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Velox's Blog



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Last Forever

Posted by Velox , in Reviews Apr 01 2014 · 171 views

BZP! Been a while; I've missed you. Been a busy month, but just had to pop in after last night's HIMYM episode. Hope everyone's doing well.
 
This entry is about How I Met Your Mother’s series finale, “Last Forever.” Yes, spoilers follow (hence spoiler tag =P).
 
Spoiler

 
What about you guys: thoughts? Please remember to use spoiler tags if discussing any specifics. 


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So, Pacific Rim

Posted by Velox , in Reviews Jan 18 2014 · 188 views
Pacific Rim, Film Review
It’s the movie everyone’s talking about. Or was, at least, closer to when it was released...which was a long time ago now. But still, it was a very widely-discussed film, procuring lots of hype and attention.
 
And of course me, not going to the theater very often, only just saw it recently. And then a little more recently after buying the DVD (and by "recently" I mean nearly a month ago...and about two months since the first viewing).
 
So, about Pacific Rim. Spoilers to follow!
 
I’ve heard this movie be called so amazing because of the great character depth and its intelligence.
 
Well, both were lacking, sadly, in my opinion.
 
Honest Trailers’ version of it is actually basically my opinion, but to expand on it:
 
Not bad. Though to be honest, it didn’t really live up to the hype. Maybe it’s because of the hype that made it not live up to it, who knows.
 
But it was awesome—yes, yes it was. But let’s get into the non-awesome things first:
 
A lot of movies have a lot of plot holes. A lot of them can be ignored while you’re watching the film because of the film itself. Olympus Has Fallen, for example, has a lot of plot holes, yet the film was still very intense, and they were able to be ignored during the film. Same could be said with other films, like TDKR, etc.
 
But this is not one of those. There were a lot of times in the movie when I was like “oh, this is definitely a ‘10’!” Then a few minutes later I’d be “wow, this is like a 4 at best.” And back and forth. That’s never really happened before—I’ve noticed various things wrong with movies while I watch them, yes, but none disrupted the movie as much as they did here. (Addendum: after watching the film a second time, the flaws were still obvious, but they didn’t disrupt the movie nearly as much.)
 
The prologue was mostly unneeded. And too long. It really almost felt like a “previously, on X TV show” except running half the length of the TV episode. And a lot of it could be done throughout the film in a better way. And along with that…only tens of thousands of people died? Not to sound harsh but… that’s incredibly lucky if it really destroyed so much of large cities.
 
Next, there was not enough about the loss of the pilot with Marshal Pentecost (I don’t even remember his name…but the son). Now Pentecost giving his life wasn’t that bad—it’s a cliché, and they didn’t do anything new with it, but it’s understandable he would have done that vs., say, going out the way Walter White did and becoming a drug lord).
 
But then you have the son to think about. He’s just dead. It wasn’t so bad they had the “I’m dying so I’ll sacrifice my life” cliché, but the bad part was that it wasn’t fulfilling at all (plus, again, the other guy that died). Pentecost sacrifices himself, but forces the young man to sacrifice with him, and there was never any time to care about him. He was mean until he immediately became a nice guy before he died.
 
Which brings me to the next completely unneeded cliché: The bully character. We already have the Kaiju—we really don’t need a bully character, especially one that suddenly becomes a good guy at the end and sacrifices himself (and especially one who just...wasn't a good bully--he was just annoying, and not in a good way). It just provided a lot of unneeded and awkward tension.
 
Next: who thought of building a wall? That just sounds like a stupid idea. Waste of time and money. And people were completely not upset enough when the first one was destroyed so quickly. Yeah, some builders were shouting, but that’s not enough.
 
Lastly, I wasn’t a huge fan of the main character, Raleigh. I wish Mako had been, especially since she’s really the only female character (I don’t think the female Russian is even named, but even if so, she’s only there in passing. Kinda sad).
 
There’s a lot of other various nitpicky things, but those are the main things that bugged me. Actually, one more: the walking in the ocean thing always bugged me. Because at one point one of them rises from under the ocean, but then when he’s out of the water, when he’s “standing”, the water is to his knees/waist. So how are they walking in water, without touching the sea floor?
 
But one thing cannot be ignored: Pacific Rim is just so awesomely cool. It was. It was freaking giant robots fighting giant monsters, for crying out loud. But it was also disappointing. Best or deepest movie ever? Haha, right. But it was decent. More than decent, really, as it was really enjoyable.
 
Great things about Pacific Rim:
  • Mako characterization. Man, this was awesome. She really should have been the main character, because her backstory was so much better (and actually terrifying/moving)
  • Idris Elba. Basically everything about him—having him in the film was perhaps the best decision made. His speech was great, and his presence on the film was great.
  • Bo Staff fighting. That scene was awesome.
  • Using a ship as a baseball bat. One of the greatest scenes of the film.
And of course:
  • Giant robots punching giant monsters. Seriously, that’s just awesome.
 
So no, this isn’t the greatest movie of all time, unfortunately—at least not in my opinion. But it was still pretty great, and incredibly enjoyable, and I’d watch it again in a heartbeat. I don’t buy many new DVDs, but this one I did because despite all the problems I had with it, and how bad I thought it was at times…I really, really want to watch more. Like I said, it’s really enjoyable. It’s robots fighting monsters. I just wish it had more, since there were so many opportunities to make it an amazing film, rather than just a really fun to watch one.


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Top Ten Books I Read in 2013

Posted by Velox , in Literature, Other, Reviews, Top Ten Tuesday Jan 11 2014 · 110 views
books, reading, top ten, 2013
This year is definitely the best year book-wise for me. I don’t rate many novels five stars on Goodreads—I try to save that rating for only books that are the best of the best, and as such, I end up rating most books only 4 stars, even if they may be more of 9/10 or 9.5/10, instead of 5. But this year, every single book on this list was a 5-star book, more than I’ve ever had before. But I can still rank them fairly easily (much more easily than the top ten film list), so here it goes.
 

Top Ten Books I Read in 2013

 
  • The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien. I’m ashamed and saddened that I hadn’t read this until this past summer. Though, I’m not entirely sure that’s accurate. I definitely started reading Fellowship a couple times, and I feel like I may have gotten farther than that once, but I simply can’t remember. I do know that I was read the trilogy as a young kid, but I don’t count that as reading either (nor do I remember it). So either way, since I don’t remember how much I read, I consider this my first read. And it was amazing—definitely a book I’ll be reading many times. The last two pages of “A Siege of Gondor” are honestly my two favorite pages I have ever read—so beautifully and chillingly written. Not that I expected any different from Tolkien, but still. I loved this book, and it’s definitely my favorite book I read this year.
  • The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. I really wish I could say this was my favorite book this year, because this book was so amazing to read, but then I read LotR over the summer. =P This book is so fascinating, though. If I had to describe it in one word, I’d probably say “magical”—because that’s really what it is. This book, more than any I have ever read, really takes me away from the real world to become immersed in the world she creates with the circus. This novel isn’t fast-paced by any means. It does have a lot of descriptions, but the descriptions are such a joy to read that, to me, it didn’t matter. I wouldn’t compare the writing style to Tolkien, but they are similar in that they both have a lot of description, and do so incredibly well (though differently). This book, more than most, made me want to ignore so many things in order to just stay absorbed in the world of the circus. Highly recommended.
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman. I read this book in a single day. It’s not long, so that’s not surprising, but still—I don’t think I even took a break, because of how engrossing this story was. To put it simply, this book is amazing. Gaiman has shown his brilliance time and again (and unfortunately I have not read nearly as much of him as I need to), but this book was particularly striking. From living in books (something I can definitely relate to), to nostalgia and reflection, all wrapped around an underlying fantasy setting, Gaiman portrays the hardship of life, remembering, relationships, discovery, vulnerability, and more in a truly wonderful short novel. Definitely recommended.
  • The Prestige, by Christopher Priest. After seeing the amazing film by Christopher Nolan, I knew I had to read the book. Sure, Nolan is my favorite director, but still—this film was simply amazing. And after reading The Night Circus, which also has magicians, I really knew I had to read this book, and began frantically looking for it at used bookstores. It’s definitely a lot different from the film, but that’s one of the things I loved—both were amazing, and neither spoiled the other, either. I honestly can’t decide which I like better, but the book was great, and one of my favorite books this year.
  • A Storm of Swords, by George R.R. Martin. This whole series is fantastic, and each book is 5-star worthy. But this book in particular stands out, and for anyone who read it can probably relate. There were several different times where I practically ran to the computer to talk to GSR and/or Tolkien to talk to them over Skype about things that I had just read (in fact at one point Tolkien was just like “I’ll see you in 10 minutes” aaaand yeah. Intense stuff). There’s some content I don’t like, but overall Martin does an incredible job, and I cannot wait to read A Dance with Dragons.
  • The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster. Children’s books really can be the best sometimes. Harry Potter, Narnia, this, A Monster Calls, Holes, etc. There were so many clever phrases throughout, and a fun adventure with enjoyable characters. I may have read this a long time ago, too, but if so I don’t remember it, unfortunately. At least I finally read it this year, and it was fantastic.
  • Holes, by Louis Sachar. Yet another book I’m surprised I hadn’t read until this year (I must be one of the only people who didn’t read it in middle school, as my brother and sister did), but a very enjoyable one. I couldn't put it down, starting it one night and finishing it the next morning. Every character was round and unique, a hard thing to accomplish when you're dealing with so many, and the plot was fun and exciting. Overall, it was simply a very enjoyable, easy-to-read, and fun book. Highly recommended in case there's anyone else out there that hasn't read it. I'll definitely have to look into more of Sachar's work. Not a bad film, either.
  • S., by J.J. Abrams & Doug Dorst. This is quite possibly the most fun I’ve had reading a book. Reading the conversation between the two young people (like a play), reading each of the inserts, feeling like a part of the discovery—it really was just simply fun. Unfortunately, though, the book itself (“The Ship of Theseus”) was not as good as I had hoped. Not that it was bad, but it wasn’t completely amazing, either. Perhaps I built it up too much, but in the end, I was left feeling slightly disappointed. That said, it was still a 5-star book for me, because of how fun it was to read, even if the novel itself may not have been 5-stars alone.
  • The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini. This was heartbreaking. Perhaps the best words for it would be from the New York Times Book Review: Powerful & haunting. Because it was definitely both of those. The Kite Runner made the reader care—left an impression in the reader. Haunted the reader with the reality depicted within. Horrible, heart-wrenching things happened, but they happened to characters you cared about. Characters you cared about did despicable things—but they realized they had done wrong. The Kite Runner opens your eyes to the world, the harshness of life, yet the beauty that remains even through that harshness. The good that still exists through the bad. The Kite Runner is a beautiful but haunting book. Not for the faint of heart, but an amazing book, worth reading, I think, at least once.
  • A Study in Scarlet, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The first Sherlock Holmes novel I’ve read (I’ve read a lot of the short stories before), and it didn’t disappoint. I’m still planning to make my way through every single SH story, as I have a leather-bound Complete Sherlock Holmes Collection, so I’m going to read them all in order, too. I had hoped to read the first set of short stories by now, but haven’t yet. Still, though, I look forward to doing so, as I loved this (and The Sign of Four so much).
 
Runner-Up: American Gods, by Neil Gaiman. Perhaps I liked this better than one of the last couple books (hard to decide…), but I already had a Gaiman book on here so I’ll just leave this as the runner-up. Still, it was really an amazing book, and even though I liked Ocean a lot more, I still loved this one, and would definitely read it again. I really look forward to reading more of Gaiman’s work.
 
 

Books I’m looking forward most to reading next year:

 
  • More Than This, by Patrick Ness (currently reading, actually—I started it and read over half of it yesterday).
  • A Dance with Dragons, by George R.R. Martin. Been waiting for when I have some free time to read this—I’m hoping that’s this week.
  • 11 Doctors, 11 Stories, by various authors (including Patrick Ness, Neil Gaiman, and Eoin Colfer). It’s Doctor Who and all these awesome authors. I’m hoping it lives up to all the hype I’m giving it.
  • Skin Game, by Jim Butcher. One of my favorite authors, and Harry Dresden is one of my all-time favorite characters.
  • Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card. My sister keeps saying how I have to read it, but more than that I just really want to, because of how much praise it’s gotten (and it sounds interesting). Plus, I need to read more great Sci-Fi. I’m also excited to read Hart’s Hope, because I love stand-alone fantasy books and I’ve heard this one is amazing.
  • The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. Just ordered this from Amazon, so I’ll probably be reading it soon.
  • Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon, by Matt Fraction. Thanks to the recommendation of Chocolate Frogs, I recently bought this from Amazon, too. I also hope to get Sandman, Vol. 1 soon, but I decided to get Hawkeye first because I really want to read a superhero graphic novel.
  • Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn. I’m really excited to finally read some of her work, and I promised myself I’d read her first two before I read Gone Girl, which is the book I’m particularly excited to read, especially because David Fincher is directing the film based off of it.
  • The Gods of Guilt, by Michael Connelly. I love Connelly’s work, and I haven’t read a thriller in a while. Plus, my hardback copy is signed, and somehow that makes me more excited to read the book.
  • The Cuckoo’s Calling, by J.K. Rowling. I’m really excited to finally read this, as I love Rowling’s writing. And while I wasn’t a huge fan of The Casual Vacancy, I still really enjoyed the writing style, and I’m looking forward to seeing how she does with a mystery novel. Speaking of mystery novels, I’m also really looking forward to reading The Second Death, by Caleb Peiffer; and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Conan Doyle (the first set of short stories).
 


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Top Ten Films I Saw in 2013

Posted by Velox , in Reviews, Other Jan 08 2014 · 125 views

So, this list includes both 2013 releases and films that I saw for the first time in 2013, since I don’t think I’ve even seen 10 2013 films. Still, I saw a lot of new films that came out earlier, and I was really impressed with the films I did see that came out this year, so I decided to make just one list.
 

Top Ten Films I Saw for the First Time in 2013
 

  • Saving Mr. Banks, by John Lee Hancock. I’m really surprised this is #1 on my list, but I saw this right as 2013 closed and was very pleasantly surprised. It’s really one of the greater movies I’ve seen, and both hilarious and heartbreaking.
  • Following, by Christopher Nolan. Never saw this film until this year, unfortunately, but it really is an amazing movie. Especially considering the incredibly low budget. Will be talking more about why I loved it when I rank Nolan’s films soon.
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, by Peter Jackson. I had some issues with this movie—more than An Unexpected Journey—but at the same time, the movie as a whole was fantastic, and I enjoyed it more than AUJ. I’ve had a review half-written for a while, so I’ll hopefully post that soon.
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey—Extended Edition, by Peter Jackson. So I’m a sucker for Middle-Earth. But I did really enjoy this film.
  • Star Trek Into Darkness, by J.J. Abrams. I really enjoyed this, particularly Benedict Cumberbatch.
  • Serenity, by Joss Whedon. I love this film, and it’s a great end to a great series that really shouldn’t’ve ended. If I were to rate the series as a whole, including this as a “final episode”, if you will, it’d be higher, but as a film on its own it was still pretty amazing. In fact, if I were to rate it completely separately from the series, it might be between 8-10 on this list, but because of the series and the characters that I had grown to love, it's hard for me to rate this film objectively and alone from the series. I do have to wonder how much less I would have enjoyed it if I had not seen the series first.
  • The Raven, by James McTeigue. This hasn’t gotten very high ratings, but I personally really, really enjoyed it. It’s a little hard for me to rank, so I’m just gonna leave it here before I change my mind again and put it under Catching Fire or Man of Steel (though it definitely wouldn’t be lower than Pacific Rim).
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, by Francis Lawrence. Quite impressed with this—makes me look forward to Mockingjay: Part 1. Not quite sure I agree with their decision to split it into two movies, though, but with the quality that Catching Fire gave, I’m hopeful.
  • Man of Steel, by Zack Snyder. So there’s definitely some issues with this film, but overall I really enjoyed it, and I’m not entirely sure it should be this low but eh. I am concerned about Batman vs. Superman, and I hope it can be better than MoS.
  • Pacific Rim, by Guillermo del Toro. Not a bad film, though not as good as I expected either. Still, it was definitely visually stunning, and giant robots fighting giant monsters? Count me in. I’ve had a half-written review of this done for a while now, too, so I’ll hopefully post that soon too. I may be forgetting some pre-2013 film I saw for the first time this year that was better than this, but I did enjoy this and it came out this year so eh.
Runner-Up: Olympus has Fallen. The only film that came out this year that’s not on this list, but it was close—this isn’t an amazing film by any means, but it gave me exactly what I expected and wanted from a film like this.
 
Worst film I saw this year: Transformers: Dark of the Moon
 
Films I haven’t seen that came out this year, but want to and would definitely have competed for a spot on this list: Iron Man 3, Thor 2, The Wolverine, The Great Gatsby, Frozen, Lone Survivor, Gravity, Ender’s Game, Escape Plan, The Book Thief…Yeah, I haven’t seen as many 2013 films as I would’ve liked, unfortunately (though then again, the only films I saw in theaters this year were Saving Mr. Banks, The Hobbit, Catching Fire, and Man of Steel, so I’ll see the rest of these eventually). I wonder how different this list would be if I just ranked the top ten 2013 films, including those. Anyway:
 

Top films I’m looking forward to next year (inspired by iBrow’s blog entry):

  • Interstellar, by Christopher Nolan. Nolan’s my favorite director, and as usual for his work, this film sounds amazing.
  • Captain America: Winter Soldier, by Anthony & Joe Russo. Captain America is probably my favorite superhero (tied with Batman), so I’m really looking forward to this.
  • The Hobbit: There and Back Again, by Peter Jackson. Cannot wait to see the end of the trilogy.
  • Gone Girl, by David Fincher. Fincher is one of my favorite directors, and while I haven’t read the book yet (hopefully will soon), it sounds really good.
  • Mockingjay: Part 1, by Francis Lawrence. Catching Fire left me with high hopes.
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past, by Bryan Singer.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, by James Gunn.
  • The Amazing Spiderman 2, by Marc Webb. Wasn’t a huge fan of the first one, but the trailer for this one looks good.
  • Noah, by Darren Aronofsky. Looks like it may be really good, and it has some great actors in it (Watson, Crowe, Hopkins…).
  • Godzilla, by Gareth Edwards. Looks promising.
Next up: Books.


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2013: In Review

Posted by Velox , in Life Jan 07 2014 · 109 views
2013, Life, New Year, Christmas

2013 in Review

 
So, I’m late on this, but I was out of town on/around New Year’s. Pretty great year overall. Read some great books, saw some great films, started watching some great TV shows, watched the 50th anniversary of Dr. Who, wrote a fair amount, met some awesome people, strengthened important friendships…in the end I’d say the good outweighs the bad overall. The first half of the year wasn’t all that great (one reason of which is because I struggled with my faith for a bit), but in the second half (like, August and later) I’ve had some of the greatest months yet.
 
One of the biggest highlights for me was participating in (and finally completing/winning!) NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), in which I wrote over 50k words during November.
 
I didn’t do nearly as much writing as I had hoped before this, and so being able to complete NaNo was definitely a great surprise. It’s truly some of the most fun I’ve ever had, and in addition, I have most of a novel finished. December turned out to be a crazy month for me (hence not updating this blog), but I hope mid-January (and later), once things slow down, I can finish the first draft and start working on some other projects I’ve been meaning to.
 
Anyway, I’ve already ranted about NaNo a lot before, but it was really a great experience, and I’m hoping that it helps my writing (or frequency thereof) in 2014.
 
I’ll be making a Top Ten list of books and films I read/saw in 2013 that were new to me, so I won’t rant about those here either. Instead, I’ll just end with what I got for Christmas:
  • Some new clothes; most importantly, an awesome peacoat. I just really wish I could wear it more often, since it’s been around 80 for the past few weeks in southern California. -.- (though luckily it cools down at night, so I can wear it then at least)
  • A really cool laptop messenger bag
  • A “chocolate passport”. It’s a little box from Trader Joe’s that includes 8 bars of natural dark chocolate, each from a different country. They were all delicious
  • New earbuds
  • We saw Saving Mr. Banks as a family
  • Man of Steel and Pacific Rim DVDs (2-disk special editions for each)
  • Letters from Father Christmas, by J.R.R. Tolkien (from a friend). Even more proof (as if there wasn’t enough) of how completely awesome and amazing Tolkien was.
  • Invisible Ink, by Brian McDonald (from a friend). 
  • A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Classics, by Charles Dickens. I had no idea he had written so many short novels/short stories/co-written short stories about Christmas
  • The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov (B&N Leatherbound Collectible Edition; from my sister)
  • Money. After which I went to a used bookstore and promptly used like a fourth of it. =P
Here’s to a new year! I hope everyone had a great Christmas/New Year’s! 


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Merry Christmas!

Posted by Velox , in BZPower, Other Dec 25 2013 · 104 views

Oops, guess I kinda forgot about posting here, plus I had finals and stuff...
 
Well anyway, just got home from Midnight Mass, and considering it's nearly 5AM, I just wanted to quickly wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. ^^ 
 
Hope everyone has an amazing day! :xmas: Christmas is most likely my favorite holiday--I just love this time of year!


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NaNoWriMo: Completed!

Posted by Velox , in Personal Writings, Other Nov 23 2013 · 105 views
Writing, NaNoWriMo, Doctor Who

~ :: Posted Image :: ~

 

So I finished NaNoWriMo today. I got a little behind earlier this week, but then yesterday I wrote 5k, catching up and then some. And today, somehow, I managed to crank out over 9k (cue "it's over 9000!"), ending with 50,075 words a couple hours ago.
 
I'm still in a little bit of disbelief that I wrote that much today, and the fact that I finished NaNo at all. Last year I only got 22k, and this year I finished seven days before the end, so I'm definitely super excited about that. The story itself isn't quite finished, but almost. It's got about 72k words total now, and will probably be another 10k or so, which hopefully I can finish quickly--maybe even during November, continuing the spirit of NaNo.
 
Anyway, now it's time to watch Day of the Doctor! I've been ignoring it all day in lieu of writing. Somehow I've managed to stay away from spoilers so far.


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RIP

Posted by Velox , in Life Nov 19 2013 · 190 views
death, dog, Buddy, sadness
So last night we had to put our family dog to sleep. =/ He's been kinda sick for a while, but in the past week or two he got exponentially worse. If ever was the idiom "skin and bones" appropriate, it would be for him, from a combination of problems--particularly in the past week. He started eating more than he ever had, but still kept losing a lot of weight. Yesterday he was unable to keep anything down at all, so that was when we decided it was time. 
 
The weirdest thing is that I honestly have no memory of a time when he wasn't here (we've had him since I was ~8), and now to have him just gone... Such a familiarity and feeling of normalcy is now simply gone. 
 
At least it's good to know he didn't ever have to suffer much. It was really only the last day when he seemed like he was in any pain, even though we knew for a while that it was getting near the end (slower, thinner, less energetic, etc. but never really seemingly in pain). I also just feel really bad for my sister, because she's in Chicago and wasn't able to say goodbye in person or anything, and he was kinda her dog more than anyone's until she left for college/PhD. 
 
Anyway, yeah, just kinda a sucky day. Will take a while to get used to/accept. =/ 


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Platonish

Posted by Velox , in Reviews, Other Nov 14 2013 · 189 views
HIMYM, characterization, sit-coms

“Platonish”

And Why It Was Such a Great Episode

(some spoilers to follow) 

 
“Platonish,” season nine, episode nine of How I Met Your Mother, is my favorite episode in HIMYM’s recent history. Without a doubt it’s my favorite episode so far this season (and apparently I’m not alone in thinking that, either, as it’s the highest rated episode so far this season on IMDb), and it’s one of my favorites from the past couple seasons.
 
There’s been a few disappointing episodes the last couple seasons of HIMYM. Not that they were horrible by any means, but they weren’t—in my opinion—quite up to the quality that so many episodes have been in the past (and I definitely am not as disappointed with recent seasons as I know some people are—I’ve always enjoyed every single episode, even if occasionally not as much as others).
 
That changed last Monday. “Platonish” is really the epitome of why HIMYM is the great show that it is. It brought me back to past HIMYM episodes and seasons, and the reason why HIMYM is so amazing.
 
It brought many laughs, and it also brought me close to tears. Which is the thing I have always loved about HIMYM—it’s not always just about the comedy, but it’s about the story—their story. The comedy isn’t the most important part, it’s the characters. Which leads me to the next thing that was so great about this episode: the characterization.
 
HIMYM does such a great job of characterization—especially in past episodes/seasons—and I was so relieved and overjoyed to see that again in this episode (not that it was completely absent in recent episodes, but I felt at times it wasn’t as good as it’s been in the past). For the first time, we really get a great look into the character of The Mother. We know some of her awesome interests, we know how she gets along with Ted, we know some of the things she likes and hobbies she has…but we’ve never really known her—not until now. This episode shows us what an amazing person she is.
 
She does an amazing thing for Barney, and you can just see the level of her care for other human beings—he’s a complete stranger, and she could just go “get away from me, creep” or something to that effect (which would be totally justified, especially since she heard him call her a “target”), but she doesn’t. She decided to help him.
 
Which really just speaks volumes about her character. It’s easy to push people away who you think are weird or acting wrongly. It’s easy to just ignore someone and later talk behind their back about how troubling their actions may be or something like that. And that’s exactly what she could have done. She could have gone home to her boyfriend, tell him how she met someone that troubled her today (or even not mention him at all), and just go on with her life.
 
But she doesn’t. She doesn’t judge him or condemn him—she helps him. She sees that he’s having troubles, that he’s hurting, and she tells him what he desperately needed to hear, and you can see where he is now, in a large way due to her.
 
This is really where HIMYM differs from other sit-coms. It’s not just about crude jokes and bringing in laughs from the audience. It’s about the characters and their stories. And, on top of that, it’s (overall) a lighthearted show (it is, after all, a comedy), which makes it just simply fun to watch like a comedy should be. But it’s so much more than that, too.
 
And if that wasn’t enough this episode, we got Hammond Druthers back again. It’s no secret that Brian Cranston is an amazing actor—if you’ve seen just a single episode of Breaking Bad you know this—and he definitely doesn’t disappoint here. His character is always a great addition to the story, and in this episode particularly.
 
Now, at the end, Ted’s character is still basically where we left off, but I didn’t have an issue with that—it was mostly one big flashback, and this time it was mostly about Barney and The Mother, and it gave us so much of them.
 
Overall, I thought this episode was amazing. It wasn’t perfect—not at all—but it had some great moments, and it had, essentially, everything that makes HIMYM such a great show: funny moments, heartbreaking moments, serious moments, amazing characterization, and great guest stars. 


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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Extended Edition

Posted by Velox , in Reviews, Other Nov 11 2013 · 287 views

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Gallery of images here.

 
So Friday evening the extended edition of An Unexpected Journey came. That night I skipped NaNoWriMo and watched the film. Saturday and Sunday I watched the Appendices, and Sunday night I re-watched the film again. (Also quick note: this is the DVD version, so number of disks may differ between this and Blu-Ray/3D/etc.)
 
Man, I love this movie (original review here--my opinion hasn't changed all that much, though overall I think I actually like the film better than I did when I first saw it). Unfortunately I haven't seen it in about a year, because I didn't want to purchase the DVD until the extended edition came out. But it was definitely worth the wait! 
 
The extended/new scenes are great bonuses, just as they were in LOTR (I actually hadn't seen the theatrical versions of LOTR until after I had seen the extended editions about a billion times, and I always felt like so much was missing). It's perfectly understandable why these were not included in the theatrical version, but I'm so glad they were put in for the extended editions.
 
Of course, similar to the movie, if one is expecting the book of The Hobbit exactly, you'll be disappointed. But what I love about Peter Jackson's Hobbit is that he explores many details of Tolkien's world and tries to bridge the gap between The Hobbit and LOTR. Is it necessary? Not at all, or else Tolkien would have done it that way. But I do think it's incredibly fun and interesting to see things fleshed out more. I know the story of the book well, so it's just great to be able to see Jackson's adaptation, including the addition of things created by Tolkien and things Jackson and his team created--again, it is, after all, an adaptation, and in my mind, a great one. 
 
A brief breakdown of the extended scenes:
  • More of Erebor. You get to see a little more of Erebor and its wealth, as well as more tension between the Dwarves and the Elves--an offering of gems is made to King Thranduil, but taken away once he tries to take it. 
  • Slightly more of Smaug. Not much at all, and I didn't even notice this edition until I read it on another site, but you do see an extremely quick flash of his silhouetted body. Which, on that note, this is one thing that I never minded when seeing the movie--a lot of people wanted to see more of Smaug, but I actually liked this choice better. I definitely wanted to see more of Smaug because of how excited I was to see him, but in this scene, the unseen Smaug works better, in my opinion. But to each his own.
  • More of Hobbiton. This was one of my favorite additions--we get to see quite a bit more of Hobbiton (which is now permanently built into the hills in New Zealand--I definitely need to visit that before I die). We see a party much like Bilbo's birthday party in Fellowship but this time Bilbo is a child, and at one point hits Gandalf with a wooden sword, which is completely adorable. Later, you see Biblo walking through the marketplace in Hobbiton as he's shopping and trying to avoid Gandalf. I love Hobbiton, and having these scenes was great.
  • Probably more of the Dwarves in Bilbo's house. I couldn't tell you what they were, but the scene did feel slightly longer--perhaps just my imagination. 
  • A lot more of Rivendell. All very short scenes, but there's quite a few of them. There's more of the Dwarves eating, including one of my now-favorite scenes where Bofur stands up on the table (quite rudely) and starts singing a pub song (which is actually a song from The Fellowship of the Ring that Frodo sings, who says he learned it from Bilbo. I believe it's Jackson who explains in the Appendices that it's up to the viewer to decide if Bilbo learned it after Bofur sung it, or if Bilbo had taught it to Bofur before--I like both ideas, really). I just love songs like this, and hope to see more in the next two movies. You also see more of Bilbo exploring Rivendell (including looking at the image of Sauron fighting Isuldur behind the shards of Narsil that you see in Fellowship). You also hear Elrond and Gandalf discuss the quest, and the White Council scene is extended as well.
  • The Goblin King. This is quite possibly my favorite new scene, because the Great Goblin sings a song based on the text in the book. It really adds a bit to his (and the goblins as a whole) character, and on top of that it's just a really fun song. It's out of tune and very goblin-y and torture-filled, but I still loved it. "Down in the Deep of Goblin Town." There's various other small bits added to the goblin scenes, too. 
  • There may have been a little more of the pale orc, but I can't remember anything specifically. Probably a few other small scenes I missed. 
I'm really only disappointed with two things:
 
1. That the "Riddles in the Dark" were not extended. There's more in the book, and I completely understand only having the ones they did in the theatrical version, but I just wish more had been added in the extended edition. This was my single favorite scene of the whole movie (I mean seriously, Andy Serkis just did such a supurbly amazing and fantastic job--Martin Freeman, too), and I would love to have seen a longer version. Ah, well; and
 
2. I wish that the "Misty Mountains" song was extended. The song in the book is much longer, and I just absolutely love the melody in the movie. I wish they could have made it longer. 
 
 
One thing that I thought was a little funny was how the extended edition is kind of similar to the Fellowship extended editions. Both mark their half-way points (Disk 2) in Rivendell, both have the cast running from goblins in the second half of the film, both start with Hobbiton. . . . Not a bad thing at all, IMO, but yeah. 
 
Overall, I love the extended scenes in An Unexpected Journey, and I still love the movie as a whole. I still couldn't help to feel that some of the time the digital effects were a little much. I'm not sure exactly how to explain it, but LOTR just felt so real to me, and in The Hobbit, some things seem more obviously digital. Maybe it's just nostalgia or something, but yeah. 
 
The movie also seems to have a constant struggle between being a kid's movie and not. The movie is by far much darker than the book, which I didn't mind, but there's also moments that it seems so close to the feel of the book that it feels much more kid-ish. LOTR seemed to have a much more consistent tone throughout the movie. It had light-hearted (Hobbiton, for example) and comedic moments, yet those scenes didn't seem to change the overall tone at all as it sometimes did in The Hobbit
 
I also would have loved to have more focus on the dwarves individually. Viewing the Appendices, you can see just how much detail and depth they went into creating individual personalities for every dwarf, but I didn't feel like enough of that went into the film. Yeah, they're still more fleshed out than they were in the book overall, but just knowing how much work they put in to making each dwarf a singular character, it made me want even more for them to be more individualized. However, considering the sheer numbers, I do have to commend them for the job that they did, because that's an extremely hard thing to do. Doesn't mean I don't wish they could've been fleshed out slightly more, though, especially in the extended edition (which they were, but I wanted even more =P). 
 
I still wish the dwarves could've had their colored hoods and instruments, I still wish the troll scene could have been a little closer to the book (though I do like some of the changes they made), I still wish the stone giants were just in the distance (though this doesn't bother me too much at all), I still wish the tree scene at the end would've been different . . . but overall I do love the film, especially the extended edition. 
 
I have yet to watch the film commentaries, but I suspect I will soon enough--the Appendices, as I've said, were really great to watch, though.
 
Part 7 (which is actually two disks, instead of the usual one--parts 1-6 were covered in LOTR) is titled "A Long-Expected Journey" and covers a lot of pre-production; includes a great introduction where Jackson explains how the film came to be and how he came to be director once again; the actors' boot camp and various other training; the shooting of the film and the various sets; pick-up shooting; and more. 
 
Part 8, "Return to Middle-Earth" further details the development, design, and production of The Hobbit, and explores in-depth the background of the main characters and the casting for said characters. There's a section on creating the dwarves as a whole, and how Jackson wanted to do for the dwarves what Tolkien did for the elves, and really go in-depth to their past and history and life. It also shows the concepts, creation, and design of the various sets (both physical and digital), and lastly, there's a look at the songs of The Hobbit. 
 
The first disk of the movie also has "New Zealand: Home of Middle-Earth" which is a cool look into the various places in NZ that were used for the film. 
 
I always loved watching the Appendices to LOTR, and The Hobbit was no different. I would definitely recommend this five-disk set--the extended edition of the film is amazing, and all the special features/appendices are just really great and interesting, too.
 
And now, back to NaNo. . . .
 
~ Velox






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Name || Andrew
Birthdate || July 8, 1994 (age 19)
Gender || Male
Location || Los Angeles, California
Occupation || College Student
Hobbies || Writing, reading, ranting
Religion || Roman Catholic

Political Views || Conservative (generally Republican)

Favorite...
Standalone Book || A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness; The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak; The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern
Authors || Vince Flynn, J.R.R. Tolkien, George R.R. Martin, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allen Poe, Jim Butcher, Neil Gaiman, Erin Morgenstern, and more

Musical || Les Miserables
Action Trilogy || 
Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy.
Fantasy Trilogy || Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings
Sci-Fi/Fantasy Films || The Avengers, Serenity, Inception
Drama Films || A Few Good Men, Warrior
Animated Films || Ratatouille, Madagascar
War Films || Black Hawk Down, Saving Private Ryan
Comedy Film || The Princess Bride
Classic TV Shows || Sherlock Holmes, with Jeremy Brett; Columbo, with Peter Falk; and The Rockford Files, with James Garner

Ended TV Shows || Firefly, Breaking Bad, Leverage
Current TV Shows ~ Sherlock, Castle, HIMYM, Person of Interest, Doctor Who

Music genres || Classical, Film soundtracks, Musicals, Rock, Alternative
Artists || ThePianoGuys, Rise Against, Switchfoot, the Beatles

Composers || Hans Zimmer, John Williams, Howard Shore, Handel

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