Sunday, December 22, 2013

Tag! You Know You're a Writer When...

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I have been tagged by Bluebell with the "You Know You're a Writer When..." tag.  
For this tag I must link back to the person who tagged me, state four to six tell-tale signs of being a writer (without knowingly copying anyone else), and proceed to tag as many more bloggers as I see fit.  

Here we go!

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You Know You're a Writer When...

1.  You can accurately type... even without a key board.  You'll be sitting at a restaurant waiting for your order to arrive, busily typing away on your imaginary computer.

2.  You go to bed each night with the hope that a) your dreams will provide you with inspiration for new stories, or b) your dreams will inspire you for the stories you're already writing

3.  You look for random people in crowds who look like people from your book

4.  You watch movies and think of the ways that you would transcribe it in a book.  Maybe you even try to think of how you would have written in better.

5.  You can spontaneously spout dramatically improvised passages of meaningless prose, much to the amusement or bewilderment of your friends and family

6.  Your characters are so real to you that people will occasionally catch you... conversing with them.  Whether your whispering in front of your mirror, or acting entire scenes out in your bedroom, it's always a little difficult to explain.  ;)

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I now tag...

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-Rayne Speryll

(Disclaimer:  I do not own the image used in this post.  All credit goes to its original owner.)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Review: The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug

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 In this second installment of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit,  Bilbo and the dwarves find themselves in a race against both time, and the orcs that hunt them.  However, the orcs may not be their greatest enemy.  An even greater threat is rising in Mirkwood, turning even the hearts of the Elves against all outsiders.  As Durin's Day draws ever nearer, it is up to Bilbo to help Thorin and his company get to the Lonely Mountain in time.  But even as they reach it, they know that the greatest threat is yet to come.

Alright, as suggested in the very title of my blog, I am a huge, HUGE fan of Lord of the Rings.  Period.  I've read the books more times than I can count, and even now I'm reading The Silmarillion  again.  So seeing these movies is like a dream come true for me.  I don't scream or squeal very often at all, but this movie, I believe, deserves a 'squee' or to.  So... *takes deep breath*  Here I go...


Right!  Now that I've got that over with, let me get started with the review.

In The Hobbit:  the Desolation of Smaug, we are once again treated to fantasically beautiful scenery, heart-racing battle sequences, nasty orcs (and spiders!), and wonderful characters.
for the most part, Peter Jackson has stayed true to the book, only taking the occasional detour for cinema's sake.  These are mostly minor differences, with the greatest being the addition of the character Tauriel, a female elf and the captain of King Thranduil's guard.
I know that many fans (including myself) were nervous about this new character, dreading any cheesy romance there might be between her and Legolas, the prince of Mirkwood.  Peter Jackson assured us that there would be no such thing, so we relaxed.  A little.  
Well, as it turns out, there were some romantic undertones between the two of them, but I myself didn't mind.  Tauriel was an enjoyable character, and was by no means your typical Mary Sue.  I've always thought that The Hobbit could use a feminine voice, and Tauriel provided a good one.  
  *SPOILER*  There was also, surprisingly, a bit of hinted romantic feelings between Tauriel and our young dwarf Kili.  I had heard rumors of this before I saw the movie, so it didn't take me completely off guard.  I thought it was pretty well done. *END SPOILER*
I really enjoyed Gandalf's subplot.  I'm glad that they decided to explore this storyline, which was merely alluded to in the Appendices of the Lord of the Rings.  It adds much to the story.  XD
Thranduil the Elvenking was an interesting character.  He is portrayed as being almost villainous, which is unusual for elves.  At least, it is if you haven't read The Silmarillion.  However, in a certain scene, during which Thranduil is speaking with Thorin, it is revealed that he has known pain and suffering just as much as the dwarves have, and this is part of his reason for not wishing to help them.  
Another factor, however, is his greed.  As a fellow blogger, Hannah, pointed out in her own review, Thranduil is much like King Thingol, a character from The Silmarillion.  Anyway, I look forward to seeing more of this character in the future.
Legolas was awesome, as usual.  In the days before he knew Gimli, he is prideful and naive, but it is no wonder having been raised by a man like his father.  He also had some excellent action sequences involving hand-to-hand combat.  I was impressed.  
Thorin and the dwarves were great as well.  I love seeing them work together in their own little ways.  Balin is so nice to Bilbo, and such a good mentor for Thorin.  Fili and Kili are brothers all the way.  And Bombur... oh Bombur.  He's always good for a laugh.
I was very happy with the portrayal of Bard the Bowman.  I always liked his character in the book, and I was happy to see it fleshed out in the movie.  His children were very sweet.  
Smaug was just as I imagined him.  That intelligent, malicious, gold-enamored worm that has brought such destruction to the world was perfect in this adaption.  I've seen other, not nearly so satisfactory renditions of him, but this one makes up for them all.  Benedict Cumberbatch's voice had the perfect resonant quality needed in a dragon.  :) 
But I have to say that my favorite character of all was Bilbo.  Such a clever, bumbling hero is easy to identify with for an introverted, stay-at-home person like me.  I've always had a fascination with quests and such, but I'm not sure I would have done half so well as Bilbo has done.

The Cons:  Well, if I must sight them, here we go....
Fantasy violence.  Orcs, Elves, and Dwarves are at each other's throats throughout most of the movie.  Heads are cut off, arrows find their mark, necks are broken, and the like.  Blood is shown spattering several times.  The spiders are very frightening, and extremely disgusting.  Watching them as an arachnophobe was... *shivers*.  My thirteen-year-old sister nearly hyperventilated, but then she's an even worse arachnophobe than I am.  My eleven-year-old brother, however, seemed to be fine.  :)  It really depends on who you are.
No swearing!  That's what I love about Lord of the Rings movies.  :D

Since my eleven-year-old brother watched it without a problem, I'll recommend it for anyone that age and up.  Because we're pretty sheltered in our family, and we aren't allowed to watch incredibly scary or violent movies.  But this all depends on your family's standards, so watch with caution.  

Five stars isn't enough for this one, at least not for me, so I give this movie... TEN stars!! 

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-Rayne Speryll

(P.S.  Here's some more images I just couldn't resist including.  All credit goes to the owners, not me!)

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Review: Star Trek: Into Darkness

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After forging their friendship in the first film, Captain James Kirk and First Officer Spock are back once more, risking their lives, saving planets, and rescuing innocent people from imminent destruction.  However, a danger is coming that will threaten not only their lives, but the lives of millions of other people as well- both friend and foe.  When lone terrorist John Harrison wages a one-man-war on the Federation, it is up to Kirk and his crew to hunt him down and bring him to justice.  But who is the real villain?  Is it indeed Harrison, or has he merely been used by traitors throughout the Federation?  Just who is Harrison, and what dark secrets does he hide?  Kirk and Spock must uncover the truth and stop the madness before it is too late.

I am of the general opinion that sequels are never as good as their predecessors.  But in a few cases I have (gladly) been proved wrong.  One case was Sherlock Holmes:  Game of Shadows.  Star Trek: Into Darkness is another example. It was amazing!
Once again, we 'Trekkies' are treated to many nods and references to the Original Series, as well as new twists on our classic characters.  The action sequences were great, though no sword fights this time.  And the story.... well, the story!  It was fantastic.
I know that a lot of people claim that the ending was completely plagiarized from Star Trek II:  The Wrath of Khan, but personally, I commend the writers for combining that ending with their own story.  It was pure writer's brilliance!
The actors were wonderful.  All of them were perfect for their parts once again.  Benedict Cumberbatch as John Harrison/Khan was incredible.  He was my favorite character in this one.  I thought that he added a really interesting dimension to this infamous Star Trek antagonist.

The cons:
There is some swearing issues, just as in the last one, though I don't remember it being too bad.  There was also quite a bit of violence.  Exploding buildings, laser-guns firing, etc.  But there was also some very savage fist-fights. Bloodied mouths and noses, repeated punches... at one point, a woman's leg is broken by an opponent, though it is not shown directly on screen.  At another point, one man kills another by hand in... a really gruesome way (also not shown on screen).
And then there were some skimpily clad women as well.  In one scene, which I thought was completely unnecessary, a character is seen in only her underthings.

Those things aside, the movie was excellent for an older audience.  Good for those fourteen and up.
I give it five stars.  :)

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(Hey!  I just realized... when I said 'The Cons:'  I could have said 'The KHANS!!!'  Get it?  Cons- Khans...?
Sorry.  Bad pun.  ;)