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Posts Tagged ‘commentary’

Hobbit DoS poster 1

I saw The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug this weekend and here are some of my thoughts on it, slightly out of order and really just as they occur to me. My full review can be found here.

1) While I don’t generally mind changes in book-to-movie adaptations, I feel like this movie was strongest when it rang true to the book and weakest where the deviations were strongest.

2) I really like Tauriel as a character. It makes sense to have specific elves present and I like having a female character in an otherwise completely male cast. When they retread Arwen’s healing skills with her (and reduce her to a love triangle) I think it’s a detriment to her as a character.

3) It makes perfect sense for us to see Legolas in the movie, seeing as his dad is so prominent in the story.

4) Much as I love Beorn… He could’ve been completely cut. We either needed to slow down and have some sort of plot point at Beorn’s house, or the dwarves could’ve just run for the forest and been done with it. As it was, the whole thing felt rushed and extra.

5) I do not understand how a. Thorin wasn’t burned to death sitting on a metal cart in molten gold and then b. still expected the dragon to be killed by it. Logical fallacy at best.

6) Bilbo’s reactions to the Ring are wonderful! Especially the details about being able to understand the spiders’ speech while wearing it.

7) Smaug was amazing. The film-makers completely did him justice and despite the logical issues in the molten gold scene, he still comes off the better for it. Who’d have guessed the dragon would be my favorite part?

8) Laketown was, I think, perfect as a set. Well, until the orcs and elves turned up, that is.

9) Story wise, I think the loss of the people’s enthusiasm for the dwarves could make the dragon attack less poignant. I could be wrong, as that’s the next movie.

10) Other than justifying the orcs and elves in Laketown (which as I’ve said I didn’t like anyway), I can’t think of any reason for the four dwarves to be left behind. I’m honestly expected to believe that after ALL of the things they’ve experienced together, those four wouldn’t at least try to follow? I get that Kili is injured…but it bothers me.

11) I really like getting to see what Gandalf is doing when he continually leaves the dwarves on their own, and it sets up the events in LotR better.

As I’ve said before, this was a very good action/fantasy film and I’m sure critics will like it better because it’s faster paced (which is the trend right now). It may be a really good action movie, but it’s very bad Tolkien. I’ll have to go see it again and find out how I react when the surprises are gone and I’m just watching it as a movie, see what I notice. And it may be that the extended edition fixes many of my complaints with the breakneck pacing and lack of plot point at Beorn’s house.

So there we go. Random thoughts on DoS.

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I’m going to say it up front: Disney’s Frozen is the best animation picture they have put out in years. The animation itself is lovely, the snowy scenes they created are epic in scale and gorgeous, the characters are interesting (and there’s a whole cast of them to boot!), and the story is surprising in a way that Disney-Princess-Tales so often are not. This movie is fantastic.

From here on, there are SPOILERS, Sweetie.

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Tonight I am revisiting the Clara Oswald episodes from this past season of Doctor Who. While watching “The Bells of St John,” I noticed something interesting, a very specific detail that got my mind rambling off (as it does) on all sorts of little theories. I’m going to ramble about them now and see if I get anywhere. Coming with me? Geronimo!

“I don’t know where I am.”

The episode begins with a warning: people are being uploaded into a giant computer database and they all say this same phrase. They don’t know where they are because they have ceased to exist in the physical space.

Clara, of course, gets uploaded twice; the first time the Doctor interrupts but not before she’s received her “computer package” which makes her as smart at computers as the giant database, or so it seems. The second time, she’s “fully integrated” and the Doctor must get everyone in the database downloaded to get her back. Each time she keeps on repeating “I don’t know where I am,” just like all the others.

Clara really is one for the repeated phrase. We know, thanks to “The Name of the Doctor,” that her catchphrase is from the moment she jumps into the Doctor’s time stream. “Run, you clever boy, and remember” is repeated each time she’s about to die in the other episodes. What’s really interesting is that at the very beginning and at the very end of “Name,” she repeats another phrase: “I don’t know where I am.”

She says this as she’s falling through the Doctor’s time stream, living through his entire history and stopping the Great Intelligence from killing him at every point in time. She was born to save the Doctor and she saves the Doctor again and again by being born. The episode implies that she sends the leaf that causes her parents to meet and have her…

…which means that Clara is essentially a time loop. This is where we get into Wild Speculation with a dash of Theorizing and Guesswork for good measure.

If Clara sent the leaf that caused one of her selves to be born, and we think it is the “original” Clara (Clara Prime), then she creates herself. That’s a bit confusing and a bit too Bad Wolf for my liking. But, if the Clara that sends the leaf is a version created when she jumped into the Doctor’s time stream, then where does Clara Prime actually originate? Is the Doctor traveling with Clara Prime, or is he traveling with a “Saving the Doctor” Clara? Or is it a combination?

It bothered me in the 50th special, “Day of the Doctor,” that even though the season ended with Clara and the Doctor both inside his mind, that there was no explanation for how they got back out of his mind. He asks her to trust him, to let him save her, and they see the War Doctor… and then she’s in a school?

No. We’ve missed something.

So, then, is it possible that the entire 50th anniversary episode takes place in the Doctor’s mind? It would be tricky with all the other Doctors there, but, if versions of Clara are throughout the Doctor’s timeline, then couldn’t there also be versions of the Doctor scattered around, too? And I hope this doesn’t get too Timey Wimey, but couldn’t that also account for why the War Doctor was able to reach two future Doctors are once, and not just, say, Ten?

And what about that computer database? It is, of course, the Great Intelligence, but is it the original Great Intelligence, or is It one of Its own versions that also went into the Doctor’s time stream? Are the players in “Bells of St John” their Prime selves, or just copies?

It’s…complicated.

I’m hoping that the Christmas special “Time of the Doctor” will reveal how they got out of his mind, or at least give a hint to it. I know sometimes there are coincidences, but repetition of key phrases? That’s very Moffat, isn’t it Sweetie?

“I don’t know where I am.” And we don’t know where the Doctor and Clara are, either.

Note: On a second watching of “Bells of St John” and other episodes, I have to say that I still think Clara’s character isn’t written well, but with my newly found affection for her thanks to the 50th special, I’m enjoying her a lot more in these. I hope the writers continue to give her more depth, because I like her attitude and independence. She’s the first modern companion who isn’t either A) interested in the Doctor or B) has or is looking for another love interest (remember, even Donna was constantly dealing with weddings and marriage). I like that she’s perfectly content to just wheel around the universe with him, having a laugh. She’s got a lot of potential.

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Thor the Dark World 1

Here there be Spoilers, Sweetie.

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I kept the title basic enough, but you should know this post has SPOILERS, sweetie.

So. Peter Capaldi is going to be the new Doctor.

I think most of the world collectively said, “Who??” when they made the announcement, but he looked really familiar and it didn’t take me long to find out why. Peter Capaldi has been all over our TV and movie screens for years, it’s just that he’s usually a character actor. We see him all the time.

The reason I recognized him was from his role in The Hour, which is a BBC drama I love. He came on for the second series (it’s a mini series with six episodes per run) and was fantastic, fit right in with the rest of the cast. He’s known for other things, too, but I think the most entertaining is one of his most recent billings: as “W.H.O. Doctor” in World War Z.

Anyway, that’s enough of the summary, you can get more of that elsewhere. Here are my two cents about it.

I like the casting choice. The Doctor has been getting younger looking lately, and I think it’s about time we had an older actor in the role. It’ll be interesting to see him not as the “heartthrob” any more, but as the over 1000 year old guy he is. And I’m really hoping that with a new Doctor that the writers will maybe fix Clara’s character up a bit, too. It’s been known to happen, where the characters get a bit, well, edited between seasons. It even happened with the Seventh Doctor (and I liked him a LOT in his second season).

All of that being said, I know there are people very upset about Matt Smith’s departure from the show. My friends’ six year old daughter bawled her eyes out about it, channeling fan-girls everywhere, I suspect. The thing is, the actors who play the Doctor always change. That’s the point, if you will. And I’m interested to see where the show is going next.

I also can’t help but remember the heartbreak over David Tennant’s departure, and how people said they just couldn’t see Matt Smith as the Doctor because he wasn’t David Tennant. Well, we (almost) all grew to love Matt Smith’s Doctor, and I’m sure we’ll love the new one, too. The Whovians are all in this together, and I think it’s going to be exciting.

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If you haven’t seen this episode yet, just STOP. There are SPOILERS, sweetie!

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Now that I’ve seen the Doctor Who episode called “The Cold War,” I have some observations. They are below the cut because SPOILERS, sweetie.

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((SPOILER WARNING))

Tonight we saw Oz, the Great and Powerful, the new movie from Disney that is a prequel to The Wizard of Oz. Strange, perhaps, to release a prequel 74 years after the original movie, but maybe we needed this long for Oz to permeate our pop culture, and for us to be ready for another trip there.

Personally, I’ve never especially liked the original movie. I know, I know, it’s a Classic Film, but there are a handful that either I saw at the exact wrong time as a child or that have never held my interest. E.T. is one I’ve never liked because I had nightmares about the titular character jumping out of the very-familiar-pile-of-toys on my bed. He terrified me, and to this day I will not watch that movie. I suspect the Wizard of Oz falls into the latter category; it’s never been very interesting to me. I’ve always liked the first bit, with the tornado and landing in Oz and all, but somewhere around the poppy field I always get bored or distracted and never seem to finish.

All of that being said, I was actually looking forward to Oz, the Great and Powerful. It looked and sounded promising, and if nothing else it would be a relatively entertaining Disney jaunt. It was much better than that.

Things I liked about the movie included the conflict between the witches. I liked that Glenda wasn’t dumb, and that Theodora is a surprise of sorts. I knew since neither of those first two witches was named “Glenda” that we should be careful of them, but they didn’t seem all that bad really. Not until they needed to be properly wicked. I also liked the scenes when they flew through Oz itself, with the land (sometimes literally) unfolding beneath and around them. It was also, as J observed, a very good movie in which no one died.

The best parts were the nods to the original work, not just to the 1939 movie, but to the Oz books themselves. The circus at the beginning is “Baum’s Circus” and the girl-left-behind goes off to marry a John Gale, and I can only assume they are Dorothy’s parents. There is a lion called cowardly, and useful scarecrows, and other such things, but there are also Quadlings and Tinkers and people of Oz! I enjoyed that a lot.

Things I didn’t like included the parts that were obviously included for 3D. We saw it in 2D and it was bright and colorful and gorgeous, but there were certain parts (water fairies, I’m looking at you) that were only there for the sake of the 3D, and we had to wait patiently for those bits to be done as they tended to be slow (so as people watching in 3D could appreciate them, I suppose). I also didn’t like how quickly Theodora became a wicked witch. I thought she’d fight it a little more, that she would be more complicated and that she wouldn’t turn to complete wickedness just over a man. I wanted more depth from that character. Another note on her: Mila Kunis really got the Margaret Hamilton, Wicked Witch laugh down. It’s hard to fill those black, pointy shoes, but she did a pretty good job.

The most interesting part of watching the movie itself I’m not sure was even intentional. Maybe it was, but I’d have to see it again to be sure. At any rate, the movie opens in old-school, small frame black and white, and then opens into color when we arrive in Oz, just like the original. The interesting thing to me was that the movie was almost annoyingly quiet in the black and white portion. I was extremely aware that I was in a (very full) theater; people whispered, candy wrappers rustled, popcorn crunched… and then as we got to Oz and the picture expanded and the color turned on, the sound became encompassing and there we were. The more I think about it, the more I think this had to be on purpose. How else would a shift to color (and very saturated color at that) be such a big moment in the movie, unless the filmmakers could recreate the wonder of that Technicolor moment with a modern audience? So you aren’t fully immersed until you enter Oz. It’s very clever.

Overall it was a very enjoyable movie, and I recommend it to anyone, whether they need a kick of nostalgia or if they just want to see Oz in a new way.

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Because this is the new episode, all of my THOUGHTS will be after the page break. After all, SPOILERS, Sweetie.

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WARNING: Spoilers, Sweetie.

My thoughts on the first installment of the new Hobbit trilogy, after having seen it twice.

First, I’m not sure that the 3D added to my enjoyment of the movie, except that the scenery was more immersive. I enjoyed all of the New Zealand vistas, and getting to see both familiar and new locations. Some places looked familiar that probably weren’t quite the same, but that’s what you get filming in a single (gorgeous) country.

Second, the casting is really good. I was hesitant when I saw Thorin at first, since he doesn’t look quite dwarf-y enough to me, but I really like it given the rest of the plot.

And now to that plot… The added orcs, the added characters (Radagast), etc, are heavily drawn from (or inspired by) the descriptions of concurrent events and histories in the Appendices of Lord of the Rings and from the other writings of JRR Tolkien. I know some people (purists, I’d guess) have complained, but really I thought it was well done and took what would have been an episodic children’s story and turned it into something cinematic. 

Radagast was one of my favorite additions. He’s always been fascinating to me as a background character in LotR, and to see him actually realized (and so well done!) is really fun. He might be my favorite part. And who wouldn’t want a rabbit sled?

Finally, the main complaint I’ve seen is that the movie is entirely too similar to Fellowship of the Ring. And if you haven’t read the books, or if you don’t know why Tolkien wrote Fellowship, then it’s understandable. The thing is, The Hobbit was surprisingly successful. The publisher wanted a sequel, and so Tolkien tried to give them the text of what would become Silmarillion, his mythology that he’d been writing for Great Britain. The publisher didn’t want to deal with all of that, they wanted another episodic children’s book, so Tolkien tried again. He wrote about Bilbo having another adventure, then he wrote about Bilbo’s son (who no longer exists) and eventually it morphed into Bilbo’s cousin, Frodo. The story kept expanding, and became a blend of Hobbit-like plot with Silmarillion-like depth, and Lord of the Rings was the result. But if you keep in mind that each hobbit’s journey began with a trip toward Rivendell, and given that Fellowship began as a sequel, it’s no surprise that the two seem alike. The journeys are similar because they are moving from west to east, they encounter elves and goblins, and they must use their wits to survive in a scary world that’s in conflict.

At any rate, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and can’t wait to see the next installment.

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