hobbits reach The Black Gate of Mordor a film earlier then planned. Alex swears that they reached it in The Return of the King, but the proof to the contrary is overwhelming.

10:15pm- Another interesting point is raised by Jack- who are the Ninjas? Answers in comments.

10:45pm- After Aragorn falls off a cliff Jack points out the cliff wasn’t that high anyway so he would have survived whatever. Alex disagrees, arguing the impact with the water would have broken his body, and that the height was enough to reach Terminal Velocity. Jack calls on his Physics days and argues against, but the discussion soon fades into disgust as Arwen appears on screen.

11:15pm- An extended scene where Merry and Pippin get eaten by a tree cause eyes to roll in the room, and that £4 spent by Jack to buy this special edition of the film seems like a very bad idea after all.

11:16pm- To add insult to injury, the film demands we switch discs. Jack walks away in disgust, and then walks back to insert disc number 2. Comforted this is the last disc change of this film, play is resumed and Treebeard welcomes us back.

11:30pm- A surprise musical interlude is included. Jack and Alex go with the flow, somewhat begrudgingly.

12:30pm- The climax starts.

1:15am- The climax ends. Minds are blown and anticipation is at a high. The fear of fatigue is starting to creep into minds as Jack discovers his eyes drooping. Panic takes hold.

Best Argument from The Two Towers

Tempers flared when Jack suggested Wormtongue looked a bit like Benerdict Cumberbatch from Sherlock. He clearly doesn’t.

Best Moment from The Two Towers

Frodo facing up the Witch King on a bridge. Awesome shot.

1:20am- The Return of the King is placed inside the Xbox. A quick glance of Alex from Jack reveals he has little time left awake. Jack prays he can make the scene where the flares are lit.

Part 3: The Return of the King

1:30am- The duo need a break for toilet and refreshments.

1:55am- Pez brought two days ago by Jack runs out. Spirits fall.

IMAG0650
Pez runs out dangerously fast. Even Spider Man fails to help hunger issues.

2:00am- Spirits rise as Jack hails the victorious dead with Aragorn.

2:10am- Jack holds his head in his hands as the long running dispute is finally ended: the main Nazgul is named the ‘Witch King’, not ‘Witch Queen’ as Jack had previously thought. The fact all Nazgul are Kings momentarily strikes Jack, and he gasps at his own stupidity. Alex looks on smugly.

2:15am- The flames are lit, rousing music is heard and Jack cries out in triumph!

2:45am- Boos ring around the room as Faramir is harshly treated by his evil father. Jack calms himself by remembering the father eventually sets himself on fire and falls off a cliff screaming.

3:05am- Jack cries in anguish as Faramir is brought in injured, but Jack soon discovers he is the last man standing: Alex has proved this is a challenge too great for him.

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Disheartened, Jack battles on without Alex.

3:20am- Sam Wise returns in epic fashion and wounds a massive spider. Alex awakens briefly to cheer half heartedly.

3:37am- King burns alive as previously stated. Biggest cheer of the night.

3:40am- Women’s rights happen about 2000 years early as the simple Aragorn love-interest turns into a Nazgul and Wraith chopper. States ‘I am no man’, whips her golden hair and stabs the Witch King in the face. A symbol to all women everywhere.

3:52am- The great Eye’s sight is brought into question by Jack as he clearly sees the two Hobbits he is looking for on his land, but when they both drop to the ground in plain sight, seems to forget about them. Jokes about needing to go to Specsavers are avoided by Jack in fear of breaking sanities.

3:57am- Sam Wise gets super pumped, and defines himself as the true hero of this trilogy.

4:05am- After a biting intervention by Gollum, the ring is in the fires of Mount Doom and the Quest completed. Subjects watching are so tired they fail to point out the obvious Eagle plot-hole.

4:10am- Frodo wakes up next to adoring friends (Side note by Alex- Orlando Bloom was squeezed into those clothes. It is hard to disagree).

4:16am- Aragorn is rightfully named King and sings for a bit. Jack had forgotten about the musical interlude and is shocked enough to sit up and take notice of next infuriating part.

4:19am- Arwen rejoins, after dying slowly the past two films, but of no logical cause.

4:30am- Sam’s wife appears and is rated. Jack and Alex settle for a moderate 6/10. Sam Wise can do much better.

4:31am- The Journey ends, and Peter Jackson’s name appears on the screen. An unprecedented feeling of accomplishment is felt, which is weird as the only thing we did was watch three really long films overnight.

Best Argument of The Return of the King

How does Magic work? One of Gandalf’s magic moments brought different reactions from Alex and Jack, and this prompted the argument of how magic actually would work in the first place. It kept us awake.

Best Moment of The Return of the King

The line ‘For Frodo’. Just sums up the whole trilogy in one epic line. If I had a sword and shield at that point, I would have ridden with Aragorn to certain death too. God damn you Peter Jackson.

6:00am- And after a night of such drama, Alex turns into bed. Jack stays awake to recount the night’s events. Bed waits. For now.