Movie Podcast Weekly Ep. 117: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014) and The Homesman (2014) and Wild (2014), et al., and the Historic Sony-North Korea Movie Conflict

Episode 117

Merry Christmas from your friends at Movie Podcast Weekly! In Episode 117, we bring you special guest William Rowan Jr. and seven Feature Reviews for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies and The Homesman and Calvary and Wild and The Captive and The Skeleton Twins and Happy Christmas. We also talk in-depth about the Sony-North Korea conflict over “The Interview.” Sadly, Karl was sick, so he was absent… But still, don’t miss this one, it’s epic!

We’re still begging the audience to e-mail their Top 10 Movies of 2014 to by Dec. 27, 2014 to be eligible to win some prizes. Join us and please vote on our poll question below:

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If you’re new to our show… Movie Podcast Weekly typically features four hosts — Jason, Andy, Karl and Josh — along with frequent guests. We give you our verdicts on at least one new movie release from the current year that’s currently playing in theaters or on VOD, as well as several mini reviews of whatever we’ve been watching lately. And we usually provide specialized genre recommendations. New episodes release every single Tuesday. Join us!


I. Introduction
— Welcome guest William Rowan Jr.
— M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Village” (2004) is streaming on Netflix in the U.S.
— Our very own Joshua Ligairi featured in the Fall 2014 Filmmaker Magazine

II. E-mail Your Top 10 of 2014 Lists!
— E-mail your Top 10 lists to by Dec. 27, 2014 to be eligible to win some prizes.
— E-mail from Jenifer
— Voicemail review of “Enemy” from Geoff
— Santa Claus

[ 0:36:57 ] III. The Historic Sony-North Korea Movie Conflict

[ 1:21:32 ] IV. Mini Reviews
William Rowan Jr: Print the Legend
Andy: Bad Santa, Black Christmas (1974), Jesus Camp
Jason: The Fault in Our Stars, Whiplash, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Josh: Bad Santa, I Am Santa Claus

V. What’s New in Theaters This Past Weekend
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
Mr. Turner [ Limited ]
Goodbye to All That [ Limited ]


[ 2:04:22 ] VI. Feature Review: WILD (2014)
Andy = 9.5 ( Theater / Buy it! )

[ 2:10:55 ] VII. Feature Review: THE SKELETON TWINS (2014)
Jason = 7 ( Strong Rental )
Andy = 9 ( Rental )
Josh = 7 ( Rental )

[ 2:32:51 ] VIII. Feature Review: THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES (2014)
Jason = 5.5 ( Theater for spectacle / Low-priority Rental )
William Rowan Jr. = 6.5 ( Theater / Rental )

[ 3:00:03 ] IX. Feature Review: CALVARY (2014)
Jason = 6.5 ( Rental )
Josh = 7 ( Strong Rental )

[ 3:19:09 ] X. Feature Review: HAPPY CHRISTMAS (2014)
Josh = 5.5 ( Low-priority Rental ); Christmas scale = 2

[ 3:26:29 ] XI. Feature Review: THE HOMESMAN (2014)
Jason = 7.5 ( Strong Rental )

[ 3:39:27 ] XII. Feature Review: THE CAPTIVE (2014)
Jason = 6 ( Rental )

XIII. Wrap-Up / Plugs / Ending



Here is how you can potentially win some prizes through our Top 10 Movies of 2014 contest.

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36 thoughts on “Movie Podcast Weekly Ep. 117: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014) and The Homesman (2014) and Wild (2014), et al., and the Historic Sony-North Korea Movie Conflict

  1. Josh’s Santa impressions in this episode have got me in hysterics! Oh man.

    I’m totally loving this one so far but alas, it has come the time that I must go dream of sugar-plums and tomorrow is Christmas Day! A very Merry Christmas to all the Movie Podcast Weekly hosts, guests and listeners.

    Ho ho ho!

  2. Haven’t gotten to the very end of this episode, so I don’t know whether anyone catches it, but I just have to reiterate Josh’s point about Scarlett Johansson. I also really enjoyed her in “Heavenly Creatures” and “Titanic.” And she went on to have such an interesting career, taking varied and challenging roles. Although even before she got to “Titanic,” her work in “Sense and Sensibility” (in particular), “Jude” and “Hamlet” had kind of already revealed the depth and breadth of her gifts.

    Not at all like Kate Winslet, who started off strong with very good work in “The Horse Whisperer,” “Ghost World” and “Lost in Translation,” but ended up embracing the whole sex symbol thing and really kind of dragged her career around in the mud for a while with piffle like “The Nanny Diaries,” “The Other Boelyn Girl” and “The Island.”

    Seriously great episode, fellas. The epic discussion of “The Interview” was tons of fun, especially with Jay and Andy bringing in “South Park.” (LOVED listening to those clips. Strong work by the “South Park” peeps.) Great discussion; very though provoking.

    Lots of great reviews (I’m totally curious to see “Calvary” and “The Homesman”), and I also gleaned some interesting factoids:

    1. Cody Clark says he like movies but actually hates them. Proof = mild disdain of first two “Mummy” movies (and serious hatred of third) + not at all impressed by “Transformers” franchise. I gotta say, it’s a pretty ironclad case.
    2. Hilary Swank = nude in “The Homesman,” but still of indeterminable hotness.
    3. Cody Clark doesn’t have Netflix. Not all that surprising, I guess, since he hates movies and all.

    I don’t know about this Cody Clark character, but I gotta say, as a former film critic myself, I know that film critics are often accused of hating movies. My personal experience of this phenomenon is that when Person A says, “Well, Person B just hates movies,” what more likely the truth of the matter is that Person B doesn’t like the same movies as Person A. As a former film critic myself, I would never accuse another critic of “hating movies,” because I know from having met and interacted with many other film critics that it’s actually almost universally the case that film critics are serious movie lovers. It’s easy to attack film critics for being movie haters, because a) their opinions are generally known and disseminated (kind of the point of film criticism), and b) since they see and discuss a much larger quantity of movies than the average moviegoer, critics tend to dislike or deride many more movies than the average moviegoer. Most moviegoers don’t like every movie they see, and every moviegoer hates some movies, but very few moviegoers go out and see lots of movies they suspect are bad, or that they don’t think they’ll enjoy. Critics are supposed to do that.

    Anyway, if I ever do meet this Cody Clark guy, I’ll be sure to steer clear of anything HE recommends. Being a person who sincerely and passionately loves movies myself, I’d have to be skeptical about taking the advice of someone who actually hates them. Although, are you sure you have this guy pegged right? Isn’t he the one who rated “The Terminator” 15/10 and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” 13/10 on the most recent Jason’s Birthday Bash podcast? That sounds like pretty questionable behavior from a secret movie hater who only pretends to like movies.

    • Haha, I’m sure Jay was being facetious but to me saying that a critics negative opinion of the Transformers films is evidence towards their hatred of movies is akin to saying that a chap who doesn’t much care for Mcdonalds must hate all food or that someone who thinks Justin Bieber sucks just doesn’t like music.

      Also, I’m glad you picked up on that Scarlet Johanssen thing. My inner-pedant was waiting for Jay or William to point it out but it just slipped by like a Santa in the night.

      • @David,
        Yeah, I also caught the Scarlett Johansson thing, but I knew what Josh meant, and I figured everybody else did, too. … Besides, Josh and I were already bickering enough on this episode, and I didn’t want to be even more disagreeable than I already was… : )

      • Jay: I know the phrase, and I know how it’s generally used, but I’m honestly not embarrassed about liking any of the movies I like. Here’s an example. I love “Tremors.” Love it! I have enormous swaths of its dialogue committed to memory, I’ve seen it a few dozen times, etc. (I’ve never investigated any of the sequels. Taking Kevin Bacon out of equation is giving up too much for me to care.) I know that a lot of other people would consider it a guilty pleasure, but I actually think it’s a pretty darn good movie on most fronts. So while it’s a movie that gives me tremendous pleasure, there’s not really anything guilty about it (for me). Maybe another would be “Silverado” (seen it dozens of times, etc.) … except that, (darn), that is one fine and lively Western. It’s a very good film. It’s a marvelous film. Way too good for anyone to feel guilty about liking it. History seems to have placed it on the level of, say, “Maverick,” for some weird reason, but that is a hangin’ offense where I come from.

        I also like a fair (though not overwhelming, by any means) number of movies that have been deemed bad or awful by most other commentators and/or moviegoers. I like “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” [LENGTHY DIGRESSION: Yes, I get why other people think it’s crap, but I’ve seen it twice and I honestly think it gets unfairly trashed. I wouldn’t stick up for every scene in the film, but I think it was largely smothered in the cradle by a mountain of impossible-to-meet expectations (compounded by a couple of truly regrettable moments). If you watch them side-by-side (and almost no one ever does), it’s hard (if not impossible) to argue that “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” is a better movie. And while “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” has higher highs, its lows are just as awful as the worst moments of “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” Again, watch the whole series in rapid succession, and you may be surprise much taller No. 4 stands alongside No. 2 and No. 3. “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” of course, dwarfs them all. DWARFS THEM ALL. TOWERS FAR, FAR ABOVE THE REST. I WILL GIVE NO QUARTER TO ANY ABSURD ARGUMENTS THAT “LAST CRUSADE” IS THE BEST OF THE BUNCH.] As with a lot of other movies where I’m in the minority, however, I’ve only seen “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” a couple of times (twice, to be exact), so you couldn’t really call that a guilty pleasure, either. I don’t like it enough for the generally accepted usage of the phrase. (And, again, I don’t really feel embarrassed about liking it.)

        There are some movies that I formerly liked a whole stinkin’ lot, and still find generally tolerable, but have lost a great deal of my enthusiasm for. They might be guilty pleasures, I suppose, if I still found them as intensely pleasurable as I once did. Four of those are “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,” “Willow,” “Independence Day” and (sacrilege, I know) “The Fellowship of the Ring.” I saw “The Fellowship of the Rings” 12 or 13 times in theaters, and four or five times after that on DVD. I own the extended edition. And yet, I actually haven’t watched it once since about 2004 (and I think it’s quite handily the best film of the trilogy).

        I have many, many favorites. But if I have to openly (or even privately) disown some of them to be considered a serious movie lover, well, that’s a silly qualification. I don’t need to belong to that club. :-)

        • Cody you’re blowing my mind with your crazy-ass comments about the Indiana Jones franchise!

          I didn’t see “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” in the theatre but I got it on DVD just a few days after revisiting the original trilogy and for me it’s a HUGE step down. A big part of my child-like glee at the first 3 movies is based on how fun everything looks; the sense of escapist adventure derived from the dangerous sets and locations, the energetic stunts and the dark, pulpy comic-book violence.

          “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” couldn’t even pull off some Jeeps driving through the jungle without making it look so artificial and video-gamey that all I saw was actors in a studio in front of a green screen. That’s not fun and adventurous. It communicates no real sense of excitement to me. It’s latter-day Lucas-esque!

          And are there really any low points in “Last Crusade” that rival Shia LaBeouf swinging through a CGI jungle with cartoon monkeys? Sure that movie is kind of hammy and more than a little goofy in certain places but in my opinion there’s a charm there that the fourth film fundamentally lacks.

          I will admit that my complaints with “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” are mostly of an aesthetic nature though. I actually didn’t hate LaBeouf’s role and unlike most people I didn’t at all mind the inclusion of the extraterrestrials (seriously because that’s such a stretch from immortal knights and face-melting ghosts?), on the contrary that seemed like a fairly logical place to take the franchise. No, my problem is really just how awful the film is to look at. I guess that might seem like a nitpick to some folks but it just didn’t give me that classic adventure movie look that excites my inner-child.

          As is so often the case when Jay comes out with some controversial statement; you have my respect and admiration for publicly voicing such damnable opinions Cody!

          • David: Compare especially the characters of Marcus and Sallah in “Last Crusade” to how they were originally conceived and presented in “Raiders.” In the first film, they are serious men with skills and competence. In “Crusade,” both are presented as comic relief buffoons who bumble and blunder into whatever good they manage to pull off. The scene in the marketplace in Iskenderen, with Sallah bluffing Nazis with a bad pun about “papers,” while Marcus fails to comprehend a simple command to run, is so lame it makes makes my teeth grind. And Indy’s “tapestries” con at the German castle is every bit as embarrassing as the “Shia swings with the monkeys” scene. The lame gags and insipid banter are everywhere in “Crusade:” When Indy and his dad pull an Abbot and Costello while tied to their chairs (the fireplace bit), the whole wincingly feeble “X marks the spot” business in Venice, the torturous come on scenes with Nazi Blonde. Even the good stuff in “Crusade” is flawed: The two massive chases are essentially meaningless both to the characters and the action (boat chase in Venice, tank chase in Turkey). Neither reveals anything important or gets the characters to anywhere critical. They’re both just time-killing digressions propped up by needless exposition from the pointless Grail Brotherhood guys. The movie stops for a chase, then goes back to exactly what was happening before the chase, after a brief PSA from the Grail Boys. Compare either to the ark pursuit in “Raiders” that is frankly the greatest car chase ever filmed, and is directly built into the action and storytelling progression of the film. It’s not a chase for the sake of a chase. The Nazis are moving their historical prize to Cairo, and Indy has to think of his feet and do whatever he can to steal it back before it’s essentially out of his grasp forever.

            Sean Connery essentially bails out “Last Crusade” just by being Sean Connery. Try to imagine the movie if they’d cast almost any other actor. It’s would have been half the movie it ended up being with Connery. It’s the most perfect Family Member of Established Series Character stunt-casting in the history of Family Member of Established Series Character stunt-casting. It makes the movie 100 percent better. But it’s also covering up a whole lot of weak sauce that fans would otherwise have been far more reluctant to swallow.

        • At first you worried me, Cody, when you picked movies that were still actually good movies… I thought you didn’t get the point. But then you mentioned “Crystal Skull” and my fears were all quelled … But then, a different set of fears about you arose within me. ha ha.

  3. Andy has convinced me that, “Wild” must be next on my list of priorities! I was already intrigued before hearing his review and now all my curiosities have been addressed.

    I’ve already made a little more progress since I sent in my TOP 10 List…I tackled, “The Gambler”, “Into the Woods” & “The Interview” in less than 48 hours…how I managed that is completely beyond me…but, I look forward to comparing ratings, likes and dislikes next week!

    On a side note: Don’t hate me for resurrecting this film back into conversation BUT, I’ve cued up, “Upstream Color” so, I can finally experience it’s weirdness and see what all the hype is about. ;]

    • I’ve sent you the best I could come up with from my meagre jaunts into contemporary cinema Jay. I hope you got it.

      My only question is; what if the winner doesn’t own a Blu-ray player?

      • Yes, David. Got your list. Thank you! (For everyone who submitted his or her list, I considered it a personal favor to me.)

        And of course, if the WINNER prefers a DVD, instead of a Blu-ray, then that’s absolutely fine, I’ll get a DVD… But depending on where the winner lives, we may need to talk about regions and make sure we get the winner a disc that plays. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it, though.


  4. Wow , yall did a very poor review on the last hobbit movie . I enjoyed that movie allot . The action was great , that battle at the end was cool . , and plus Jason and William need to watch part one and part2 shows the backstory . If u go into a movie like that take the time to go watch those parts before u go this one like I did . To me the movie was 8

    • I am with you Willis. Of course, I am a bit of a fanboy so I can be a bit more forgiving when it comes to LOTR/Hobbit stuff, but I thought they were a overly harsh.

      A couple of great things about the movie that they didn’t talk about much if at all:

      – Martin Freeman’s performance. Mr. Freeman was perfectly cast and did an excellent job. When you think of hobbits, Martin Freeman will inevitably be the face that comes to your mind.
      – In past Hobbit movie reviews, Karl has mentioned that he thought Richard Armitage, who played the lead dwarf Thorin, was miscast. He didn’t think Richard had the presence and weighty performance to pull off the role. I could see where Karl was coming from, but I thought that was not the case in this final film. Richard Armitage did a great job and Thorin’s character arc was satisfying. (Side Note: Jason, when I need my Greek tragedy fix, I will be watching The Hobbit, not “The Fault in Our Stars”, thank you very much. :) )
      – Some of the fight scenes were tremendous. Things got a little cartoony at times, but otherwise I was impressed by the battle scenes (which was pretty much the whole movie), especially the one-on-one duels near the end of the film.
      – The final scenes of returning to the Shire were excellent. Surely this could be a highlight scene William Rowan Jr.! The way the final scene tied directly to “The Lord of the Rings” was so good. I look forward to watching all six movies (extended editions obviously) in the days to come.

      A few other important things to mention:

      – William mentioned the side characters who didn’t get any story resolution or satisfying screen time. I agree. The exact same problem occurred in the Best Picture winner “The Return of the King” (2003). Side characters like Eowyn and Faramir were forgotton. Saruman, the lead villian in the first two LOTR films, was left out of the third film entirely! The extended edition fixed all that and I am hopeful the extended edition for the final Hobbit film will do the same.
      – Peter Jackson gets a lot of crap that should really be shoveled by Tolkien himself. How would you go about putting 12 dwarves (each with similar names and nearly zero character development in the book) on the big screen in a memorable way? I think Jackson did a great job with those dwarves (especially in the extended edition). I got to know them just as well as I got to know the soldiers in “The Dirty Dozen” (1967) and almost as well as “The Magnificent Seven” (1960). Haters will say: “But it took Jackson three movies to do it!” And I say, “It takes Jackson 3+ hours to tell the tale of King Kong. Jackson makes long movies. We shouldn’t be surprised.”
      – I own the first two movies and I swear they look better on Blu Ray then they ever did in theaters. The look of the first two films in theaters disappointed me at times, but on Blu Ray they look fantastic. Even the CGI seems better at home and I still have a pretty big screen.

      Anyway, the film was not perfect. But it was still pretty awesome. 8.5/10 for fantasy lovers like myself, 7.5/10 for the general public, and lower scores for people who either aren’t big fans of Jackson/Tolkien to begin or they just are sad, angry individuals who hate New Zealand.

  5. getting withdrawal symptoms – got out to see Unbroken and Black Sea at the cinema last night – I would probably have unbroken in my list if its was not already submitted as I loved the movie and the book. Black Sea was pretty good too

  6. The Hobbit was the first book I ever read when I was nine, and I have repeated the process over the years. The first movie of the Hobbit was sacreligious in its bastardisation of Tolkien’s work. I haven’t touched the others as such.

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