Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Hobbit

The Hobbit
Before I begin this review: yes, I read the book. When the opening title appeared reading “The Hobbit” and the familiar tune played, I was overcome with delight—I have been closely anticipating this movie for a long time. “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” ran a total of two hours and fifty minutes: a substantially lengthy movie. Yet it is still part one of three. I find it a bit odd that they decided to make three movies out of one book, while they made three movies for three books when making Lord of the Rings—even though The Hobbit is shorter than any of The Lord of the Rings books. Is “trilogizing” The Hobbit really necessary? The Hobbit is not even as epic or complex as the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I wondered at first how they would even find enough material for three whole movies without adding things not in the book.
Preceding Walden Media's production of Voyage of the Dawn Treader, many fans cried “bloody murder” when they found out about the incorporation of "green mist" as a representation of the White Witch because it was not congruent with the original book. But unless you're a hardcore purist, there are none such drastic differences or additions in The Hobbit in comparison with the book. Admittedly, there are some things not “in the book” but I am told that these adages still count as original cannon Tolkien because they are included in various appendixes.
Having read the book, I was expecting a few people to die, but they surprisingly did not. If you read the book, you know whom I'm talking about, though I will not spoil it for those who have not. I guess we'll have to wait for the next two movies to find out if they die. The scenery and CGI was as spectacular as The Lord of the Rings movies, perhaps more so in some parts. You won't see much of Smaug in this movie, which may disappoint you. You never even see a full-body shot. But I will be looking forward to seeing more of the dragon in the next movies. The ending was handled well—it did not leave you hanging too desperately, but did indicate that there was more to come.
The actors. Lord of the Rings fans will enjoy once again seeing Elijah Wood, Ian Holm,  Ian McKellen, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, and of course, Andy Serkis—though the actor of Gollum is not technically seen.
Approximately ten years later they “haven't aged a day,” to quote Gandalf from The Fellowship of the Ring. What form of witchcraft is this?! No doubt the One Ring had something to do with this remarkable absence of aging. Frodo, Gandalf, old Bilbo, Galadriel, Elrond, and Saruman all look just like they did in The Lord of the Rings. Of course, some of this aging magic admittedly has something to do with digital alteration.
Martin Freeman as Bilbo was an excellent casting choice. I am not just saying that because I'm a BBC Sherlock fan, in fact I haven't even seen that show. So when I say that I loved Freeman as Bilbo I speak completely objectivity. The dwarves' personalities were of quality and memorable. However, I still do not have a grasp of all of them individually. Thorin was well done and true to the book. Not that I personally likehim, but his character design was excellent. Who's my favorite dwarf so far? Kili, brother of Fili. An no, not just because he's younger and more good looking than the other dwarves, but because of these reasons: I think his acting was of a good quality, he had a more substantial role, I liked his personality, he was entertaining to watch, funny, and yes, he's younger and sorta good-looking.
 The Hobbit is rated PG-13, mostly for fantasy violence. I do not find this to be anything to worry about, other than perhaps for very young children. I highly recommend The Hobbit, even for people who are not familiar with Tolkien's middle earth, as The Hobbit comes chronologically before The Lord of the Rings. In conclusion, the entire film was incredibly impressive—by far the movie of the year. The sweeping landscapes, beautiful sets, incredibly detailed props, creative costume design, and wonderful actors all make for a truly epic movie.
As a note, you may want to check out the Hobbit movie app, which includes character bios and photos, production videos, a 360 view of Hobbiton and Bag End, and a map of Middle Earth. Though most of the things in the app are available on the internet, it's a gorgeous app that I have downloaded and enjoyed.

Criteria                1-10
Creative Characters: 10
Excitement: 9
Plot: 8
Interest: 10
Emotional Involvement: 8
Mature Content: 3

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Poem: Ice Stars

Ice Stars

My lover painted the world with stars for me,

He gave me diamonds that die each night.

How I wish I could save the stars

Put them in my pocket to treasure and keep.

My lover painted the world with stars for me,

In glittering grass and frost on the car.

Cold to the touch,

The black is so deep

The sparkles so bright,

The stars taste like snowflakes.

Precious ice gems

Melt on my pale fingers.

I inhale the chilled air

And long for my love.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Movie Review: Rise of the Guardians

Rise of the Guardians
Yesterday I went to see "Rise of the Guardians" at the theater and loved it. I fell immediately in love with the main character, Jack Frost. Of course, the animation was a glory to behold. Every scene I wanted to just pause and take in all of the richly designed animation. The beauty of this animation was just breathtaking. Rise of the Guardians was purely fine art.
     The action was fun and fast paced, with plenty of dazzle and excitement. The characters where original with great design- not a single flunk character. The humor was fairly good- not side splitting but enjoyable. As an added relief, none of the funny parts were crude or inappropriate.
     This is a great movie for all ages, I went with my family, and all of us teen kids enjoyed it along with our parents. The target audience for this CGI cartoon was probably far younger than teens, but when watching it the only thing that reminded me that I (as a college student) wasn't the target  audience was the fact that there was absolutely nothing inappropriate the. Entire length of the film. Well, technically the Easter Bunny did use the "bloody" as an expression, if you count that as swearing. But give the bunny a break, he's Australian.
     In the movie, The symbolism of the "Man In the Moon" as a God-like figure came across effectively without getting too specific or wacko, as much religious symbolism in movies tend to do. As a matter of fact, I personally found that the ideas expressed were meaningful, universally relevant, and Biblically sound. Two of the main themes of the movie were having faith and finding your purpose. I completely sympathized with Jack Frost's internal dilemma of finding his purpose. Another great component of the movie was that Jack spoke to and believed in the Man In the Moon even though he didn't speak back. There are some rather memorable lines in the movie, but I won't spoil it for those who haven't seen it yet.
     I left the theater with that quiet, melancholy feeling that I always get after seeing a meaningful motion picture. I definitely recommend that you watch this movie with your entire family.

Criteria      1-10
Creative Characters: 9
Excitement: 8
Plot: 7
Interest: 9
Emotional Involvement: 7
Mature Content: 0

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dolphin Tale

I saw Dolphin Tale movie on my 16th birthday in the theatre and I was absolutely giddy with love for this glorious movie. It is about a shy young boy struggling through summer school who encounters dolphin that changes his life.
     This outstanding film is perfect for the whole family and has a terrific cast with people like Ashley Judd, Kris Kristofferson, and Morgan Freeman. And do you know what makes it a hundred times better? It’s based on a true story! I researched online to find out that there are some differences, such as the fact that Winter was actually found not near Clearwater (which is near Tampa) but near Cape Canaveral which is on the other side of Florida, and that Winter’s tale was no amputated but actually fell of because of blood loss, and it took longer in real life to make Winter’s prosthetic tail- a year and a half. Wikipedia says that there are other differences too, but I couldn’t find any reliable backing.
There’s nothing wrong with this movie, nothing at all (other than a single use of d--mn in a song, but it didn’t bother me much).
     *spoiler* My one problem was the painfully undeveloped romance between the two main kid’s single parents. They hinted at it early on, but then did nothing with it! And it would have been so lovely and perfect.
     One thing I really loved in this movie was a young girl named Hazel. Surprisingly this was her first film role, but you would never know it because of the excellent job of acting she did. In the story she is the bubbly homeschooled daughter of the director of the aquarium. She quickly befriends Sawyer.
     You are left with a happy satisfied feeling, the sort you get after you watch a really good movie with a happy ending- which is exactly what you would have just done. I heartily recommend that you buy this splendid film, you will want to have it in your permanent collection.

Criteria      1-10
Creative Characters: 8
Excitement: 7
Plot: 9
Interest: 10
Emotional Involvement: 8
Mature Content: 1

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Dug Down Deep: Unearthing What I Believe and Why It Matters

“I’ve come to learn that theology matters. And it matters not because we want a good grade on a test but because what we know about God shapes the way we think and live… Theology matters, because if we get it wrong, then our whole life will be wrong… We’re all theologians. The question is whether what we know about God is true.” -Joshua Harris

I got a big beautiful hard back version of this book for my birthday, and even though I don’t normally enjoy non-fiction as much as fiction, I loved this book and was enthralled. I found Dug Down Deep to be interesting, necessary, and impacting.
     I’ve been raised in a Christian home. But when I read this book, I was shocked to find out just how much there was that I didn’t know or understand. This book almost reminds me of C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, for the following reasons: Joshua Harris explains why I believe what I believe, he clears up things that I have not previously understood perfectly, he makes me actually believe the things I say I believe, and he addresses things in a clean-cut understandable way.
     Joshua Harris talks about his own life struggles in an honest and relatable way, to address questions like, “Why Jesus? Couldn’t someone else have died?” “What’s all this about feeling the Holy Spirit? It looks like ‘singing songs to the ceiling’ to me!” “I’ve heard a million times that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, but how does that work?”
     His narrative is convincing, humorous, and so honest it’s like a breath of fresh air. I highly recommend you pick up Dug Down Deep at your local Christian book store, so that it can help you understand doctrine the way it helped me.


Monday, June 25, 2012


Guess who just graduated from high school? Moi! I will now be going on to college at Liberty University Online. I'm not sure what semester I will start in though, and I may take some online classes or something first. I totally look forward to all the awesome classes I can take, but also nervous wondering if I will be able to keep up with everything.
     I graduated with my home school group, and we had the ceremony in an auditorium at a local Christian school. It was great. I also had the opportunity to give a speech in front of everyone. Here I shall post what I said:

* * *
     Graduates, right now, this day, is a turning point in our lives. Up until now, our parents have made a lot of our decisions for us- where we go to school, what we do with our day, where we attend church, et cetera. But now is when you have the chance, and the responsibility, to make your own decisions, to decide what you are going to make of yourself and do with your life. Matthew 7:13-14  says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” So I ask you, what will you decide? Will you be one of the few? Really, what I am saying, does not just go for this day, or even this year. This goes for the rest of your life.
     One quote from the movie Hugo stands out in my mind. Hugo says to his friend,  “I'd imagine the whole world was one big machine. Machines never come with any extra parts, you know. They always come with the exact amount they need. So I figured, if the entire world was one big machine, I couldn't be an extra part. I had to be here for some reason.” This profound thought, this truth, is what all of mankind needs to recognize. God put each and every one of us here on earth for a purpose, there are no extra parts.
     So we know that we have a purpose, but what exactly is that purpose? Maybe you already know what you are going to do with your life, but I want to encourage you to keep your doorways open and let God direct you. Proverbs 16:9 says that “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps.” 
And remember that just because God has not shown you a definite calling, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have an important will for your life. Do not wait around for some sort of “sign” to do something with your life, because, the fact is, God has already told us what to do through the Bible. The search for the meaning of life is up- we as Christians already know the answer. In Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus says “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Essentially meaning, love God, love people.
     All humans are born with a spiritual void. The sad thing is, even Christians suffer from this problem. To quote Blaise Pascal, "What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself."
     You see, some try to fill this craving with earthly romance, approval from peers, money, an impressive career, and numerous other things. But none of these things ever really work, and the results are often disastrous. What does this mean? The point of life is not to get married, or have lots of friends, or have a lot of money to buy all the best things, or have a grand career. Though all those things are nice, wonderful even, they are not the most important. 
     Graduates of this homeschool cooperative are members of a select and valuable group. Though we may take it for granted, we are so blessed to have had been nurtured in a Christian homeschool; we have the foundation for greatness. We have the opportunity to do something worthwhile in this life- something lasting and eternal.
     What does it mean to do something lasting? What lasts? Very few things actually. Your relationship with God, and your relationship with those who are in heaven with you. John 15:16 says, "…Go and bear fruit- fruit that will last." What sort of fruit is this verse talking about? Two examples are doing the work of Christ, and having the fruit of the spirit; love, kindness, faithfulness, and so on. These are not, of course, of much worldly value. However, 2 Corinthians 4:18 says, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” This is our mission. Maybe you say you are a Christian, but will you take the call to live for what is eternal?
     Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said, “If you would hit the mark, you must aim a little above it.” I think he has the right approach. I want to challenge you to aim high. 
     Trust God, he will direct you. I think what C.S. Lewis once said applies here, “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.” But do not be afraid of hard work- few things worth doing come easily. The easy fun life often ends up being the hard miserable life in a short time- don’t fool yourself into thinking you’ve escaped reality. If you want to live successfully, look at how others have made their lives good; by setting goals, working hard, and being committed.
     But, you say, “Look at so-and-so they are way better than me. Why should I even try?” Wow, someone is better than you out of seven billion people? Maybe they are smarter, more attractive, or more talented. Guess what? That’s okay. None of those people can fulfill the plan God has for you.
Remember that being The Best is not a worthy goal, feeling second-rate or racing to be Number One is not serving Him. It is hard not to compare yourself to others, but you have to remember that your life is just between you and God. You just have to do your best at what God wants you to do.
     Graduates, I would like to leave you with this charge, which Paul expressed to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:12, “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young,” which is inextricably connected to part two of the verse, “Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.”  
     Deus Vobiscum. May God be with you.
* * *

Oh! By the way, I finished my novel! Co-authored with my sister, of course. It ended up being over 90k words.
     The next thing I am working on is writing a movie script. I have the demo-version of Final Draft but does anyone know of any free programs like it?? It really helps to get the script formatting right.
     Sorry I've been somewhat absent! I've been busy busy busy!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

North Carolina

We recently got back from a trip to North Carolina, specifically the outer banks. It's a beautiful state. There was even wildflowers and landscaping along the roadsides. On the coast of North Carolina the towns blend together on the long wisp of land, with ocean on both sides. It has different feel from somewhere like Florida, though today it’s just as hot as it would be down there. My fair skin stands vulnerable to sunburn in I stay out of souvenir shops for too long. Colorful warehouses selling t-shirts and bikinis, ridiculously overpriced shrimp dinners advertised on billboards, and a mix of old and new hotels line the main drag. Beach-umbrella colors, airbrushed surfboards, and lighthouse figurines adorn the shops.

     Popular sports of the area seem to be surfing, hang gliding, fishing, boating, and parasailing. The water is no where near as nice and warm as it is in the Gulf of Mexico though most don’t mind- very few wear diver’s suits.
     The style of the cities and shores are less parrots-and-palm-trees, more of long-docks-and-lighthouses. Many of the side streets are flooded with inches of water, but no one seems to care much. Tall wooden beach houses on stilts line the shores, many not more than 20 feet apart from each other, in colors like sea foam green and conch shell pink.
     If you know your history, you know that Kitty Hawk North Carolina is where two Buckeye brothers made a name for themselves. We didn’t go up to the monument or the museum- you had to pay. But you could see the enormous obelisk monument from the road and I used the telephoto on my camera to read what the engraving on the side said..
Okay.  Been there, done that. Another thing to check off. But somehow travel is more than that to me.
     This was the land of Kitty Hawk- site of man’s first flight; and of Edward Teach- that is, Blackbeard’s  final resting place. A land of rolling sand dunes held up by wiry grasses, rich history, and unique wildlife. Exotic plants like cacti and bamboo grow naturally on the landscape. There are many brown signs on the roads, signifying natural preserved areas, beaches, and campgrounds.
     The long curving bridges remind me of island hopping in the Keyes. In some places they gracefully arch up to allow boats to pass. In the late afternoon fishermen bring in their catches and lay them upon the dock. The boats have names like Starbreeze, Pelican, and Tuna Fever. The fishing poles are at least twice as high as the boats themselves and look line enormous antennas.
     Yellow machine’s plow the sand on the road- due to the almost constant wind that sculpts the dunes. The dunes are just high enough that you can’t always see the ocean from the car, but every now and then you can get a peak at the sapphire sea over the low-lying shrubs and coarse grass.
     Once as we were crossing we rode congruently with a seagull. They are much bigger up close. White caps and fishing boats could be seen in the distance as Enya played over the stereo. Then endless horizon line, so straight it must have been drawn with a yardstick.

Click to view large!!

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Problem with Snow White Syndrome

Someday my prince will come
Someday we'll meet again
And away to his castle we'll go
To be happy forever I know 
Someday when spring is here
We'll find our love anew
And the birds will sing
And wedding bells will ring
Someday when my dreams come true…

     Now look, I don't mean to hate on Snow White here. But something needs to be said...
     Yah see, all people have a void.  To quote Blaise Pascal, "What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself."
     Essentially, we all have a void, that should be filled with God. But the sad thing is, some girls (and I guess guys too), even Christian girls, try to fill this craving with earthly romance. We are not made to live a life of melancholy wishing. The world may think that this pining for pink hearts and romance is harmless and natural, but I am here to tell you that it is not. Or at least, not to the extent that it is emphasized in out current culture.
     This is why you see girls with stars in their eyes every time they see an eligible young man. This is why you see girls planned their wedding before they are even old enough to date (sometimes this is just harmless fun, but if the focus of your thoughts is a single future event, let's be honest, you need a life). I'm not just saying this because I'm sick of wedding dresses spaming my Pinterest feed. If you want to be a wedding planner or something, have at it. But your life needs to be about loving God and loving the people who are already in your life, not taking cute pictures with your imaginary future husband.
Some girls think life is about having a “significant other” and if it doesn’t come easily or quickly to them, they end up feeling empty and aimless. This is why you see young girls wishing away their lives. This is why you see girls so desperate that they will do anything to get a boyfriend.
     There is no Prince Charming. There is no perfect guy who will carry you off to his castle and make you always feel beautiful and perfectly loved. The only one who will do that is God. In fact, chances are, your life will get harder after marriage. 
     Here is what Christian author Leslie Ludy has to say about this subject:

     "There is endless pressure – both from outside and inside the church – upon single young women to take matters into their own hands when it comes to marriage. Principles such as waiting on God’s perfect timing for marriage, trusting in Him to orchestrate the details of our love story, and finding contentment and purpose in singleness – are not only being questioned by these authors, but openly mocked.
     Here’s a quote from the book Getting Serious About Getting Married – Rethinking the Gift of Singleness:
     'The belief that remaining single is legitimate and godly is a work of the devil. Read that again:  Satan dishonors marriage by fooling us into believing that singleness is okay. (page 43)'
     The author goes on to commend Calvin’s view of singleness:
     '…men and women who are not connected in marriage are like the mutilated members of a mangled body. (page 28)'
     Wow. Talk about putting pressure on young women to shed the stigma of singleness! According to this author, they have actually been fooled by Satan if they think that their singleness is legitimate and okay! She contends that their singleness is far more than just a stigma – it has actually made them like the mutilated members of a mangled body!   If that’s the case, they’d better hurry up and find a husband at all costs, so they can finally be in God’s perfect will and get out of such a horrible pit!   
     And sadly, all too many single young women settle for mediocre, self-focused guys because of messages like this one. As my husband Eric says, 'If a young woman follows that kind of advice, she’s more than likely going to end up with a total jerk for a husband!'"

     This just goes to show you that if the epitome of your life is Prince Charming, then you are setting yourself up for a guaranteed heartbreak. The solution? Don't be obsessed with marriage. Be balanced. If you wait around for the Godly guy who meets all your criteria, chances are you'll be waiting forever. But that also doesn't mean you need to be so desperate you'll settle for any guy who can buy you a bouquet of roses.
     It is nice to dream. But to spend all your time dreaming of finding “true love” is a waste of your life. Live in the now, not dreaming of the future. Your life does not begin on your wedding day. What if Prince Charming never comes? And what if when he does come he isn’t perfect? Even if he does eventually come and you have a great life together, then you are still wasting you life up until that point if that is all you ever think about. Don't wish your life away.
     This is not to say that the desire for marriage is bad, but there is no reason to worry about it- God will take care of it if marriage is what he has planned for you. I mean sure, get out of the house and socialize with some nice guys, God helps those who help themselves, but you don't need to be desperate. And for that matter, marriage is not necessary, in fact it is not at all times even desirable. In 1 Corinthians 7:8 Paul says, “Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.” 
     I will admit that I suffer from this problem as well, but less and less as I realize that God is the only one who will fill the void that I have- a void that no man could ever fill. No man will ever love me as much as God already does. You have all you need right now, so stop waiting, you have God. What is Prince Charming compared to God?

Also, check out this little story from Christanity Today: <<< Don't let that be you. The point here again is BALANCE.

While trying to see if "Snow White Syndrome" was already a term or soemthing, I found this blog post:

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Movie Review: Hugo

Used with permission, image credit: "ashlinglily"

One evening I came in from playing with our dog, and to my surprise, saw the  DVD menu of Hugo on the television screen. I was so happy, because I love watching movies and though I knew little about it, I suspected this would be a good one. Well I can tell you one thing, I was right!
     This film is absolutely spectacular. The camera work, the settings, and lighting are incredibly beautiful and superb. I fell in deep romance with the colors and lighting, it’s worth watching just for that. Set in 1930’s France, the movie has a bit of a Steampunk air, which for this movie I like very much, as it is not in the least overdone. Though there are not a whole lot of brightly-lit scenes in this film, it is not gloomy.
Normally, before I see a movie I know a lot about it. But with this… all I had seen was the trailer, which told very little as to what the movie was even about. So in case you know nothing about this movie, as I did, here is all you need to know: it is about an orphan boy who lives by himself in a train station, who befriends a girl and is involved in a mysterious plot . And I shall tell you no more! It is better that you find out as you watch the movie.
     I cannot think of a single negative aspect of this movie. It was engaging, with a wide audience range, well-done, meaningful, and fun. I rarely like the co-star girls in movies, but in Hugo I thought she was simply wonderful. She made the movie shine, played an important part, and actually had some CHARACTER. Many movies fail to give character to the girl roles, but not this movie!
     This is an extremely clean movie, absolutely nothing wrong with it. In fact, it has some excellent good messages. There is some lovely dialogue, but one quote sticks out in the back of my mind like gold-leaf etching on the cover of a book. Standing in a clock tower overlooking Paris, Hugo says to his friend,  “I'd imagine the whole world was one big machine. Machines never come with any extra parts, you know. They always come with the exact amount they need. So I figured, if the entire world was one big machine, I couldn't be an extra part. I had to be here for some reason.” This, I think, is what the entire movie revolves around. This profound thought is what all of mankind needs to recognize. God put each and every one of us here on earth for a purpose, there are no extra parts.
     I highly recommend this film, buy it, WATCH IT!

Criteria          1-10
Creative Characters: 10
Excitement: 8
Plot: 9
Interest: 10
Well-Written: 10

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Phantom of the Opera

click for source copyright: 
Written by Gaston Leroux and first published in 1909,The Phantom of the Opera is a classic tale of a dramatic romance triangle that is sure to entice you.
     When the story began, it wasn’t very spectacular, and I didn’t really understand everything that was going on, but as I read I began to be enthralled by it. The writing style is wonderful, the characters are well-written, and the storyline is of quality. This is now one of my classic favorites, so much so that I bought a glorious black and red hardback version all for myself! *drools lovingly*
     You would think from the movies, songs, and the musical that this book would have a lot of…ahem, kissing and such. But in fact, the only most explicit thing is a single kiss on the FOREHEAD. However, something you may want to know is that there it a bit of violence. Some hanging, swords and guns, a torture chamber (not exactly what you would think though). A couple profanities are in the book, but not as many as you will find in the film adaptations or even in some of the angry songs sung by the Phantom. I don’t find it to be much to worry about, though.
     I am in no way in the habit of reading Gothic romance novels, but The Phantom of the Opera is really rather different and less cliché than you may expect it to be. It has a wide reader appeal, but most people I know who like it are teenage girls.
     For those teenage girls, beware! The Phantom of the Opera can cause major fangirlism, like: “Erik is so misunderstood you guyses nobody gets him he just need me to hug him forev! OMG Christine is silly if I were her I would have dumped Raoul hes so ugly!” So don’t say I didn’t warn you. But hey, if you’re going to be a fan of something, why not be a fan of an intriguing classic that has stood the test of time?
If you want accuracy, read the book, because so far none of the adaptations that I have seen are quite accurate, and they suffer for each inaccuracy. For heaven’s sake does NO ONE just stick to the book these days? But, I shall not throw them out for their shortcomings, for they can still be rather enjoyable.
    Perhaps the most renowned adaptation is Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1986 musical with  Michael Crawford as the Phantom and Sarah Brightman as Christine. I haven’t seen it, but I know all the songs from it. In my opinion (and you will find that other’s opinions greatly vary here) I think Brightman is good for Christine. She has an innocent and pretty, yet immense voice, and looks right for the part too. However, I am not thrilled with Michael Crawford, he comes across as a bit odd to me and doesn’t have that lovable element. So far my favorite voice for the Phantom that I’ve heard is Antonio Banderas- you can find him singing with Sarah Brightman on YouTube.
     The Phantom of the Opera 2004 movie is, in fact, a musical and seems to pretty much copy Webber's musical. It’s well done, with one of the most AMAZING opening scenes ever, where you see an old chandelier on the ground of an abandoned opera house raising up and transforming along with the rest of the opera house into it’s former beauty. It is a very dramatic and incredible scene, it is worth watching the movie just for that. Some of the other scenes are really wonderful too, but my main annoyance with the film is that they have a flash-back sob story about how the Phantom was kept by a cruel traveling circus as a child or some such nonsense. In the book he WAS part a a circus, but it was not cruel or against his will.
     The Phantom of the Opera 1990 miniseries was all right and I enjoyed it, but ALSO has created an inaccurate past for the Phantom. Not as bad as the circus thing though, I suppose.
     As for the actors that play the roles in all three adaptations I have talked about: everybody always gets the Phantom wrong- it’s like they didn’t read the book and have no idea what he’s supposed to look like. He is supposed to be skeletal with no nose and sunken eyes with a mask covering his entire face, with two holes for his eyes- extremely unattractive. But somehow the movies manage to make him buff and handsome, with the mask barely covering part of his face. Click here to see what he looks like more accurately. Christine is satisfactory, but not particularly perfect. And Raoul is always perfect, haha.
     A popular cover of the main Phantom of the Opera song from Webber’s musical is done by Nightwish (old Nightwish that is, with Tarja as the lead vocalist). It’s not exactly RIGHT like some of the other versions, but I love it. Except of course the guy who sings for the Phantom…. He has long stringy hair and it sounds like he has a sore throat when he sings. But alas, nothing is perfect.
     Conclusion? Read the book. The BOOK. Then, if you like it, go ahead and sing the songs, save the fan-art to your computer, and watch all the film adaptations if it so pleases you as it has me.

Criteria                      1-10
Creative Characters: 7
Excitement: 9
Plot: 10
Interest: 9
Well-Written: 10
Emotional Involvement: 10
Mature Content: 3

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Hiding Place

The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom (with Elizabeth and John Sherril) is definitely a winner. I read it for book club at the suggestion of a friend, and was immediately drawn into it by the first-person narrative. It is a biography, but it reads like a story- a story of a Christian woman and her family living in Holland, who become leaders in an underground operation to protect the lives of Jews from the Nazis. I expected it to be depressing, what with the horrors of a concentration camp that Corrie was forced to suffer; but surprisingly, with Corrie and her sister Betsie’s optimism and relationship with God, I found it to be very inspiring.
    I have not seen the 1975 movie version of The Hiding Place, but it looks good, although not necessarily perfectly accurate.
     This book admittedly does not start out with a lot of action, but I wouldn't have it any other way. The beginning of the book, before the German occupation, is very essential for reasons of showing contrast, and how sound principles from a common life can be extraordinary if displayed in times of trouble.
    “Mama” Corrie’s mother, said that “Happiness isn't something that depends on our surroundings… It’s something that we make inside ourselves.” This quote may sound like a nice little motto to you and me, but Corrie and her sister actually lived it. Even in the worst imaginable surroundings she could honestly be thankful to God. This book taught me that God’s light shines the brightest in the darkest places. Corrie suffered the German occupation of Holland, prison, and even a Nazi concentration camp, but with her astounding faith in God she made it through and is now an inspiration to millions.
     Perhaps the most astounding thing of all, is that after the war was over and Corrie was back in her own home after suffering the more than cruel treatment of the concentration camps, even resulting in the death of her own beloved sister, Corrie extends a hand of forgiveness and love towards those who had taken part in inflicting suffering on her and her countrymen.
     Chances are, that you have been wronged. Maybe your situation was never as bad as Corrie’s, but everyone eventually suffers, whether at the hand of a government, another person, or merely chance. Maybe emotion wells up inside of you that you don’t know what to do with. It’s anger, it’s sorrow, it’s desperation… But everyone is given a choice, no matter what their circumstance, or what they have experienced. One can either choose the path of love and forgiveness (but not necessarily pacifism), or of hate and revenge. Read The Hiding Place, and decide for yourself what to choose.

Criteria                   1-10
Creative Characters: 10
Excitement: 7
Plot: 10
Interest: 9
Well-Written: 10
Emotional Involvement: 9
Mature Content: 3