Monday, January 27, 2014

The Incredibles ~ Movie Review

Even though I'm one of those die-hard Disney/Pixar fans, I actually had never watched The Incredibles until last week.

Bob and Helen Parr used to be Supers (Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl, respectively) until they were forced to go in hiding when the government outlawed them. Now they're raising a family, and both they and their children must hide their powers from the world. Bob, nostgalic of the old life, often goes at night with his best friend Frozone to save people while undercover. But when Mr. Incredible gets a call in which he is given a chance to return to the 'old glory days', he can't resist.

Actors/Actresses: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Jason Lee, Spencer Fox, Sarah Vowell
Director: Brad Bird
Released: 2004
Some awards: 2004 Annie Award for Best Animated Feature, two Academy Awards, the first entirely animated film to win the prestigious Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.

I really enjoyed it. From the little bit of a sci-fi feel (come on, tell me that you don't think we could have something like this in the future?) to the super hero action to the great family moments/bonding, it was, all in all, a very good movie. There were, of course, some of those moments that only someone a bit more mature than a child will understand, which enriched the movie.

Alyianna's Rating: 9 out 10

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (guest review)

Here goes for my review on The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug!

The second Hobbit movie was an abomination, I have to say. I could go on and on and on about how it is different from the books. Maybe I'm silly, maybe I'm stupid... but, you know what? I liked it! I loved it! P'raps it's because I saw it on the big screens with my book-faithful dad and fan girly sister. And I guess at the end I was a bit proud because I can bet I was the youngest one there. But I'm off the topic, now, aye?


The Dragon
THE DRAGON! THE Smaug! Smaug is sly and quick-witted. I like that! He is ginormous; one thing portrayed well in this movie. He likes things - shiny things, as you have a slight chance of  knowing. He is quite ready for his supper anytime, and I bet a group of 14 would be a delicacy! But... the party of 14 gets away in the end.

The Elves
The elves were pretty good, I have to say. The forest elves were at least MENTIONED, though done wrong, of course! Thranduil looked awesome, and Legolas did his usual wonders. Tauriel was a nice addition, actually! She's a rather wonderful, archer, like Legolas. But I almost moaned in the theater when Peter Jackson did the whole Arwen-light thing, only with Tauriel instead of Arwen. Oh, and did I forget someone else? : /

The Dwarves
The dwarves did their part to make this movie good to the average crowd. I found Balin to be very kind, as in the books. Fili and Kili were enjoyable, too. And don't forget the other dwarves! Let me see; Bofur, Bombur, (Balin), Dwalin, (Fili, Kili).... Thorin...oh dear! OK, now... Oin, Gloin, Bifur, Dori, Nori, Ori...and the rest I`ve mentioned already. Well, that's the good old dwarves for you! (Oh, and didn't I hate like crazy  how they left Kili behind!!!!)

The Wizards
The wizard... well OF COURSE that would mean Gandalf, wouldn't it? Oh, wait, there's more... Gandalf was great, though most of the scenes he was in were wrong. How could he fight the darkness for even a few minutes? And he ended up in a cage?!? Now, for Radagast. He looked about right to me. And talk about cool when he rides that sleigh!!!! After that, I can't say much more.

The Hobbit
Well, this time there is only one hobbit to tell about - THE hobbit! Bilbo! Bilbo Baggins of Bag End! He was played by the fitting actor, I have to mention. His parts were acted wonderfully, as well. He was quite enjoyable to watch! But as for the story part...I can't say as much. Bilbo is a good character in The Hobbit, with great parts (such as with the trolls.) Bilbo is THE HOBBIT.

A Few Abominations

  • no black river in Mirkwood
  • Bilbo takes off the ring in Smaug's lair
  • the-dwarves-fight-Smaug-thing
  • and a lot more!!!!


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Hunter Hayes (Encore) Deluxe Album Review

I just got the Hunter Hayes' album this morning and I love it. Not only is it country music (which is a big positive factor for me), but Hunter has a good voice and the melodies of his songs and the lyrics are great. To be frank, I think Hunter writes wonderful love songs. :) It's great to have an awesome new country singer when some country singers like Lady Antebellum and even Tim McGraw don't seem to be as great as they used to (sorry, it's just my opinion), and Taylor Swift isn't even country anymore.

My favourite song(s) from the album
My #1 song is I Want Crazy. It's a upbeat, fun, and happy song with great lyrics.

I also love "Wanted", "Rainy Season", "If You Told Me To", "Faith to Fall Back On", "More Than I Should", and "Cry With You". And his duet with Jason Mraz "Everybody's Got Somebody But Me" is super cute (and so is the music video). But really, I love every song on the album.

Alyianna's rating: 9 out 10

Friday, January 10, 2014

Pride & Prejudice Book Review

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

This was the first Jane Austen book I had ever read, and since I have read one other Austen novel, I can say that P&P is the best Austen I have read so far. :) The story is full of humour, wittiness, and is all in all a very good romance. It's nice to read something dealing with the topic of romance that isn't so trashy like almost all romances nowadays.

The characters are believable and all have their own little quirks. For example, Elizabeth Bennet, the heroine of the novel, is described as more sensible than all her other sisters by her father, yet she too has her fault (making her human) - the prejudice in the title is linked to her.

Alyianna's rating: 9 out 10

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Ringing in the New Year 2014 ~ Your Choice?

I posted my review of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug yesterday. To end off this New Year's beginning of collection of posts, I thought I'd ask YOU what you would like to see on my blog. Your input is very much appreciated - and I look forward to any comments or votes on the poll on the sidebar (if you don't see it now, it should be there in about five minutes...if it's still not there, feel free to spam this post in the comment section below).

I look forward to blogging in this year of 2014!

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug ~ A Movie Review by Alyianna Baggins

I finally got around to watching The Desolation of Smaug at the end of December, along with my father and my sister. I was prepared to be disappointed after An Unexpected Journey. However, I did not realize how disappointed I would really be. For the first half of the movie, I had accepted to myself, 'This is really just high-quality fanfiction. That's all. It's not going to be that close to the book" - but by the second half, I was shaking my head in utter disbelief. To say it more simply and in summary, I go with my first thought - this movie is really only fanfiction because it is so different from the book; however, there were some things in DOS that were utterly too bad to ignore.

Let us commence.

Director: Peter Jackson
Some Main Actors: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Luke Evans, Aiden Turner, Evangeline Lilly...

The Outrageous Mistakes

The Whole Necromancer Thing
Gandalf in Dol Guldur
While I didn't mind the White Council in An Unexpected Journey (and, actually, I thought it was a neat idea to add it in), and I was delighted to hear that Benedict Cumberbatch would be voicing not only Smaug, but also the Necromancer, the scene with the Necromancer and Gandalf was just utterly wrong. Gandalf striding into Dol Guldur started off okay, with the memorable "Oh, it's undoubtedly a trap." But Gandalf fighting off the Necromancer? No, no, no. First of all, I very seriously doubt it would be even possible for Gandalf to hold off the Necromancer for that long, even if Gandalf is a Maia and the Necromancer was still gathering his strength. Secondly, it was the White Council that drove the Necromancer back. And then we get to leave Gandalf in prison at the end of the movie.

The Dwarves Vs. Smaug Battles
The dwarves preparing to enter the Lonely Mountain.
Maybe it's me being picky, but I didn't like the whole battling-Smaug-off thing in the Lonely Mountain. Perhaps it works in the mind of Peter Jackson, but for me, if the dwarves had attempted battling Smaug in a real-life setting, they would have been burnt to a crisp very quickly. The scenes seemed very contrived and I don't think the dwarves would have so many plans up their sleeves that fast. And it's insulting Smaug's intelligence by having him walk above and the dwarves just quickly escape on the level below him. Smaug is not a stupid dragon. In fact, he's very, very intelligent.

Trying to Tie in The Hobbit with The Lord of the Rings
I thought it was a good idea to do this to a certain extent, but in all honesty, I think Peter Jackson is trying just a little bit too hard. For me, The Desolation of Smaug focussed more on the events leading up to The Lord of the Rings instead of on the actual story. Very much like The Two Towers, the second movie was very dark (just one of the many parallels Peter Jackson has thrown out so far) - and The Hobbit is not supposed to be least not until the Battle of the Five Armies, as I see it. :) I think all the parallels P.J. is throwing in also show he's trying a little too hard. For example, the scene when Tauriel comes to "save" Kili, she appears in a ray of light, reminding me (and my sister, who picked up on it right away - and she's smart, to say to the least) of the Arwen/Frodo scene in The Fellowship of the Ring.

Other Things That Irked Me...Just Not As Much

Beorn the Very Bad Bear
The dwarves try to lock out their host.

I didn't like the portrayal of Beorn in his bear form. First, we see Beorn as a very mad bear who seems to have a keen hunger for dwarves and hobbit. Then we see him in his bear form protecting the dwarves. What? So as long as you get inside Beorn's house, he'll like you, but until you're safe in it, you're fresh game? I didn't care too much for Beorn in his man form, either. I imagined him to be more muscular, not just simply very tall. I know that he is most likely a vegetarian (excuse my faint knowledge of The Hobbit on this subject...I haven't read it for a while), but still...

No Dwarf Gets Left Behind...Ahhh, Never Mind
So Kili gets badly wounded just so Peter Jackson can stick in some more Kili/Tauriel time (a pairing I actually didn't mind as much as I thought was going to, but it still is definitely not necessary)...and then Kili gets left behind, along with Fili, Oin, and Bofur. What?!?!

'Meh' Points

The pale orc, Azog the Defiler, was the big controversial thing for me in the last movie. However, there were so many bigger problems that I didn't even mind him that much. Or I just got used to him. Maybe that's why I didn't find the Kili/Tauriel romance too bad. Keep in mind, though, that I didn't particularly care for it - I just find it an 'okay, I guess' thing. The same goes with Legolas. Honestly, though, what I'd really like is to get to know the dwarves better. I still can't tell the differences between most of them.

Need to see the rest of the chart? I certainly do! Here it is.

So If Not That, Then What Did I Like?
Ah. A very good question.

"Step into the light..."

Smaug was the #1 thing I was looking forward to in The Desolation of Smaug...and he turned out to be the #1 thing for me in DOS. In fact, besides that little bit where Smaug talked about Sauron and also caused Bilbo to become un-invisible (which was just so wrong), the scene with Smaug and Bilbo was the best scene of the entire movie. It was chock full of book quotes and Smaug was so very Smaug-y. Might I just add that Benedict Cumberbatch was a brilliant casting choice. And just a side comment - I had no idea that Smaug would be THAT big. And every time he breathed fire, my eyes hurt and I had to blink them. Fantastic stuff.

Bard brings the dwarves into his home.
I didn't realize that there would be so many Peter-Jackson-additions of scenes with Bard. Somewhat ironically, I think, however, his scenes were the deviations I did, in fact, like. I loved Bard's little family, and Bard's honourable disposition...and pretty much everything about him. I have to give P.J. a thumb's up for this one because I know it's going to be this backstory that is going to make me rooting for him to kill Smaug even more than the action in itself.

Martin Freeman's Bilbo
As you already should all know from my previous Hobbit review, I think the casting choice of Martin Freeman was as brilliant a decision as Benedict Cumberbatch for Smaug. I honestly can't see anyone else as Bilbo - Martin plays Bilbo so perfectly! I don't think I've ever seen a moment out of character, either - unlike several Middle Earth characters (but would be off-topic to name). And those facial expressions...! - Martin Freeman doesn't even need his voice to be a brilliant actor. Really, Martin makes me just want to live next door to Bilbo and be his bestie. :)

Master of Laketown
He was as greedy as could be, just like he should be. I can't find really anything wrong with this character's portrayal at all.

As usual, the landscapes were downright gorgeous, and everything looked just about perfect. I didn't spot any flukes like I did with An Unexpected Journey, but that could be because I didn't see it in 3D this time. Thumbs up to the artists, costume designers, and all other techie people. Oh, and Howard Shore's BRILLIANT BRILLIANT music. :) :) :)

The dwarves look upon Dale and the Mountain.

It's Just Fanfiction After All
After you get past the outrageous parts, this movie was good fanfiction. The hobbit theme music played at the beginning wasn't the only part that had me smiling with nostalgia (and perhaps a bit idiotically).

In Summary

Peter Jackson should stop trying to stuff everything
with action because this adaptation just overflows
with too much action and not much substance.

With all the parallels and the focus on many fighting scenes, Peter Jackson seems to have forgotten the story of The Hobbit. It's not the fighting. It's not the exciting stuff. It's not even so much the adventures. It's the heart and soul of Tolkien that brings us 'the stories that stayed with us'. That is something that P.J. seemed to forget with all the focusses on tying-in, fighting, and love stories. The Hobbit is not meant so much to be a story of dwarves reclaiming treasure. It is the story of a hobbit, how the smallest person can change the course of the future, and how the little things of this world are the things that matter. There was almost nothing to be found of that in this adaptation.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10 (which is quite low for me)

I'm looking forward for the end of the trilogy (that should have never been a trilogy in my eyes) this December, but I am prepared to be disappointed unless Peter Jackson does something really good to bring everything back together. I sort of doubt it, but it's something to hope for.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Ringing in the New Year 2014 ~ A Guest Post

As a special treat, here is a guest post review from my younger sister. :) I think you'll find it very cute, and it might just lighten up your day. :) :)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Guest Review)

Hello all,

My online name is Lucia Silva and I am here for - guess what! - a review of The Hobbit movie. I will also do more guest posts in the future, so you better get to know me! I am Alyianna's younger sister; 10-years-old. I have  brown eyes.... and here is my review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. ;)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey started out quite well. Frodo was there for the beginning of LOTR while Bilbo was starting narrating his adventures in The Hobbit; I loved how it Peter Jackson connected  it to LOTR in the beginning. After that, however, it began to fail.

3 Un-nice Things:

  • Dwalin eating Bilbo's supper :(
  • Pale orc. NOT. IN. THE. BOOKS!
  • Bilbo's unusual shout "I'm going on an adventure!"

3 Nice Things:

  • As I stated: the connection to LOTR in the beginning
  • Thorin finally admitting to Bilbo "I've never been so wrong"
  • Gandalf throwing the fiery pinecones scene

Favourite Character:
I'd probably have to say Gandalf - no, wait... Thorin! Wait...what about Bilbo? #contridictingpuzzlement

After all, I'd have to say...9/10!

Ringing in the New Year 2014 ~ Character Look-Alikes

This is a post I did a while back that I thought you might enjoy for the 'Ringing in the New Year'. :)

Is it just me or....

....does Grima Wormtongue from LOTR...?

...look a lot like Rumpelstiltskin from Once Upon a Time?

Doesn't Leslie from Bridge to Terabithia...?

...look like Mandie from The Secret Tunnel?

Doesn't Buttercup from The Princess Bride?

....look a bit like Eowyn from LOTR?

Doesn't Cosette from Les Miserables....?

...look like Carrie from the Carrie Diaries?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Ringing in the New Year 2014 ~ Favourite Disney Movies

Welcome to the first two-author post on this blog. I will be doing this post along with my sister, who is known as Lucia Silva in the blogosphere. Here is our list of our top Disney movies, with the ratings in blue being mine, the ratings in pink being Lucia's, and the average being in green.

Brother Bear (101010)
Treasure Planet (9.5109.75)
Up (109.59.75)
Robin Hood (1099.5)
Tangled (9109.5)
Toy Story trilogy (1099.5)
Beauty and the Beast (1089)
Hercules (8.59.59)
Lilo & Stitch (8109)
Mary Poppins (1089)
Monsters Inc (999)
Ratatouille (8109)
The Lion King (999)
Brave (898.5)
Pocohantas (988.5)

Movies That Almost Made the List:

  • Wreck It Ralph (Lucia)
  • {Narnia} The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe & Prince Caspian (Lucia)
  • Sleeping Beauty (Alyianna)

Beautiful collage made by Lucia! <3 To see bigger, click here.

Ringing in the New Year 2014 ~ My To-Do List

Books I Would Like to Read This Year
- The House of Hades by Rick Riordan: I'm really looking forward to reading this one as soon as I can buy it.
- David Copperfield by Charles Dickens: I just started reading this book two days ago.
- Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens: I've always wanted to read this one.
- Persuasion and/or Emma by Jane Austen: These two seem to be the top next Jane Austen books I haven't read yet.
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte: I tried to read this book several years ago, but I couldn't finish it. I'd like to be able to do that.
- Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell: This has been a big one on my mind for a while now.
- at least one other book by or related to Tolkien that I haven't read yet
- To Kill A Mockingbird: I read this one in grade 10 (I believe) and I loved it, so I would like to read it again.
- Lord of the Flies: The name is so close to my favourite LOTR that this book has always intrigued me (yes, I know the story is nothing like Tolkien's classic).
- The Lord of the Rings: I missed my annual reading last year. (Oh, horrors!)
- Sherlock Holmes: Another one I've never gotten around to all these years.
- Father Brown: And another.

Movies I Would Like to Watch This Year
- The Book Thief: Really want to watch this one.
- Saving Mr. Banks: And this one.
- Turbo, Monsters University, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, and Frozen: Might as well, right?
- The Princess Pride: Last time I watched it, I was probably around eight or nine. A crying shame, really.
- Pride and Prejudice: You know, the movie that everyone talks about whenever they talk about a dramatization of Jane Austen's beloved book - but I am prepared to be disappointed after the amazing work BBC did on it.
- Paddington and The Hobbit: There and Back Again
- Indiana Jones and James Bond: I always feel so uncultured for never having watched one of these
- Schindler's List, Forrest Gump, Star Wars, E.T., Singing in the Rain, Saving Private Ryan, Gladiator, Braveheart, The Grapes of Wrath, Jurassic Park, Wuthering Heights, White Christmas: All these well known films that I kick myself for having never watched.

TV Shows I Would Like to Watch This Year
- the rest of Doctor Who until I'm up to date...and I also want to go back and watch the classics
- Downtown Abbey
- Merlin because all these people who love BBC's Doctor Who and Sherlock seem to love it so much

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Ringing in the New Year 2014 ~ Looking Back & Looking Forward

Looking Back at Last Year (2013)

I've heard the iTunes preview for The Band Perry's album "Pioneer", and I hope to purchase it because it sounds really good. The same goes for Tim McGraw's "Two Lanes of Freedom". I have listened to Josh Groban's "All That Echoes" and it was good, but I haven't had a chance to listen to it more closely yet.

In the near future, I hope to get a listen to "The Civil Wars" (self-titled album - their earlier EP was great), Andrea Bocelli's "Passione", and Sarah Brightman's "Dreamchaser".

Lady Antebellum released their album "Golden", which I have mixed feelings about. There are a few songs I like, but, overall, this album was definitely not as good as their last albums have been (excluding their Christmas album from 2012 because that one wasn't that great, either).

I don't usually watch a whole bunch of new movies, but I enjoyed The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug as much as possible with it being almost completely different from the book (review coming soon on this one). Epic was enjoyable, but after watching the trailer which looked really good, the movie was a little bit of a let-down. I really want to watch The Book Thief (loved the book) and Saving Mr. Banks. I also hope to watch Turbo, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, Frozen, and Monster's University (yup, I like kid movies). One of my friends recommended Ender's Game to me, which I may check out - but I probably won't watch The Great Gatsby, as I didn't like the book.

Once Upon a Time - I only watch little snippets here and there, but Season Three looks to be good. However, the bits I have seen have left me somewhat disappointed, as my favourite character was killed off, and I do not approve of two characters being romantically paired.

Doctor Who  - I only just starting Series 6, but I'm looking forward to watching Series 7, although my dad tells me that most of that season was pointless except for a couple of episodes, including the 50th anniversary (which I am dying to watch).

X Factor - Of the two X Factors I actually watched this year, X Factor Australia was not great, but good enough, as it usually is - and X Factor USA completely fell to pieces.

Looking Forward (2014)

I hear that Ed Sheeran and The Fray are going to release albums in February, which I look forward to listening to. I also am looking forward to Christina Perri and Ella Henderson's (she was amazing in the British X Factor and I'm so happy she's going to release an album) albums in March.

And...since Taylor Swift seems to release an album every two years and "Red" came out in October 2012, maybe there will be a new album this year. :) :)

So far, I want to watch the Paddington movie...and I know I'll go see The Hobbit: There and Back Again, but I'm prepared to be disappointed. I'm sure there'll be a few Disney movies that I can check out.

I'm looking forward to the next series of Doctor Who with Peter Capaldi playing the new Doctor.