Tag Archive | Lord of the Rings

Thoughts on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

(NOTE: This is not technically a critique, just a series of impressions. Also, SPOILER ALERT. No, seriously, don’t read this if you haven’t seen it yet and want to be surprised.)

the-hobbit_2409864k

So last night I finally got to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first part of Peter Jackson’s trilogy prequel to The Lord of the Rings. This morning, when I woke up, these were some of the thoughts running through my head:

  • First of all, how amazing was it in 3D? I’m not talking about the new 48 fps format, because it wasn’t available in the Philippines, but the 24 fps 3D blew me away. 3D is so easy to get wrong, and terrible when it happens (The Last Airbender, anyone?), but this view of Middle Earth was breathtaking, and yes, I ducked reflexively several times when stuff flew at my face.
  • Speaking of gorgeous views: every single scene was a visual treat. I’m not just talking about the idyllic, pastoral Shire or even the too-beautiful-for-words Rivendell. I’m talking about the utter believability of the Goblin Kingdom, the sheer realism of Gollum’s cave, and the majestic giant eagles whose feathers you could almost touch. Middle Earth lives and breathes in The Hobbit. Peter Jackson has done Tolkien’s world justice once again.
  • I’m happy to be able to say that without reservation this morning, because last night I was freaking out about the stone giants. (I kept myself from watching the trailers except one, so they were a surprise.) The purist in me was just about pulling my hair out thinking they were just invented for cinematic effect, but it turns out THEY DO EXIST. (Well, in Tolkien’s world, at least.) I had completely forgotten about them, because in the book, they didn’t interact directly with Bilbo and the rest. That doesn’t make for good action, so I understand why Peter Jackson took artistic license. I can deal with that. I mean, I’m already dealing with Kili, the dwarf dreamboat who probably has Tolkien blowing furious smoke rings in the afterlife.  I get that they need a Legolas-type to sell more tickets so that Peter Jackson can keep making movies, which means I would be happier just dealing with it than being insisting on accuracy. So okay, fine, bring on the hot dwarf. (Let me just get this out: Even dwarf women are supposed to have beards. How is that civilized scruff of Kili’s considered satisfactory?)
  • However, there is one bit of artistic license I have absolutely no problem with. I’m talking about the Elf on a moose. That image is forever tattooed on my mind. Elf king on a GIANT moose. I find it equal parts hilarious and awesome. I want to high five whoever thought of that.
  • Speaking of Elves, hail Cate Blanchett, the most Elvish Elf ever. She is phenomenal. Gandalf, Elrond, and Saruman are played by brilliant actors with powerful presences, but whenever she was onscreen, I couldn’t tear my eyes off her. She is every bit as enchanting as Galadriel is supposed to be, and I could probably listen to her narrate the end of the world in that calm, regal voice of hers and not feel an ounce of panic.
  • While we’re on the subject of voices, I would follow Thorin Oakenshield to the Lonely Mountain and beyond if he would just keep singing to me. I loved Richard Armitage in that role. He is a somewhat less humorous character than he was in the book, but Tolkien wrote a children’s novel, and Peter Jackson’s movie is much more adult.
  • However darker they made the movie, they still put in a lot of fun. A key aspect of humor is the element of surprise, which is why I loved that this movie still made me laugh even when I already knew what was going to happen. (Whoever thought Gollum could be adorable?) Martin Freeman is a great choice as the hapless Bilbo, and his body language and physical comedy is pitch perfect. Same goes for the dwarves (yes, fine, even Kili).

Obviously, I loved this movie. Even more obviously, I am not the most unbiased audience there is, and I probably never will be. Still, for a while there I was honestly worried that the countless problems that plagued the pre-production period would ruin the movie, and I am so relieved that it didn’t happen. It was great fun to  be reunited with beloved characters, settings, and music, and even more awesome to see new wonders and be tantalized with the promise of more. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is amazing, and now fans like me have to gird ourselves for the year-long wait until the next one is released. God help us.

Advertisements

The Filipino as Frodo (or why you shouldn’t shut up about Sotto)

This past month, I watched in disbelief as the most important political debate of my generation devolved into a circus starring Senator Tito Sotto III as the clown. While proponents of the Reproductive Health Bill* struggled to move the deliberations forward, Tito Sen declared himself champion of the opposing camp and planted his feet firmly in the way.

Fair enough. But then he opened his mouth during his first turno en contra speech, and it all fell apart. The nation tuned in, expecting well-reasoned arguments, only to hear plagiarized ideas, outdated research, and manufactured drama. It all went downhill from there (here’s a timeline and another one if you just woke up from a coma and missed it), with the last turno en kopya disaster turning out to have a conclusion directly translated from a Robert F. Kennedy speech.

In the public smackdown that followed, I noticed something rather unusual. The Senate was silent. The people were in uproar, but there was no backlash from the other members of the institution that Sotto’s antics were debasing in front of the entire world. Juan Ponce Enrile, whose legacy as senate president is at stake, practically gave Sotto a hug for being so misunderstood. Even the volatile Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who is as much an academic as she is a public servant, was uncharacteristically tolerant. Really, senators? You don’t care about the blatant lying and stealing within your ranks at all?

You know what this reminds me of? The fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings**. Remember how Frodo had to take the One Ring to Mordor when the great powers of Middle Earth refused to even touch it? They feared the temptation of the ring, so it fell to a simple little hobbit to vanquish the darkest evil in the land. “Even the smallest person,” the Elf-queen Galadriel told him, “can change the course of the future.”

Now I don’t know if our leaders’ failure to denounce Sotto’s lack of integrity can be compared to the noble rejection of the ring’s power, but Rappler’s Carla Montemayor offered some conjectures. No matter what the reason, their hands-off response to Sotto’s shenanigans has allowed his corruption free rein in the Senate. And now it falls to ordinary Filipinos and whatever tools we can muster to call him out. It’s up to us.

So we  write, and write, and write. We pour out our indignation, our anger at being treated like simpletons by a senator who owes his power to us.

We combat the misinformation, manipulations, and outright lies that Sotto and his ilk spout on a regular basis. Refusing to be fooled, we link to reputable studies, point out logical fallacies, and hover over our keyboards ready to google fu the heck out of the hype.

We rally behind two of us, writer Miguel Syjuco and teacher Leloy Claudio, who challenged one of the highest officials in the land to a debate about his so-called evidence against the bill. (Sotto refused them, of course, because God forbid he should ever exert actual intellectual effort.)

We fire off tweets and memes and Facebook posts, today’s equivalent of placards and people power chants. We laugh and mock and rage at Sotto, but underneath it all, we just want an apology. We just want to believe that there’s decency and integrity in our sworn leaders. (SPOILER ALERT: Not gonna happen, guys.)

We start petitions to penalize or oust Sotto which, let’s be realistic, would probably only be ignored by old school politicians who wouldn’t comprehend that behind these digital signatures are flesh-and-blood Filipinos desperate for change. But we sign them anyway, because we want our names to be included in the lists of those who care enough to try.

In the end, that’s the real reason we  even have a fighting chance. Not because we have political clout, religious influence, or crowds of reporters hanging on to our every word.  Our power rests on the simple fact that we give a damn. Apathy is so much easier. After all, haven’t we learned after decades of corruption that cheating is inevitable? Yet we refuse to accept that. We refuse to just shrug it off. And it’s making a difference.

Every time we make the decision to care, we claim our place as agents of change. We become the Ako ang Simula generation, defined not by age but by the refusal to entrust our future on the whims of a handful of men who have their own selfish agendas. We practice democracy as it’s meant to be. It may not change the world now, but it’s certainly changing us by making us think about what we can and should do for our country.

We may still lose this battle, mind you. Sotto, after all, survived the exposure of his link to a drug lord as he pretended to spearhead the fight against drugs. But the fact that we are still fighting means something. Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor who knows how it feels to be helpless in the face of evil, says, “There may be times when we are powerless to fight injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

If we do as he says, if we keep protesting with our words, actions, and votes, we may yet prove Galadriel right. Ordinary Filipinos, the ones you can find not in seats of power but in internet cafes, classrooms, or street corner tambayans, may yet change the course of our country’s future. I for one am willing to try.

NOTES:

*For the record, I am pro-RH bill. I believe it is pro-poor, pro-life, and pro-development. However, even if I were on the other side of the fence, I still wouldn’t want someone who has earned the nickname The National Embarrassment speaking for me.

**In fairness, it doesn’t take much to get me thinking of the LOTR. My brain practically lives in Middle Earth.

Enhanced by Zemanta