The Hobbit: An Unexpected Low

I have been living in Korea for almost six months, and I have only seen two movies in theaters. The first was Step Up Revolution (because my young impressionable host sister wanted to). It took me three months but I finally got that wretched taste out of my mouth by seeing the Hobbit.

After the wild success of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, the Hobbit has been one of the most awaited films this year. An avid LOTR fan myself, I have been waiting just as eagerly. The Hobbit is based on the book that came before the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, the story of how Bilbo Baggins discovered the Ring.

Having read the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, I knew to expect a different flavor. While LOTR was dark and depressing and full of death, the Hobbit was pretty much a children’s story that foreshadows the doom that approaches Middle Earth. These stories are very different, so I’m trying not to compare the two, but that’s kind of impossible. I didn’t exactly hate the Hobbit, but I didn’t enjoy it near as much as I did any of LOTR.

First, the bad. What I loved about LOTR was that when I watched, it never felt like I was watching a fantasy movie. It was so rich in detail and artistry that nothing felt fake. It was more like watching a historical documentary, but much more entertaining. As I was watching the Hobbit, I knew I was watching a fantasy movie.

For more specific complaints, I had a huge problem with a scene in which two giant men made of stone were ripping mountains apart. During this sequence, Bilbo and his party of Dwarves are split up and have to jump across a huge rift. Sound familiar?  Almost the exact thing happened in the Fellowship of the Ring when the Fellowship was in the Mines of Moria, but that was better done. Come on Peter Jackson, get a little more creative.

I hated the Goblins. The monsters in LOTR were awesome. In my head, I knew they had a lot of make up and CG, but they were still scary and real. They were believable.  The goblins were not. The Goblin king was also given a few zinger lines that were supposed to be funny, but they weren’t.

The Hobbit was also filled with too many very cliche moments. I know LOTR had moments with cliche ideas in them, but they were done in a subtle enough way that didn’t make you want to groan. There were too many times in the Hobbit when I was being clobbered over head. Okay, Thorin is going to go battle his arch enemy. I get it. He doesn’t have to run through flames for 15 minutes. Yes, the Hobbit was brave and the Dwarves are surprised. Guess who isn’t?

I also think the beginning of the movie took too long. I know the introduction of The Fellowship took forever, but at least it was entertaining and interesting. In The Hobbit, not so much. I understand why Jackson brought back Elijah Woods and Ian Holmes. That was a great nod to the fans. However, it wasn’t really needed, at least, not as long as it took. A lot of that could be cut and no one would miss it.

Okay, now to the nicer part. Regarding the Dwarves. In LOTR, you only really get to know one Dwarf: Gimli, and he only serves as comic relief. Good comic relief, but I enjoyed how in the Hobbit, you get to see more of Dwarvish culture and get to understand them more.

And somehow, Jackson was able to make Dwarves sexy. I don’t know how he did it, but Legolas who?

The bits of the Dragon that you see were done very well. I am so glad Smog was not revealed completely. Viewers saw just enough to want to come back for more.

By far, however, my favorite part of this movie was the Riddle in the Dark scene, or the scene with Bilbo and Golem. That scene was straight from the book, and it was great seeing such an iconic moment from the book come to life. Golem was one of my favorite parts of LOTR, so seeing him again was great. Andy Serkis made an interesting acting choice here. We saw a different Golem, kind of. His Smegol side and his Golem side were more divided, as if the Ring hadn’t taken complete control over him yet, which added a whole new depth to his character, or characters depending on how you think of it.

As a huge LOTR fan, what I really loved was getting to go back to Middle Earth one more time, and see characters I fell in love with and meet new ones. However, had this movie been made before the Lord of the Rings, I am not sure I would have become such a huge fan. I give The Hobbit a 6. Although I do not regret seeing it.

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The Iron Lady

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Watching this movie was an interesting experience for me. When I watch a movie for the first time, I usually prefer to do it alone, because some people like to talk during movies (like pretty much my entire family). And then I ask them to stop and then of course they just do it more because it annoys me. I swear, I could be watching  the most intense, important scene of a movie, and suddenly my Dad would say “Who is that actress?…Is she still alive?…Why is Bruce Willis holding a Samurai sword?…I think John Travolta secretly wants to be a woman…” I love my father, but seriously, I don’t watch movies to have conversation. But of course a couple of days ago I have to be nice, and when we didn’t have anything to do I just had to mention that I had a copy of The Iron Lady. And of course, the movie had been playing not ten minutes before “Is that Glen Close?” Happy Father’s Day Dad :).

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Yet despite the unwanted disruptions, I really enjoyed this movie. The Iron Lady is a British film released in 2011 and directed by Phyllida Lloyd about the life of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The movie begins with Margaret Thatcher (Meryl Streep) as an old woman suffering from dementia. As you continually watch her struggling with old age and dealing with her hallucinations of her dead husband Denis (Jim Broadbent),Thatcher has flashbacks to when she was a young woman (Alexandra Roach) trying to become a politician in a world of men, and eventually the wife and mother who becomes the first female Prime Minister in a western country.

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There are so many great things about this movie. Although I might be biased as someone who majored in English and history, making me always up for a historical film. I’d say one of the best things about this movie is the artful way in which it was put together. This includes the inspired choice to not have a consecutive storyline but use flashbacks. This choice really gave more power to the tragedy of Thatcher’s aging as she reviewd her life.

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The Iron Lady also has one of the best casts I have ever seen. Meryl Streep was amazing no doubt. Some critics were quoted saying something along the lines of she had more iron than the real Margaret Thatcher did. She was completely transformed. But I also loved seeing Anthony Head, the actor who played Giles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and is currently playing King Uther in the show Merlin, pop up in a huge movie like this. And Jim Broadbent who played Margaret Thatcher’s husband Denis, did an astounding job, especially the scenes in which he was Margaret’s hallucinations.

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However, best of all, this movie had probably one of the most subtle yet poignant endings in film history. It ends with the elderly Margaret Thatcher washing a tea cup. Which of course sounds ridiculous by itself, but becomes increasingly powerful when I tell you that early in the movie, when Denis proposes to her, she tells him “I will not die washing a tea cup.” But what’s so beautiful about the ending is that Thatcher cleans the cup, puts it on a shelf, and goes on about her day. She didn’t die washing it, she continues to live. Despite her dwindling mind, she will continue to remain a strong female figure in history for all time. Sorry, did the English major in me just wax too strong?

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I think I only have one complaint about this movie. I felt it got a little repetitive, which I know is inevitable when it is constantly going back in time. However, I got tired of all the images of angry Englishmen tapping on her car window. After seeing it five times, I wonder, was the writer of this film not able to come up with another way to display the country’s outrage?

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I would describe this movie as beautifully tragic. It is tragic in the way that Thathcer is fighting so hard to retain her sanity, in the way that she desperately misses her husband, and in the way that as Prime Minister, she finally understands that even she can go too far. I give the Iron Lady a 9. And after seeing it I should probably add Meryl Streep to my list about my favorite actresses: https://hereslookinatyousquid.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/my-favorite-top-ten-actresses-13-2/.

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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: So, Why Are You so Loud and Close Exactly?

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I saw the trailer for this movie a while ago, and ever since then I had been dying to see it. However, I don’t think it has lived up to my expectations.

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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (I have to say, that title is a mouthful) is a film adaptation of a book by the same name by Jonathan Safran Foer. It was released in early 2012 and directed by Stephen Daldry. It is about Oskar Shell (Thomas Horn), a child who tries to stay connected with his father (Tom Hanks) who died in 9/11 by searching for the lock of a key that he found in his father’s closet.

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This was one of those films that after viewing it, I wasn’t really sure about my opinion. In looking up the critical reception, I have discovered a huge disconnect of opinion regarding this movie. It has been hailed as a touching story to condemned as exploiting an American tragedy for Oscar baiting.

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Either way I think the film does have some issues. First off, I find it incredibly unrealistic. The premise of the film is that a boy is going on this journey interviewing all these people in New York to find the lock that fits this key. I don’t think any competent mother would ever allow her child to do such a thing. I certainly would not. Oskar’s mother is played by Sandra Bullock, and she tries to explain it by saying “I was scared, but I knew you had to go on this journey.” Yeah, and I’m sure if your child was cleaved in bits with an ax and then thrown into the Hudson you’d feel good about yourself.

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And there were quite a few moments of the film that featured hysterical screaming, and it made me feel as if this movie is portraying what the film makers think grief is like, but they executed it in a very over the top, cliché way that I could not connect with.

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That said, I don’t have a problem with the subject matter. This is the first film that truly addresses the issue of how 9/11 has affected children. Considering that fact, I don’t think I would label this movie as exploitive. Oscar bait? Maybe, but does anyone make a film ever thinking, “I do not want this film to get an Oscar! I am not a sell out! The Academy Awards is just another opiate of the masses and I will not conform!”?

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I also really enjoyed Max von Sydel’s performance. He acted as The Renter, a strange old man who lived in Oskar’s grandmother’s apartment and had lost his ability to speak when he suffered trauma during WWII. While he could not speak, you were always very clear about his emotions. Or maybe I just ejoyed watching him because he didn’t have the ability to scream so he couldn’t be over the top like everyone else in the movie.

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So all in all, I give Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close a 5. Although as someone who studied English in college, I have to announce that I loved the scene in which Oskar and his father had oxymoron battles.

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Here's Lookin' at You Squid

So, I originally created this list about a month ago, but because of movies I have recently seen and other ones that I did not think of at the time, I decided to come back to it and amend it.

Please excuse my language, but I am not being obscene just to be obscene. I feel that these are the only words that appropriately convey the meaning I am going for. What I mean by “mind fuck films” are movies that are hard to pin down what exactly is going on. Even after the extreme twist ending, when the credits role, you remain sitting, stunned in your seat. Your only response is “What?” What I think best characterizes all these movies is that they expose a rift between what we perceive as reality and what actually is reality, and by doing so make us question how we see the world. I believe these are…

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I’m Kind of Scared of the People Reading My Blog

My blog has gained increased traffic over the past few weeks. With that comes people looking at my blog via Google. I have come to acknowledge that some of the search terms are weird, funny, even downright creepy. So, for your entertainment, I’m documenting the most random ones. I’m totally stealing this idea from my dear friend Sara Mosier who has written a post just like this on her blog Shit My Cake Says. Thanks Sara!

If you happen to see a search term listed that you yourself used, don’t worry. I am not judging. Well, actually I am. But reading deprecating comments about yourself is character building! If you think about it that way, I’m actually doing you a favor.

“Squid Raven”

Okay, what the hell is a squid raven, and why is someone looking for this monstrosity? I can only guess that this person is interested in splicing the genetic material of two animals to create one animal. He/she wants to sew a squid on the back of a raven so that the raven can live under the sea with Flounder and Sebastian, and the squid can know flight. Inspired!

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“www.fuck films”

I guess when I wrote my post “The Top Ten Best Mind Fuck Films” I should have been prepared for this.

“Captain America One God”

Okay, I know I only watched Captain America once but I do not recall much monotheistic messages. I could be wrong. What’s the connection here? I can actually argue that Captain America is against Christianity. Chris Evan’s character (I didn’t like the movie enough to actually remember his name) wants to become stronger and hotter. He uses means outside of the will of God to change God’s design. Basically saying that what God provided for him was not good enough. Way to show the world how you really feel… whoever you are. Please note the dripping sarcasm.

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“Abigail Breslin Crying”

Why do you want to hurt Abigail Breslin? She’s a sweet little girl, and you want to see her in pain? You are sick!

“Once upon a time disney book with mary-kate and ashley olsen”

That is just very oddly specific.

“Children and dragons can be beaten”

Beaten with what exactly? I also wasn’t aware anyone was at war with children and dragons. And what a fucked up army that would be. Are the children riding the dragons? And who exactly are they fighting anyway? Its Martians isn’t it?

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“Chuck Norris the Cutter”

My first response is WHAT and my second response is do you mean cutter as in someone who cuts their arm with a blade? I actually kind of hope there is a photo out there with Walker Texas Ranger wearing those emo arm things that cover up your fore arms. Lacy ones with pink ribbons. They’d go well with his eyes.

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“Quills Title”

If this person is asking what the title of the movie Quills is, I don’t know whether I should laugh or cry.

“Sexy old men”

I don’t know what confuses me more: why someone is looking this up, or how they found my blog searching it. Maybe sometimes it is better not knowing.

“Why Blue Eyed People Are Better”

Yay! Nazis are looking at my blog! That was totally my target audience!

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Korea, Here I Come!

Dear Squids,

So, I just found out the most awesome information ever. But before I tell you what it was, I need to give you back up story because since this is my blog I’m just going to pretend that you are all interested in my life. My senior fall semster of college was my toughest by far. I was applying to grad schools, studying for subject GRE tests, working on an honor’s thesis, and applying for a Fullbright scholarship. For those of you who don’t know, a Fullbright teaching assistanship sends you to a foreign country for a year to teach English. They are highly competitive and prestigious. I applied to go to Korea. I think I wanted that opportunity more than anything else. In April, I was notified I was an alternate. And knowing how competitive the award is, I figured there was no way I was going to get the chance to recieve it, and I was devstated. Then about an hour ago, I received a phone call, and a nice man told me that some new funding had been gathered and I would be reciving the scholarship after all. I thanked him very politely, then hung up the phone and screamed as loudly as I could. I’m amazed the neighbors didn’t call the cops.

So holy shit, I get to go live in South Korea for a year. Wow. It hasn’t really sunk in yet, but the last time I was this excited was when I was about to go to France last January. I had never been out of the United States before, so I was so pumped. But this is new. That trip to France was for three weeks. I’ll be in South Korea for a year. I will really get to know the culture and meet people. I want to scream again.

Bringing this back to movies because this is a movie blog… does anyone know any god Korean movies I should see before leaving?

A Mushy Moment: I’M GRADUATING!!!!!!!!!

Dear Squids,

This post has nothing to do with movies, but it is my blog, so deal with it. I am writing because I am graduating from college in two days. I was going to write this post on the actual day, but I realized I will not have time, and tomorrow I will be celebrating and saying good bye to my friends, so today it is! I felt the need to write about this because I am suddenly getting very sentimental and so I will take all of my cheesy thoughts out on all of you. MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

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I feel I have grown up at Austin College, that I have become the woman I always wanted to be. Here, I met some of the most interesting people. Here, I made some of the best friends anyone could ever ask for. Here, I got the chance to go to France. Here, I spent a year writing a 60 page paper on Margaret Atwood and lived to tell the tale. If that is not an accomplishment I don’t know what is. Here, I learned how to love myself.

After receiving my bachelors in English and history (with honors I brag oh so humbly) while traipsing in the mud of the Austin College campus and almost fainting from the sweltering Texas heat at commencement, I will start working on a PhD in English literature at the University of North Texas.

I really want to take this opportunity to say thank you. Thank you to all the remarkable professors who taught me so much. I will never forget the day Peter Anderson read the lyrics to Thriller at the Halloween Open Mic Night in his lovely South African accent. I will never forget the day Vicki Cummins spent all of her lecture time informing us all about what areas of the world create certain types of alcoholic beverages by using certain crops

Thank you to my family who have so dearly supported me, especially in this last most stressful year when I was juggling so much and at times felt I would never get through it.

Most of all, thank you to the many friends I have made and grown to love as sisters and brothers. You are all beautiful in the most interesting ways. As I go on in life I will carry all of you with me. I feel so grateful for getting to know you all.

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And now I’m crying. I’m so sad to leave this place, I really am. But I also have faith that I will be moving on to something even more incredible.

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Okay, sorry for the gushy moment. I’m good now.