Review of the Final ‘Hobbit’ Film on Nerd Bastards

the-hobbit-the-battle-of-the-five-armies_4eb55eIt’s hard to believe that there was once a time when we might have been truly excited about this concluding chapter of The Hobbit trilogy, but weirdly it seems to be closing out such a huge series with more of whimper than a cheer; an indifferent ‘meh’ as opposed to thunderous applause. Think of the reaction to the final Lord of the Rings movie, The Return of the King, just 10 years ago.

I must confess that the first Hobbit film, An Unexpected Journey, put me off any real excitement in catching up with the second part, The Desolation of Smaug, for too long. When I did finally watch Smaug, I was impressed with its entertainment value, for it seemed as though director Peter Jackson had finally decided to treat the story for the adventure that it’s supposed to be, rather than squeezing all the post hoc prequel value he could by building a 300-page novel into a seven and a half hour film story.

Having now seen The Battle of the Five Armies, I can say that it leans more to being like part 2 than it does being like part 1, but it’s still not The Hobbit movie we wanted when this was first announced more than five years ago. Still, it was a fun time at the movies.

Click here to read my full review of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

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Gang of Four Ending on CFRU

gangoffourSadly, tomorrow brings to a close a three year odyssey called “The Gang of Four,” the little radio show that could. Honestly, looking back on the last three years working with the gang, it’s a wonder not that it’s coming to an end after three years, it’s a wonder that it kept going week after week for this long. This a show, after all, that none of us get paid to do, and a lot of work goes into each and every show as we all seek to provide balanced and intelligent insight into the various issues of the day. But now the time has come to say goodbye. Sort of.

As we bring the Gang of Four to a close, I’d like to thank the boss (not The Boss), Jan Andrea Hall. It was Jan that recruited me on Municipal Election Night 2010 to offer colour commentary as the results came in. Beyond the Ballot Box, Gang of Four, The Guelph Hour, they were all Jan’s babies, and through her perseverance and dedication, she proved there was an appetite for local politics and local perspectives on local radio. Jan now is enjoying much success with her Folk Roots Radio program Saturday mornings, and as a result had to make a Sophie’s Choice kind of decision about where her energies needed to go. You never envy that kind of decision, but I still thank Jan for her leadership and the opportunity she provided for me to open my big mouth weekly.

You can read the rest of my farewells, and some news about the future of my radio contributions on Guelph Politico.

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Review of ‘Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1’ on Nerd Bastards

???????????????When it comes to Harry Potter, Twilight and The Hunger Games movies, I’ve always tried to read the source material before seeing the movie, and from that perspective I have to say, reading the Hunger Games finale really messed my up. In stark contrast to the last Twilight book, Breaking Dawn, and its almost ridiculously sweet happy ending, Mockingjay doesn’t just end on a down note, it ends on a devastating note.

But that will hit at the end of Mockingjay – Part 2, or at least I hope it will. In the meantime, I think Mockingjay – Part 1 is an interesting and compelling film in its own right that deals with very adult themes of violence, freedom, sacrifice, and, more specifically, the fog of war and the manipulation of symbols to inspire the population to fight. Structurally, unlike a lot of final movie in two parts, it felt like a complete film, a complete story, and it definitely leaves you wanting more. Sadly though, that won’t be until November 2015.

Read my review of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 here.

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Listen to Live Guelph Election Coverage on CFRU

CFRUlogoIt’s been a very long Municipal Election season, but it all comes to a head on Monday night as the votes are tabulated and a new city council is named. If you’re looking for somewhere to get all the blow-by-blows in the local races, you can do no better than tuning you’re radio into CFRU 93.3 fm and hear me and the election team give our two cents.

Going live to air starting at 8 pm, I will join fellow Gang of Four members Jan Andrea Hall, Oliver Rockside, and Scotty Hertz, along with the Guelph Citizen’s Andy Best, to gather all the numbers, talk the issues, and follow along as the final votes come in. Christopher Currie will also be there, breaking down races in surrounding jurisdictions including the much watched Toronto Mayor’s race.

You can listen to CFRU’s election team on the radio at 93.3 fm, or through the CFRU website by clicking on the “Listen Now” icon at the top right-hand corner of the screen. Go to for more information and to listen to archived episodes of Gang of Four. You can also go to Guelph Politico for my extensive election coverage.

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‘Camp X-Ray’ Review on We Got This Covered


Politically, the terrorist detainee camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba is a hot potato, but dramatically, it’s a compelling stage to explore some still very pertinent issues. I recently reviewed Camp X-Ray for We Got This Covered. It premiered at Sundance earlier this year, and got some positive buzz there, and is now available in limited release and on video-on-demand.

Camp X-Ray stars Kristen Stewart as a newly arrived Gitmo guard and Peyman Moaadi as a long-term detainee. The two manage to strike up an unusual friendship despite their cultural and situational differences, and the film plays out as Stewart’s soldier and Moaadi’s prisoner come to realize the other side is coloured in greater shades of grey than they ever could have known.

Yes, that development is somewhat predictable, but the film is very well acted, and to my mind, Stewart proves handily once again that she’s more than the sum of her role in the Twilight films.

You can read my review on We Got This Covered.

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I Get a Mention in ‘Guelph Mercury’ Article About Election Coverage

guelphmercuryIt’s been a fairly busy election season, for those of us covering the election as well as the candidates. Apparently, there are quite a few of us putting questions to all the people running in this municipal election cycle, so much so that the Guelph Mercury wrote an article about it.

The article called “Citizen groups seek to inform voters, influence Guelph municipal election outcome,” was written by Joanne Shuttleworth. Several weeks ago, she asked me to come by the Mercury newsroom to talk about the election, Guelph Politico coverage, and what effect, if any, all us grassroots (including GrassRoots Guelph) were going to have on the October 27 vote.

You’ll need to scroll down to read my contributions to the article (and that pictures a little old and a little out of context but whatever), but the article on whole makes for some pretty interesting reading (and I don’t just mean my parts). It’s fairly informative looking at just how many groups are trying to lobby for their issues, even if their issue is just a better informed electorate. I’d like to think that’s my issue too.

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