Review Category : Entertainment

Final “Hobbit” Film Opens Nationwide Wednesday

“The Hobbit” – Warner Bros.(NEW YORK) — The third and final film in The Hobbit series opens nationwide on Wednesday.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is the last chapter in director Peter Jackson’s adaptation of the J.R.R. Tolkien novel that preceded The Lord of the Rings.

Martin Freeman reprises his role of Bilbo Baggins, who concludes his journey and is involved in an epic battle that will decide the future of Middle-earth.

Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Evangeline Lilly, Benedict Cumberbatch and Lee Pace also star in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, which is screening in 3D and IMAX 3D. It’s rated PG-13.

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Movie Review: “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” (Rated PG-13)

“The Hobbit” – Warner Bros.(NEW YORK) — The title kind of says it all: this is a movie about a battle, there are five armies involved, and it’s all pretty darn spectacular. Director Peter Jackson has crafted an epic ending to his Hobbit trilogy worth all the gold in Erebor, and then some. It may not be Oscar-worthy in terms of complexity, but it’s the best popcorn flick in theaters since Guardians of the Galaxy.

The film begins where last year’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug left off: the dragon Smaug has left his jeweled lair and descended on Lake Town, burning with murderous rage. We’re immediately thrown into the action — there’s no “previously, on The Hobbit” to set things up — so if you’re like me and you tend to forget what happened on the Homeland episode you just watched a week ago, you’ll need to read a little reminder of last year’s Hobbit film before you get to the theater.

Before long we’re back on the Misty Mountain, with everyone from dwarves to elves to orcs plotting a path to the vast riches there previously guarded by Smaug. Allegiances are tested, tempers flare, and armies are preparing for war. In all the bluster, though, Jackson and the writers find plenty of time for comedy and heart. Because while all of this stuff is serious, come on, we’re still in fantasy land.

I have to say I was a little apprehensive going into this film, because there’s nothing that bores me more than huge battle scenes. Too often it’s just a mess of fast camera cuts that are too close-up for audiences to be able to tell what’s happening, or someone miraculously defeats 12 attackers while barely getting scratched; it’s usually just a confusing jumbled mess we must endure, rather than enjoy. But this is where the skill of Peter Jackson as a director truly shines, because he doesn’t get bogged down in spectacle over story. The second half of the movie isn’t just an hour of armies battling to the bloody death: it’s a supremely intricate, choreographed dance of chaos that manages to dazzle with special effects while deepening the development of the characters. Is there too much focus on the fighting? Perhaps. But it never feels boring or repetitive.

And thankfully, Jackson never forgets that the name of the franchise is The Hobbit, not The Elf or The Dwarf King. In a movie that’s mostly about an epic battle, there are far sexier warriors to focus on than Bilbo Baggins, and the film does, from time to time. But it always comes back to our star, played by Martin Freeman, the emotional heart of the story.

Sure, the movie devolves here and there into movie battle clichés: legions of orcs are killed by glancing blows while our heroes take serious punishment and fight on, no problem. And there are those scenes where someone impossibly fights more people than should be possible and comes out a winner. But these brief transgressions are forgivable in the face of all that The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies gets right.

True fans of the franchise will want to see the film on the big screen, in 3D. In the hands of many directors, the format is often just a gimmick that boosts ticket prices, but here it helps render these beautifully-constructed sets into fully realized worlds. And I swear at one point, I actually jumped when something, perhaps an arrow, appeared to fly out of the screen and past my head. But it’s not just the 3D: all of the special effects here are top notch.

In the end, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies will leave fans with a huge smile on their faces, and even skeptics should be impressed by the visuals and directing. Sure, it may not be much more than a Hollywood blockbuster when it comes to plot and complexity, but more movies should be this fun.

Four out of five stars.

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Joan Rivers’ Clinic Has a Plan to Stay Open

Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The clinic on Manhattan’s Upper East Side where Joan Rivers went into cardiac arrest has agreed to take corrective steps to maintain its accreditation with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

CMS has confirmed to ABC News the plan of action is acceptable and that if Yorkville Endoscopy passes an unannounced inspection in the coming days it will not lose its certification on Jan. 7.

Rivers went into cardiac arrest after undergoing a procedure at the Manhattan medical clinic, and died a few days later. The New York State Health Department found Yorkville deficient in four categories during a routine investigation a few days later. Then, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found as part of their own investigation that staff members photographed Rivers with a cellphone while she was sedated, improperly documented how much of the sedative propofol was used, and “failed to identify deteriorating vital signs and provide timely intervention during the procedure.”

“The Center has been working collaboratively with appropriate government regulatory agencies to ensure complete compliance with all regulations,” a spokesperson for the clinic told ABC News in a statement at the time. “The Center remains open and will continue to collaborate with all accreditation and government regulatory agencies to ensure quality care.”

As part of their new plan, Yorkville Endoscopy has agreed to make sure “all individuals in the clinical areas have appropriate name tags” after the unauthorized presence of Dr. Gwen Korovin when Rivers was sedated. The clinic agreed to follow appropriate surgical protocols that were not followed in the case of Rivers and document a “photo/filming policy.” The clinic also outlined new guidelines for the use of propofol.

Rivers’ daughter, Melissa Rivers, has hired a personal injury law firm to lay the groundwork for a lawsuit against Yorkville.

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Bill Cosby’s Daughter Says Her Dad Is a Real-Life Cliff Huxtable

Bryan Bedder/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) — Bill Cosby’s family is rallying around him.

The comedian’s daughter, Evin, released a statement Tuesday comparing her father to his wholesome Cosby Show character, Cliff Huxtable.

“He is the FATHER you thought you knew,” she told Access Hollywood. “The Cosby Show was my today’s TV reality show. Thank you. That’s all I would like to say :)”

Evin, 38, is the latest person close to the embattled comedian to come out in support of him. On Monday, Cosby’s wife, Camille, suggested that the media has published unvetted accusations about her husband and slammed reports in which he has been accused of sexual misconduct.

“The man I met, and fell in love with, and whom I continue to love, is the man you all knew through his work. He is a kind man, a generous man, a funny man, and a wonderful husband, father and friend,” she said. “He is the man you thought you knew.”

At least 19 women have come forward publicly to accuse Cosby of sexual assault. Cosby, 77, himself has yet to speak out directly about the allegations, though his lawyer has called them “unsubstantiated, fantastical stories.”

However, speaking to freelance journalist Stacy Brown on Friday for an article published over the weekend in The Washington Informer and also the New York Post, Cosby declined to directly address the allegations, but when asked about his wife of more than 50 years, Camille Cosby, he became sentimental.

Asked how his wife has been holding up, he said, “Love and the strength of womanhood. Let me say it again, love and the strength of womanhood. And, you could reverse it, the strength of womanhood and love.”

Cosby told Brown that he hoped at least the black media would be impartial about the allegations.

“I only expect our black media to uphold the standards of excellent journalism,” he told Brown in an audio recording of the conversation. “And when you do that, you go in with a neutral mind.”

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Brad Pitt on Wife Angelina Jolie: ‘Her Spirits Are High’

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) — Standing in for wife Angelina Jolie at the premiere of her film, Unbroken, Brad Pitt told reporters that his wife is doing great despite battling chicken pox.

“Her spirits are high,” Pitt told E! News at Monday’s premiere in Hollywood. “A little spotted and a little itchy, but her spirits are high.”

He told People, “She’s doing great.”

Pitt brought along kids Maddox, 13, Pax, 11, and Shiloh, 8, to represent their mom on the red carpet. His parents, Bill and Jane Pitt, also came to support their daughter-in-law, who directed the film.

“We all miss her,” the film’s star, Garrett Hedlund, told People at the premiere. “I’m sure she wants to be here really bad.”

Jolie announced on Friday that she was pulling out of all her appearances for Unbroken because of her illness.

“I just wanted to be clear and honest about why I will be missing the ‘Unbroken events’ in the next few days, which is that I found out last night that I have chickenpox,” Jolie said in a video released on Universal Pictures’ Facebook page. “So, I will be home itching and missing everyone, and I can’t believe it, because this film means so much to me. I just can’t believe it. But such is life, there it is. And send everyone my love, and hope everything goes well.”

Unbroken, which recently scored four nominations from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, including best picture and best director, arrives in theaters on Christmas Day.

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Cast of “American Sniper” Discuss Importance of Film at NYC Premiere

Warner Bros/American Roadshow(NEW YORK) — On Monday night at New York City’s Lincoln Center, the cast of American Sniper hit the red carpet to attend the film’s premiere. The movie centers on the life of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history, who served four tours during the Iraq War.

Star Bradley Cooper gained over 40 pounds for the role, and had to do extensive training.

“It was a journey and it took a lot of focus, but it pales in comparison to what the men and women do in our Armed Forces,” Cooper said of his preparation for the film. “But it was a little glimmer of the sacrifice that helped me sort of get my way into Chris’ shoes.”

Cooper said the most emotional moment during filming was “probably when the vets came on set and it all made it very immediate. But I have to say the whole thing was pretty emotional; the whole thing.”

Cooper discovered the story of Kyle through his friend, screenwriter Jason Hall. The Oscar-nominated actor immediately got on board, and after a reported 20 months, convinced Kyle’s family to support the project. It was especially hard since Kyle was shot dead at a Texas shooting range by a former Marine suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I mean it’s something to tell a man’s story and he was murdered Feb. 2, 2013 — I mean it was just a second ago,” Cooper said Monday. “And to sit and talk to his parents and try to really have them put the trust in you that you’re going to do his son proud it was a responsibility and it was emotional.”

Sienna Miller portrays Kyle’s wife Taya. Their marriage is depicted as being full of challenges as Taya tries to deal with Chris’ changes when he returns from combat. Miller said the real-life Taya made it easy to play her on the big screen.

“Well you try and be as honest as possible. Taya was very open. She gave us access to all of their email correspondence,” Miller explained. “She said, ‘I know it’s difficult to talk about this, but let’s talk about everything.’ I mean she very easy to investigate. And I love her, so it was not hard to do. She’s amazing.”

Director Clint Eastwood told ABC News Radio the film is important for the U.S. right now. “American society doesn’t really understand the war and they don’t understand where we are,” he said. “As is stated in the film, half of the country doesn’t even know there is a war going on.”

American Sniper hits theaters on Christmas Day, opening nationally on Jan. 16.

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Tyler Perry Doesn’t Do Diapers

ABC/Rick Rowell(NEW YORK) — Tyler Perry’s adjusting to life as a new dad, and so far the movie mogul said that the hardest part for him so far has been changing his two-week-old’s diaper.

“It’s hard and difficult for me because I have very big hands, so I’m not that comfortable at it yet,” he told the New York Post.

“He’s very small. I need him to get a little bit bigger, then I’ll be better,” he added.

In the meantime, Perry hasn’t gotten away totally scot-free. “I’ve been christened,” the director joked. “He’s peed on me, but it’s all good.”

Perry, 45, and his longtime girlfriend, Ethiopian model Gelila Bekele, 28, welcomed their first child, Aman on Nov. 30.

The couple has been dating on and off for five years.

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Morgan Freeman Voted ‘Most Liked Celebrity’ in US

ABC/Randy Holmes(NEW YORK) — It must be that soothing voice. Morgan Freeman has been voted the “Most Liked Celebrity” in the country for 2014.

The 77-year-old Million Dollar Baby actor was the clear favorite of the 1,100 people surveyed. Tom Hanks took the number two spot, followed by Sandra Bullock, Betty White and Will Smith.

The list of “Most Liked Celebrities” in the U.S. was determined by a consumer survey of people ages 13 to 49 by E-Score, a research service that provides information to media and entertainment companies.

All 25 celebs that ranked are as follows:

1. Morgan Freeman
2. Tom Hanks
3. Sandra Bullock
4. Betty White
5. Will Smith
6. Clint Eastwood
7. Bruce Willis
8. Julia Roberts
9. Leonardo DiCaprio
10. Jennifer Aniston
11. Ben Stiller
12. George Clooney
13. Ellen DeGeneres
14. Eddie Murphy
15. Dolly Parton
16. Nicolas Cage
17. John Travolta
18. Whoopi Goldberg
19. Sylvester Stallone
20. Taylor Swift
21. David Letterman
22. Oprah Winfrey
23. Jay Leno
24. Alec Baldwin
25. Arnold Schwarzenegger

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Chris Pine Hints at “Star Trek 3″ Film Date

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Chris Pine, the star of the recent Star Trek films, dropped some details Tuesday morning about the upcoming third installment of the series.

Pine, who plays James T. Kirk, said on Tuesday’s Good Morning America that they’re set to start filming “sometime next year, I think.”

“We’re always the last to know as the actors. But there is a script somewhere out there and I’m pretty sure we’ll get into making it happen sometime next year,” he added.

The film is reportedly on the hunt for a new director.

In the meantime, Pine is busy promoting his new musical film, Into the Woods, which hits theaters Christmas Day.

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“Birdman” Receives 13 Critics’ Choice Movie Awards Nominations

“Birdman” -Fox/Searchlight(NEW YORK) — The Critics’ Choice Movie Awards nominations were announced Monday and Birdman leads the pack with a total of 13 nominations.

The film nabbed a best picture nomination along with nominations for its stars Michael Keaton, Edward Norton and Emma Stone. Keaton portrays a former superhero actor who mounts a one-man stage show to resurrect his career.

Also snapping up multiple nods is Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel with 11, and Richard Linklater’s Boyhood with eight nominations. Both films will be competing with Birdman for the best picture honor, along with Gone Girl, The Imitation Game, Nightcrawler, Selma, The Theory of Everything, Unbroken and Whiplash.

Michael Strahan will host the 20th annual ceremony at the Hollywood Palladium on Jan. 15. It will be broadcast live on A&E.

The complete list of nominees can be found at

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