The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Reviewed by a Non-Jackson Fan

Yesterday I saw the trailer for the new Godzilla movie for the first time…on the big screen of a theater. It already looked good just on Youtube. It’s really great in larger scale. Can hardly wait for the movie to come out in May of next year.

After the trailer there was a movie called The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, loosely based on the book The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. Now, if you know of my history with the films of Peter Jackson, you’re probably expecting a rage filled rant. But this time you’d be wrong.

I certainly have a fair few criticisms of the movie, but as for feeling… Well, I was pleasantly unemotional watching it yesterday. Sure, I rolled my eyes a fair few times, but otherwise no strong feelings either up or down. Except for the scenes with Smaug. Smaug was very well done. Benedict Cumberbatch did a great job bringing out the dragon’s personality.

Anyway, onto my thoughts on the film. Beware of spoilers!

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Rowling writes Harry Potter prequel play

Are we ready for a play about Harry’s years before Hogwarts?

According to ew.com:

J.K. Rowling says she is working on a play about the boy wizard’s life before he attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Rowling said in a statement Friday that the play will “explore the previously untold story of Harry’s early years as an orphan and outcast. “

Rowling will be a co-producer on the show, along with veteran theater producers Sonia Friedman and Colin Callender. The statement said Rowling will collaborate with a writer but will not write the script herself.

Here is more:

The focus here seems to be on Harry’s more Dickensian life with the Dursley clan and his interior life—and certainly that life was more closely tied to the Wizarding World than Harry realizes in his first few years at Hogwarts….

Rowling says:

“Over the years I have received countless approaches about turning Harry Potter into a theatrical production, but Sonia and Colin’s vision was the only one that really made sense to me, and which had the sensitivity, intensity and intimacy I thought appropriate for bringing Harry’s story to the stage. After a year in gestation it is exciting to see this project moving on to the next phase.”

I expect we’ll see where the magical community intersected with his life, including Arabella Figg and Daedelus Diggle.

What do you think?

Godzilla Is Coming to Town

 Well, the new trailer for the 2014 Godzilla movie is coming to town. Well, it’s actually already arrived and boy does it look good. Even to me, and I’m usually quite cynical and pessimistic about remakes, especially when they involve things I love. But I’ve watched the trailer at least five times now and am quite optimistic. They at least appear to be taking Godzilla seriously.

Take a look at the trailer if you haven’t seen it yet and let us know your thoughts on it.

Review: ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is a fast-paced film and an improvement over its predecessor. The film doesn’t drag at all even though the running time is merely nine minutes less than The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. There is action throughout including terrifying Spiders, more battles with Orcs, and an escape from captivity in empty barrels from the Wood-elves while braving raging waters and arrows. Continue reading

The Last Battle as “End”…or “Beginning”

This is the end. The Last Battle wraps up our review of the literary genres that inspired C.S. Lewis, who died 50 years ago this month.

Ragnarok

“Ragnarök,” George Wright illustration from Norse Stories Retold from the Eddas, by Hamilton Wright Mabie (1902).

It would make sense to write about the final Narnia book—the one where the world ends—in terms of eschatology, the study of “last things”. Most religions have ideas, teachings, or mythologies concerning the end of humanity, the world and the universe. Some believe everything will end in cataclysm, while others view history as a series of recurring cycles: birth-death-renewal.  Lewis’ conception of the end times in Narnia was certainly influenced by several eschatologies, as David C. Downing notes in Into the Wardrobe—

“The closing chapters of The Last Battle offer a seamless blend of Greek philosophy, Christian eschatology, and Norse mythology, […] great beasts devour the landscape, and the world ends in a rising sea and a blast of cold, as in the Norse Ragnarok. But this is only the end of the time-bound Narnia. As Digory explains, quoting Plato, that created world was only a copy or image of the eternal Narnia, as our earth is an image of the new heaven and new earth mentioned in the book of Revelation. Night may have fallen on the created Narnia, but there will be no twilight, only eternal morning” (55).

Yes, it would make perfect sense to examine The Last Battle as an example of eschatology.

But I’m not going to.

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The Magician’s Nephew as ‘Creation Story’

It’s the penultimate post in our month long celebration of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series and this time we’re exploring The Magician’s Nephew as a traditional creation story. The Magician’s Nephew is most clearly and most simply a creation story in that it shows us the creation of the world the whole series centers on, Narnia. But the novel also takes us to places beyond the ones we thought we knew; it shows us the nothingness before a world and lets us witness the birth of the physical and spiritual elements of a new world. And in doing so, it echoes the many creation myths and folktales around the world.
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The Horse and His Boy as “Orphan Tale”

The Horse and His Boy

illustration by Pauline Baynes

Our November celebration of the literary genres behind C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia continues with The Horse and His Boy. The story’s hero, Shasta, is a classic example of the mythic figure-type known as “the orphan child.” According to Dr. Verlyn Flieger, the orphan tale begins when a mysterious waif arrives over the water. He is adopted by those who find him on the shore, and grows up to be a great leader. Figures of this type appear in folklore and mythology from many cultures and time periods: Moses, Perseus, Tennyson’s King Arthur, and the Northern European Ing (Yngvi /Ingui), a figure related to the Danish hero, Scyld Scefing, whose story is recounted at the beginning of the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf.  Flieger notes that even Tolkien’s Frodo Baggins fits this motif. Frodo becomes an orphan when his parents die in a boating accident. He is subsequently adopted by his older cousin, Bilbo, and brought to live at Bag End in the Shire.

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Favorite C.S. Lewis Book and Giveaway!!

Today, November 22nd, is the 50th anniversary of C.S. Lewis’ death. I thought it an appropriate time to discuss our favorite works of Lewis and perhaps share what influence, if any, he has had on us. Plus, that all adds up to a perfect chance for another giveaway too!

The winner will receive a copy of On Stories, The Screwtape Letters, and Till We Have Faces. So, there’s a lot to be gained by entering the giveaway! To do so, leave a comment here telling us about your favorite work by C.S. Lewis and/or telling us what influence, if any, he has had on your life. The giveaway will run through November 29th.

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