Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
     Well...I FINALLY saw it! After so much waiting and anticipation I finally saw The Hobbit and it was soooo worth the wait! I was glad that I read the book a few months in advance so I got the whole concept of the story. There were scenes that were almost word for word from the book. There were scenes in the movie that weren't in the book, but did run with the flow of the storyline.

     The movie actually starts with Bilbo (older Bilbo played by Ian Holm) retelling the story of the dwarves of Erebor and how they lost their home and vast treasure to the evil dragon Smaug. It was a great beginning and it got the whole crux of the story taken care of in the first ten minutes.

     After that charming beginning (and a great introduction to Thorin...more on him later) we finally get to meet Bilbo Baggins...The Hobbit.

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Bilbo Baggins
Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins
      When Gandalf the Wizard arrives at Bag End one fine morning and presents the opportunity for Mr. Bilbo Baggins to have an adventure, Bilbo turns him down immediately and that was the end of that...or so he thought. Later that very night, Bag End becomes the meeting place for one, two, three...thirteen hungry, rude, dwarves (well not Thorin, but his ungenerous attitude more than made up for it). 

     Then it is brought before Bilbo to become a burglar for Thorin and his company. His job is only meant to get inside the secret passage of Erebor that leads to the treasure hoard where Smaug resides. Sounds easy enough, except incineration might ensue. Once again, Bilbo says no, but the next morning when he finds all the dwarves gone, he ponders about the adventure, about Gandalf's words, and about finding a home and then he does the unthinkable and takes a step outside his door.
     The humorous aspect about watching Martin Freeman in this film is that I tried very very hard not to see Dr. John Watson, but I did in certain parts...and it added so much to his character too. Martin played Bilbo Baggins to absolute utter perfection. Shy, quiet, and very private, doesn't want to be bothered with outside issues, etc. I think Tolkien would have been proud.
     One trait that Martin pulled off very well was Bilbo's general awkwardness, especially when around Thorin, the ultimate alpha male of the story. Thorin makes it very clear that Bilbo is not wanted in the company and Bilbo takes it silently and with humility. A rare quality to be found in a hero, but one that I admired greatly. 

     There is also a wonderful kindness and gentility in Bilbo that coincides with unlikely courage and strength. Overtime the dwarves and eventually Thorin become to see all these traits come together to make this shy hobbit an extraordinary hero, and finally appreciate his presence in the company.

     Bilbo was my favorite character in the book and is most definitely my favorite character in the movie. When I read the book, Tolkien's  small charming details and descriptions about Bilbo Baggins made him sound so sweet and endearing (almost like a child) that I just wanted to reach through the pages, pull Bilbo out, put him on my lap and hug him to pieces!! In the movie...I just want to marry him. Seriously. I'm going to marry Bilbo Baggins.
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Ian McKellen as Gandalf 
     Gandalf, it's safe to say, is always going to be Gandalf. He really isn't any different here than he was in The Lord of The Rings trilogy. The same isn't always a bad thing either. He is a constant source of wisdom and comfort for Bilbo as well as somewhat of a disciplinarian for Thorin, whose often times prideful nature, gets in in the way of his better judgement.

     The wizard somewhat glides in and out of the story, first he's here and then he's not. Of course when something terrible is happening and there seems to be no hope, BOOM, here comes Gandalf to save the day. At the same time, he offers constant opportunities for the other characters to showcase their bravery and their skills, most especially Bilbo, who above all others, doubts his place outside the comforts of Hobbiton.

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Thorin Oakenshield
Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield
     As I said in the introduction, the movie starts, not with Bilbo's story, but with Thorin's. As a matter of fact most of The Hobbit can probably be considered, Thorin's story. We first see Thorin as a prince of Erebor and heir to the throne after his father. When Erebor is attacked by Smaug the dragon, Thorin guides his lost people to the Blue Mountains where they build a new life.

     Now, some sixty years later, Thorin's grandfather and father are both dead, leaving him a king...with no kingdom to really call his own. This journey is Thorin's only chance to bring his kingdom back to his people and to avenge the lives lost through Smaug's terror, as well as the destruction of orcs in other dwarven countries. Especially one particular orc leader that killed and beheaded Thorin's grandfather in the battle of Moria (same dwelling from Lord of The Rings) whom Thorin thought to be dead, but has been hunting him and his friends since that very battle.

     As a king, Thorin is proud and courageous, but his pride can get in the way of listening to reason. He looks down (no pun intended) on Bilbo for being an irritant and contributing nothing of any value to the company, in spite of the fact that Bilbo saves their lives several times.

     Thorin might be displeased with Bilbo Baggins, but his major agitation is directed toward the elves. When Erabor was in destruction and ruins, King Thranduil (Legolas' father) who lived in the elven woods close to the dwarven kingdom, refused to help them. Afterwards, Thorin has harbored a general hatred toward all elves, even those who really wish to help him.

     In the book, Thorin is actually quite old with a wicked sense of humor. In the movie though, he's a handsome warrior figure who is the embodiment of a passionate king who is trying to reclaim back what is rightfully his.

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Andy Serkis as Gollum
     One would hope that after The Lord of The Rings, you may never want to see this hideous creature ever again. Even though, he plays an intensely important role in The Hobbit as the possessor of the One Ring, that Bilbo Baggins just so happens to chance upon in the dark goblin caves.

     Gollum isn't necessarily evil, but anyone with a brain can render him completely insane. Instead of him possessing the Ring, it seems the the Ring possesses him. When Bilbo is lost and needs to find his friends that have been captured by goblins, Gollum is unwilling to compromise and help him. Then Bilbo suggests a game of riddles and Gollum finally complies.

      Riddles In the Dark, the chapter in The Hobbit where we first meet Gollum is possibly the most famous chapter in the whole story. It's not the game of riddles or the fight for the ring though, that make the chapter so extraordinary or Gollum's part so memorable. It was the bases of his fate that determined Bilbo's qualities as an adventurer and a hero.  

"It was pity that stayed Bilbo's hand."

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Lady Galadriel
Cate Blanchett as Lady Galadriel
      Some people raised a lot of unnecessary grief over Cate Blanchett's return as Galadriel, mainly because she wasn't in the book, but I was glad to see a familiar female face and it may as well be her. Galadriel gives a small cameo appearance in the movie during the White Council. A meeting at Rivendell consisting of her self, Gandalf, Lord Elrond, and Sarumon the White. 

     Once again, Galadriel brings a few minutes of comforting relief and a breath of fresh air into a story dominated by battles, blood, and darkness.

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The Company of Dwarves
     These guys were awesome!!! The movie would not be what it is without them and I loved every single one of them! Each character had their own unique personality that brought a lot of dimension into the story. So it wasn't like a dwarf, is a dwarf, is a dwarf. Similar to The Fellowship of The Ring, but instead of having a fellowship of different races, theirs was a company of different personalities and characters.

     I'll have to have a separate character review on all of them : )

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"I've never been so wrong in all my life"
     So great movie, great characters, great storyline added together with beautiful New Zealand landscape, stunning costumes and a beautiful score makes for a wonderful three hour watch. And makes you wait even more anxiously for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!!!

Let the bells ring out these tidings
Let it echo across the land
That a king is born in Bethlehem
And his kingdom is at hand

Let the world rejoice together
As it looks upon the stars
Knowing every man's our brother
And that every child is ours

~Prince of Peace by Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Stream of Consciousness #5

Prompt: Giving Gifts
      I love gift giving! The term 'it is more blessed to give than to receive' definitely rings true with me. There is something about the reaction on people's faces that is so priceless when they open a gift.

     One thing I am nervous about is actually shopping for the right gift that's for the right person. I'm always like will he/she like this? I hope I'm buying the right thing? etc. Normally when I do the gift bought, I'm content with my purchase.

     I've actually already started my gift shopping. Last night I went to Wal-Mart and bought Christmas thank you cards and some chocolates for my teachers, because if any people deserves gifts this year, it's them! Now I have to buy for my sister-in-law and my best friend and I am at odds to know what to get them!!!??

     The truth that Christmas is a time for gift giving never sat well with me, because anytime is a time for gift giving

...but it is the best time to get great deals for gifts...

Friday, December 7, 2012

Real Steel

     As an avid Hugh Jackman fan/lover, I picked this movie up for a good watch. It ended up be much more than a good watch. I absolutely loved it! I'm not very big into futuristic, sci-fi, fighting movies, especially when all three elements are combined, but putting Hugh Jakcman in the middle of the story was probably a 'good bet.'

     Set in the near future (roughly about ten years from now), bot fighting has become the ultimate extreme sport. Similar to boxing, only using remote/computer controlled robots. Men love it, woman love it, and kids love it. Instead of broken bones and spilled blood, you get mashed metal and leaking fuel, which can make for some expensive repairs.

     The ultimate event in bot fighting in the World Robot Boxing league is called Real Steel and people will go to any extreme to make to the top, compete, and with any luck, win.

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Hugh Jackman as Charlie Kenton

     Washed up fighter, untrustworthy dealer and a just all around 'bad bet.' Typical Hugh Jackman character...which is why he did such a great job. Charlie Kenton at one point in time use to be at the top of his game as a professional boxer, but then robot boxing came into the scene and Charlie dreamed of being the best.

     Being the best doesn't come easy, though. Charlie abandons his girlfriend and their one year old son to pursue his dream. Ten years later he gets the news that his girlfriend is dead and he has custody of his son, Max. If Charlie as a bot fighter was bad, Charlie as a father is worse. He doesn't want his son and his son doesn't want first.

     When they come across a worn down, second generation, bot named Atom, who proves his worth as a skilled fighter, they hit the road and take Atom to as many bot fights they can find and begin to make their way to top of the fighting chain. Charlie and Max become closer through the love of bot fighting, but then a bet that went incredibly wrong shows up and Charlie risks losing his son.

     In one last attempt to make things right with Max, Charlie takes his son to the Real Steel championship tournament and shows the world the courage to right wrongs, take risks, and become a hero.
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Dakota Goyo as Max Kenton
     Charlie's tough eleven year old son that's proof the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Actually, I don't think the apple even hit the ground with this one. Max loves bot fighting just as much as his dad, except his only experience is from video games. When Charlie takes him to an underground fight, Max gets bit.

     When Max finds a second generation bot, Atom, in the junkyard, he has the crazy idea of putting the bot together and have it fight. Beginning to sound like someone else in the story? His dad doesn't hold out much hope, but he takes Max and Atom to a fight only to have! Both Max and Charlie see something, a small something that could not only make their dreams come true, but also bring them together.

    Max was definitely my favorite character. His life being raised by a single mother has made him somewhat older beyond his years. He brings a lot of humor to the story (he actually swears more than the adults) and his transition from frightened introverted boy to an independent young man is great to see.

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Evangeline Lilly as Bailey Tallet
     Owner of Tallet's Gym, Charlie's best friend  and the only person who is not afraid to tell Charlie the hard truth, whether it's about bot fighting or parenting. Bailey's genuine kindness toward Max and consistent support to Charlie becomes a strong push to bring father and son together.

     Of course, Bailey and Charlie fall in love (they kind of were in the beginning), but the love story was very subdued and at the same time it was definitely needed. Every story needs a strong character that balances out all the other characters and that is definitely what Bailey brought to the story.

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Dakota Goyo as Max Kenton and Hugh Jackman as Charlie Kenton in "Real Steel"
     The best part about this movie wasn't really the fighting, but the Father/Son relationship between Charlie and Max. Charlie needs Max to realize that he can be hero by fighting for his son and Max need Charlie to teach him to fight, to dream, and above all how to live to be the best he can be.

     Good movie, a lot of Hugh Jackman : ), a hilarious up and coming child actor, makes for a great futuristic, sci-fi, fighting movie.