More Hobbit-y Goodness

It’s so close I can taste it!

Just a few more weeks until The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opens in theaters! Last night was the actual premiere in Wellington and lots of fun pictures floating around of the stars and related paraphernalia (including Air New Zealand’s Hobbit plane!). So how about a few more trailer viewings just to get even more excited?

The full soundtrack is already available to listen to here. You can only listen to the whole thing straight through and I’ve only heard bits of it but those bits have sounded fantastic! But I don’t really want to listen to the whole thing yet; I’d like to save the music to enjoy in the context of the film.

Another fun little thing I found was this article on the actor transformations into dwarves. It includes all 13 dwarves (plus Bilbo) and is a neat way to see the actors side by side with their dwarf makeup and hair (and beards!).

Closer to home, we’re almost finished with our Hobbit Read-Along! It’s been a lot of fun and don’t forget to check out the posts from all the lovely bloggers who participated. It was a great idea from David over at The Warden’s Walk and I am so happy I could participate!

So have you bought your ticket yet? It’s going to be great fun I think, regardless of the changes Jackson may have made to the story. Although I have to admit, I’m just as excited about the extended edition marathon viewing of The Lord of the Rings I get to see the weekend before in theaters! The beauty of those original films, back on the big screen- I can’t wait!

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Mirror, Mirror

I wanted to see Mirror, Mirror when it came out in theaters but the bad reviews scared me off. I took advantage of my parents’ Netflix account to watch it over the Thanksgiving holiday and was pleasantly surprised.

I’m a fan of The Fall, and even Immortals was a beautiful movie, if not one I would watch again. So I knew that with Tarsem Singh directing, Mirror, Mirror would be nice to watch simply for the visual experience.

This is definitely a movie for children but that’s not to say that adults can’t enjoy it too. There’s a lot of slapstick humor and there’s one particularly funny/disgusting scene where we see the extremes the Queen goes through for her beauty. And speaking of the Queen, she’s never particularly frightening but her evilness is shown by her general indifference and consuming self-centeredness. Julia Roberts does a great job with her.

There were two things that I particularly loved about this version of Snow White, especially compared with Snow White and the Huntsman which I also watched recently: 1) The dwarfs and 2) Snow White.

Usually in a Snow White movie, the dwarfs are some sort of magical creatures. They might be human-ish but they aren’t truly human. However, the dwarfs in Mirror, Mirror are. They were just regular townspeople, butchers, teachers, pub owners, etc., until they were banned by the Queen for being ugly. They might be dwarfs (and have some really cool pants) but there’s nothing extraordinarily special about them because of it.

Lily Collins as Snow White was a fantastic choice. She’s an unusual beauty but so is Julia Roberts. Lily Collins has the needed innocent and youthful look yet her transformation into a fighter and a leader is totally believable. Snow White actually seems like a person here rather than someone just fulfilling a role, like Kristin Stewart seemed to be doing in Huntsman.

Given the choice between the two Snow White movies that came out this year, Mirror, Mirror was definitely the more entertaining movie. Snow White and the Huntsman had a lot going for it but Kristin Stewart was just so badly miscast, it really pulled the movie down. (Apparently, she will be coming back for the sequel. Not really good news.)

Snow White and the Huntsman

I loved everything about this movie… except for Kristin Stewart.

And that’s a shame. I really wanted to like this movie. I had reservations when hearing the cast list; I’m not a huge fan of Charlize Theron and considering everything I’ve seen so far of Kristin Stewart’s was not very good (except for Panic Room, that was kinda fun), I wasn’t too excited about this movie. And if you’re a fan of Stewart’s, I’m not saying she’s a bad actress. I do think that she is best suited for a certain type of role and this was not it.

So, first the good: Charlize Theron was great as the wicked queen and Colleen Atwood did an amazing job on her costumes. Chris Hemsworth was a fantastic choice as the Huntsman. The dwarves seemed a bit underutilized, especially considering the talent they had involved (Nick Frost, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Ian McShane, Eddie Marsan), but still a really fun addition. And the look of the movie was gorgeous! Very dark and gloomy at the castle and slightly surreal in the forest.

And now the bad. I suppose Stewart can’t be wholly blamed for my dislike of Snow White (but she didn’t help). I just don’t think the film makers really knew what to do with the character. She’s spent half her life living in a prison. We see her be weirdly seductive to one of her captors when she escapes, but once she ends up with the dwarves, we start hearing about how innocent she is and that she’s supposed to be life itself. Or something. I don’t know, it was weird. Stewart is not the actress you want playing sweet and innocent. No fault of hers, she just doesn’t have the face for it. (Slightly related- thinking Kristin Stewart could ever be considered fairer than Charlize Theron? Um, no.) And then when she leads the attack against the castle, all I could think was “what?”. She’s already told the Huntsman she didn’t think she could kill anyone but she’s all of a sudden ok with leading a battle charge, in full armor, and wielding a sword? Keep in mind that she hasn’t been out of prison that long either. So like I said, I don’t really think the film makers knew what they were doing with her. They were trying to keep the sweet innocence of the traditional Snow White while also turning her into some sort of warrior princess. It could been done well but it wasn’t.

Ultimately, the good and bad bits kinda canceled each other out. I’ll be watching the movie again to see if my opinion changes, although I don’t think it will. I have also heard talk of a sequel- without Kristin Stewart. I would be willing to see that but if she’s not going to be involved because of that mess with the director, hopefully he is going to be replaced as well. Only fair, right?

Chapter 15: The Gathering of the Clouds

Only a few more chapters left! Which means it’s only a few more weeks before The Hobbit is released!

As a reminder, all previous chapters available by clicking on The Hobbit Read-Along tab just to the left.

Just some thoughts I had while reading the chapter:

  • It’s interesting that ravens are the birds connected with dwarves. They are incredibly intelligent birds, yet usually classed with crows as harbingers of death and doom.
  • Another dwarf song! I personally tend to think of music as something more for relaxation but dwarf music is very martial; even Bilbo thinks so. I guess it makes sense then that when they’ve got two armies bearing down on them, they all sit down with their harps and start singing.
  • The last part of this chapter makes me cringe. You’ve got two incredibly proud, angry, and completely unyielding leaders who refuse to compromise. Thorin behaves like a jerk to Bard, but…he makes some good points. And Bard certainly speaks the truth but could he not have been a bit more gentle and less demanding? Everybody can see how this is going to end with Bilbo the only one who seems to see how ridiculous it all is.
  • Fili and Kili. The babies of the dwarf party, I feel like we really see a true generational difference here between them and the rest of the dwarves. Several times it was mentioned that they disagreed with the way things were going with the dwarves but they still go along with what Thorin commands. Necessary I guess as he was not only their uncle, but their king.

Well, that’s it. Not much, but like the chapter title suggests, this is the calm before the storm.

Cryptozoology: Bigfoot

This will by no means be a comprehensive post on all the various Bigfoot/Sasquatch/Yeti stories. Just a few things that have popped up recently that I thought were interesting.

You may or may not have seen the video of the latest Bigfoot sighting. Some unidentified hikers in Provo Canyon, Utah were filming what they thought was a bear…until it stood up and looked at them:

I have no idea what’s going on in that video. But those hikers were pretty scared as soon as that creature stood up. Here’s a slowed and enhanced version of the video:

Was it probably just a bear that the hikers couldn’t see clearly because of distance and location? Yes. But that doesn’t mean I’m not considering the possibilities that there’s an unidentified man/creature/thing living in the wilds of Utah.

Also of interest: An Idaho anthropologist is going to use a remote controlled blimp with a thermal imaging camera to start his own search for Bigfoot. Given how hard substantive proof has been to find before now for this creature, I can’t imagine this is going to help much. But oh well! We need more mystery in our science obsessed culture. Nothing like some unidentified creatures to make people wonder!

Here’s one place to read about the blimp.

Once Upon A Time

I’m so happy that fairy tales are popular again. And I love when they are done well. I wrote about the ABC series Once Upon A Time briefly last year. I managed to watch the first 4 episodes when the series started but not having a TV and losing internet access soon after meant that my connection with the series was short lived.

The major players

Season 1 came out on DVD recently and I got a copy. And then went through the entire series in about a week. Because OHMYGOODNESS THIS SHOW IS AMAZING. I absolutely loved it. They take some liberties with the stories but it works out well.

Emma Swan

In case you haven’t seen or heard of the series, all of the story book characters that we know and love have been cursed. They now live in the little town of Storybrooke, Maine where they remember nothing of their previous lives (with a few exceptions!). The Evil Queen Regina has placed a curse on them all to remove their happy endings to get revenge on Snow White for taking away hers. It’s now up to Emma Swan to try and save them all.

The Evil Queen Regina

SPOILERS TO FOLLOW. SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS.

Like I said, they take some liberties with the stories they use. The Evil Queen is the evil queen for a number of stories, not just Snow White’s. Rumpelstiltskin does double duty as the Beast (as in Beauty and the Beast) as well as being the villain for a number of other stories. Little Red Riding Hood is actually a werewolf. And some characters, like Jefferson/the Mad Hatter aren’t in a fairy tale at all. But all of the major elements are there in the stories to make it clear which ones are being told.

Prince Charming

And like any good fairy tale, there are lots of love stories. Snow White and Prince Charming get a lot of screen time as do their Storybrooke altar egos Mary Margaret Blanchard and David Nolan. But my favorite (introduced in the episode “Skin Deep”) is between Rumpelstiltskin and Belle. It is lovely beyond words and when they reunite in the season finale, I was definitely tearing up a bit. Of course, Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairy tale and Robert Carlyle as Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold is my favorite character on the show so there’s not much competition there.

Season 2 just started a few weeks ago and I can’t wait to get started on it. I’ve seen a few hints about some new characters that are going to be introduced and I’m so curious to see what will happen now that the curse is broken. (Also, I really want to see more of Mr. Gold and Belle.)

Snow White

Season 1 is available on DVD and Netflix, among other places. Season 2 is available on huluplus (which means you have to pay) or on the official Once Upon A Time ABC website (free but not sure how long the episodes stay on the site- as of today all 5 full episodes are available. A more direct link to the episodes here).