At the cinema: The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
Well, it’s been intense. And very long. Thirteen years after the first* Lord Of The Rings* movie, Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth saga finally reaches its conclusion – or at least we assume there will be no further visits to Tolkien-land. This one picks up where Desolation Of Smaug left off, with heroic archer Bard (Luke Evans) slaying the fiery dragon, but not in time to save Lake-town from smouldering ruin. I personally wouldn’t have minded if the saga had ended there (in which case two movies would have encompassed it all nicely), but Jackson instead treats us to a couple more hours, as the titular five armies face off for control of a mountain full of treasure. Meanwhile, the franchise’s most-valued player Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) has rather less to do this time. Still, if you liked the other ones, you’ll enjoy this one too – and, frankly, there’s not a lot else out this weekend in cinemas, as everyone is running scared of the Hobbit.
On DVD: The Expendables 3
The first two Expendables movies were rated 15 at cinemas, but for the third outing, backers Lionsgate chased a bigger audience with a 12A-rated, less-bloody approach. Adding a whole load more big names to the mix – including Mel Gibson and Harrison Ford – and throwing in some younger actors with greater female appeal: they really thought they were on to a winner. It was not to be. While The Expendables 3 might have attracted some new fans, it alienated the core audience, and ended up taking around $100m less at the global box-office. Oops! If you have a Blu-ray player, the disc comes as an extended version that is rated 15, so that might be worth investigating. Either way, Antonio Banderas is good value as a highly talkative addition to the Expendables team, and the so-called “Young Expendables” include Kellan Lutz, Glen Powell (studly jock type), Victor Ortiz (former boxer) and female mixed-martial arts star Ronda Rousey.
On TV: The Holiday (Sunday, ITV, 10.05pm)
Hey, it’s Christmas any minute, so here’s another excuse to watch this festive romantic comedy with a house-swap theme. Cameron Diaz is the Hollywood workaholic who dumps her cheating boyfriend and heads to the snowy Surrey countryside; Kate Winslet is the unlucky-in-love newspaper wedding correspondent who can’t believe she’s occupying Cameron’s swanky LA palace. Jude Law and Jack Black play the respective love interests, and this is what we had to say about it when it came out at the cinema eight years ago: “Beautiful people being humorous and falling in love in picture-postcard settings, all wrapped up in tingly, tinselly Christmasness, topped off with a sprinkling of snow. Call us shallow, but they really have to screw up this recipe for us not to enjoy it.” The film doesn’t seem to enjoy much of a critical reputation but we liked it then, and we like it now. On the other hand, if you are in the minority that hated Love Actually, this one probably isn’t for you, either.