12/21/2014

Thoughts on the last Tolkien--inspired movie, (For our generation anyway)

Fair warning: Since I prefer to discuss specific elements rather than general overviews, my movie thought posts are always spoiler-heavy. Still here? Cool.













I have to admit that I was actually impressed with the way the story played out, despite the fact that a combination of intuitive deduction along with knowing the original plot allowed me to make very accurate guesses at the way most of the major parts would go, so that there were really no surprises in store for me. What was delivered in the end was almost comparable to the LOTR, and serves as an adequate prequel, especially considering the way it ended. The overall impact of this film, however, is reduced slightly by the fact that the two films made to cover the rest of the story (+ a ton of added materiel to increase runtime) are, or should be, much more controversial among fans, not least because there are two of them in the first place. But that point has been beaten to death and this post is about the third one.
Things that bothered or were simply unintentionally comical:
  • #1 on this list by a mile is the Romeo/Juliet storyline of Kili and Tauriel, and the quick admission that Legolas himself also has feelings and would rather run off with her than obey dad or go home. Although it didn't stand out quite as much as I worried it would, it could still be seen coming from Mirkwood to Erebor (which is about 100 miles by map) and was clearly the real reason Tauriel was inserted, despite Jackson's politically correct nonsense of how Tolkien would have included her if he had thought of it and everything that came with that. Also, my brother and I saw the Tauriel/Kili tag team fight with Bolg coming as soon as DOS was complete, though we differed on whether Tauriel was going to survive, which is another point altogether.
  • For the most part the drama was strong and the action came thick and fast like it was supposed to. However, several moments happened which give the impression that Jackson and co. were bored and needed a laugh. The one that trumped all the others for me was the cheesehead troll ramming the wall. Seriously? You had to break in by adding a troll wearing a giant stone block as headgear, which then fell over unconscious? Dain Ironfoot laying out helmeted orcs by headbutting them was actually funny and felt less forced than the other silliness. At the critical moment, Legolas actually does run out of arrows! However, this doesn't change from mini-cliffhanger to comical until he reaches back the second time, as if he's thinking "What, really? You gotta be kidding." Forget gravity! Let's run in midair on falling debris like it's a stairway! :)
  • Beorn on screen in the theater is literally a blink and you miss it moment. The writers might as well have figured out how to write him out of the story entirely if they're going to do that. In the book it is Beorn who actually turns the tide of the battle, killing Bolg and most of the orc army single-pawed.
  • Legolas and Tauriel ride out to Gundabad with ideas of making a a tag-team ninja assassin raid on the garrison, and then they watch bats fly out and ride back where they came from. btw, Legolas hitching a ride on a bat and then killing it in a ridiculous way? Totally knew that was coming.
  • All the gratuitous callback dialogue! It's the same setting, and half the cast were in the other movies. There's really no need to remind people so hard that they are connected by recycling dialogue.
  • Last but not least; the previous five movies actually made coherent stories, although the points where sequences were cut to sell the EE and avoid intermissions were sometimes made strange by the omission. Not so for this one. Even to me, a casual moviegoer who does not give a lot of attention to this sort of thing, the jump cuts where scenes were removed to make more money later were blindingly obvious several times. Case in point, the war rams. The Iron Hill dwarves Rohirrim-lite charge we see in the trailer is cut, but the writers put Azog on an unassailable tower. Therefore Thorin and co. need goats. Voila, five goats appear mid-battle, center-action, literally from nowhere. This to me is reminiscent of the oddity of Theoden asking Aragorn to ride out of Helm's Deep with him in one room while on foot and alone, then literally the next minute he's in a different room on horseback with 20 riders behind him. Continuity fail.
  • This post is too long now. The good stuff will have to wait.

3/11/2014

Countdown

I'm going to meet my apathy halfway. On Friday I'm going to delete Window on the South and resume posting normally on JT's Tales, provided I have anything to post at the time. I'll keep it like that for a couple of months, and if my life hasn't become more interesting by then I will stop posting entirely, and that would mark the end of my time as a member of the blogosphere...

3/10/2014

Why Not?

I just decided to stop by and say that I am really no longer interested in maintaining a blog. I tried and it didn't work. I have nothing to say. The only thing stopping me from deleting it is that I( don't know if I will lose the screen name I can use to comment on your sites...

1/30/2014

LOTR Marathon!

Last night I succeeded in completing a one-day extended edition marathon of LOTR. It comes as a surprise to me that I liked it even better this time than the last, although I still believe Jackson made a pile of dumb decisions in the third movie. Since you all know everything I've seen there's no more to say, just that I really disappointed because subtitles are not enabled on the commentary, so I will never be able to enjoy that part...

1/19/2014

Best Bits Of Toy Story



I just felt like putting this up because I recently found myself comparing my life to some of the funniest bits from Toy Story. Also because it's hilarious.
1. "It's a little light bulb that blinks" is how I react to any grand idea someone else dreams up. I can't seem to help myself...
2.Buzz's immediate reaction to having the helmet opened is exactly how I react when anyone else changes my pattern...
3. "you are a sad, strange little man, and you have my pity" is how I feel when I'm upset with my homebound life, although in my defense on my good days I would be ready to reply to this with Woody's exact response 'oh yeah well good riddance ya loser..."
I don't why. I'm not the same person inside and out...
 Yeah I know I said I would try to post every day and i've already skipped a week. So what? I've already made more posts this month than I had in two months last year.


1/14/2014

What I've Been Watching...

I recently watched Men In Black, which I had never seen before but rather curious about. It was a good idea. Although some parts were kind of gross, overall, I found it hilarious and i want to see the sequels now. The only knock I have against it is that it is hard to like all the way through if one finds recurring gags annoying, because they decided to use multiple sight gags three times each, and by the third time I knew it was coming before it happened so the edge was gone...
I have also started going through Netflix's backlog of Arrow, the Green Arrow show that is apparently still popular. I'm not crazy about it because I think they put too much emphasis on inappropriate relationships going on behind the scenes, also because the premise of the show is a "Vigilante execution of the week" kill list which makes the show's protagonist similar to a cross between Robin Hood and Bruce Wayne, with killing. However, the show does have twists and mysteries in it which I am enjoying, so I keep sitting through the episodes to find out exactly how the season's secret is going to play out. But as is seen above, that's not to say that I actually like the show in it's own right...
I saw most of tonight's episode of Agents of Shield. (I missed the first ten minutes) thoughts below.
This was actually one of my favorite episodes, because instead of inching things along, they gave us a bunch of stuff at one go. Ok, so May's not connected to Skye at all, which is nice because if that had been the case it would have been the worst case of broadcasting a "twist" ever. However, the story they decided on was that Skye is ---an extraterrestrial? What? But still that seems to close up that line. I was intrigued by the shot at the end of the show where the guy named Donnie who was being transported to the Sandbox cracked the window of the window of the plane by touching it. And if it wasn't a crack it was frost. Either way, he seems to have gotten Mr. Freeze type powers from radiation, probably from when the device exploded. I was disappointed at the end by the reveal that Quinn the nefarious tech buyer guy is also under the control of the clairvoyant (btw, if the clairvoyant turned out to be either an Ultron prototype or one of the lesser Marvel villains, e.g. Dr.Doom, I would not be surprised at all.) This thing of having everyone shield is dealing with be controlled by a hidden supervillian is getting old. Give them an individual to take down once in a while...


1/13/2014

I See Smoke

What is wrong? They might be decent songs in their own right, but so far with only one to go the songs on the Hobbit credits have nothing on the ones for the real trilogy. For one thing the first set is possible to hear. The Hobbit songs are unintelligible except for one line.  The real reason the LOTR songs are so good is that although they fit the context of the world perfectly, they also fit outside, in the real world, if the mood matches. This is disregarding the fact the none of them are happy songs, really, they just don't sound gloomy. In contrast, the Hobbit songs are depressed songs, and they also can't be taken out of context like the others. This is obvious with a line like "keep watch over Durin's sons" With lyrics like that the song can never really be enjoyable outside the context of the Hobbit movies. Also, Bard is not portrayed as the sort of character who would suddenly want to sing anything like that, and although it could work as a dwarvish dirge, this would take deeper voice and a tense change.to "I Saw Fire" Dig out the Hobbit book and find the Misty Mountains song in the first chapter. Two verses written by the other already convey the image produced by the new song. I regard the new one as a throwaway, but what else are you going to make a song about in the middle of the story? I did not mention the Song of the Lonely Mountain because it's even less intelligible than "I See Fire" but I like the melody that goes with it. I honestly think they should simply have done a Misty Mountains reprise over the Unexpected Journey credits and done all the verses...


1/12/2014

Phineas And Ferb




This show...the only show I really like...and it takes two years for them to finish a season and then another year before it shows up on Netflix...so annoying. It's not my video (I wouldn't copy shows like this) but the quality is good.

1/10/2014

Books And Time Travel

As I said I would, I recently started to count all the items on bookshelves in our house. Since this is still a particularly mind-numbing task, I haven't gotten very far at all. That being said, I am very surprised to find that only three bookcases can contain a total of 632 items. That's including magazines and songbooks. What surprised me even more is that we have 150 individual music collections, including sheet music for practice. Too much! I am guessing that the final total will be in the area of 5000+ when I have reached the last item.
Now for something interesting. I read a lot of news off the BBC website, primarily because, having dedicated sections for all regions of the world, they put out a wider variety of actual news that is interesting than the U.S. media. Well, anyway, tonight I came across a little story about a serious attempt to find time travelers. Apparently some college people are dedicating their time to searching the internet for positive factual references to events that had yet to occur when the reference was posted. Are they getting paid for this? I goes on to say that they put a request on twitter that time travelers post to twitter using a hashtag saying Icanchangethepast2...You think they might be watching too much Doctor Who? Cue the pranksters using the "time travel" hashtag to send out tweets referring to random world events that have not happened..."Emperor Obama announced a new edict" "China annexed Japan. Quality of Japanese goods fell precipitously"

1/09/2014

Strange Grammar And Other Notes

Now this may seem silly to you, but it strikes me as odd that it is perfectly normal to make statements like "Team A lost to team B" when it is  not possible to say "Team A won to team B" Also that it is normal to say "Here it is" when one has found something instead of using "It is here" or simply "I've found it." "here it is" is in defiance of normal sentence patterns and sounds like a last vestige of a more antique way of speaking that seems to equate the object's transient physical location in space with its nontransient physical characteristics like size and color. What I am trying to say is that equate this with saying something like "and very vast it was, too." which is effectively putting the description before the linking verb, which is against the typical manner of speaking in modern English. I just like anamolies.
I recently watched the baseball movie 42, and I liked it especially because even though I watched it with the sound off, it was as if I could feel the strength of the acting. In most cases I could imagine exactly how someone was talking within my limited ability to deal with non West Coast white accents. I didn't enjoy every bit, but this was mostly because the end seemed to come abruptly and that I have not had much experience with films that weren't engineered to create euphoric happily ever afters or in which the characters did not go out with a glorious bang. In contrast, this movie goes out with what practically amounts to a drawn out satisfied fizzle. It doesn't bother showing the end of the season either, which if I remember is simply because the Dodgers lost the championship that year and showing the season ending in gloom just does not work.
Below are my thoughts on the most recent Agents of Shield episode, which I have covered over with whiteout so I could speak freely. You know how to reveal the text.
Well, I don't think that was the episode the hype said it would be. We got nothing except that Coulson was basically necromanced through the intervention of Asgard. But they didn't actually detail how that worked or anything else. What is it that makes Coulson so valuable to Earth's defenses that he can't stay dead? At the end of the show the doctor said "We didn't want you to stay...that-thing" which means that Coulson somehow passed through a transition from death to typical life functions by way of some state in between, which could be anything from a cyborg to a frankenstein monster to a gibbering vegetating manic. We also discover that Coulson's musical girlfriend, whom James has been speculating has superpowers, had nothing to do with it. And then the cliffhanger scene shows that Mike Peterson their superpowered backup was also picked up by centipede and they have implanted one of the "Eyeballs of instant death" in him. In retrospect it is not a great surprise that he somehow survived, since the serum's volitility in him was neutralized but he still had super abilities that would lend credence to the idea of his having survived the remotely detonated car bomb.

1/07/2014

Reboot Of The Jedi

So last night I watched Episode six. I thought it was fun, but there were some things about it that put me off, like most films. However, before I go into that, I will point out parts I actually liked.
  • C-3PO is still my favorite character. In fact my favorite scene of all six films is the one which is just 3PO retelling the previous two films in Ewok language as if he were a sort of Homeric bard, complete with sound effects. Also, it is kind of funny to see that it is rather obvious that he's enjoying the moment when he realizes he's been deified by the Ewoks.
  • R2-D2 is also a highlight, as it makes me laugh to see how opinionated a little repair droid can be. It's made sillier by the fact that he doesn't have a humanly recognizable face, so one has to dream up his "facial expressions" along with the words that translate the statements 3PO keeps replying to.
  • Clone troopers actually can hit things in this movie, which makes it a sight better than A New Hope, since it is more believable.
  • The final battle between Luke and Vader is more fun to watch because of the insinuation that Luke is finally a fully-trained Jedi, and so is as qualified as he'll ever be to take on his nemesis in a lightsaber duel.
  • The Ewoks
  • I may as well note here that i like how the tone changed in the last episodes regarding the relationship between Vader and imperial officers. In episode 4, Vader is obeying orders from guys in suits who can do nothing against him, and in the two following episodes he is installed at his rightful place making all the command decisions and being groveled at by the officers.
Now the obligatory reasons why I didn't think the movie was awesome...
  • It goes by too fast. It doesn't start feeling like it's moving at a normal pace until just before the final battle commences.
  • The opening sequence of rescuing Han is not really put into context properly, as the film opens with our favorite droids trudging in the middle of the desert with no proper explanation of how they got separated from the others. (Although I realize that this point explains itself afterward, I found it jarring, so I include it.)
  • Jedi training must not be all it's cracked up to be. In episode 5, Luke spends what looks like two days doing cross-country runs and telekinetically moving rocks while doing headstands. Then he flies off. Early in the next episode, he flies all the way back to Dagobah to complete his training only to be told that he's done but he has to fight Vader before he can consider himself a Jedi. And this is why I'm calling it the Reboot of the Jedi; Yoda claims that Luke is the last of true Jedi. But one man does not a return make. A return would be if more Jedis emerged from hermit seclusion soon after Luke. But since Luke is apparently the only guy in the galaxy who has proper Jedi training anymore, he actually symbolizes a reboot, since he is solely responsible for rounding up a new crop of kids with force powers and training them all.
  • Darth Vader is not all he's cracked up to be, either. Sure, that suit is a legendary symbol of evil forces these days, but the guy inside is not as fearsome of a villain as people like to think. The most villainous villain ever would have killed his own son once he realized that the kid was a threat to his supremacy over the rest of the galaxy. But he didn't. Instead, he practically went the cliche route of yelling "Save yourself! It's too late for me, but not you!" It can be believed that he's genuinely evil only when he['s in the presence (and under direct Sith mind control,) of the emperor. Beyond the emperor's presence, he has dreams of killing him and implementing twisted dreams of a benevolent dynasty over the galaxy. I will always believe Vader is misunderstood and that makes it impossible for me to dive deeply enough into the Star Wars galaxy to ever think myself a fan.
  • What exactly told the entire galaxy simultaneously that the empire had fallen? The Death Star explodes, and in no time at all the entire galaxy is a show-stopping block party...

 

1/06/2014

Thoughts On Blogging

It's a funny thing about blogging, that if one have a few frequent commenters, one can begin to feel as if one has long-distance friends, because a high volume of comments will reveal a lot about the person leaving the comments, to the point that one can make accurate predictions of a blog reader's response to certain posts. This of course depends on what one finds interesting enough to talk about or if one's blog has a dedicated theme. Still the point remains that if two people met and happened to have been reading each other's blogs for the past few years or even months, both would know a lot more about each other and some of their friends than people are generally willing to divulge on any other social site. (Assuming they try to be careful about hiding their details and only "friending" people they know, like I do.) However, this is impossible with a blog, because a certain degree of revealing everything about your life is inevitable if you're determined to write posts that others will actually read, and then reply to. This is not to make the claim that I have anything against my "bloglife", only that I have noticed this and when I notice something of this nature I feel compelled to babble about it until i have babbled myself out.
Likewise, having regular readers can make some feel obligated to post, because they know that there are people who take the time, however short it is, to check whether they have anything to say. I have a couple of blogs in my news feed in which the writers will invariably introduce a new post after a long absence with some form of "Please forgive my lack of posts, life got in the way" Note: No one is in any way obligated to post to their blog, and "life got in the way" is a poor excuse, because if such a thing happened, you've been doing things with people you actually know, rather than devoting yourself to "What shall I write to others I only think I know and am unlikely ever to meet." (See the first part of this post)
Despite the fact that the above sections might be considered an attack on blogging, which would be a very odd topic for a blog post, I actually like doing this because my life is very slow right now and otherwise I would be very bored if I didn't have other, interesting, blogs to look at every few days. I also wrote this post so that you will be aware that when the time comes that I miss a post by accident, (which is sure to happen eventually) this is because for once life got in the way and I am not going to put any silly excuses in front of my return post. 
Happy blogging!

1/05/2014

Fail...

Well, I was going to leave you with a couple of comically bad drawings of Aragorn and Arwen from the Two Towers poster which I did myself to show an example of where I am at. But-the scanner doesn't scan to this computer, the one that I'm using right now because it's available and easy to use. Instead I will just leave you with my new profile pic as a stopgap.
What I'd look like in Middle-Earth
This was not my choice. This was the idea of my best friend who hasn't seen me live in years. I made one of him that looked like Faramir.

1/04/2014

Factoids I Didn't Know-From The Lord Of The Trivia

Some of these may already be well known to you from the extra material on the LOTR EEs. However, if they are to be found there, I wouldn't know, since the commentaries do not have subtitles enabled. These are notes I found in a brand-new book my parents gave me for Christmas called Middle-Earth Envisioned:The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings on Screen, on Stage, And Beyond. It is a complete history of all adaptations of Middle-Earth from the very beginning up to Jackson's Unexpected Journey.
  • Orlando Bloom tried out for Faramir. (Legolas was a consolation prize.)
  • Russel Crowe was on the short list for Aragorn
  • The reason for three films (for LOTR) was money. A studio exectutive is quoted as saying "Why make people pay $18 when you could make $27?" After having been shown a rough cut from Jackson's footage.
  • At the height of Beatlemania, John Lennon wanted a film made which would have had the Beatles starring as Frodo, Sam, Gandalf, and Gollum.
  • Ian Holm was given the part of Bilbo after having portrayed Frodo in an earlier BBC radio version.
  • Even with the EEs, not all the workable film was used. Jackson does too want to sell a "super-edition" in which the films would be even longer. Perhaps in 2017 fans will be urged to get the super-edition boxed set,which would of course contain two days worth of materiel and retail for about $175...
The book I got these factoids from is worth checking out just to see the artwork inside. It's riddled with awesome artwork by at least eight different people, including John Howe and Allan Lee, the head artists on Jackson's version.


1/03/2014

The Future Will Bore You Stiff...(But I hope not)

Well this is my post for today. I didn't actually do anything today because I had no plans, and now I have come face-to-screen with a problem one might have all the time, having decided that one will post every day only to be reminded that one never does anything....
I intended to go be at the show of my friends who recently started one of those cliche garage rock bands, but jumped the cliche by getting a show two months after they decided they were a band. I'll find out how it all went down tomorrow I think. I couldn't go because someone remembered that when faced with large crowds and loud noise, which would both be had in plenty, I disappear into the wall, unable to think a thought. It is strange that I myself never remember this fact when confronted with the chance to get together with my friends-however if I did I would never go anywhere.
Something coming up that I am actually going to do is that I am going to do a complete census on all the bookshelves in our house. (excluding cookbooks, of which my mom has at least twenty) The idea of the project is to find out just how many books we've got that are simply deadweight to remove. The thing is that we have more books than we have available shelf space,which leaves random books scattered throughout the house on top of others properly shelved, and several more that aren't really on shelves at all. And to add to the congestion there are several around that my youngest brother outgrew several years ago.
Someday I am going to make a post of nonsensical Keep Calm memes for no reason. Also I expect that on some days my posts may wind up being mindless rambles. I wish I had a theme...

1/02/2014

To Walk, To Read, Perchance To Dream

But I did. And that was my afternoon today. My family thinks with good reason that I don't have the strength for it, but today I did, and I am very happy with it. Never mind that doing it once takes all the endurance I normally use in two or three days, or that we live a mile from anywhere, so I don't get far when I use all my energy, but I did it. That's what matters. A whole hour by myself, on my feet. It's really a great achievement by my standards.
In other news I have spent the past week reading the Ender's Game series which I was given for Christmas because I declared myself a fan of the first book, which the film was based on. (The film was actually a very strong synopsis by the way. Too bad they won't do any in the other series. This would be because they opened it just before a behemoth tentpole, namely Thor 2, which sucked away all its money, and since money is the language Hollywood understands, no more Ender movies...)
The first book, Ender's Game, is a character-driven story which was just as good as the first time I read it, even though I knew the plot twists this time.
The second book is Speaker For The Dead, in which hardly anything actually happens and it reads like a thesis on philosophy. It is hard to read, but it is passable because it is really just a prologue to the next thousand pages in the last two novels. This story takes place 3000 years farther into the future, but due to relativistic time-jumping spaceflight, Ender is only middle-aged at this point.
The third one is called Xenocide, and it is the most annoying, because while being longer than either of the first two it is also packaged as a philosophy thesis, to the point that the existential arguments trump the actual story.
The last one is called Children of the Mind and is really to be thought of as the second part of the previous one, divided because the third one would otherwise have been a mere 900 pages long. It works better this way because the last one returns to a character-driven base. I have 100 pages to go in the fourth one and by the end I might find that I enjoyed it more than the first one.


1/01/2014

Day 1, 2014

As promised, I'm publishing a post. Today I spent all afternoon failing to add a blog button to my blog. I follow all the steps but for reasons unknown to me I still don't have a working link button. I guess it's a lost cause. Also, note that I've changed my picture to the minimum speed sign which is still my favorite personal joke. This is because the Faramir pic I'd been using for the past year suddenly disappeared while I was trying to get the button. Last night (Dec. 31st) we sat through Empire Strikes Back. Only one more to go. I do not know. Although I can believe why others say it is the best, because it seems to have the tidiest storyline and all that, it just did not engage me. The sequence of encasing Han Solo in carbonite used to scare me to death but this time it was just like "ok, that's over" It annoyed me that Yoda's entrance had him acting like he'd lost his mind compared to the wise old master of the prequels. Having him rummage arbitrarily through things and then get pouty and say he'd only help if he could keep the flashlight object was beneath the jedi master dignity the character had during the rest of his scenes. And instead of building the tension, the repeated failures of the Falcon's hyperdrive devolved into a running joke. Also how the last part of the movie was the obligatory "untrained kid confronts most powerful dangerous enemy, does not die." It looked cool before, but a real comprehension of events just made it feel like a throwaway. How nice for that convient radio tower thingie that wouldn't even bend under Luke's weight...