Friday, January 16, 2015

Tagged! The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

I got tagged with this over at Hamlette’sSoliloquy, and since I’ve started at least two Hobbit posts and never finished them, I’ll just start over with these five questions.


1. You Must Be Tagged to take the Q&A quiz
2. You must tag (notify) at least three other bloggers (or whatever they are on) for this Q&A
3. You must answer the following questions to the best of your ability
4. You must have seen The Battle of the Five Armies to be tagged/take the quiz

WARNING!  There's going to be spoilage!!!

1. Tell your story of how you came to see the movie(s) or got into Tolkien in the first place.

Read Lord of the Rings back in college after a friend gave it to me.  Loved it.  Anxiously awaited the first movie, fell in love with everything about it and saw it umpteen times in the theater and then anxiously waited for every movie thereafter.  Read Hobbit sometime after Lord of the Rings but did not love it.  For years, all I could remember was the riddle scene.
2. Who are your three favorite characters in The Hobbit Trilogy?

1. Bilbo.  I NEVER thought I’d pick Bilbo as a favorite, but The Battle of the Five Armies changed that.  Bilbo is amazing.  Bilbo is caring and fierce and determined and courageous and loyal and smart.  Bilbo stands up to everyone around him, from Gollum, to Smaug (I mean who but Bilbo would risk getting incinerated to step out and tell a dragon that he cannot go to Laketown!), to Thorin, to Gandalf.  He grows so much through these movies.  Without him, the Company of Thorin certainly would not have made it to (or into) the mountain.  It’s his quick thinking and smarts that get them out of more bad situations, and he does this while being criticized and told he does not belong and in constant peril of his own life.  What Martin Freeman does with this character is so amazing.  Every time I watch the movies I see new stuff to love.  There is so much depth to Bilbo, and so much I admire.

2. Thorin.  I NEVER thought I’d pick Thorin as a favorite either, but... not to sound like a broken record but The Battle of the Five Armies changed that.  I fell in love with Thorin in this movie.  Rather ironic because he’s now suffering from dragon sickness and is almost at his worst behavior yet (he goes back on his word! Thorin! How could you?), but I think that’s all part of what worked so well.  Hearing Thorin echo Smaug word for word... shivers.  Annnnnd, he defeats it.  He is not his grandfather (just like Aragorn is Isildur’s heir, not Isildur himself) and he pulls himself out of the madness.  Love.  And then he turns just plain awesome.  Going to help Dain fight the orcs, going to fight Azog... My b-i-l objected so strongly to Kili/Fili’s deaths in the movie compared to the book, but I had the opposite reaction.  I needed things to happen this way.  I needed Thorin to continue to redeem himself.  Instead of Kili and Fili dying to defend him (which, honestly, he hadn’t really earned), he dies trying to save them.  When Fili is killed, and Kili storms up to kill orcs, it is Thorin who rushes over to try to save his nephew.  Dude, I am soooooooooooo onboard with Team Thorin when he does that.  This is what I needed to really root for him.  Fili and Kili don’t need to prove their loyalty or nobility, they’ve already done that multiple times throughout.  But Thorin does.  And this movie gave me exactly what I needed to approve of Thorin.  I LOVE his fight with Azog, and I love how he dies. It is one of the best death scenes, and I love how he smiles at Bilbo.  Oh, that death scene is just perfection.

And now, going back and re-watching the first two Hobbit movies, I can see Thorin in a different light.  Now instead of an arrogant jerk, I see a very bitter man who’s been dealt a bad hand and been betrayed left and right.  Watching how he changes towards Bilbo is a highlight.  When Bilbo is trying to convince them to get in the barrels and is hearing nothing but complaints, he looks at Thorin for help, and Thorin backs him immediately.  Thorin would not have done this in the first movie, but he is finally learning how to trust someone again who is not a dwarf.  Each time I watch the first two movies again, I notice new things in the character arcs, and it just fills me with joy.  But I had to get to that third movie for it all to make sense.  Even in the midst of dragon sickness, it is Bilbo with his acorn that can almost break the spell, and at least earn a rare smile from Thorin.  No one else has that affect on him.

Third favorite?  Um... LegolasTaurielKiliThranduilBardFiliDwalinAzogBeornElrond.  In other words, I cannot pick a third, because after the first two clear favorites, I really love all of these characters about the same, and I honestly can’t put one about another. This is one of the only movies I've ever encountered where I love so many characters equally that I cannot rank them.
3. Did you cry during The Battle of the Five Armies, and if so, which scene(s) and what type (sniffling, sobbing, choke-crying)?

Hah.  Of course I did.  Because there are EAGLES.  And whenever the eagles appear, in every single blooming Middle Earth movie, I sob.  Fellowship, Return of the King, An Unexpected Journey, Battle of Five Armies... all have eagles, all make me sob when they appear.  This is not sad sobbing, of course, it is... I have no blooming idea what it is, actually.  The eagles are so beautiful, so awesome, so... I-have-no-words-only-feelings.  They continually provoke an overwhelming, emotional response in me, and all I can do is cry whenever I see them because I have no other way of expressing how much seeing them affects me.  I will even get teary when I hit their music while listening to the score to Battle.

The first time I saw Battle, I sobbed (a good 30 seconds at least) when the eagles showed up, and my eyes welled up when the elves leaping over the dwarves to fight the orcs, and my eyes welled up when Bilbo reacted to Thorin’s death, and that was it.  The second viewing, I got more emotional, and tears spilled out over a few additional moments.  On my fourth viewing, I was just... well, I got teary over the previous scenes and then some.  I got teary when Bard told his son to look at him, in the beginning.  The elves leaping over the dwarves again.  When the dwarves burst out of Erebor led by Thorin and charge the enemy -- that is a moment!, when Thorin and Kili react to Fili’s death, those darned eagles, when Bilbo reacts to Thorin’s death, when Tauriel reacts to Kili’s death, when Thranduil talks to her, when Bilbo tries to say he was Thorin’s friend to Balin and can’t...  Good thing I am never without Kleenex. 

4. Were the deaths compelling to you, and if so, whose?

Yes.  All of them.  Although I admit, Smaug’s death made me laugh on the first viewing.  It is no secret that I adore dragons, just not talking ones.  (I fully blame Dragonheart for this, which soured me forever on talking dragons.)  I’ve gotten used to Smaug in Desolation (as one does with repeat viewings), and fortunately, he doesn’t talk much in this one, but I wanted some full-on dragon roar when he was wounded and flailing about and... I was disappointed.  I have since gotten used to that too, so now I’m fine with it.

Fili, Kili, and Thorin were all compelling to me, particularly Thorin (see above for reasons).  I’m also very saddened by the death of Thranduil’s elk.  And Thranduil walking among the slain elves is very compelling as well.

5. Overall, were you satisfied with the movie itself?

Dear me, yes.  YES!  I loved this movie!  It was my favorite movie of 2014, in a year filled with all kinds of new movies I really loved.  But this movie trumped them all.  It gave me all kinds of characters I wanted to be.  It gave me satisfaction at every turn for everything it set up in the previous movies.  And it has one of the best endings of any movie, ever, where it leads straight into Fellowship and makes me want to start all over again.  Where I had not been particularly fond of An Unexpected Journey when it came out, and I had really liked the second but not loved it, I have now re-watched the two first ones, and NOW everything makes sense, now it all flows together, and I can now honestly say I love all three movies.  (Minus the trolls and the goblin king and the Master of Laketown’s eating... which makes Denethor’s eating scene look positively neat and fussy – but those are tiny complaints.)  There was nothing I’d change about the third movie, except to ask for more!  Also, the extended editions of the first two films are soooooo much better than the theatrical.  What they put into An Unexpected Journey added so much to that movie.  The Desolation additions were not so key to the plot for me (with a couple exceptions, like Bilbo giving his word (why was that cut??), but they were still fun.  More Beorn is never a bad thing.  I can’t wait to see what else we will get in the extended version of Battle.

The third film just really satisfied me so strongly, gave closure in the best way I could have asked for, that I just want to move into the movie and live there for awhile.  The third movie also has the best score, and I’ve been listening to it non-stop since I got it.

6. Describe the movie in one word.


I left the theater happy and charged up and ready to go on my own adventure.  It gave me all the escape I crave from my entertainment, with a whole mess of characters I came out loving.  It doesn't get much better than that.  The Battle of the Five Armies is now my second favorite Middle Earth movie behind The Fellowship of the Ring.

Now to tag 3 other bloggers.  This is kind of rough, as I don't actually know many people who have seen it!  So, if you want to join in, I tag Charity, and Carissa.  If anyone else wants to be tagged, either comment here saying so, and I'll add your name, or you can consider yourself tagged and just do the meme :-)

Friday, January 09, 2015

January goodbyes

Yesterday, I found about the passing of two actors who played formative characters from my youth.

Terry Becker, who played Chief Sharkey on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.  And Rod Taylor.

Voyage was my favorite show growing up, and Sharkey was a big part of that.  He also got most of the quotable dialogue.  "Don't just stand there with your teeth in your mouth, jump!"  "You missed a spot over there."  The show would not have been the same without him.  RIP, Terry Becker.

 (his lucky shirt!)

The Time Machine has been part of my life as long as I can remember.  It was one of my parents' three favorite movies, and we watched it whenever we could.  I've seen it in the theater more than I've seen quite a few newer movies, because, fortunately, revival theaters used to play it a lot.  Usually as a double feature with Forbidden Planet, or This Island Earth, or various other movies.  Rod Taylor played George, the time traveler, and he was one of my first movie heroes and role models.  I wanted to be like George.  Build my own time machine, go off adventuring into the future, fight Morlocks, protect the Eloi.  Choose three books.

I loved Rod Taylor in other movies as well, like The Liquidator, 36 Hours, The Glass Bottom Boat, The Birds.  Even the short-lived television series Masquerade, which my family watched just for him.  But The Time Machine was the first and most loved.  RIP Mr. Taylor.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Happy Birthday, Sherlock Holmes!

Hamlette over at The Edge of the Precipice is having a Sherlock Holmes birthday bash today, with the following questions.  My answers will be more movie related, because I have not read all of the stories. 

The Good Old Index of Questions

1.  When and how did you first encounter Sherlock Holmes?

I first encountered Sherlock Holmes in the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce movies, which my dad still loves to this day.  We watched them a lot when I was young.  My dad gave me the Original Illustrated Sherlock Holmes book back then as well, but I don't believe I read very far.  The only story I remember from the books is "The Adventure of the Speckled Band," which I loved.

2.  Please share a fact or two about yourself related to Holmes.  (You've read the whole canon, you've been to Baker Street, you're an official BSI member, etc.)

I am not actually a fan of Sherlock Holmes, but every close friend I've had has loved him!  It's very interesting.  But a couple of the Basil Rathbone movies scared and scarred me so much that I still get creepy vibes whenever Sherlock Holmes is mentioned. (Pearl of Death and The Scarlet Claw, I'm looking at you two!)

3.  What are three of your favorite Holmes adventures?  

Mine would not be the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories, but various movies:  The Seven-Percent Solution (1976), Without a Clue (1988), Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011).  I am also quite partial to the 1959 Peter Cushing version of The Hound of the Baskervilles.

4.  What draws you to the Sherlock Holmes stories? 

Not much, although I greatly admire Sherlock himself and his intellect.  Mystery stories in general do not appeal to me. 

5.  If you were going to give Sherlock Holmes a birthday present, what would it be?

A new pipe and some Old Toby.

6.  If you could climb into a Holmes story and replace any one character for a day, who would you like to be?

Holmes himself, of course!  I would absolutely love to be able to see the world the way he does.

7.  Please share some of your favorite Holmes-related quotes!

I'm fond of the classic ones...

"You see, but you do not observe."
"When you have eliminated the impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."
"The game is afoot!"