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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Mean old Oscars!

Well.

Since the stupid Oscars are on ABC instead of the incredible Once Upon a Time tonight, I am here to write a blog post.

I just heard crowds of people burst into exuberant cheers.

Ahem.

Anyway, I thought I'd hold my own version of the Oscars since all the real nominees are stupid.

Okay, first, I'll just go ahead and say I've only seen one of the nine nominees and I did not like it...at all!  And all the others just look lame.  Besides, since neither the Avengers or the Hobbit is on the list, it instantly makes it stupid.  Heck, The Hunger Games isn't even on there!  They could have at least had the Hunger Games.

Okay, rabbit trail aside, here is what I believe to be the best film of 2012.


The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Betcha never saw THAT coming did you?

Worst Film of 2012


Snow White and the Huntsman

It was a tough choice for me.  It was either going to be Snow White and the Huntsman or Les Miserables, but since I don't feel like being stoned/drowned/shot/burned/buried alive or otherwise obliterated in some other manner by die-hard fans, I decided to go with Snow White.

Besides, I'll admit my distaste for Les Mis is probably more personal opinion than it being a terrible movie.  I've never liked musicals.  I could guess what they were going to say next because I would recognize the rhyme scheme.  The movie seemed to want to make sure the audience had it ABSOLUTELY clear that "heart" and "apart" actually *gasp* rhyme!  I've never liked romance. The little respect I had for the film was lost when Cosette and Marius started going all tacky romance with the "we saw each other out of the corner of our eye on a crowded street now we want to get married" junk.

Oh wait.  I'm supposed to be griping about Snow White, not Les Mis.

Wait wait!  Before you start hurling pies and anvils at me, I'll make it up to all you fans!

The acting was fantastic.  I can absolutely see Hugh Jackman being nominated for best actor.  (Though I don't understand why Richard Armitage did not get nominated.  He is by far the best actor I have ever watched on any screen EVER!  Yes.  I'd say he's even better than Elijah Wood and Viggo Mortensen.  Heresy, I know.)

And Anne Hathaway also did a good job, though I don't get how she could get best supporting actress with that, what?  Ten minute roll?   I was very surprised to learn that Russell Crowe could sing.

The costumes and scenery were fantastic.  The make up made people look grody, which was cool.

Maybe I'll do a longer post further explaining my feelings for Les Mis. But for now...

Snow White.  Writing so horrible terrible it made me cringe before the characters even opened their mouths.  ZERO characterization.  Horrid acting on the part of the illustrious Kristen Stewart.  Is it just me, or can she seriously only do one expression?  You know, the blank stare of nothingness expression?  The one I do whenever I feel...asleep?  Yeah, that one.  Pathetic, cliche, no surprise story line.  Absolutely no theme.  Stupid fantasy world.

Seriously.  What were Chris Hemsworth and Sam Claflin wasting their time with that movie for???

There.  You Les Mis fans satisfied   Good.

Oh, by the way, I'm also playing a game right now.  It's called, "how many times can I use the word stupid in a single blog post."  It's pretty fun.  And stupid.  I feel like being as bad a writer as the Snow White writer right now.  No judging!

Now!  Let's move off the negative and onto some positive, shall we?

Best Actor



Absolutely, totally, no question whatsoever, goes to Richard Armitage.

Call me biased, but his performance of Thorin Oakenshield blew me away!  You could almost feel how deep his emotions and tensions were.

As soon as it comes out, I'm totally buying it simply to watch it and stare at Richard Armitage's eyes.  1.  Because the incredible amount of feeling they portray is indescribable.  2.  I'm a teenage girl.  Even though you might not notice because of how intelligent, awesome, and incredibly genius I am, I do indeed go fangirl over certain things in life.  Richard Armitage is one of those things.  Cookies are another.  And ice cream.

But hey, if I were to nominate some other actors...I would do...

Tom Hiddleston

Josh Brolin

Josh Hutcherson

Aand yeah, Hugh Jackman.

Best Actress



Jennifer Lawrence.  Absolutely no question there.  I hope she wins it tonight, even if it isn't for the Hunger Games.

Her portrayal of Katniss was simply...wow.  It was spot-on, perfect.  I found it incredible how she managed to make Katniss so powerful and yet, so weak and helpless at the same time.  It was a joy to watch, and she deserves an award.

Nominees?  Okay...

Kelly MacDonald

Cate Blanchett

Emma Thompson

Anne Hathaway

Scarlett Johannson

Hmm...now what should I do?

Oh oh!  I know!  I'll make a list of movies I'm looking forward to seeing this year.

They are (loosely) in order of what I am most excited for...

***************************************

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Iron Man 3

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The Lone Ranger

The Great Gatsby

Monsters University

Despicable Me 2

Oz: The Great and Powerful

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

Thor: The Dark Worlds

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

Man of Steel

**********************************************

So there you have it!  My humble opinions on all this stupid stuff!  Pretty stupid, don't you think???

Official stupid Tally:  7

Hmm...felt like more when I was writing it.  Oh well.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Music and Writing

I know a lot of people like to listen to music while they are writing.  I like listening to soundtracks like Lord of the Rings.  I don't typically listen to music with actual lyrics while I'm writing.

However, I do find myself drawn to certain songs while I am in the midst of writing the novel.  For instance, while writing "Hail Frost," I found this song to be my favorite.


Currently, I am editing "Ember Flame" and this is now my favorite song!  It's totally creepy because this song had not even come out when I wrote "Ember Flame" originally!  o_O

Gotta love Owl City!

It's interesting comparing the two songs though.  Both of them are, more or less, about finding out who you are.  I think discovering the person inside of you is one of the principal themes of the entire Leverage series.  But listen to the tune also.  "Embers", while perhaps a little melancholy  is bouncy and lively, while "My Own Worst Enemy" is harsh and desperate.  This reflects the feel of the two novels also.  I don't know.  Maybe I'm just being geeky about my own novels.  :P

So what about y'all?  And you found songs that remind you of your book?  Do you like writing to music?


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Men in Black

Some of you might be judging me right now.  So I'm just going to get this out of the way.

I LOVE THESE MOVIES!!!

There.  I said it.

I know they have foul language.  I know some of the jokes are crass or inappropriate.  I know aliens probably aren't real.

But that doesn't take away that these are fantastic movies.

That aside, let's go into some details, shall we?  (I am only reviewing the first MIB here.  II and III coming later...)

Characters

One of the reasons these movies are so cool is because they only focus basically only on two characters, K and J.  I'll start with my personal favorite, J.



Will Smith plays Agent J to absolute perfection.  One minute he's the cocky police officer, the next a secret agent that battles extra-terrestrials, and he still has the same personality and quirks.  I love how J grows throughout the first movie.  The first time we see J, he is chasing down a bad dude as a NYC police officer.  He catches him and finds out this "guy" is an alien right before he commits suicide.  J tries to explain to the older police officers, but they scoff at him.  J shows disrespect and rudeness to those older than him many times throughout the movie.  However, by the end of the movie, J has a high respect, admiration, and friendship towards K, his older mentor.



Tommy Lee Jones is INCREDIBLE as Agent K.  K is the perfect mentor because he is not perfect.  He's surly, sometimes a little demeaning, and has an addiction to neuralyzing people.  However, he is also very discerning, and notes qualities in J others might not see.  He takes a chance on him, and trains J to be one of the Men in Black.  K is the perfect balance of crustiness and care, of demeaning and discernment.



Vincent D'Onofrio was awesome as the "Bug", or the Edgar Suit.  The "Bug" is a giant, cock-roach like alien that takes over the body, after killing and eating, of Edgar, a farmer.  He's a hilariously unique villain, with hilariously unique lines.  It's sad that Vincent has had problems.  I would have loved to see him do more movies.

Plot

MIB plots are cool because they seem extremely simple at first, but then they grow larger and larger until the movie barely manages to have time to explain the entire story.  Even then, it takes a few watches to catch everything.  Some people might not like this, but I find it enjoyable, since there are so many laughs you are bound to forget some of them.

They don't have much in the way of villain, really.  (MIB3 excepted...*shudder*)  They have an alien that they have to stop from doing something bad, but along the way they always meet a bunch of wacky characters that all feel real, and are all hilarious.  The villain grows more evil towards the end though, so you truly do hate him.

Cons

Ugly language.  Some crude jokes.  Some inappropriate jokes.  There is one conversation between J and Laurel, the morgue lady. that is rather awkward.

Quotes  (I couldn't help it... XD)

J (to K) "Okay, I'm in.  But I don't want nobody calling me "junior" or "sport."
K: "Okay, slick."

K (walking J over to two squid-like aliens typing on computers) "Meet the twins, Bweryang and Bob."

Zed: "We're not hosting an intergalactic kegger here."

Edgar/Bug (to Laurel) "You're coming with me!"
Laurel: "What?!"
Edgar/Bug "It's a long trip.  I'll need a snack."

K: "At any given point in time, there are over 1500 aliens on planet Earth, most of them right here in Manhattan.  Most of them are decent enough, just trying to make a living."
J: "Cab drivers?"
K: "Not as many as you'd think."

There's a lot more funnier quotes, but you have to watch the movie to catch those.

Overall Impression



Have I not made it clear?  Awesome.  Epic.  Hilarious.  Gotta love Will Smith.  The main con is the ugly language.  But it was so much fun watching this movie with my parents and my brother!  And seriously, how do you NOT like this???



(side note:  I never put violence in cons unless it was absolutely unneeded and the movie only had it for shock value.  I admit, an adventure movie without violence is sort of like Gone With the Wind with no Rhett. Completely and utterly boring and semi-pointless.  So that will never be in cons unless it is there for NO reason for it, or if is over the top graphic.)

Hint:  Cowboys.  Arizona.  Shootouts.  Southern not-so-gentleman. AND based on a true story?  Where can you possibly go wrong?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Brave: Movie Review

Just a head's up, this month will probably be filled with movie reviews!  I'm doing Brave today, but expect some more soon.  There might even be a little hint at the bottom.  :P



Brave: Summary

Merida is the young princess of Dunbroch, a clan in the Scottish Highlands.  She lives with her father, King Fergus, who she loves deeply, and her three triplet brothers, who she describes as "wee devils, more like."

And there's also her mother.  Queen Elinor.

Through a flashback, we see that Elinor and Merida used to be close, but as Merida crept into her teens she and her mom moved apart.  Elinor strives to help Merida go far in life by teaching and training her to be a princess.  Elinor teaches her music, sewing, oration, how to walk, how to eat, how to dress, how to laugh, and how to be perfect.

Merida is having none of it.

She only wants to ride her horse, explore the land around her, and practice her archery.  She tolerates her mom's teachings until Elinor pulls the last straw.  Elinor insists on Merida choosing a suitor and getting married.

After several failed attempts to defy her mother, Merida finally runs away.  She meets a witch, who Merida asks for a spell to change her mother.  "If I can change my mother, that will change my fate," she reasons.

Four spellbound grizzlies, one cursed monster, and a near four clan war later, Merida realizes she might have made a mistake in wanting to change her mother.

Story

My second thought after watching this movie was "What a great story!"  And it is.  I'll start with the characters.  (I'll get to my first thought later.)


Merida is absolutely brilliant.  For those who don't know, she's going to be added to the Disney princess franchise and quite frankly, I'm ecstatic.  It's about time they paid homage to stubborn curly-haired archer girls with Scottish backgrounds who have zero interest in dating. ;)  Anyway, it's also nice to see a very aggressive Disney princess who drives the plot and movie forward.  Her fiery spirit and bold, reckless determination to change things is the driving point of the plot.  If they changed Merida to be the tiniest bit passive, the story would have fallen.



Elinor is pretty good too.  I'm glad Pixar decided to end the string of Disney Princess mommy issues with a movie about...mommy issues.  (Think about it, almost every time there is a mom she's the villain.  Most of the time, the mom's are just gone!)  Elinor is very controlling, but you get the feeling that she's trying to care for Merida in the best way she knows how.  However, I will say some of her actions seemed unrealistic.  She seemed way to intense in one scene, and then way too depressed in another.  Overall, she was a good, complex character.  Perhaps more complex than even Merida.  I'm just a bit biased as to favorite character.  ;)



King Fergus is Merida's well-meaning, though rather clueless, father.  (Aren't all the Disney Princess dad's well-meaning but clueless?)  Looking back, "clueless" is too strong a word.  He's not clueless at all.  He knows exactly how Merida feels.  I think a better word for him would be "torn."  He's not sure whether to side with Elinor or with Merida in this.  He tries to bring the two together and do whatever he can to help without harming the other.  In a strange way, he reminded me of Stoic from DreamWorks' "How to Train Your Dragon".  More on that later too.

Those are the three main characters.  Now for the overall story.

A lot of people were upset with this, but I loved it.  I thought it was a very cool idea to add some of the old Scottish superstitions and druidic influences.  I said influences mind you.  If the story had been caked in dark magic and such, I would not have liked it.  But it was just a touch, which gave the story something of a rugged and ancient charm.



I don't want to give too much of the story away, but the final battle was beyond brilliant.

Animation/Acting

The animation.  Oh.  My.  Goodness.  This might be Pixar's finest job yet!



Just look at her hair.  Look at it!  That's even more impressive than Rapunzel from Tangled!



The beautiful Scottish highlands are captured in every way by the animation.  I love the shots of the beautiful mountains, gorgeous valleys, and ancient forests.  It makes you want to visit Scotland.

I've got nothing in particular to say about the acting.  Kelly MacDonald did a great job voicing Merida.  Love the accent.  All the other actors did great also.

Cons

Sadly, every movie has it's cons.  Brave has more than I had expected it to have.

My first thought after finishing the movie was, "That didn't feel like a Pixar movie...."  And it didn't.  It felt more like a conglomeration of 'How to Train Your Dragon' and 'Tangled.'  I mentioned earlier that Fergus reminds me of Stoic.  It's not because they act alike.  It's because they look a LOT alike, and they have nearly the same accent and some of the same mannerisms.  (They both go around and beat things up a lot.)

Compare their pictures and see what I mean.
Stoic

King Fergus

Elinor, on the other hand, looks a LOT like Rapunzel's real mom from 'Tangled.'

Rapunzel's Mom

Queen Elinor

It's not just in looks that this movie is like those two.  That's not necessarily a con.  The main con I could find is the humor.  There is way more toilet humor than you would expect from a Pixar movie.  Bare behinds and jokes about nakedness mostly. Also, the triplets are brats and get away with just about anything.  However, the movie uses that as a foil for Merida who never gets away with anything, so I can't complain.

Other

A lot of people did not like the addition of the witch.  I don't exactly understand this.  After all, there is a witch in Snow White and The Little Mermaid too.  Of course, the witch in Brave is not the villain.  However, trying to change someone for selfish reasons, which is what Merida does through the witch, is shown to be bad.  The witch herself seems to warn against buying a spell from her.  I didn't have an issue with it, but I get it if other people do have issues with it.

I love the absolute completeness the plot has too.  I love how the "legend" Elinor tells Merida of is woven seamlessly into the story, portraying the bear Mor'du as a foil and scary foreshadowing of Merida.  I love how their names are similar, they each had four siblings, they each rebelled and wanted to change.  Mor'du is a dark reminder to Merida (and to the viewer) what happens when you forsake your family.  You, quite literally, become a monster.

Overall Impression

I was a tad disappointment after watching it.  People have come to expect a lot from Pixar.  Brave isn't quite at the same level as say, Toy Story, Monsters Inc., or Cars.  It still is a good, sweet story though.  When you go to watch it though, I suggest thinking of it as a DreamWorks or a Disney movie instead of Pixar.  I prefer both 'How to Train your Dragon' and 'Tangled' over Brave simply because Brave was made by Pixar and did not quite live up to their standards.

Despite that, it is most certainly a must-see.  It's a good, hearty tale with some clean laughs and fiery spirit.

You might find yourself paying more attention to your family after watching it.

Or you might just get this epic song stuck in your head.  Either one.


(Hint for next movie:  These men battle aliens and save the universe on a daily basis, yet nobody knows their names.  And they wear black.)