Category Archives: films

The Desolation of Smaug

I just got home from watching the second part of the Hobbit.  And there are a couple of things I’d like to say about it (and I will talk spoilers, so don’t read on if you don’t want them.)

First of all, I like that Jackson split the book into three parts.  I like that he’s adding in all the extra action from Tolkien’s appendices.  I don’t even mind the entirely new things Jackson has added out of his own head.

But.

But.

I do object to Tauriel.  Why, Jackson, why?  I think it’s ridiculous when people complain that the characters in a book or film are all male.  Not every thing needs to have female characters.  In real life, there have been adventures where the genders are not equally mixed, so why the heck is it such a problem in fiction?  Writers should be able to have whatever characters they want in their own works.  For whatever reason.  I grew up reading the sorts of books that didn’t have a lot of females in them.  It never made me feel in any way inferior.  When I reenacted scenes from my favorite films and books, I just put myself in whichever role I fancied; didn’t matter if it was boy or girl.  So don’t be jamming girl elves in just for the sake of having a girl.

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And if you do put in a girl elf, just make her a cool kickass character, please?  I hated – hated – the whole elf/dwarf/elf love triangle Jackson is brewing.  Really?  I can understand Kili getting a bit star-struck at seeing Tauriel (elves are seductive creatures, and it’s maybe his first time), but would an elven woman really be equally star-struck at seeing a dwarf?  Just because he’s the cute one, and “not as short as other dwarves”?  And a scene later, she’s all swoony over Legolas maybe liking her, and then crushed that Legolas’ dad doesn’t find her worthy of his son, then back to drooling over the not-so-short dwarf again.

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Bah.  I hate love triangles at the best of times, but particularly when they are absurd.

I do want Tauriel’s clothes, though.  So there’s that.

Overall I’m just a little disappointed by this installment of the Hobbit..  Even the first one, though great, couldn’t quite live up to the wondrous splendor of LOTR – and besides the Dreaded Love Triangle, this second part also had too much of a good thing.  By which I mean: too much Smaug.  Those scenes under the mountain went on forever.  I get that Jackson needed something climatic, but golly.  Tolkien’s way was so much better.

Still, though, it was good.  I liked it.  I just wish I could have loved it.

The Hobbit

I really, really like what Peter Jackson is doing with the Hobbit film trilogy.  The Hobbit has always been one of my favorite books in the world (arguably THE favorite.)  I have read it a million times, and will never stop re-reading it.  It makes me happy, just by its simple existence in the world.

Peter Jackson’s film in not the same as the book.  Its child-like whimsey is lessened, in favor of bringing in a more adult understanding of Middle Earth, and this adventure’s ultimate impact on future events.  This is not a bad thing, and Jackson did keep much of the flavor of the book.  But in leaving out some of the simpler and sillier happenings, he added so much more.  It’s as though I grew up being told a bedtime story by a beloved uncle, and now that uncle has sat me down, in the clear cold light of day, and said: Now here’s the things I didn’t tell you before.  Here is why it happened, and exactly how, and the reason I didn’t tell you before is because I wanted you to feel safe and happy and not be concerned with the Things That Are Dark, and the Things That Are Coming.  I wanted you to laugh, and not to cry.

Even when I was a kid reading the Hobbit, it felt like I was being told only half of the story, the safe part.  And I’m delighted that Jackson has decided that we are all adults now, and he can tell us everything.  And almost all every scrap of it came from Tolkien’s own writings.

Tolkien meant to tell us THIS story.  He originally planned to re-write the Hobbit, and make it much less a children’s story, and much more what it is: the first book of The Lord of the Rings saga.  I think Tolkien would be very pleased with what Jackson has done.

So, it case you can’t tell from the above, I went to see the Hobbit yesterday, and I loved it.  I actually teared up at the very beginning, just because it was so very lovely to be back in Middle Earth.   Warning: I will now talk about what happens in the film.  So if you don’t wish to be spoiled, don’t read any further!

As always, I love the look of the Shire, and Bag End.  It is so perfectly done.

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This, right here, is something like what my home in Heaven will look like. I am certain of that.  It pulls to me with every fiber of my being!  I am a hobbit, really.  I love the elves, and the elven clothing, art, and designs, but I would not be happy living as an elf.

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I loved, loved, that they began the Hobbit almost exactly where they began The Fellowship of the Ring – almost to the moment.  Jackson, you are a brilliant man, and it’s obvious you love these books as much as I do.  It’s obvious you are making three films because you love them, and not because you want to make money off the fans.  (Shame on you, Patrick Rothfuss, for saying Jackson ‘crapped on your childhood’ by making this film – even though you haven’t seen it, and thus know nothing of what you rant.  The Hobbit is not “your” exclusive childhood.  It is my childhood, it is Jackson’s childhood, and belongs to everyone who loves it.  If you don’t want to see another artist’s representation, then don’t.  But don’t froth at the beard because he made a movie you don’t want to see.  In this, you suck.)  Sorry, back to the film.

Bilbo was brilliantly cast.  Martin Freeman IS Bilbo.

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One place the film actually outshines the book, is with the personalizing of the dwarves.  I am not a fan of dwarves, generally.  The dwarves in the Hobbit book were my least favorite of any of its characters.  I really didn’t care if they regained their ancestral home from Smaug…I just wanted them to succeed because I loved Bilbo.  And Gandalf.  And everyone else.  And part of that is because dwarves have an image problem.  They are generally (in every work of fiction I’ve read or watched) the dumpy, lumpy, semi-stupid, slapstick characters.  And when there are thirteen of them?  Let’s just say…in my umpteenth readings of the Hobbit, I could only remember two of them distinctly: Thorin Oakenshield, and Bombur.  Thorin I always found a bit unlikeable (too arrogant!) and Bombur…well.  Again with the lumpy, dumpy, slapstick!

But now?  Jackson has fleshed them out for me.  I finally understand them, and who they are, and I like them – as people.  I get why Thorin is so prickly and arrogant-seeming.  I think I finally see them how Tolkien saw them.   And I love that Jackson didn’t shy from the lumpy dumpy slapstick (it’s a genuine part of the book) but also didn’t hesitate to show the other side.  Because they did have one, these dwarves.  They were warriors and rulers of men.

It doesn’t hurt that Thorin and Kili are super-hot, either:

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Can it BE that I actually have a crush on dwarves?  Dwarves???

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But my favorite dwarf is Balin, because his heart-to-heart talks with Thorin nearly broke my heart.  So SWEET.

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And the dwarves SING the SONGS.  This is my ultimate proof that Jackson loves this book like I do.  I think any other director in the world, if he were trying to make a ‘serious’ film out of a children’s book, would have left out (at the very least) the “That’s what Bilbo Baggins Hates” song.   But it worked.  It worked brilliantly.

The costuming was great – when it came to the dwarves’ costumes, and that of Radagast .  The whole concept for Radagast was gorgeously done – well, as gorgeous as a costume involving bird poop can look.  🙂  But huzzah the costumers for that one.  It makes me wish a were a beard-y type man, so I could make and wear that costume.  (Perhaps I will, anyway!)  The hobbits were also spot-on, and one of my only disappointments with Part One, is that the lady hobbit costumes I’ve been drooling over online didn’t make an appearance.  I’m absolutely making one of those!  But the elves were lacking the costume-spark.  They were…fine.  But after the close-up magic of the LOTR elvish-wear?  These weren’t nearly good enough.  The elven sets were gorgeous though, especially the place where Gandalf, Elrond, and Galadriel spoke.

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I couldn’t find an image that really showed it well.  The use of water was beyond breathtaking.

But the best part, THE BEST PART was Riddles in the Dark.  I squee just remembering the awesomesauce-ness of that scene.  Wow.  Gollum was exactly what he should be, half heart-breaking, half terrifying.

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I can’t wait for part two.

Universal Studios

Back in February, as part of my LA trip to Gallifrey One, I also spent most of a day at the Universal Studios theme park.

Here are a few pictures and videos from that day.

I love theme parks, and Universal Studios Hollywood is a fun place to visit (even if they don’t have Big Exciting Rides like the Orlando version.)  They have city streets set up as if you’re in different countries…my favorite was, of course, Little London.

It’s very realistic, even to the phone boxes.

The Bobbies and palace guards sing and dance a bit more, however…

They had look-alikes wandering around, including a fab Lucy:

I went on most of the rides (The Mummy I rode four times, because it was the closest thing to a big roller coaster, and it felt SO GOOD to be on a coaster again!)

But the best part of the park was the back lot tour/tram ride.  I saw the Mystery Machine!

There were a TON of actual working soundstages, but it was all pretty deserted today because it was a holiday weekend.

Then we went through sections of the outside city sets.  Blocks and blocks of ‘blank’ buildings, just waiting to be dressed for a film or tv show.  It was slightly eerie, like we were in the middle of an apocalypse!

Recognize this next one?  Back to the Future was filmed here!

We went past a bunch of famous film vehicles, including one from Serenity and Knight Rider (I so LOVED that show when I was a kid!)

We toured a bunch of sets used for exotic/historical locals:

Then, we went to hang out with Jaws.  (Although this set has been used for a ton of other things as well, including Murder She Wrote.)

We visited the Bates Hotel.  One thing that’s so cool about theme parks is the actors.  I adore the interactive parts.  Can you imagine doing this for a job? All day, every day…just stuffing ladies in trunks and threatening tourists???

Then we went by the site of a horrific plane crash.  Totally brilliant.

We saw a HUGE blue screen/water set.  Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed here.

One of the coolest bits was driving down Wisteria Lane, the Desperate Housewives set.  Just a heads-up – the narration on the video doesn’t match the houses you’re seeing…he was speaking about the houses on the opposite side.  Still, if you’re a DH fan, these houses should be pretty familiar!

We also survived an earthquake in the subway.

THE best part, though, was the 4D King Kong part.  One part ride, one part film, one part dino slobber (I got a squirt right in my EYE) and 100% awesome!  I didn’t try to film during it because I thought it wouldn’t turn out, but here’s a film someone else took.

For dinner, I had triple berry crepes at Universal CityWalk.

It was a very enjoyable day, and I wish I’d had time to do everything at least one more time!

Gallifrey One 2012

I just got home from my first ever (it won’t be the last!) trip to Gallifrey One.  It was a completely fabulous trip!  I flew into LAX on a Thurs morning – a very early Thurs morning.  I had to get up at 1:20am in order to catch my shuttle!

Once at the hotel, I met up with Wench Posse friends Glynnis, Suzette, and Nell.  I hadn’t met any of them before, so it was great to finally meet face to face – and they are just as fun and amazing in person as they are online.  They made excellent room-mates!

After settling into the hotel, we took a bus to the Santa Monica pier.  It was lovely to see the beach and the sunshine!

Above is the view from the Santa Monica pier’s Ferris Wheel.  We also rode a carousel.  Nell claimed the rabbit.

Santa Monica is the end of the Route 66.  After filming the fake version in Revelation video I did the costumes for, it was kind of cool to be at the real thing!

Friday, we skipped the morning/afternoon events at Gallifrey and went to LA’s fashion district instead.  We are all costumers, after all!  Unbelievable.  Simply unbelievable amounts of fabric and trim!  Good thing I saved room in my luggage, because I filled one of my suitcases mostly with stuff I bought.

Fabric…fabric…everywhere!  I’m thinking next time I go, I’m spending a lot more time here.  To get to the district, we had the hotel call us a cab…but our ‘cab’ turned out to be a limo!  Hurrah for awesome concierges!

Besides the district, we visited the FIDM museum, and saw an exhibit of the costumes from Oscar-nominated films.  My favorite dress was from The War Horse:

In the photograph it doesn’t look like much, but it has the most lovely embroidery around the neck.  I completely adored it.  Also on exhibit was pieces of famous movie costumes – Fred Astaire’s tap shoes was one especially cool item.  There was a small room of extant historical gowns as well.  They have one of Queen Victoria’s mourning dresses, and wow.  I knew she was short, but I was not at all prepared for how short!  Teeny-tiny!

Saturday was the first day to spend all day at Gallifrey.  I wore my Idris costume, Nell and Glynnis wore their Clockwork Droid costumes, and Suzette (who didn’t bring costumes this year) was our minion, offering everything from corset-lacing, to bag-holding, to foot massages!  Minions are excellent things to have.  🙂

There were many, many excellent costumes there.  Torchwood:

Lots of Elevens, large and small:

Lifesize Daleks wandering the halls and interacting with people:

Novice Hame:

Cybermen:

Vampires from Venice:

Girl in the Fireplace costumes:

A giant adipose:

A weeping angel:

The panels I went to were fabulous.  Mainly, I went to anything with the actors I liked in them, so there were lots of Mark Sheppard ones!  😉 Daphne Ashbrook (Eight’s companion performed “I Don’t Need No Doctor” with backups by Eight (Paul McGann) and the film’s director!

One thing that was very cool about these celebrity panels, was how much they were enjoyed by the celebrities themselves.  All of them had grown up fans of Doctor Who, and most had been dying for a chance to act on the show.    When the call finally came, they didn’t even care what the part was!  The genuine love they all have for Doctor Who just shone out from them, and that was truly amazing.  It wasn’t just actors doing their jobs, it was us and them, united equally as fans.  I’ve never experienced that before, and it was awesome.

My favorite guest was, of course, Mark Sheppard, because I have loved every single role of his I’ve seen.  His dad, W. Morgan Sheppard is also wonderful, and the interaction between the two of them was heartwarming and quite funny at times.  They obviously have a terrific relationship.

I had my picture taken with Mark Sheppard and Camille Coduri (Jackie Tyler).

Sunday, I wore my steampunk Tenth Doctor costume, Nell wore her female Fifth Doctor, and Glynnis wore her Vampires of Venice outfit.

Nell and I had our picture taken together at the actual Eighth Doctor TARDIS console.

The console is very cool:

Check out my ribbons!  By the end of the con, I had 25, far more than I’ve ever managed to collect at any other con…which is a testament to how truly welcoming and friendly Gallifrey is.  My favorite ribbon is the one (collected while I was wearing Idris) that says “Bitey Mad Lady”.  🙂

One of my very favorite costume I saw there was this Flesh outfit.  She was spot-on perfect – the makeup was film quality!

The other favorite was the Cassandra team.  There were two ‘moisturizers’, and when one of them saw me in the crowd of photo-takers, he called me over to get a pic with them – he especially wanted me to help moisturize!  That was fun.

Amber Benson (Tara on Buffy) was there signing copies of her new book, so I got one and chatted with her for a bit.  She’s super nice, funny, and very down to earth.  And gorgeous!  So very gorgeous, even when she’s just in normal clothes and makeup!

Altogether, it was the best con I’ve ever been to, and I really, really want to go back.  Next year is the big 50th anniversary, and they are promising MAJOR guests from recent years of the show.  Dare I hope for Tennant?  I’d be happy with Alex Kingston!

For more info on my costumes, and making-of photos, see my costuming blog:

http://www.freewebs.com/dragonflydesignsbyalisa/homefaq.htm

The Wench Posse: too much RAWK for one hand!

Next blog: after Gallifrey was over, I spent a day at Universal Studios.

A Must-See Film

Couldn’t love this trailer more.  Why is it all the films I really want to see lately are foreign?  Hopefully they’ll have a US release date soon…

YouTube Videos

To tide you over until I return from FaerieWorlds in Eugene, OR with lots of pics, vids, and stories to tell, here’s two of the coolest youtube videos to cross my path this week.

Why do we watch period films?  I don’t know about you, but I do it for the dresses and the dancing.  So really, all I need to watch is this video:

About halfway in, there’s even footage of David Tennant in 1700’s menswear (so cute!) and yes, he’s dancing!

And since Lost is starting its final season next week, here’s a great parady video of all the questions we need answers for.  Lost.  Best show ever that you won’t understand.  Personally, I’d watch just for the smoke monster and Sawyer.  And Ben.  This last season I’d watch just for Ben.

There is no plan B…

Is it wrong that when this trailer started I squealed like a rabid fangirl, then proceeded to recite all the opening lines from memory?  Yes, I love it that they used the lines from the opening of the original tv show – and also that I remembered them after all these years.

I am, of course, speaking of The A-Team, possibly the most beloved show of my pre-teen years.  Even after I supposedly “grew up” (the verdict is still out on that one), I still retained a fond schoolgirl crush on Face, Murdock, B.A, and Hannibal.  I never could decide who I loved more, and I still can’t.  My ringtone used to be the A-Team theme.

Judging only from the trailer, it looks like they’re making the attempt to get this film re-make right.  I am ex-cit-ed!!!!!!