Do These 3D Glasses Hide My Tears? The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies Review

Welp, the last Hobbit movie has finally come out. Before we go any further, let’s pour one out for the franchise—this is the last time (barring a Peter Jackson Silmarillion adaptation—fingers crossed) that we’ll be able to see a new Lord of the Rings movie in theaters. I didn’t have high hopes for the final installation in the series, since the first two were a little bit too long for my tastes. So I don’t know if it was a result of my low expectations or what, but I was surprised to find I actually enjoyed Battle of the Five Armies.

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Oh, My Pop Culture Religion: The Old Gods and the New

Historically speaking, humans have had a real knack for identifying superficial differences in people and separating them into categories based on those differences. This system is a very effective means of discrimination, because once it is clear that two groups are different, it becomes easier to make arguments (ridiculous though they may be) about which group is superior. Differences in religious belief have caused some of the more dramatic incidents of division and discrimination throughout the course of civilization—I’m looking at you, Crusades—but separating religions themselves into categories can have more subtle and long-term effects on culture.

Gettin' real homogenous up in here.

Gettin’ real homogenous up in here.

With each new generation of believers, there is a slow evolution of “old” and “new” beliefs. Once-thriving religions, especially Pagan religions, are now either shunned into the realm of mythology or considered to be hokey counter-culture territory. This is a distinction we see mimicked in fantasy worlds. Even in alternate universes or histories where magic is plainly observable and actual deities occasionally turn up in unquestionable physical form, there is often a distinction between the “old” and “new” religion, and with that distinction comes a division of people: those who follow the old gods, and those who follow the new. This distinction typically comes with some indication of which religion is supposedly superior: in some narratives the old gods are benevolent and powerful, and the new gods are forcing them out of their rightful dominion, and in others the old gods are wicked and archaic, and the new religion eclipsing them changes the world for the better. Continue reading

Trailer Tuesdays: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

The trailer for the final film in the Hobbit trilogy has finally been released, and to paraphrase Thorin Oakenshield, I’ve never been so torn about something in all my life.

Spoilers ahead for those of you who haven’t read a 75-year-old book.

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Magical Mondays: The Mystical in Middle-earth

I consider the magic that takes place in The Lord of the Rings to be very unique. In many of the current crop of fantasy stories, a human finds out that he or she has a special gift that is construed as magic. He or she uses this newly-found gift to solve some problem, and there is your story.

11534_origThe magic in The Lord of the Rings is interesting to me because, even if magic might be used for the occasional good intention, it actually causes more problems than it solves. Furthermore, none of the beings performing magic are human, or even mortal.

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The Hobbit’s Lady Problem

Spoiler alert for an 80-year-old-book: Kili dies. Their romance isn't gonna undermine anything.

Spoiler alert for an 80-year-old-book, guys: Kili dies. Their romance isn’t gonna undermine anything.

I am, quite obviously, a huge proponent of adding more ladies to everything. Strong ladies, weak ladies, ladies of color, queer ladies; just put more ladies in things. However, in my latest Hobbit review, I noted that I had a few problems with Tauriel, an elf lady who was created for the film as a way of increasing its gender diversity. I was one of her strongest defenders pre-film, and found many if not all of the critiques of her inclusion ridiculous, varying from canon overenthusiasm, to gay fetishization (“If she has a romance with Kili, it undermines the meaning of Legolas’s—non-canonical—romance with Gimli”), to flat-out misogyny.

That said, the internet seems to have polarized into two opinions about her. One side, which I have generally avoided interacting with, continues to decry her being included at all. The other side, in a rather overcompensatory show of support, has been singing her praises in such a loud voice that it refuses to acknowledge any but the most inconsequential problems with her character. And here’s the thing: there were definite problems with her, namely that she was both the only adult woman in the film with a name, and a flirtatious nobleminded warrior sassy soldier healer with a love triangle and a forbidden romance. There are two ways the movie could have fixed this.

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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Review

hobbit_desolation_of_smaug_posterJust like last year, I went to the Hobbit movie’s midnight premiere. Unlike last year, I didn’t stay up after getting home from the movie to write a review. I know, I know: get my head in the game. Our readers are dying to know what I thought! Well, wait no longer, as my opinions can be found, along with plenty of spoilers, right below this handy-dandy jump.

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Theatre Thursdays: The LotR musical lives again!

Lord_of_the_Rings_musical_logoToday I have exciting news! The musical adaptation of The Lord of the Rings will soon play again! If you haven’t heard of this musical, I understand. It premiered for previews in Toronto in 2007, was edited and moved to London where it ran for a shaky year, and hasn’t really been talked about since then.

I was very interested in seeing this show, but since it never came to America I was unable to do so. As such, I was ecstatic when playbill.com broke the news that the show will be launching a world tour in 2015!

There aren’t many details just yet, but according to the article, the show will be re-worked to accommodate various theaters. This is somewhat disappointing because the incredible stagecraft of the original was one of the main draws for me.

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