Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time. 

~Laura Ingalls Wilder

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies

The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies (2014)
      Exciting, breathtaking, heartbreaking...just about every emotion you can muster could probably be summed up in the the finale chapter of The Hobbit saga. It was just a really good and enjoyable film to say it simply! This movie could have tricky to do, because anyone who has read the book will know that J.R.R. Tolkien never actually wrote about the battle. He just knocked Bilbo out and then he woke up and the battle was over. So Peter Jackson had quite a bit of creative license to really flesh out the battle of the five armies and really get Bilbo's perspective of the battle as well.

~ ~ ~

Bilbo Baggins
Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins

     One can practically assume that by this point in the story, Bilbo Baggins has completed his agreed mission as master burglar for Thorin Oakenshield and Company and is now free to go home, but practicality never ran high in Middle Earth. Bilbo instead stays with Thorin and his company to discover the great gold of Erabor, but Bilbo and the others quickly begin to see the Thorin is quickly being overtaken to the same 'dragon sickness' that eventually became his grandfather's downfall.

     During Bilbo's diatribe with Smaug he came across the precious jewel, the Arkenstone or 'The Jewel of The Mountain.' This one stone is the birthright of every king of Erabor and for Thorin to gain complete control of his fallen kingdom, he must have the stone in his possession. Except, he can't find it...only because the stone is in Bilbo's possession. Like with the One Ring, Bilbo also was taken by greed and purposely hid the stone, believing that it would be his payment as burglar.

     Throughout the rest of the story, Bilbo's secret ownership of the Arkenstone becomes the catalyst for Thorin's rage and arrogance and refusal to give aid to others. Eventually war breaks out between the elves, the dwarves, and two armies of orcs. Thinking that he can help, Bilbo barters the stone for a hopeful surrender on Thorin's part. When Thorin refuses and incites war, all Bilbo can do is stand by Gandalf's side and wonder if he had done the right thing. 

      In the book, Bilbo was in coma and so he (and the reader) completely missed the battle. The moviverse, however, puts Bilbo right in the middle of the battle between the races of Middle Earth where he witnesses, horror, death, bravery and courage. By the time Bilbo reaches the Shire, he is most definitely not the same Baggins of Bag End. His eyes, his heart and his mind have been opened to the realities of war and evil, but also the realities of friendship and loyalty. His most profound quality though, was unexpected courage to do the wrong thing for the right reason. Alright, yes, Bilbo did betray Thorin by hiding the Arkenstone, but Thorin proved, stone or not, that his arrogance and obstinacy would be his eventual downfall.

     Martin Freeman was most definitely at the top of his acting game in this movie! As the series has progressed, he has broken away from the bookverse Bilbo and created a more realistic and understandable character who is, at the center, a flawed and imperfect person, but a person nonetheless who also possess the strengths and gifts that create an unlikely legend.

~ ~ ~

Thorin Oakenshield
Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield
     Thorin has a lot of annoying habits, but his most irritating is the ability to make you love and admire him one moment and then despise him the next. That is pretty much his tagline throughout the whole story. Thorin has finally achieved his great crusade of taking back Erabor and can now sit at his ancestor's throne, but soon the throne, the kingdom, and his lineage becomes mere dust on the wall when he finally finds the legendary gold covered cavern of his grandfather. Stricken with what is called 'dragon sickness,' Thorin puts everything and everyone (even his nephews) behind his cancerous mental disease.

     When his best friend, Dwalin, warns him of his impending danger, Thorin goes through a psychological battle within himself to fight for his humane nature and not succumb to the fallen legacy of his grandfather (beautiful scene!). In the midst of this personal warfare, Thorin refuses to fight for the other people's of Middle Earth. When he refuses to give aid or shelter to the refugees of Lake Town and not repay them for their assistance, he begins an all out battle between the races of Middle Earth.

     Thorin goes from dragon sickness to Dwarvish DNA and hides behind the walls of Erabor, believing that it his right as king to stay there. Yet, finally he realizes that his selfishness will not win him the respect and honor he craves as a king and goes out with his company and fights for Erabor and for his people...even if it means it will be his last fight.

     Wow! All I can say is WOW! Richard Armitage's acting was just incredible! He already owned the role of Thorin in the first two films, but he just became the character and pulled if off in such a way that you could feel Thorin's pain, anguish, and sorrow. Even though movieverse Thorin is very different from bookverse, Richard's portrayal was above and beyond anything I could have ever imagined for this character. 

~ ~ ~

Bard, The Bowman
Luke Evans as Bard
      If anyone in this story had the right to say, "I told you so!" Then it would be Bard, hands-down. Instead, when Smaug attacks Lake Town, Bard is the only man brave enough (or foolish enough) to take on the dragon that ruined his ancestor's home of Dale and brought shame to his own family. Bard and his son Bain take on the dragon with last black arrow and finally bring down Smaug the Magnifcent in a breathtaking climax...and that's the first ten minutes of the movie!

     After Lake Town's destruction and death of the Master of Lake Town, Bard takes on the heavy responsibility of leading the survivors to the mountains in hopes of finding shelter and safety. Overtime, Bard becomes a benevolent and wise leader of the people of Lake Town, but when Thorin Oakenshield goes back on his promise to pay back Bard and his people, Bard is left with no choice, but to side with Thranduil and his elves, and lead a battle against Thorin for his people's right to the mountain and their livelihoods.

      What Peter Jackson has done with Bard is actually make him the Aragorn of the story. Bard came from a family of nobility and were leaders in Dale before it was attacked. Now, he has the chance to become a leader or even a king, but would rather serve the common man and remain a loving father than ever think of putting himself higher than anyone else. And Luke Evans is just wonderful in this role as well! He was perfect for the fleshing out of this solitary character from the book and turning him into real person...that you just can't help but fall in love with...

~ ~ ~

Lee Pace as Thranduil
     Elves who think they have a right to everything. One could say that Thranduil isn't like most elves. Where his kind are more in tune with nature and don't rely on worldly goods, Thranduil on the other hand has just as much desire for the gold and jewels in Erabor as Thorin does. At the same time, he is having to deal with a difficult foster daughter and reign in his wayward son of who both receive exile from Mirkwood for disobedience to their king.

     When Thranduil hears about Smaug's death, he rides up to the mountains in the search of reclaiming several elven jewels that had been stolen. While there, he shows a kindly side and brings food and provisions for the people of Lake Town and allies himself with Bard to deal with Thorin. When war is raged and Thorin's cousin, Dain Ironfoot, is attacked by a legion of orcs, Thranduil does the unexpected and sends his army of elves to defend them. 

     Yet, he still must deal with Tauriel and Legolas, both of whom have excepted their exile and are willing to fight and defend the dwarfish people. He offers surprising comfort to Tauriel when she loses someone she never expected she would love and instead of disowning Legolas, he sends him on a mission to track down another crownless king. 

~ ~ ~

Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel
      After defying Thranduil and leaving Mirkwood to find Kili and the company, Tauriel finds herself in Lake Town, taking on the unlikely role of  'mother' to Bard's children as she leads them and the few left over dwarves (including Kili, whom she healed) to safety. When they find themselves safe from the destruction, Tauriel must say goodbye to Kili, as he heads to Erabor to find his uncle. Confused by her feelings for the handsome, young dwarf, Tauriel is shocked when she receives news on her exile from Mirkwood, and even more shocked when Legolas refuses to go back and chooses to stay with her. Throughout the battle, Tauriel does her best to track down Kili in some hopes of seeing him one last time, but only finds unexpected heartbreak and despair when he is slain and left to die alone. Although, Thranduil offers her words of comfort and support, Tauriel has resigned to live in Middle Earth with a broken heart, but also with a deeper wisdom and respect of all peoples around her.

~ ~ ~

Orlando Bloom as Legolas
       Thranduil's youngest son who refuses to give an inch when he comes to the crossroads of right and wrong. Legolas would rather choose exile with Tauriel then go back to Mirkwood and hide away from the rest of Middle Earth. While helping the people of Lake Town, he forges a friendship with the new master, Bard and stands by his side during the battle. When his father wants to leave the battle after the high cost of the elves and threatens Tauriel, Legolas defends her and keeps his father there. When Thorin is battling Azog, Legolas runs to the tops of the cliffs and shoots arrows at the oncoming orcs who are aiding their master. Over and over again, the woodland prince proves his loyalty, honor and courage, and these traits do not go unnoticed by his father. In the end, Thranduil sends his son on a strange mission to find a ranger in the north, known as Strider and unbeknownst to Legolas, their destinies will save Middle Earth in the years to come. 

~ ~ ~

Ian McKellan as Gandalf
      The wise grey wizard who first got Bilbo Baggins out of his door is now trying to send the stubborn hobbit back. As a matter of fact, nothing really goes as he plans in the last part of the story. When he is captured by the Necromancer, Galadriel, Sarumon, and Elrond both come to his aid and fight the nine shadows of Dol Guldur. He returns to Erabor to find that Thorin is once again ruled by his obstinate nature and would rather start a war than give in to common sense. all through the story, Gandalf remains a constant source of hope and wisdom as well as an ever present spirit comfort to the suffering people of Middle Earth. And he does not believe that Bilbo's trip to Erabor will essentially be his last.

~ ~ ~

Cait Blanchett as Galadriel
     Although, she appears in one scene, Galadriel makes it a memorable one. When Gandalf in imprisoned in Dol Guldur for finding the identity of the evil living there, Galadriel attempts to save him, but is attacked by the nine shadows of the ringwraiths. Elrond and Sarumon come to her aid, but even the greatest wizard and the most powerful elven warrior can't stand against him. Only Galadriel has enough power wielded by the Light of Earendil to fight of the evil of Sauron and his immortal enemies. Temporarily weakened, Galadriel sees the impending danger coming to Middle Earth and what it will take in the upcoming years to stop it.

~ ~ ~

The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies
      For such a simple children's book, Peter Jackson did a great job at creating three complex films that really did capture the nuance of the story and why it has been so love for over 75 years.  From taking one sentence characters such as Bard and bringing him to a more central part of the story or creating a character such as Tauriel that provides a great amount of emotional depth when it comes to love, loss and learning to love again. 

Kili, Thorin and Fili
     There was only one problem I had with the story and it had to do with Fili's death. It really had no emotional afterthought at all. We never saw his body or anyone grieving or mourning him; I think Fili as the crown prince, should have had a more forefront role in the story and not just be the 'other brother.' He is just as important as Kili and Thorin, and Peter Jackson, who created Tauriel and fleshed out Bard, could have given him more importance in the story.

     Other than that little piece of importance, I loved it, the whole trilogy. It was great seeing the book and characters come to life. The Hobbit definitely has a happier ending than The Lord of The Rings did and that's because we all know that the story doesn't actually end there.

Monday, December 15, 2014

She's Still Just a Girl

      First off, this is NOT a hate post of any kind! 

      I really do admire Jennifer Lawrence and who she is as an actress and a person. Also, I do my best to keep my blog negative free and not incite any hateful or demeaning opinions. So, don't breeze past my post thinking that I'm a jealous college student with nothing better to do than to whine about celebrities. In all honesty, this is hardly about Jennifer, but rather people's perceptions and unrealistic expectations about her. 

Jennifer's pre-Hunger Games films
     While Jennifer Lawrence was well known for such movies as X-Men: First Class and Winter's Bone, for which she received her first Oscar nomination (if you haven't seen it, you need to!), she really reached celebrity status when she was controversially cast as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games Trilogy. 

     People originally started out with the backlash that Jennifer was too old (she had just turned twenty-one) and too pretty (of course, because hiring ugly people is acceptable in Hollywood) and too blonde (I guess she was the reason brown hair dye was invented). Then the movie came out and Jennifer went to several press conferences, premieres, and parties...and people began to change their minds...

She was obviously funny

Beauty set aside, she had some great inspirational quotes as well...

         Now, all of a sudden, Jennifer Lawrence or J-Law (as she was dubbed by the media) is Hollywood's Darling, everyone's favorite girl. She literally, like her on screen alter-ego, Katniss, has became the girl on fire. Her quotes are now seen as wonderful, groundbreaking, and well needed for today's girls. All of a sudden, there is an actress out there in the public eye that's not afraid to speak her mind and tell the world what she thinks and that's great! She's a non-conformist; she knows what she wants in her life and goes after it. 

On top top that, she also won the Oscar for Best Actress in 2013! might be wondering,,,what's the problem?

       My problem is the way the world has raised Jennifer Lawrence on pedestal and has made her on an on/off-screen goddess among mortals. Yes, she's beautiful, she's funny, and she's opinionated, but seriously people...the hero worship needs to stop.  She tells people that she's an ordinary girl and she is, but people have written her to be God's gift to humanity...and all because she likes to eat pizza or because she hates to exercise? There are lots of women out there like that, but I guess it's not very important unless a celebrity says so. 
Young, pre-famous Jennifer at school, home and on a mission's trip
      By this time last year, if I had to hear one more thing about 'how great Jennifer Lawrence was' I was going to scream. I knew that eventually Jennifer was going to make a public mistake, do something wrong, say something wrong and the world's unrealistic image of her was going to crash down hard, and people would sadly see that she was just an ordinary human girl, prone to mistakes and accidents just like the rest of us. 

      And that's exactly what happened. In August, Jennifer's phone was hacked and several nude photos of her were leaked online. Now, people started their backlash,

 "How could she?"

"She's suppose to be a role model!!" 

"What was she thinking??"

      Jennifer is all of a sudden just another stupid girl, who makes stupid mistakes, and now she has ruined the perfect image that the world created. HOW DARE SHE!!! Granted, what she did was inappropriate and this has happened so many times, that you would think that people would take more caution into what they're doing. 

Click to read the article
      Thankfully, Jennifer has managed to get through the scandal with few (if any) scars. Her career is still doing well (thanks to THG franchise) and she's gone back to being the Golden Girl of Hollywood. It's sad that something like that had to happen to her, but I can hardly see her as a victim, seeing as it was her independent decision. Anything that goes through the internet is eventually going to be seen and the sooner the people of my generation learn that, then the better.  

      I believe that when the world raises an ordinary human on a glorified pedestal, then God will eventually find a way to push that human down, whether in a humiliating or detrimental way. Jennifer Lawrence is a cool girl, she has incredible gifts and talents, but she's not immune to mistakes and poor decisions. 

       I think it's fine to admire Jennifer Lawrence (I'll even forgive her for being friend's with Taylor Swift). At the end of the day though, when the interviews are over and the gowns are hung up, she's just a regular 24 year girl, with a life that deserves to be lived as she sees fit and it should be a life that is not dictated by what her fans or the media believe it should be.

Friday, December 12, 2014

More from the Jolie-Pitt Wedding

Angelina's dress that was designed by her children
With her baby girl Vivienne 
Vivienne and Zahara wait for their mom

Shiloh and Knox
Brad with Shiloh, Knox and Pax
Angie and Brad with Knox and Pax
With Brad's parents

Details on the dress

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Supernatural Update

Finished Season 3 and my mind is like
"What the Hell?"
Dean is seriously in HELL!!"

Started Season 4...

Dean is alive,
Ruby is back,
and I have finally met the (in)famous Castiel.

Misha Collins as Castiel in

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Smallville: From a Feminist's POV

     I finally finished Smallville last week : ( After spending almost half a year watching Clark Kent grow up, I now feel like I've lost my best friend. That being's a wonderful show that I'm going to look forward to collecting season by season next year! The final season had a beautiful ending that left with me with a great deal of closure and satisfaction. I'll be doing a general overview of the series soon, once I get everything sorted out!

      There was a lot in this show that presented good moral values that have, quite frankly, been lost in today's shallow and selfish society. One value I did pick up on was the role of strong, independent woman and honorable, courageous men. In the media today, a woman is only as good as the man that is next to her, she must prove that she is better, smarter, stronger and even more masculine than him. Any woman that is portrayed as remotely feminine and gifted with a kind and generous nature are viewed as weak, shallow, and pathetic. 

The Women of Smallville

     There is no such thing as a 'stupid' woman in Smallville. Dingy (Lois) yes, insecure (Lana) yes, tenacious (Chloe) yes, but all women (at least the leading characters) in the show are very intelligent and beautiful. 

     Martha Kent went from being a farmer's wife and stay-at-home mom to being in the Senate and she is a prime example and beautiful femininity that co-insides perfectly with intelligence and integrity.  On top of that, she adores her husband, Jonathan (who wouldn't??), even when she disagrees with him, she still respects his decision as her husband and the head of the household. As a mother, she gives constant support to her son as well as the other people in his life, such as Lex, Lana, Chloe and her future daughter-in-law, Lois. 

     Lois Lane is an army brat who's tough, feisty and independent. When her mother died as a little girl, her dad, General Sam Lane, raised both Lois and her little sister, Lucy, in strict militaristic form. Lois can do tae-Kwan-do, drink, dive a monster truck, play blackjack, and knows how to pick any lock. At the same time, she manages to surprise people with her generous wisdom, sympathy, and compassionate heart for the hurting. She can put on a beautiful dress and walk arm-in-arm with a handsome suitor and manage to charm anyone in the room. 

      Chloe goes beyond smart, she's a genius. Clever and witty, with a never ending curiosity (that more often than not lands her in trouble), Chloe is a great representation of ambitious girl with a dream to accomplish. Being Lois' cousin, she is just as skilled in self-defense, but uses her mind and cunning to get what she needs. She also believes strongly in equality; Chloe doesn't want to be better than a man, she wants to be his equal in everything that world has to offer. Being raised by a loving father and having two boys as her best friends, she learned this very early on in her life.

     Lana Lang lost her parents when she was only 3 and was adopted by her aunt. Lack of a father in her life has made Lana long for male affection (and not in an inappropriate way). Lana is well aware of how beautiful she is, but oftentimes she feels that being beautiful is all people see her as. Lana has depth, emotion, intelligence and a never ending drive to make a difference. Over the years, she becomes stronger and stronger. Yes, she makes very bad mistakes, but these can be traced back by the lack of a strong and protective father//male presence in her life. 

      The women of Smallville are hardly shrinking violets; they know what they want and they go after it. That doesn't mean they run down the men in their lives or they demean men when they offer their help. These women also know that they have weaknesses that can blind them from what is important and at times, they need men to guide them back to what they are truly meant to be. 

The men of Smallville
     There are few good men in the world, whether in comic books or in real life. The men of Smallville are complex, each of them with a variety of strengths and weaknesses, but also with emotion and passion for what they believe in. One factor that is heavily stressed in Smallville is that men are the protectors of women. Yes, even Lex Luthor has had his knight in shining armor moments.

      I don't know how many times I have seen a man in this show shield, defend, and care for a woman who has been hurt physically or wounded emotionally. Although Clark is from an alien planet, he was raised by a loving father mentored him on how to be a protector. Lex Luthor may have started out as good, but his own cruel father turned him away from any sense of dignity or duty toward women or humanity. Oliver Queen, although a womanizer, stated that one of his childhood hangups was never to harm a girl. 

Whitney and Jimmy
     Other characters, such as Whitney Fordeman, Lana's first boyfriend signed up for the marines seeing it as his duty before God to serve his country. Chloe's first husband, Jimmy, loved her dearly and sacrificed everything he had for her. They both had their strengths in loving passionately, but the weakness of allowing their passion become possession. In the end though, they both died heroes; for their country and the ones they loves. 

      The men in this show don't give unrealistic expectations about men in real life, but rather give a realistic perspective of how ordinary men can do extraordinary things when compelled by the women that are in their lives. The sense of male/female equality is balanced very well in Smallville. Men protect women and women fight by men's side. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Christmas Layout!

Brought to you by
Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley!
Matthew proposes to Lady Mary in
Downton Abbey

      In spite of my amazing fan-girl love for Smallville in the last several months, do you honestly think I had forgotten about my beloved Downton Abbey?? And who better to use for my Christmas theme then one of the best couples in television fiction!!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; 
but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude. 
~E.P. Powell

Friday, November 7, 2014

Ivy Miranda's Rules to Movie Reviewing

      In Smallville, when Clark first starts working at The Daily Planet (at the behest of Lois...of all people), Lois gives him a sheet entitled Lois Lane's Rule's of Reporting, (which he then frames and keeps out of sight and mind from the rest of the basement bullpen).

     At one point in time, I actually wanted to be a journalists, but it didn't work out, but I did discover an unlikely love of movie reviewing. And unexpectedly, my movie reviews have become well received and appreciated! So, just for fun of course, I wanted to give my own rules/guide to how I write movie reviews. Not saying that people have to follow them to write an exceptional review (even I have a long way to go!), but it's a basic groundwork to getting started. 

Ivy Miranda's Rules 
Movie Reviewing

1.) Watch the movie at least twice.

2.) Understand the story arc.

3.) Avoid all bias; especially in female characters, villains, and parental/guardian figures.

4.) If doing character reviews, focus on the lead characters and never let the reviews of the minor characters exceed the leading character's reviews.

5.) Explain each character's background, transition phase, and then who they are by the end. 

6.) If using pictures for character reviews make sure there is a general theme of all pictures, e.g. poster sets or promotional photos. This gives it a more professional and streamlined look.

7.) Never incorporate yourself or people you know into the review.

8.) Never compare yourself to the hero/heroine.

9.) Never base you personal opinions on an actor/actress as reasons for disliking their character.

10.) Focus on actor's performance and not on their physical appearance.

11.) Find at least two positive and two negative qualities about the characters.

12.) Give attention to music, costuming, scenery and writing.

13.) Find the moral basis.

14.) If the movie is based on a book, avoid contrast/comparisons to the book and see it only as a film that is inspired by a novel. That way it will be a more positive experience and you'll see the story in a fresh and different way.

15.) If you didn't like the movie, then DO NOT review it!