Very quiet day today, I had just enough time to start a battle of wits with an unarmed person on Facebook when the alarm reminded me I was seeing the Hobbit 2 matinée 3D showing. Got there 10 minutes before the alleged start time, looked into the room and there were only about 12 seats occupied, so I got a hot dog and a pack of peanut M&Ms to stave off insulin shock, made a pit stop, and now right at start time magically the place was 1/3 full. Found a seat in the 2nd row for the back, but the view was partially blocked by the top of the seats in the last row before the aisle, so I went to that row and it was much better.
It's a long movie. Short review: Mostly boring, interrupted by too-long fight and flight sequences, no LOL moments, and too many plot lines taking too long to not quite converge. Just when it got good the lights came on and they rolled the credits.
Smaug alert: Hobbit 2 is a veritable cornucopia of Orcs fighting Elves fighting Dwarfs with minimal help from Gandalf, who is smitten regularly with "ooh! shiney!". When you rent the DVD, the drinking game is to have two drinks each time someone says "Stay here" and one for each time he/she/it/they do not.
Minimal 3D effects, there were stretches where I could take off the glasses and see the same image. Save your money. Audio mixing is uneven. I wished for a rewind button a dozen times as actors and/or background noise swallowed words. Cinematography was Just Plain Boring with occasional well-lit, perfectly focused studio close-ups. Fight choreography was too fast to follow. Reminds me of the couple of times Bruce Lee came to my high school judo class (his first judo lessons were there, from my coach, and he believed in paying it forward). He did a trick which showed how fast he could move: He would have you open your hand, palm up, and he put a penny in it. He told you to close your hand before he could take the penny. You would see a brief flinch from him, and he would mime a sad face. The person with the coin in his hand would smile, and open his hand to show a coin was still there. But it was a dime. Bruce said he had to slow down most of his choreography because the audience would not see it all if he did it at full speed.
The poor 3D is because most of the movie is dimly lit, on purpose, because it's in a forest or a cave or under a mountain or winter in New Zealand which is not at all colorful. There is some color in the gold forge, but it is way overdone.
The script is seriously devoid of humor. And these are not your Santa's elves. Not even close. They are mean, bigoted and hold a grudge. Or three.
Ken Stott as Balin is outstanding. You might say his performance dwarfs most of the others. Benedict Cumberbatch's voicing of Smaug is superb. Quite the erudite dragon. Sylvester McCoy makes what amounts to a cameo as Radagast, but still is memorable. Evangeline Lilly is a very sexy killing machine, who still manages to coyly hide her crush from everyone except the audience. I still have trouble telling Legolas and the blonde king apart - I think the king is taller and thinner. And meaner. They did a better job making the Orcs individuals than last time, but to the point where some faces did not look Orc-ish.
Special defects were mostly highly implausible Rube Goldberg sequences. Smaug CGI repeats the same loops several times, with different foregrounds. The invisibility effect was backwards - we are shown it as the blurred vision of the invisible character, rather than cutting between a clear view by Mr. Invisible and the scene without him. They do it right maybe twice out of 12 times.
It is a long movie, and feels longer. Just when it gets exciting, lights come on and the credits roll. It took everyone by surprise, and it was not a pleasant surprise. It was "I paid $11 for this? I could have gone to Philomena for $7 and seen a whole movie" kind of surprise.
The entire sequel has been telegraphed, and it will include lots of Orcs, fire, panicking townspeople, and possibly some requited cross-species love. We know what will happen to the dragon, and the loose ends will be:
- What happens to Gandalf?
- Does Bilbo's little shiny trinket do him in?
- Does Thorin's big shiny trinket do him in?
- Will the Elves legalize gay marriage?
- And what about Naomi? I mean Radagast.
- Will there also be three Colberts in #3? (Stephen and his sons Peter and John appear in bit parts. Make that 4 - Stephen's wife Evelyn McGee is also in the flick)
Bottom line: if you must see it, do it in 2D. Better to wait for the three to come out on DVD.
Starbucks, because it was not the warm sunny day which had been predicted, but heavily overcast and chilly. And for the eye candy. And to glom onto their wifi on my laptop and install Office 2013, aka 365, and update Norton virus definitions and Firefox. But the wifi was at a crawl, so I reluctantly closed up the machine and finished all that at home where I have 5GHz wireless.
Late lunch of something I can't remember. FFed through the Military Bowl because my nephew is a Terp. They lost - kind of packed up and went home with 5 minutes left to play. Sad, it was still winnable.
Dinner was Penang beef meatballs, from an old family recipe I made up as I went along. Excellent use of my new kafir lime tree's leaves. Basically it was just a dollop of Penang curry in a can's worth of coconut milk (the creamy kind) with the lime leaves chopped very fine. Simmer until the curry is mixed in, and add lean ground beef meatballs (made by hand). Simmer for 15 minutes, turn the heat way down for another 15. Probably could have stopped at 15.
Watched the start of the Kill Hunger Bowl which was in San Francisco, my alma mater crushed BYU on the scoreboard, but lost on every other stat except special teams. Wish I had known ab out it sooner, I might have gone. Alumni band is supposed to alert me, they failed. Maybe they were told no alumni band. like the Rose Bowl does. :-(
Paused at halftime because in the mail tonight was a notice from the home insurance company that they want $200 more by January 4 because I am not entitled to the Allstate preferred partner rate because there is no security system. That makes the insurance $150 more a year than what the lender offered, instead of $50 less. Also the lender's coverage is for the full price, which Allstate's partner's is not. So I fired up the scanner, made a PDF of the letter, emailed a "please help me" message to the loan arranger with copies to Allstate, the mfg rep, her assistant and the escrow officer.
What I want to have happen is for the lender to use their insurance, which will raise my monthly payment by about $5-10, give me full coverage and get rid of the bait-and-switch. This is more than a month after everything was supposed to be done, and I am pissed. Comcast's home security is $40 a month, $480 a year, not worth the Allstate insurance rate hike, which is no doubt part of the scam.
In other insurance news, yesterday Allstate gave me an estimate on earthquake insurance. Their lowest cost one is $1700/year and has a $15,000 deductible. That's a non-starter. I doubt that a quake would cause $17k in damage to this place.
Oh, the whale tour group I went with in the summer is showing amazing pics this week of dolphin pods and grey whales, so I'm going down there Sunday to bring them one of my calendars which has this as the cover:
and one month is a montage of 5 photos from my 3 outings. May, I think.
I finally got around to ordering a case of treats for Domino, changed the litterbox so need to order refills. One cat = 1 litterbox = 1/2 the order.
Plans for tomorrow:
Make a reservation for the Sunday afternoon whale watch
Maybe watch some football
If the sun comes out as they predict, go to the park and watch RC planes and drones.