Rick and I were checking the Fandango app this morning and were shocked when we saw some of the reviews for The Hobbit - The Unexpected Journey. We thought it was a great movie; every bit on level with The Lord of the Rings trilogy and a wonderful adaptation and return to that world from a decade ago. It seems, however, that the critics don't agree. So so, they said, it was ok. And one really hit a mark that I feared might happen with this series:
"It lacks the magic of the original LOTR trilogy."
Rick was appalled. I was too, until I read between the lines of that review and saw what they were really saying. It isn't that the movie doesn't deliver. It's that the novelty has worn off. People saw all of this 10+ years ago. It delivers what we know and expect from Peter Jackson's work with this franchise. The problem is that it isn't new. The only thing The Hobbit really offers that we didn't see in LOTR is Smaug the Dragon, and he isn't clearly seen in this movie. I think too that I complained about that in my initial reactions to the movie. There's a dragon but we don't see him - that was my one grip about the movie. Hints and signs. No doubt they're waiting to pull out their "bad boy" next time, but for now, we wait and must settle with the set up of what we know preparing to deliver what we don't know.
This is a problem that's faced repeatedly not only in entertainment, but in real life. I call it "the novelty effect." When we discover something new there's an excitement there. We want to learn all we can about it. It captivates and interest us. The problem is that as we come to know this thing, it becomes less new and more routine. It takes more to impress us and capture our interest. It becomes routine and the "wow" factor is gone. It's not that we don't like it anymore - we still do like and appreciate it's uniqueness and what first captured us, but that captivation melts away and the bar is set ever higher. It takes more to impress us. We need something new, something surprising and exciting, to pique our interest again.
It happens in all areas of life. The job that challenged and inspired us becomes mundane drudgery after a few years. Maybe you feel you aren't learning and growing as much as you did in those first years and you're probably right - after all, once you master it, then all that's left is to find new and better ways to do the same old things. That hobby that you loved just doesn't interest you as much as it once did. You loved it before, but again, you feel stuck in a rut. You're skill level plateaued, and you aren't really excelling as much as you thought. Or if it's not competitive and it's something you do on yoru own, you, find yourself gravitating toward the same old things over and over again, and you don't know how to break free and find that spark that first drew you in. You aren't as excited about it.
In short, you get bored. It becomes a rut and you feel stuck. As we say about television, there's 200 channels and nothing all. We've seen it all. We want something new and exciting.
I believe "the novelty effect" is one thing that makes finding balance in life difficult. It's why we always need to be mindful of ourselves and the world around us, and on the lookout to inject new life in old things. It's why we need to learn to find contentment in what we have and stop to appreciate the small pleasures that things bring day to day, and not get addicted to the excitement of adrenaline rushes that are so rare. It's why we need to make sure our thinking isn't falling into a rut with our doing, and to realize how even small changes can perk us up and keep us alert to the minor variations in day to day life. Because life isn't about living from one high to the next. It's about living in the humdrum of every day and learning to appreciate and love the small blessings that make up those days, all the time. It is, after all, the small things that make up the big things. We have to work our way up to them and learn to appreciate what it takes to get us to that level.
It can be hard to simply get up and do what you're supposed to do every day. We so easily fall in those ruts. I think the secret is to challenge ourselves by shaking up the routine. It's why I revolve hobbies. I recently decided to pursue writing short stories again once I finish writing Move and Feathered Frenzy. I realized I have worked exclusively on novels for over three years, and I feel I need to expand my writing skills by delving into something I haven't done in a while. I also started cross stitching again for the first time in nearly two years because I missed it and thought it would be a good change of pace from my regular routine. These aren't big things, but they're significant enough that I feel a spark of inspiration from the novelty that drew me to these things in the first place. So no, they aren't changing my life, but they are changing my thinking, and I hope that will open my eyes and help me to keep a good perspective on my life as a whole.
As for The Hobbit, I'll have to respectfully disagree with the critics. No, it didn't drop my jaw the way LOTR did. But it was nice to return to that world and to see it again through the eyes of new characters. The different perspective brought it new life - and that's enough for me.
That's all today. Have a great weekend.
Last year, I did a blog entry on "Things More Interesting Than the Royal Wedding" and talked about things I had my eye on in the spring and summer of 2011. That entry seemed to get some interest and I thought, why not do it again? I mean, stuff is happening all the time, right? So how about an update. Here are 5 things coming down the pipeline that I am watching with great interest:
I've been hearing talk of a TV series about The Green Arrow for a few years, and I'm glad they weren't just rumors. It's real, and it's coming to The CW on Wednesday nights at 8PM. With Supernatural being moved to Wednesdays at 9PM, I'd say this could be a winning combination - after all, Smallville and Supernatural back to back worked well, and this is something very similar. I'm a sucker for superheros and I'm definitely going to check it out. You can find more, along with a trailer for the promo episode on October 10 at http://www.cwtv.com/shows/arrow
2. The Hobbit.
I was looking forward to 2 movies in 2012: The Avengers, and this. The Avengers was awesome and this too will be epic. Check out the trailer here:
3. The 2012 Election. And not just the Presidential election either - even at the State Level, this is going to be pandemonium. I have a feeling that Election Day 2012 is going to be Festivus for the Rest of Us, because a lot of people have a lot of problems with the way things are going, and that's going to be their day you're gonna hear about it. This election is going to be a 3 ring circus. God help us. I have no idea where things are going to end out but it's gonna be interesting.
4. The iPad Mini. I know it's just rumors, and really it's not specifically about this device. I'm interested to see how the tablet market continues to evolve. It seems to me that everything is drawing off everything else and they're trying to keep developing the "one thing to rule it all." For example, from what I've heard, the concept of the iPad Mini is to make it more like the Kindle Fire. I have no doubts that laptops, tablets, and ereaders will be one in the same device in the near future, especially from what I've heard about how the upcoming Windows 8 will look more like a tablet than a PC. Yep, it won't be long. The thing with that, though, is pricing. No doubt, a device that's a laptop/ereader/tablet would be exhorbantly expensive, which isn't exactly a way to put it in the power of the people. But who knows what they'll come up with. At any rate, this market is moving fast and I'm interested to see where this train is going.
5. The Justice League Movie. Again it's rumors, but I've been hearing murmurs of this happening on and off for a little while, and they've reignited with the success of The Avengers. I'd like to see such a thing, but the fact of the matter is that Marvel acted in good faith first, so DC is going to have to pull a hell of a rabbit of their hat to top that. Plus, Marvel is keeping up the momentum with Iron Man 3 coming soon and Thor 2 in the works. With the flop of The Green Lantern (which was a disappointment), DC has a lot of ground to cover in catching up. They better step up the pace and get in the ring soon, or the "superhero" market is going to play out and they'll be after midnight getting to the ball. In other words, they need to get moving before the next big thing breaks - and while Marvel has the momentum going NOW. When it comes to things like this, timing is everything.
So there you have it - 5 things I'm watching with great interest. Some are certain, some aren't, but I think I can say for sure that you're going to see momentum going on all of these in the coming months.
Happy Friday to you all, and I hope you have a great weekend.
I am hoping that the "wow" factor is coming back into my life. After a year and a half of not finding it anywhere but in writing my own novels, it seems to be making a return. Bless it, and I hope it stays. It seems that the older I get, the harder it gets to, for lack of a better term, knock my socks off. I don't know if it's because I've been stressed out with so much change in my life lately, if life itself has jaded me into just not caring as much, or if the effort hasn't been put in by others to produce outstanding efforts.
I will admit that I have just started reading and watching new movies again, after quite a long hiatus. In fact, I've been to the movies three times in as many weeks, which must be a new record for me. "Thor" was the first movie that I saw since "The Chronicles of Narnia - Prince Caspian." The reason for this is simple: Going to the movies is kind of expensive, so if I'm going to spend that money to sit in the same place for 2-3 hours, then it better captivate me. And you know me - I'm a plot junkie that loves movies that spend a ridiculous amount of money on special effects. "Thor" certainly met that criteria, and today we saw "X-Men: First Class." All I can say is that between the 2 movies, my eyes nearly popped out from all the outstanding effects - and they had great story lines too. They definitely had the wow factor going, and it was great to see it again. I'm glad to see more will be coming in the way of "The Green Lantern" and "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." The summer of superheros is what I've heard it called, and it's right - but that's alright with me. I love this stuff.
I'll tell you what else is alright with me: I'm writing again! That's why I haven't blogged here in a while. I've been working on a short story, 2 flash fiction pieces, and yesterday I had an idea for another short story. One very common theme that seems to be running through them all is transitions - especially in the sense of endings and new beginnings. That's understandable, considering the events in my life over the past year. It concerned me a bit, but I decided to just roll with it and see if there are ways to package it differently in each piece. Why not? I've always written what was in me before, so why try to push myself to something I'm not feeling now? Reality inspires fiction, and frankly it's good to work on short stories after over 18 months of working on novels. Don't get me wrong; I love writing novels, but it's good to do something different every now and then. Novels are so intensive, and short stories are great because you can do a burst of work here and there and have something great.
So I have the "wow" factor going in entertainment and writing now, and I'm glad for it. Let's keep that train running for as long as we can! Now if only I could find more time to read. Well, as hot as it's getting outside already, I suspect I'll be doing more reading this summer since it's way to hot to be outside!
That's all for this time. I hope your summer is off to a great start. So far, I have to say I'm pretty happy with where this one is going. I pray it stays on this great track.