Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mixed Feelings (Or, Butter Scraped Over Too Much Bread)

On today's topic I am of two minds, and it might be a bit rambly.  Let me backtrack a little.

Like I said in a blogpost last summer, I am really excited that J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit is finally being given the cinematic treatment, especially at the hands of Peter Jackson, who is probably the only person I would trust (since, you know, my trust is so important for him to maintain) to continue in the greatness and scope and scale and faithfulness of adaptation that was The Lord of the Rings.  There were rumors for years that it was being made, then lots of studio and other setbacks, then finally official announcements.  Then there was an official announcement that it was being split into two movies, part 1 being The Unexpected Journey and part 2 being There and Back Again.  Okay, fine, that idea took some getting used to, but it worked out well enough for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (though I'm still against it in some ways), but now it's being used and abused by other franchises and movies as extremely obvious money-grabbing attempts at extending the cashflow for as long as possible, which is especially noticeable when the books being adapted have barely enough "story" to fill one movie, let alone two, but they know the fans will flood to the theaters anyway (I'm looking at you, Breaking Dawn... and even you, Mockingjay).  It seemed odd to me that a book shorter and less dense than any of the LotR books should have enough material to take up two full movies, but having said that, I figured that PJ knew what he was doing, and from what I had seen and read there would be lots of background and cameos from familiar LotR characters, so I had faith that he would be able to pull it off, and heck, it gave us TWO Christmases of exciting Tolkien movies to look forward to!  More photos and teasers were gradually put out, and then when this little thing was released, the excitement only increased:

So we still pretty much go into paroxysms of glee every time we see this trailer (I still say it was the best part of The Dark Knight Rises, ha), and by this point I'm pretty much fully on board, two movies and all.  It's not the worst thing in the world for a studio to try to extend a successful series and make more money, especially if the result is two excellent films, and especially if it means twice the gloriousness of these stories for the fans.  The music, the look, the effects, the returning and new cast all look so great and consistent and perfect and I couldn't wait to go back to Middle-earth!

Then, just this week, this little bomb dropped.  So.  The Hobbit.  In three movies.


I'm all for lots of Tolkien on the big screen, like I said, but this whole idea has made me really realize that it is possible to have too much of a good thing.  Even with random information from the appendices and relevant backstory stuff, I just don't see how this could work.  Some have brought up possible inclusion of stories from The Simarillion, which also doesn't seem to fit.  The Silmarillion is a prologue to both The Hobbit AND The Lord of the Rings, and no word has been uttered regarding inclusion of those great stories, which could probably fill another trilogy entirely (and which would seem really shoehorned in and maybe irrelevant if included in or at the end of The Hobbit). I will say that if anyone could make The Silmarillion into a movie, or series of movies, it's certainly Peter Jackson, notwithstanding some cinematic adaptation and storytelling issues, but if they were to tack that on as a third movie here, it would be odd indeed to include prologue information at the END of The Hobbit.  Besides, if you read the article above it's pretty clear that the first two movies are based on The Hobbit (though surely with some additional bits from other writings, I mean, there would HAVE to be to fill two movies in the first place), and the third is seemingly going to based on appendices and extraneous details (maybe bridging between The Hobbit movies and The Lord of the Rings trilogy?), which seems like a really fancy and really long epilogue.

I feel like two movies would be stretching the out as it is, but three?  It doesn't even make much mathematical sense:  Three (technically six) books = three movies, and now one book (admittedly including appendices...) = three movies?  What kind of math is this?  There are obscure merits to having two Tolkien trilogies, and I DO trust him with the material, but this seems like a cash-grab even from him.  Not to mention the artistic and literary issues.  While they artfully picked and chose the most important and exquisite details and story elements for LotR, they might now end up of necessity shoving any and every little thing into this, making for a kind of plodding, heavy story (when really, this book is a lot lighter and happier than the subsequent trilogy).  And years from now, as I'm the type who doesn't like to watch just half or part of something, when I want to sit down on a Saturday and watch The Hobbit, it will take like 8 hours!!!  I could read the book in less time.

I'm just saying there's such a thing as excess, even of something so great as Jackson's Middle-earth.  
Some have called this the best movie news of the year, but I call it questionable at best (not to mention that it's been a pretty slow year for movie news).  I still have high hopes, but I do so reluctantly.  Others have said that more Tolkien is always a good thing, especially if it's from PJ.  See, now, one might expect that's the reaction I would have to all of this, since my complete and unqualified and even often vehement adoration of The Lord of the Rings is more than amply documented, but I really do think, like I said, that there really is such thing as too much of a good thing.  How would it have been if they stretched Deathly Hallows out into THREE films?? Yikes.  Movies can't and shouldn't try to water things down or include everything in books just to squeeze two stories out of one, but be adaptations.  It seems like people these days just have this obsession with More.  Everything has to have like three sequels and two reboots and five spin-off series.  What if someone rebooted LotR right now and it was just horrible?  More Tolkien isn't always necessarily great Tolkien. It seriously just makes it seem like a pretty obvious money/marketing decision, as opposed to an artistic or cinematic decision, which would result in more movie, but could and probably would result in less awesomeness.

Just say no, PJ! 

That was a lot of venting, but I think it brings up some pretty good points.  Apparently even Tolkien's son and literary executor/editor doesn't approve (though I guess he didn't really care for the original film trilogy in the first place, alas).  It's also worth noting that he says this third film will come out in the summer, which just isn't nearly as exciting as their traditional Christmas release.  It's just kind of a bummer that something I was SO looking forward to (and I still most certainly am) has this slight cloud of hesitation and skepticism hanging over it now.

There's also that little detail about it being filmed and shown at 48 fps, but that's another story entirely...

Now, after all of this:  Will I see all of them?  Of course. And they all three might even be brilliant.  But to use a relevant phrase (and I'm evidently not the only one who feels this way, in fact it seems I'm one of many), I'm just afraid of it being like butter scraped over too much bread.


Lest this blogpost about the continuation that I can't deny I'm looking forward to of a movie franchise that I adore end on a sour note, let's have a look at this exciting banner that was released a while ago:
Click on the link above to make it big and scroll along and take in all its wondrous details.  You know you want to.

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Farewell To Sunglasses

(Two vacation posts in a row!  It must be summertime.)

This is an afterthought to the point of this post, but it fits in, so I'll report on it.  First things first, we had a nice 4th of July.  We woke up early to run over and watch the hot air balloon launch, but I guess not early enough, since by the time we arrived, there were like two in the sky.  We still picked up some breakfast burritos, as we like to do on such an occasion.
Later we bought and watched the appropriately patriotic Captain America and then headed over to the Somethingeth Annual 4th of July Pie Bake-Off Extraordinaire, which was a delight as always (in the shade) and where we ate ever so many delicious pies.

The weekend after the 4th we kin all went up to Bear Lake for a fun family camping trip.  This has been in the works for several months, so we were glad it all worked out and that we were finally heading up.  Most everyone left on Friday afternoon, with plans to stay until Sunday morning, but since The Wife and I have work and such, we decided to wait until Saturday morning to go up, which is just what we did.  It was a nice drive to Logan, and we made really good time (until we were backed up by ridiculously slow traffic in the canyon...  If you are driving an RV at half the speed limit with a mile of cars behind you, I'm sorry, but you should pull over and let them pass).  But we made it there just around lunchtime.

No sooner had we pulled into the KOA camping grounds than we were whisked off to the lake!  But before I go on, I have to say, if I'm going to be camping these days, this is the way to do it.  There's grass in the sites, there are toilets with running water and even showers* 100 yards from your campsite, mini golf and a pool and a gift shop, and there's a little downtown half a mile away with delicious raspberry milkshakes.  So we met up with Mom and Dad at the campsite, then drove over to the lake where everyone else had staked out our spot on the beach.  I'm pretty sure I've been to Bear Lake before, but if so it was definitely years ago, so it was good to visit.  The water was clear and blue like the summer sky.  It was a nice day, really warm, but not scorching hot, and the beach was nice and busy, but not overly crowded, like they warned us it would be.
Me and lil' Evelyn.  I do believe this is her first appearance on my blog.
The kids were having a great time in the shallows (that went out really far), and we all had a nice lunch.  Then came the boat!
I love this girl.  Just look at that smile.
Katy knows how to pose for the camera.
Drama.  Yes, I know I'm whitely pale like a snowman, but give me a few more pictures.
Here is a lake.
We took turns going out on the rental boat, and had a great time on the skis, the wakeboard and the water weenie.  I haven't been on waterskis in probably ten years, and even though I had a minorly traumatic experience on them as a child, my more recent attempt had been much successful, so I was pretty sure I should be able to get up on them again.  So I had a go, and I did get up on them!  It didn't last TOO long, but I claim up to 30-60 seconds, and that's good enough for me, especially with Jonny driving.  (Mostly I just wanted him to drive straight on, but I guess that doesn't make for very interesting waterskiing, though really, I'm not interested in being interesting, I just want to be pulled across the water in a fast and straightlike manner.)
Step 1:  Standinnnnng...
Step 2:  Stood!
Step 3:  Balanciinnnng...
Step 4:  VICTORY!!!
Step 5:  Face plant.
It kind of hurts to hit the water face first.  The water kind of feels like concrete at that speed.  But I managed to get over the headache and try to land differently after that.  Katy also hesitantly tried the skis, but when it came time for Amber to try, she was even more of a chicken than her tween daughter was, so Julie (who I was pretty sure might opt out this time) decided something had to be done, so she made a little deal with Amber that she would try if Amber did.  It worked like a charm!  Amber tried the wakeboard and then Julie did the same.  She did great!  I was just so proud of her for getting out in the water and giving it a go in the first place, and then, voila, she made it on her feet on her first try.  I, of course, was shouting and cheering and so swept up in the moment that I didn't even manage to get a picture before she toppled over (*facepalm*), and then, um, she didn't quite get back up again...  But I was able to get a few good shots anyway.  Just imagine her up on her feet looking like a champ.
Just a little tentative...
Getting in position...
Ready to go...
Just look at that rope!
So here's the money shot, just pretend she's a few feet higher.
You did it!
And then of course Jonny showed us all how it's done.  He had a couple of pretty good face plants too though.
One-handed!  Atta boy.
Then I decided to take a turn driving.  It made me a little nervous, but I soon more or less had the hang of it.  Here we are posing on our yacht.
Notice how pink we've already become by now.  Not so white anymore, at least not all over.  O, sun.
Then it was time to head back and give the others a chance.
The girlz on the ride back.
We swapped out and spent the rest of the afternoon resting, reading, snacking and wading with the little ones, until it was our turn on the water weenie.
Julia looks so excited!  It didn't last too long once it became a little too bumpy for her liking.
Our turn!  Take note of my shades.
I like this one because of Jordan's face popping out the side.
All lined up in a row.
And this might just be a photograph of the very event that claimed my fashionable and functional eyewear.

Now, I don't know why I didn't realize that this was going to be sort of a challenge, but when Jonny drives, he doesn't really hold back.  It's been MANY years since I participated in this sort of thing, so I guess I forgot that part of the point of it is to try to tip the riders off.  Had I realized this, I would have left my sunglasses in the boat...  (As, probably, would have Julie.)  Instead, the first time we toppled, they were sacrificed to the murky depths of the lake, never to be seen again.  The thought did cross my mind that I might lose them, but for some reason I really just thought we wouldn't be tipping over.  A little warning might have been nice!  I often go swimming with them on, but I guess I don't often face plant on a wall of water with them on.
Right on!  I don't know where I am in this picture.  Maybe diving to look for mine?  It was too spooky down there to dive too deep.
They were new!  But they were only ten dollars at Walmart. Julie lost hers too, but luckily (and amazingly) Jordan felt them bump against his feet and he scrambled down to retrieve them, and is pretty sure if he realized in time that two sets had fallen off he could have found them when he took off his life jacket and heroically dived for them.  I'm just glad if one of ours were found, it was hers, because they had a lot more emotional attachment, since she bought them on our honeymoon.
We took another turn.  Julie held onto her shades this time.
Here are some adorable tots.
Just a few more runs:
Jordan took a turn on his own, braving Jonny's wildest driving yet.  Jeffy kept egging Jonny on to drive faster and wilder to try to knock Jordan off, but when it was suggested Jeffy take a turn on his own, he quickly and adamantly refused.
I think The Wife liked it.
This was a tamer ride, since, as you can see, Julia had just about had enough of the big fun.
Finally it was time to return the boat and the toys and pack things up and head back to camp, where we all nursed our sunburns of varying degrees (most of us did apply sunscreen, but you know how it washes off and doesn't get reapplied.  Some people, like me, just, uh, don't bother with it...  I'm working on a great running tan) and had our dinner and sat around an empty fire pit.  I know it's for safety, but it's still kind of a bummer to go camping and not have a campfire.  We still managed to use the resources available to us to do our dutch oven apple crisp and grill some chicken, and even do some makeshift s'mores.
Cami, you look so sleepy.
Amber, you look so... um.  (You're welcome.)
Brady, you look so comfy.
Mom and Dad know how to camp these days.
Just because.
Nice photobomb, Wife!
And then, to continue the "this-is-the-way-to-camp" experience, we drove over to get the aforementioned local milkshakes, and went to bed on our air mattress.  It was a warm night, but we were all so wasted from the day on the lake, we didn't have much trouble sleeping, though I did of course wake up several times in the night (to walk 100 yards or so), which is my unfortunate standard.

In the morning we had our cereal bar and leftovers breakfast, packed up and headed out.  It was our first time camping since we were married!  And I think it was a success.  Then on the drive home our little caravan had some car troubles, but we shan't dwell on those, and instead be glad that we were traveling together, and that there was room enough in the functioning cars to farm everyone out.  Then we even had some company for the whole drive home!
Like we do.
This is how we really felt.  We went home and slept for like four hours.
Yay, Bear Lake.  Goodbye, killer shades.  I'm glad I wasn't too terribly invested in you.  I hope the fishies make some kind of use of you.

* No, we didn't take showers, that's just silly, we weren't even there for 24 hours, and we spent plenty of time in the lake.