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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Pageants and Hobbits and Presents oh My

Lizzy the Red Nosed Reindeer
Lizzy's preschool program for the holidays today. A large group of three-to-six-year-old kids, singing songs for Christmas and Hanukkah in English and Spanish, dancing, etc. And then Santa came and distributed candy canes and the kids had a feast. We didn't stay for the feast this time; Grandma took Lizzy and Abby out to lunch (at Wed Wobin, natch) and the Hubs and I went to the movies. It hadn't occurred to use that the movie theater in the mall parking lot was perhaps not the best move this time of year, but really we had no trouble, not even in the food court where we went for lunch. I suspect the school district in which the mall lies is not out for holidays yet.


And the movie? Oh. Wow. The Hobbit was one amazing movie. A tiny bit confusing at first because the framing device includes bits from The Fellowship of the Ring book. I've read a few reviews that view this expansion of the story - tying in back-story from other books set in Middle-Earth - as a detriment, but I didn't think so at all. I find it helpful in understanding what's going on, and it also means that characters with only bit parts or mentions in the original story (like Radagast the Brown) are played to the hilt here. And then (aaaaaannnnd THEN) Sylvester McCoy gets to shine. Let me tell you, Radagast (the Crazy Friend to All Animals Hermit Wizard of Middle-Earth) and the Doctor (McCoy played the Seventh Doctor) are not all that different.

Martin Freeman is perfect for Bilbo Baggins. That confused expression that's just this side of panic? I'm sure he perfected it on The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy or Sherlock, but man, he's got every eyebrow twitch and look of mute protest down to an art form. The Dwarves were terrific; I was especially impressed with Balin and Bombur and the twins Fili and Kili. Smeagol-Gollum is just as pathetic as he was in The Two Towers, and Peter Jackson's treatment of that story was the first time I really grokked the character's split duality. Poor Smeagol.

The stories are troperiffic, of course; a fair chunk of fantasy (in the western world in any case) tropes came originally from Tolkien. This version of the story took a few of them further than I remember in the books though. Gandalf is an aversion of the Squishy Wizard trope - the guy kicks major orcish butt (well, goblin and troll butt anyway).

And the music - OMG, the music. We weren't even out of the theater parking lot before I downloaded Misty Mountains Cold on my Zune/Windows Phone. It makes my teeth ache but it is oh so good. And as one might expect from anything by Peter Jackson, the movie (the landscapes and the sets and the special effects) is freaking GORGEOUS. Or is that New Zealand? I'm going with both. Um, except for Gollum, of course. Poor Smeagol. And Azog and the Great Goblin. Ew. Nasty looking guys, both of them.

And then we got the kids from my mom and came home to three packages, two of which were from Aunt Laura for Abby (one for her birthday and one for Christmas). Yeah, my ears are still ringing from the squee uttered by Abby when she saw her birthday gift. A sonic screwdriver, with an integrated invisible ink pen (the UV light from the end of the screwdriver shows the ink). My little Whovian didn't even read the package before she identified it as the Tenth Doctor's. By color, you understand; the Eleventh's has a green light.

So all in all, it was a big day. Epic, even.