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 Top Ten Guiding Characters in Movies

So, what do I mean by Guiding Characters? It’s very simple. I mean male or female characters in movies who look after the hero and guide them through trials, rather they be the journey to Mordor, or a kung-fu competition. I would have called them Wise Old Men, but I incorporated some women, so that didn’t work. These are a few of the characteristics I look for in these characters.

Wise: obviously.

Old: This is pretty flexible. The character does not exactly need a long grey beard. But they do have to be experienced so they can legitimately give good real-world advice.

Teacher and Guide: This is what these characters all do. They teach, aide, and offer advice to the hero. They may not physically guide the hero to a destination, but they at least guide them emotionally.

Power: This one isn’t a requirement. Not all Guiding characters are God, or have magical powers. But most of them have some power that they use to help the hero.

Ethical: All of these characters have a firm sense between right and wrong. They are incorruptible, and they will always work to do what is right. And one of the major roles of the Guiding Character is creating a similar moral compass within the hero.

Friendship: This one is the most important. The Guiding Character bonds with the hero. They usually become great friends, or even establish a father-son dynamic.

Sacrifice: Most Guiding Characters are willing to or actually do sacrifice themselves for the hero. It is usually after this moment that the hero becomes the strongest and triumphs.

10. Mr. Myagi: Pat Morita, The Karate Kid

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When I decided to create this list, I knew Mr. Myagi had to be on it. He is the paragon of a martial arts teacher. And for an old man who is sometimes quite hard to understand, Pat Morita put on quite the performance.

9. Professor Xavier: Patrick Stuart, X-Men

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Teacher? Check. Xavier is a professor and the headmaster of a school. Power? He can control people’s freakin’ minds. In the original X-Men, Xavier uses this power and his brigade of mutants to help the hero Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) become an X-man and later find answers about his past. This plus his sacrifice (OK, so he doesn’t sacrifice himself willingly and doesn’t die, but those are just details) makes him a prime guiding character. Add Patrick Stuart’s sexy voice, and it’s a win!

8. Lionel Logue: Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech

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First off, this is one of my favorite movies, and that is mostly because of Geoffrey Rush’s character. To be very honest, I think he, and not Colin Firth (although God knows I love the man) should have received an Oscar. Lionel Logue is an unconventional guiding character. He is not much older than Bertie, the hero he helps. He has no magical power. However, what counts is how Logue is able to help Bertie become the king he needs to be when WWII starts. In the movie (and in history) Bertie and Logue are close friends for the rest of their lives.

7. Mr. Keating: Robin Williams, The Dead Poet’s Society

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Another teacher. And as far as inspiring teachers go in movies, I think it’s easy for people to think of Mr. Keating. Although this is another unconventional case, because his hero, Neal, doesn’t triumph, but ends up (spoiler alert) committing suicide. But Keating is still a guiding character, because whether the hero fails or not, Keating still guided him and forged a relationship with him. If you’ve never seen Dead Poet’s Society, stop whatever you are doing right now, rent it, and watch it. And don’t say you won’t just because I gave away the ending. The ending isn’t as important as the journey. Sorry. I didn’t mean to sound so much like a fortune cookie.

6. Galadriel: Cate Blanchett, Lord of the Rings

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Don’t let Cate Blanchett’s beauty fool you. As any LOTR freak knows, as an Elf, Galadriel is probably the oldest character in the trilogy. Galadriel helps Frodo. She is not as close to him geographically or emotionally as Gandalf, but she does give Frodo advice, and helps him even when they are miles apart. And I’m sure some of you will argue, “But wait, Allison! Galadriel was tempted by the Ring! She’s corruptible!” Okay, true. She was tempted by the Ring. But so was everyone else, including Gandalf. The important thing is she said no and let Frodo keep it. As powerful as Galadriel is, to be able to see the most powerful and seductive weapon walk right in front of her and let it go, she is probably the most incorruptible character on this list. On top of that, she’s just awesome. I don’t know any other way to say it.

5. V: Hugo Leaving, V for Vendetta

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Yet another movie on this list that I love. Some people may be surprised about this choice though, because most people probably think V is the hero of V for Vendetta. V is a hero, but I think the hero of V for Vendetta is Natalie Portman’s character, Evey. The story of the movie follows her more than it does V. V guides Evey, makes her see the problems of the world and how to fix them. And not only do they become great friends, they fall in love. And V even makes the ultimate sacrifice (spoiler alert). He dies at the end of the film for the revolution Evey leads.

4. God; Morgan Freeman, Bruce Almighty

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Was there any way either God or Morgan Freeman were going to escape this list whether or not they would be put together? In Bruce Almighty, God guides Bruce (Jim Carey) through becoming a better man. And he’s a great character. If there really is a God, I hope he has this character’s sense of humor. But how can God not have a sense of humor? Case and point: the Platypus.

3. Morpheus: Lawrence Fishburne, the Matrix

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I’m sure if Morpheus were not on this list, I was going to receive a bunch of anonymous hate-mail and get bricks thrown through my windows. Morpheus is close to a perfect guiding character, but he’s also a bad-ass. My question to the makers of the Matrix. Couldn’t Morpheus be the main character? I for one found him much more interesting than Neo because of Keanu Reeve’s poor acting skills. But no one listens to me…

2. Gandalf: Ian McKellen, Lord of the Rings

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I usually don’t like to put two characters from one movie in the same list, but I had to. And it’s my blog so get over it. Gandalf is one of my favorite characters of all time. He fits my characteristics to a T. And Ian McKellen played him to perfection. All of that gave him a top spot on this list. Gandalf is perhaps second to Merlin the most remembered character in terms of fantasy. And that is for a very specific reason. Everyone loves Gandalf: his wisdom, his strength, and his devotion to Frodo. I think we all wished we had a bit of Gandalf in us.

  1. Obi-Wan Kenobi: Sir Alec Guinness, Star Wars

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I don’t think anyone can argue with my choice for number one. Obi-Wan is iconic as a guide. He fits every characteristic. he’s wise, old, definitely powerful, and he sacrifices himself for Luke. This phenomenal, memorable character will continue to go down in film history. And if Star Wars hadn’t had Obi-Wan, I don’t think it would have been near as successful. Well, as time has told us, though, there are other ways to ruin Star Wars, like letting George Lucas off his leash.

Honorable Mention

Merlin: Karl Swenson, The Sword and the Stone

Asland: Liam Neeson, the Chronicles of Narnia

William Forrester: Sean Connery, Finding Forrester

Glinda: Billie Burke, The Wizard of Oz

Albus Dumbledore: Ed Harris, Harry Potter

Top Ten Actors Who Are So Good at Being So Bad

Dear Squids,

I have no idea how I did this, but even though I originally created this post over two weeks ago, last night I was trying to go to sleep and I realized, holy crap, I totally forgot one of my favorite villainous roles! so I’ve done some doctoring. Sorry Dustin Hoffman. I still love you. Let me kow what you think of my change.

10. Jeremy Irons: the voice of Scar in The Lion King

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Jeremy Irons’s role as Scar is an animated role, but it definitely deserves to be here. Jeremy Irons has a lovely velvety voice, but if he wants it to, it can sound so vile and full of hatred that it’s awesome. It’s kind of easy to forget that Scar is a talking lion because it has such a powerful performance behind it. And Scar is pretty much as evil as they come. He kills his brother and convinces the adorable Simba that he’s the one who killed Mufasa. And the way the song Be Prepared makes Scar kind of look like Hitler really makes it easy to loath this lowly lion. Yay alliteration.

9. Jason Isaacs: Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies

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I’m not actually a very big fan of the Harry Potter movies (or the books for that matter, go ahead, stone me now) but even I had to admit that these movies have many great villains to offer. Others included Alan Rickman as Snape and Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort, but I only wanted one on this list, so when I asked myself who of this three really made me despise him, the answer was very clear: Jason Isaacs playing the intimidating Lucius Malfoy. Everything about this character makes you hate him, from his icy hair and regard, to his elitist manners. Isaacs just has that something that allows him to naturally purvey this attitude of “I’m the shit and you aren’t and never will be.” And this isn’t Isaacs’s only role as a villain, He was also a deranged British officer in the Patriot and killed Heath Ledger. How dare he?

8. Samuel L Jackson: Jules Winnfeild in Pulp Fiction

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Samuel L Jackson has been a bad ass so may times, he’s basically type casted for his bad ass nature. But I think the role that everyone thinks of is the role that made him the bad ass mother fucker we all know and love. I’m talking about of course his role as a gangster in Pulp Fiction. I don’t think any other actor could have delivered his Biblical soliloquy any better. And doesn’t everyone remember his awesome line, “I’m sorry. Did I break your concentration?” Thank you Jackson for being such a hardcore bad ass.

7. Marlon Brando: Don Corleone in The Godfather

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This choice might be surprising, considering Don Corleone is a protagonist and not the villain in The Godfather. Despite that, the Don is obviously no saint, and he perfected the art of being bad. He’s a mob boss. You don’t get much worse than that. I’m sure I don’t have to say that his performance as the Don has gone down in cinema history. Because of that, he has won a prime spot on this list.

6. Andy Serkis: Golem in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

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Golem is another animated character, but Andy Serkis was much more than the voice. Serkis inspired many decisions about Golem and the way his animation went. And I believe Golem was such a success. He is the most interesting chacter in the trilogy, and he’s animated. And most of that is because of Andy Serkis’s killer performance. Everyone remembers that incredible scene in The Two Towers when Golem is talking to himself. But its also very easy to hate Golem. When he becomes an obstacle first between Sam and Frodo’s friendship and later for the destruction of the Ring, you just want him to die. When I saw the Return of the King in theaters, when Golem fell into the lava, everyone cheered. Okay, so they were probably cheering because the ring was getting destroyed. I was cheering because Golem was finally dead.

5. Malcolm McDowell: Alex Delarge in A Clockwork Orange

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Deciding whether or not to include this actor was not a hard decision at all. Alex Delarge is pretty much a sociopath who doesn’t care about hurting people or even murdering them. And Malcolm McDowell pulls this character off so well. The beginning of A Clockwork Orange, the camera just slowly goes closer and closer on McDowell’s face for 3 minutes, and his face is set in such a way that it is so full of hatred and rage that it makes your skin crawl.

4. Heath Ledger: The Joker in Batman: Dark Knight

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Heath Ledger’s amazing role of the Joker in Batman Dark Knight put him here. Now, I did not think Dark Knight was as incredible as everyone said it was. I my opinion, the best thing about the movie was Heath Ledger’s role. He just exuded evil. He terrified me. Now, terrifying me is a very easy achievement, but still. I feel sorry for anyone who has to play the Joker in the future, because I just can’t see anyone topping his performance. Strangely, I said the same thing about Jack Nicholson’s performance as the Joker. But this one surely can’t be beaten.

3. Anthony Hopkins: Hannibal Lector in Silence of the Lambs

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I’m sure everyone can understand why I put Anthony Hopkins here. His character bit off someone’s freakin nose! But more than that, Once you see Silence of the Lambs, it is so hard to get his performance out of your head. It’s everything. His haunting voice, how he carries himself. He almost pulls you in the way he is able to pull in Clarisse. You can’t say that of many other actors.

2. Joaquin Phoenix: Commodus in Gladiator

Gladiator is one of my favorite movies despite the fact that it is obscenely historically inaccurate. Anyway, one of the main reasons why this movie is so good is because of Joaquin Phoenix’s amazing acting in his villainous role of Commodus, the corrupt Roman emperor who wants to dissolve the senate, steal power from the people (it’s Rome, they don’t have much power anyway!) and have sex with his sister. Pretty twisted stuff. Even when he’s not screaming in his sister’s face, he is just so awesomely bad, especially when he becomes an albino at the end. Phoenix is an incredible actor, even considering that he went crazy and decided to become a rapper, but apparently, that was just for an acting role too. Just shows you how dedicated he is.

 

1. Christoph Waltz: Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds

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Anyone who has seen Inglorious Basterds most likely agrees with my choice. Christoph Waltz is the best evil actor I have ever seen. If I ever meet him in person, I will have to resist the urge to kick him in the balls simply because he is so awesome at being evil  He makes you hate him with every fiber of your being. You hate his role so much, you almost enjoy it, which is something I have never experienced before. It’s quite incredible. Waltz definitely deserved the Oscar he received for his performance.