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The Lord of The Rings: The Rings of Power: Review | An Epic, Cinematic Journey Through Middle-Earth

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Sleeping evil, long-lost heroes, and a world without wizards? The Rings of Power is middle-Earth like you’ve never seen it before. The highly-anticipated Prime Video series The Lord of The rings: The Rings of Power is an ethereal and irresistible cinematic masterpiece. This season brings to the screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness. 

The scope and scale of the story are immense as we begin to forge a new path through Tolkien’s Middle-Earth. Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of compelling, familiar and new characters as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the farthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone. 

Photograph: Prime Studios

SECOND AGE

This fantastical universe created by J.R.R. Tolkien is much bigger and more expansive than just the events featured in The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings. This second age is defied by many events, victories, and defeats, but perhaps it’s well known to be the time when the Rings of Power were created. Spanning 3500 years, we witness the Harefoots, the Elves, Mankind, and dwarves all occupying a very different Middle-Earth, one where there is love but also darkness as a nameless shadow is waiting. The time period is documented extensively in The Silmarillion, Tolkien’s posthumously published book which was finished, edited and released by the author’s son, Christopher Tolkien in 1977. This is the setting of Prime Video’s The Lord of The Rings: The Rings of Power, the most ambitious streaming show ever made. Amazon bought the rights to the trilogy, The Appendices, and The Hobbit and with the vast amount of material they’ve created something ambitious and worthy of Tolkien. This onscreen return showcases the mythology as the creative team has envisioned a sprawling bespoke series that’ll eventually be told across multiple seasons. The Second Age of Middle-Earth truly is an amazing untold story with themes focusing on fantasy and heart, dark sorcery and political drama, as one moment you’re exploring the landscape with the Harfoots and the next in the Elven realm discussing the fates of the Kingdom. 

Photograph: Prime Studios

ASSEMBLING A FELLOWSHIP

Some of the characters in The Rings of power will be familiar. Thanks to the everlasting nature of elven-kind we see younger versions of Galadriel and Elrond, previously played by Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving in Peter Jackson’s trilogy. Both these characters maintain the whole history of Middle-Earth, having lived through all the Three Ages. Galadriel now played by Morfydd Clark brings such an outstanding performance as The Lord of The Rings: The Rings of Power gives viewers a younger, grounded take on the character. Clark brings naivete to this immortal being who dons such graceful armour as this warrior has an instinct that evil is not finished. Elrond now played by Robert Aramayo is an architect and politician, he has strong ambitions as the herald to Gil-Galad, the King of Lindon, the elven kingdom where Elron resides. 

For each of the worlds in The Rings of Power, the creative team crafted a theme and their own language to show their beginnings, with the Elves being connected to a spiritual realm they have real ethereal quality, everything about them is shiny and lustrous. Contrast that with designing the Harfoots who are the ancestors of the Hobbits. They are much more primitive and live in the land. Harfoot are very endearing people and their styling is very much based on natural elements. They’re also very earthy with large feet and from lying in the undergrowth they have bits of branches and moss tangled in their matted hair.

The Dwarves are thriving in their underground kingdom of Khazad-dum during the Second Age. They’re mystique in their culture but you’ll see an expansive amount of gold down there. They are a strong-knit community with very traditional ways of being, they wear their hearts on their sleeves and are not afraid to get their hands dirty. Disa and Durin played by Sophia Nomvete and Owain Arthur are the Princess and Prince of these Misty Mountains.

Headlining this ensemble cast are Cynthia Addai-Robinson (The Accountant), Robert Aramayo (HBO’s Game of Thrones), Owain Arthur (BBC’s Casualty), Maxim Baldry (Mr. Bean’s Holiday), Nazanin Boniadi (Showtime’s Homeland), Morfydd Clark (Saint Maud), Ismael Cruz Córdova (Showtime’s Ray Donovan), Charles Edwards (Netflix’s The Crown), Trystan Gravelle (ITV’s Mr. Selfridge), Sir Lenny Henry (Netflix’s The Witcher: Blood Origin), Ema Horvath (What Lies Below), Markella Kavenagh (True History of the Kelly Gang), Tyroe Muhafidin (Caravan), Sophia Nomvete (Award-winning UK Theatre actor), Lloyd Owen (Apollo 18), Megan Richards (Wanderlust), Dylan Smith (Maze Runner: The Death Cure), Charlie Vickers (Netflix’s Medici), Leon Wadham (Go Girls), Benjamin Walker (The Golden Compass), Daniel Weyman (BBC’s Silent Witness), and Sara Zwangobani (Monarch Cove).

Each actor had a unique challenge. Some had to follow in the footsteps of iconic performances and others got to bring iconic Tolkien characters to the screen for the very first time. The show presents itself as a more diverse version of Middle-Earth, which has always been a theme in Tolkien’s work as he often wrote characters uniting, despite their different backgrounds.

JOURNEY BACK TO MIDDLE-EARTH

I’ve seen the first two episodes, and they are filled with the kind of special effects magic that fans of Peter Jackson’s “Lord Of The Rings” movies and Tolkien’s books will love. It’s such a hugely expansive series as you have this army of fantastic technicians, artists, and craftsmen bringing such detail to the project on an epic scale. There are creatures and monsters such as the terrifying Orcs, the beastly creatures are visually grotesque and horrid which perfectly fit this world that’s full of darkness and shadows. there is also fighting, battles, and armies galore. The series truly hits the ground running with its intense action but also throughout it carries hefty themes of good vs evil, morality, hope among grief and ultimately a fellowship. Through Television we are able to get more time with these characters as they interact with each other. The sheer scale of the project is such a technical achievement for streaming especially, there are over 9,500 VFX shots in the first season alone. Director J.A. Bayona directs the first two episodes with such grandeur, that he beautifully captures the picturesque landscapes of New Zealand as he enhances the story through visual elements which included the overall sense of beauty. The cinematography and the use of light are astonishing thanks to Oscar Faura. Everything I witnessed whilst watching the first two episodes was delicious, especially the score by Bear McCreary. The Soundtrack which is available now honours the legacy as he created 15 new themes and melodies, it features a ninety-piece orchestra, plus a 40-voice choir. The score alone will transport you right back to Middle-Earth.

Photograph: Prime Studios

VERDICT

Have you ever wondered what else is out there beyond our wander? Ultimately The Lord of The Rings: The Rings of Power an Ethereal & irresistible Cinematic Masterpiece. The scope & scale of the story is immense as we forge a new path through Tolkien’s Middle-Earth! Features stunning visuals, Storytelling, and compelling characters! Writers and showrunner McKay and Payne have written an unexpected journey full of twists, turns, and surprises.

THE RINGS OF POWERfrom Amazon Studios and JD Payne & Patrick McKaywill premiere exclusively on Prime Video in more than 240 countries and territories around the world in 32 languages on Friday, September 2, with new episodes available weekly.

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Bad Boys: Ride or Die | Official Trailer – Sony Pictures Entertainment

Miami’s finest end up on the run.

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Genre:

Action, Adventure, Comedy

Release Date:

2024

Director:

Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah

Cast:

Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Vanessa Hudgens

Plot Summary:

Miami’s finest end up on the run

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Kung Fu Panda 4 Review: Po and Co are Back to Pack Hilarious Punches.

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I’ve seen too many great animation franchises deliver diminishing returns with more and more sequels. To name some recent examples one could include How to Train Your Dragon, Despicable Me, Cars, etc. Kung Fu Panda is another franchise that unfortunately falls in this category. The threequel that released in 2016, was most people’s choice for the weakest entry in the beloved franchise. So that made me pretty skeptical whether the world was ready for this franchise to return and gave us good cause not to have expectations set too high, especially given the weak marketing campaign and smaller production budget. To make things worse, it was being reported that the furious five would not be a part of the story.

So I went in with my expectations in check but I was pleasantly surprised. It’s been 8 years since the last Kung Fu Panda movie, but the characters are somehow still fresh and fun. One of the best things that the makers are able to do is remind the viewers what makes Po such a darling and why we love him so much. Jack Black is such a natural fit for his voice and makes this character special with his wit and wisdom in this latest entry. 

This entry is notably structured in a very different way from the other 3 entries. This one focuses on Po’s search for a successor and his ascension to the Master of Peace. The main characters are split up pretty early in the movie and are sent on separate adventures in a sort of buddy-cop-style scenario. On one side we have Po and Awkwafina’s Zhen, and on the other, we have Bryan Cranston and James Hong as Po’s dads. These two duos are a lot of fun in their own ways.

(from left) Po (Jack Black) and Zhen (Awkwafina) in Kung Fu Panda 4 directed by Mike Mitchell.

Po and Xen have more of a good boy-bad boy dynamic, while the dads have more of a light-hearted brotherhood between them. Both pairs of misfits deliver a string of humorously entertaining sequences that will have you laughing your heart out. The humor here works for most parts apart from one or two instances and the dialogue in particular is very smartly written. The story, on the other hand, is where the movie is at its weakest.

The structuring is pretty generic with a very cliche twist at the beginning of the second half and the script mostly fails to provide significantly fresh plot points. But credit to it for executing the successor plotline better than a lot of movies that have tried it, especially Cars 3. The writers make sure to put their entire focus on humor and entertainment value, but they do come up with a couple of charming moments and some subplots that come full circle.

The animation here is surprisingly really good, especially given the significantly lower budget. The trailers didn’t get too many people encouraged about the quality of animation, but I can tell you that even though it’s not DreamWorks’ best, it’s still really well done. The background score also hits the right spot where it’s able to compliment the scene and lift it at the same time. The voice work here is also pretty solid. Jack Black is amazing as always and Awkwafina Ke Huy Quan are welcome additions.

(Center) Chameleon (Viola Davis) in Kung Fu Panda 4 directed by Mike Mitchell.

Apart from Po, the best part of the movie is Li and Ping. They are the heart of this movie. The two of them have incredible chemistry and Mike Mitchell finds a way to bring out the best from the both of them. They play off of each other in the most silly, but whimsical manner which is just a joy to watch. We could do with a spin-off of them. Ian McShane’s return as Tai Lung is another highlight here. He is nicely integrated and fits well into the story being told. On the other hand, Viola Davis’ Chameleon is somewhat of a disappointment. For a villain that has the powers of all the previous villains, she was a rather tame antagonist.

Overall, Kung Fu Panda 4 is a return to form for the beloved franchise. It has a lot of elements that made the franchise successful and is a much-needed reminder of how much we love these characters and in particular, Po. Jack Black knocks it out of the park with Bryan Cranston and James Hong emerging as surprise standouts. It lacks the emotional depth of the first two entries and has a disappointingly tame villain. But it is a major improvement from the last entry and unsurprisingly very very entertaining.

Kung Fu Panda 4 releases in cinemas on March 8.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_inKs4eeHiI&pp=ygUXa3VuZyBmdSBwYW5kYSA0IHRyYWlsZXI%3D

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One More Shot: Scott Adkins Returns in This Kick Ass Sequel Seemingly Shot in One Take.

With many immersing and kick ass action sequences, One More Shot is another technically impressive action film from director James Nunn.

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Scott Adkins One More Shot

Bigger, better, and more kick-ass than the first, One More Shot is another impressive one-take action film full of tension, stakes, and adrenaline fuelled action sequences. Much like the first, One More Shot is another action film shot in one-continuous take. With hidden cuts of course. This one-take style adds a greater level of intensity to the film by immersing audiences deeper into the action, and connecting audiences closer to it’s characters. James Nunn’s work behind the camera is even more precise than his previous effort. Blending excellent camera work, explicit framing, and fluid editing Nunn leave audiences with punchy (no pun intented), smooth, and enthralling action movie experience.

Scott Adkins once again kicks ass as Jake Harris, delivering another exhausting performance as he takes out waves of bad guys with guns, knives, and of course, his infamous high kicks. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast was pretty underwhelming with Alexis Knapp being the worst offender. Likewise, as exciting as it was to have Michael Jai White star alongside Scott Adkins again, he certainly doesn’t get the screen time he definitely deserved. White should have been the main antagonist. Not a high level bodyguard. With that said however, Michael Jai White’s and Scott Adkins’ brawl was a phenomenal piece of action cinema that action movie fans shouldn’t miss.

One More Shot is an action extravaganza with impressive work both on and off camera, and a brilliant early contender for action movie of the year.

Sony Pictures Entertainment

After the attack on the black site in Poland, Navy SEAL Jake Harris must escort suspect Amin Mansur (Waleed Elgadi) to Washington DC for interrogation. However, after the two become trapped at an airport in the US by an army of armed mercanaries, Jake Harris must protect Mansur or else the fate of America would be on his head.

Much like its predecessor One More Shot is a very technically impressive action movie. Whilst James Nunn proved himself as a fantastic action movie director with his previous endeavour, it’s One More Shot that truly cements it. The filmmaker nails the tension, pacing, cinematography and framing of every fight. The airport setting is much more immersing setting compared to the previous one, allowing for much more creative, and tight action sequences.

Complementing Nunn’s excellent direction, was the casts breathtaking physicality. Unsurprisingly Adkins steals the show with his efficiently brutal, and fast paced martial arts which add a level of finesse, and polish to every fight scene. Likewise, Michael Jai White was another standout. His large physique, matched with his fast and incredibly precise combat proves a deadly foe. Despite the amount of times we have seen Adkins and White go toe to toe, the novelty still hasn’t worn off. Both performers are expert in their craft and give every fight between the two their all. While it would’ve benefitted the film if Michael Jai White had a greater role to play, it was still an unrelenting, and exhilarating brawl. Fingers crossed he’s the big bad in the next one.

Sony Pictures Entertainment

While many have come to see fist fights, shoot outs, and explosions, One More Shot boast’s a surprisingly developed script that’s much deeper than its predecessor. Writers James Nunn, and Jamie Russell provide a well paced and intriguing story full of heart and tension. The characters are far more developed, and introducing audiences to Mansur’s wife, and unborn child greatly elevated the stakes.

The performances where perhaps the films biggest downfall. Adkins was fantastic, White was incredible, and Waleed Elgadi was captivating. As for the rest, their performances just felt lazy. They brought zero nuance to their characters, and seeing them on screen provoked a thought’s of “Damn, I can’t wait to they get killed off”.

One More Shot’s ending is a little abrupt, and while it does have a sweet resolution, the film sort of just ends. We don’t get to see much of the repocussions of the events that unfolding throughout the movie which raises more questions that answers. However, we guarantee that James Nunn and Jamie Russell are working a script for the final film, undoubtedly titled “One Last Shot”. Fingers crossed.

While it may be a little premature, One More Shot is damn great action film that could easily end up on many “Best Action Movie of the Year” lists by the time December roles around. It’s technically impressive, boasting great camera work, and imagery with many adrenaline fuelled action sequences scattered throughout.

One More Shot is available to purchase on demand January 16th

Check out the trailer below:

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