The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

I saw the midnight opening of this and…it was MARVELOUS! It’s shorter than its predecessor, the pacing is tighter and smoother, the humor feels more precise and balanced, and the self-references to Peter Jackson’s other works felt purposeful and like a good joke between old friends rather than spin-offy. Also, I cannot wait until Thranduil’s headpiece becomes a common look. Go forth and enjoy!

thranduil___the_elvenking_by_iary-d5itrwu

Other thoughts (SPOILERS for those who haven’t read the book):

-I’m definitely going to need the barrel-riding to become a theme park ride.
-Lee Pace’s Thranduil turned out every inch as glorious as I wanted him to be, and I desired Excessive Glory.
-Many in my midnight theater yelled “sshh!” at the dwarves’ exclamations when Bilbo released them from Thranduil’s prison.
-Gandalf’s entrance to the Necromancer’s domain can be perfectly timed to “I always think everything could be a trap, which is why I’m still alive.”
-Does anyone else think Thorin’s sword on reaching the Lonely Mountain is shaped suspiciously like that of Theoden, King?
-Bilbo’s face when Smaug fully rises from the gold and he kneels down to hide is utter perfection.
-Isn’t it marvelous gold that doesn’t melt in dragon flame even though it’s historically been shaped by forges that can be lit by dragon fire? Perhaps intention can somehow be read.
-Yet more evidence that “But no one withstands the machine!” can only keep criminals down for a short timespan.
-Can we all take a moment to bask in the beauty of Smaug, particularly when shaking off gold?
-Isn’t it interesting how Legolas’ character seems tougher in this timeframe than when he’s actually fighting for the fate of the world? Perhaps that’s maturity, for you. He goes from “Step off or I will kill you!” to “I’ll have to kill you anyway, so step wherever, enjoy your short life while you can.” Or perhaps that is exhaustion and he was showing signs of it more than we knew.
-Stephen Fry is working his wig.
-Gandalf’s visit to the tombs immediately made me think, “See, this is why we miss Erebor so much-it’s the only cavernous place that has real stairs!”
-Really, all these Tolkien films are a cautionary tale about what can happen to a society with no professional librarians or archivists. Archivists would keep up these tombs and let people know if spirits escaped, so wizards wouldn’t have to abandon other quests to do this research work. They would also curate the history books that explain Sauron’s One Ring reveals its secret through fire so they wouldn’t be so dusty and make a research guide so Gandalf wouldn’t have to spend time paging through the memoir to find the right information and maybe the hobbits could have got a head start on the ringwraiths. Just think how much smoother everything would have gone if all wizards had a librarian/archivist working for them, to do their research side-trips and settle questions about which evils are and aren’t abroad in the world in a timely and efficient manner. They would have staged outreaches reminding everyone to check all magic rings in fire, too, so Bilbo might have avoided some possession. I’m just saying.

Huzzah for “The Hobbit”!

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Once Upon a Time 2×24 finale “And Straight On Til Morning”

There’s no leaving the need for spoilers:

 

-Does anyone else find it highly suspect that the holy Tamara and the sacredness of her quest allow her to leave escape plans with the most selfish males she meets, aka August and then Hook?  ANYONE ELSE feel that’s pretty much a red flag around here?

-So, Snow White is now clearing the darkness in her heart AND proving her and her hubby’s leadership skills by…declaring that she wants to risk the lives of herself, her family, and all of her subjects for Regina’s because it’s the “hard path” and because she still feels guilty over killing her mom.  This is the most selfish, horrible leader thing ever.  Luckily, I love Regina and really need her to live, I just thought we were going to get there through Henry or even Emma’s that-is-wrong-FAMILY feelings rather than hearing one woman using her guilt to imperil her people being portrayed as Great-yay!  And then to top it all off, it is Therapist Approved!  Come on, Archie!

-It is amazing to me that, in spite of being all moonish and anguished over Milah’s image, Hook never seems to think of Bae as Milah’s son, just Rumple’s.  In his private references to him it’s always the Dark One’s son or the kid the shadow’s looking for, only after Bae brings up Milah does Hook use her as a tool to persuade Bae into staying aboard.  This bugs me-just one more way in which Hook’s lovesick story is inconsistent.

-Technically, Cinderella’s baby was also born here, so Henry would have had it for company.

-I am gratified Granny was finally called in as babysitter, though.  Greg and Tamara wouldn’t get past her shotgun at Henry.

-There was a pathetic lack of Ruby.

-Emma’s magic powers are extremely convenient at all times, I must say.

-Was anyone else expecting Belle to wake up, remember all the bad things Gold let himself do at Lacey’s urging, and be all upset at him?  At least a little bit?  Make SOME comment about her Laciness?  After the town was saved, at any rate.

-I loooooove everything Regina in this episode!  On point, focused, and without even any really long speeches or claims.  That is the best media dying ever and no one ever, ever does it!

-Does everyone just assume if the diamond got sent to another land it would just not do anything, as opposed to simply exploding somewhere else?  Cause the random missile plan is truly not heroic.

-We’ve been over this-it took him forever, but Gold has magical security on his shop now!  Did Lacey let the dwarves in?  Also, we’ve been digging up memory-reviving fairy dust for weeks now and Sneezy STILL NEVER GOT HIS IDENTITY BACK???  THE HELL, SHOW?

-You’d think Ruby could survive as a wolf, right?  I mean, her wolf self did get born again in Storybrooke, so it was technically born there, sortof.

-I do finally buy a storyarc of Hook’s in this episode, though.  The reaching of his wearing-down point and willingness to try new tactics was believable and touching.

-These Lost Boys…first, do you suppose the confiscated shadows are then sold to the coachman in Pinnochio to be his creepy shadow workers on Pleasure Island?  Second, why are they dressed like Robin Hood?  Three, if they’ve just been looking for Henry all this time, as opposed to even a small short-list of desirable boys to kidnap, life in Neverland just got reeeeally boring.  I do not find this as Neverland version as intriguing or dangerous as others seem to, because….how frustrating and tedious is that?  Fourth, we saw a lot of scenes there at night.  Shouldn’t we have heard this creepy crying for parents Wendy spoke of?  Five, if there’s a picture of the boy the shadow wants, can’t he see whether he’s got the right one or not?  Geez.

-Please let Tamara and Greg be quickly dispatched and replaced by more interesting higher ups in the next episode.

-Someone could explain how Phillip got revived, perhaps?

-Perhaps we can finally get some Pirates of the Caribbean references?

-Also, Tiger Lily!  Get on it!

And that’s Season 2!

Once Upon a Time 2×16 “The Miller’s Daughter”

Now, this-THIS is the kind of episode I’m talking about!  *applauds*  SPOILERS AHEAD:

 

1. Rose McGowan was absolute perfection as young Cora.  She had a matter of minutes to take everyone on a journey, make Cora’s life understandable, make her death meaningful, and add more layers to Rumplestiltskin and Regina.  She hit a home run.

2. Granted, her story was not as perfect as the acting.  It’s hard to think there wouldn’t be a separate entrance for deliveries, particularly ones like flour that generally go to the pantry/kitchen area.  The straw into gold claim was…not great.  But she sold it so well I don’t even care.

3.  Rumplestiltskin sure does know how to make a girl feel powerful.  Mixing this gift of power with his attraction and affection would definitely make it harder for someone like Cora to understand the benefits of love on its own, without being intertwined with power.

4. It is very clear to me why Cora’s loving embrace did not affect the Dark One’s powers the way Belle’s kiss did in Fairy Tale Land: Cora loved him as the Dark One.  If anything, her kisses would keep him the Dark One, not efface it.  Belle loved him in spite of being the Dark One.  Hence, her true love’s kiss could turn him into the man she saw him as.

5.   Snow became real again this episode.  It was highly abrupt-if only she could have used that gift for persuasion on Regina at their meeting in the diner before the dagger was found, this could have all been different.  It was highly poetic justice for Cora-her first offer to corrupt Snow and achieve one of her vengeful goals comes true so as to kill her and parallel Snow’s pain in Regina.  Cora needed to die for many reasons, including the show’s pacing.  With Cora in the works there are just too many villains running about throwing off any sort of balance of power and absolutely wrecking Regina’s role.  Snow could never really have controlled Cora through her heart-she has enough sense to know that Cora would get it back somehow and it would all just start again.  Additionally, she probably knows that if she touched Cora’s heart she wouldn’t be able to keep from smothering it.  Most of all, Snow felt how ultimately unsatisfying it would be to kill a woman without a heart.  Cora was already bereft of everything Snow cares about-in order to really exact revenge Cora needed to die with her heart intact.  Rumplestiltskin did not really play a part in Snow’s calculations when she was acting.  He had shown her a path that gave her everything she ultimately wished about Cora-Snow had to carry it out that way because it was the perfect death for Cora, saving Rumplestiltskin’s life had no part in the thought process once she began.  I doubt Regina had much to do with it either-Regina could reach Cora and replace the heart.  Snow would never be able to get that close.  It was as simple as that.

6. Gold’s deathbed call to Belle was perfect, as was his simple follow-up with Bae.  It was the best way for Bae to start mending his relationship with his father.

7. Cora died wonderfully.   I’ve been thinking a more accurate name for this show might be: “All Mothers Die.”  Eva, Cora, Ruby’s mom, Mila, Gepetto’s mom, Jefferson’s wife, Hansel and Gretal’s mom, Cora’s mom is presumably dead, Snow’s chance to really be a mother to a child was killed so symbolically Snow-as-mother died, between giving up Henry originally and the current split from her lie, Emma’s motherhood is still at least not well, Regina’s ability to be a mother is questioned and denied constantly, even mother figures like Johanna get flung out of buildings…   The only mother who I think has escaped the curse is Cinderella and she’s not really in the show.  Plus, pretty much all the main storylines are running on mother deaths-Snow’s motivation, Regina’s motivation, Rumple’s arching misery, etc.  Ergo, “Once Upon a Time….All Mothers Die.”

8. I just adore it when Gold wins everything in the end.  I am Just Fine with that.  Bring it on, Gold.  It’s gonna be good.

Once Upon a Time 2×11 and 2×12

SPOILERS AHEAD

2×11 “The Outsider”

1. If Hook had any intelligence at all, he would have realized Belle was important to Rumpelstiltskin after Regina stopped him killing her in Fairy Tale Land.  This could well be the case, but I’m trying to give this character the best chance I can, so let’s say he can put two and two together.  Ergo, he found out about the shawl from Archie, not Belle.  In that case: how does Archie know?  We never see Mr. Gold going to counseling.  Once Hook has it, why doesn’t he burn it or tear it or something?  Much more sure than just luring him after it.  Is his whole plan just to lure Gold there so he can alienate his girl by killing him?  That seems more calculated than Hook is capable of, and also not particularly satisfying to Hook as he wouldn’t get to see Rumpelstiltskin being in pain.  This whole thing with the shawl is just strange when he stashed it somewhere but didn’t do anything to harm it.

2. Why is there not something somewhere to indicate that Hook had to learn what cars are?  My first thought at the end was, “Of course Hook gets it-he doesn’t know about cars.”  Yet clearly he followed Gold and Belle in their car.  It still makes sense he’d be less aware of the car sounds that mean danger and thus get hit, but the point is: Hook should be in a totally foreign land and we’ve seen him being nothing but totally self-assured.  I have a problem with this.

3. Belle escapes from Hook by going into….the elevator.  Granted, the mechanisms in that building look whackadoo, but are we really supposed to believe a pirate can’t turn the knobs and figure it out?  He did just see her do it, after all.  The most obvious answer is that we find out Hook just wanted a diversion, not to get to Belle, but still-how did Belle and Gold fall for that?

4. Speaking of Hook’s strange behavior at the library, why in the hell would he need a random rope knot there?  Did he just drop it as a clue?  I mean, really.

5. Most importantly, as I’ve been saying since season one: RUMPLESTILTSKIN, OF ALL PEOPLE, SHOULD HAVE ALL KINDS OF SECURITY ON HIS SHOP.  I do not understand this lack of security-he knows he’s got a lot of people’s valuable things, he knows the people have now remembered the things they want, he knows he has enemies, he has magic, HOW DOES HE NOT PUT MAGICAL SECURITY ON HIS GODDAMN SHOP?  This will never stop vexing me.

6. Why didn’t Philip write in other languages, too?  He’s a prince, he probably learned more than one.  The language of the realm you’re in is an excellent place to start, but if that doesn’t work, why not try others?

7. The ending was wonderful and did manage to save this overall sloppy and vexing episode.  Let’s face it-that ending was awesome.

2×12, “In the Name of the Brother”

1. The dilemma of whether or not to let stranger die makes no sense.  In their very first look at the cell phone, they say that if people don’t hear from him they’ll come looking.  If they let the guy die then not only will people come to Storybrooke, they’ll come already armed with lawyers, coroners, and police.  This is far from the solution to everyone’s problems.  Make sense, please.

2. You’d think with Emma’s experience with the law she’d be better at playing sheriff.

3. Rumplestiltskin is doing everything I expect him to do.  Trying to cure her with true love’s kiss, check.  Trying to convince her even when he shouldn’t, check.  Managing to make the cup a talisman raises questions as last episode he claimed he didn’t have enough potion to enchant anything after the shawl and therefore she couldn’t come.  The shawl’s been enchanted and hey, presto-he’s made some more.  Clearly, he just didn’t really want Belle to come along or else didn’t care enough about it before to wait, or else he could’ve just stayed the extra, what-day?  And made Belle her talisman before.  This is a fly in the ambrosia of their love story. (In my head the real answer is that he feels it’d be unfair to her and that it will go better if he shows up alone instead of with a for all intents and purposes stepmother, but still.  Don’t lie about it, just say that.)

4. Belle’s behavior does not sit well with me.  If she doesn’t remember Gold at all, than she must only remember the asylum.  If she only remembers the asylum, how the hell would she know if castles and magic are crazy or not?  She shouldn’t.  Someone telling her she was someplace she couldn’t remember would still be freaky, particularly with a gunshot wound and no memory of how she came to be in that circumstance, but she shouldn’t be sitting there telling him magical things are crazy.  Get away from her-yes, magic isn’t real-no.  Moreover, we saw her being rescued by a genuinely crazy and creepy-talking man: Jefferson.  She was far from freaked out at him.  Thus, even Belle’s awareness of creepy guys should not be this high.  Again, some yes, with the gunshot wound and outside of the place she remembers.  But they had her talking like someone with memories of a normal Maine life, and she. is. not.  (By the way, this is not to be construed as me being angry at her for putting Gold off or breaking the cup, because even without specifically knowing magic is bad and having lowered creep awareness, that could well have happened.  I am upset at the writers for making Belle’s behavior inconsistent with their own story.)

5. Again, Ruby rocks, saves the day, and should always be in charge.

6. Why is no one concerned with Dr. Whale operating when he’s drunk?  This just doesn’t seem to be a thing?

7.  I do admire Cora.  Wish there’d been more explanation of the globe, however.  Also, it does not vex me that she managed to get into Rumple’s, hopefully at least by now, MAGICALLY SECURED shop.  She’s the Queen of Hearts.

8. It makes total sense to me that Gold wants Emma with him.  This is no longer going to be the long-as-it-takes, reunion with his son that he planned.  Gold wants to get back to Belle as soon as possible, making this a fetching trip.  Gold no longer has time to accustom himself to the outside world, it’ll go faster with someone who knows it.  Moreover, he doesn’t know if Bae will want to see him, let alone want to come back to Storybrooke with him, and having someone along with him will help Gold control his urges and get his son to come back without alienating him too much.  Or at least, the chances would be better in Gold’s head.  Moreover, Emma reunited with her son after years apart and therefore should have more sympathy for him and his quest than the others.

All in all, a much better episode.  I am excited to see what comes next!