Kathleen
Catching Fire was stunning, everything I'd hoped for and more, transforming my least favorite book of the trilogy into a film I loved even more than the first. It was extremely faithful, too, retaining all the scenes I liked while still being a gorgeous film, even if the action felt more visceral than the last film. The costumes were beautiful, especially Katniss's mockingjay dress, the arena was impressive, and everything seemed more vivid and realistic than before. The rebellion scenes were done extremely well, disturbing enough to be affective, and I couldn't help crying during the part when Katniss talks to Thresh's and Rue's families. Jennifer Lawrence was amazing. I was very unhappy with the casting choice, did my best to tolerate her for most of the first film, but she's finally won me over, turning in a performance that gave me chills, most so in the final scene as well as the part where she shoots the arrow into the sky's force field. Peeta was wonderful, still my forever favorite, quietly loving Katniss from a distance and trying to save her at any cost. I teared up during the scene where he holds the morphling girl as she dies and distracts her by getting her to look at the sunrise. Despite the amount of Gale/Katniss moments, there were so many moments of Peeta/Katniss. I loved Katniss and Peeta's scene on the beach, the pearl scene, and the part on the train where they talk about their favorite colors. Peeta's locket hit me the hardest, though, because as much as he loves Katniss he included Gale. Everyone, especially Effie got more depth in this film, and I choked up when she actually cried about Peeta and Katniss going back in the arena, as well as the scene where she was trying to unite the team. I've grown to love movie Haymitch in a way I never bonded with the book character, and I loved his anger at the capitol when they announce the Quarter Quell as well as him standing up to the Peacekeepers. Cinna's death was as horrific as I'd imagined. He was always one of my favorites and it hurt to see it happen, even though I was prepared for it. Mags was lovely, as tragic as little Rue, but so courageous, and both Wiress and Beetee were fascinating. My only disappointment was the lack of Gloss and Cashmere. They're my favorite one book characters, and I ship them to pieces, but they sadly had no character development, hardly any screen time, and a single line between the two of them. President Snow's granddaughter was surprisingly delightful, quite unlike her grandfather and such a little Peeta/Katniss shipper! Joanna surprised me the most. She was my least favorite character in the series, and while she's still loud-mouthed and even annoying the flashes of humanity, especially the scene where she urges Katniss to "make them pay" made me see her in a different, much better light. Finnick, too, who I always found annoying and unnecessary, was much better than I'd expected, and while he still isn't my favorite I appreciate him a lot more now. The actor wouldn't have been my choice but he impressed me, especially during Mag's death and his face as he watches Katniss after he saved Peeta. I was so glad the force field/CPR scene was left in after they cut out most of the whump from the last film - I can't help it, I need my guilty pleasure. While I have a lot of issues with Gale I thought the actor did a good job with the role, actually getting to do something this film, and I liked, in a way, that Gale's whipping was the result of trying to save someone instead of just stealing. Prim was wonderful, so much more grown up and yet still so innocent, and she made my heart ache as much as in the last film. The ending was as painful as I'd dreaded - I barely survived the wait between the Catching Fire and Mockingjay books - but I adored how the pin turned into the mockingjay at the end.

I've been working my way through Christian Bale's films, starting with the stunning Reign Of Fire. Christian Bale was incredible as Quinn, reducing me to tears during the scene where his friend gets killed, and making me smile during his adorable moments play-acting for the children. I loved his relationships with Alex and Jared, and that the three got their happy ending, although I was saddened by Creedy's death; I loved him and his beautiful Scottish accent. The scenery of dystopian England was amazing, and there were so many moments I loved. Next was the true story Rescue Dawn. Christian Bale, as expected, was stunning and everything about the film was stunningly authentic to the point of being painful and difficult to watch while also being an inspiring story of survival. Next was Terminator Salvation and despite not knowing the prior films I became fascinated by the dark and strange world of it. Marcus was a haunting character, deeply tragic and ultimately human, and the significance of him giving his heart - his most human part - in sacrifice to save John's life was poignant. I teared up when little Star took his hand. Kyle, too, was a fascinating character. Next was Captain Corelli's Mandolin, an intriguing and beautiful love story against some unfamiliar history which caught my interest. The twists and turns in the plot were excellent, the ending lovely but sad, and I liked Antonio, but I still wish Pelagia had chosen Mandras. Christian Bale was wonderful as Mandras, a gentle and ultimately deeply selfless character. After that was the stunning Equilibrium which was both thought-provoking and fascinating, with a richly detailed futuristic world. I loved Christian Bale's role - and whoa, what an acting job - as Preston slowly learns to feel. The scene where he listens to the music was incredibly touching, and I teared up when he breaks down after failing to save Mary. The ending was perfect, the right balance of hope and loss.

In other new films I saw the stunning The Island, a fast-paced dystopian story with Ewan McGregor doing a superb job as the somewhat innocent and yet heroic Lincoln. I loved the concept and plot, as well as the surprisingly happy ending. Next was Moulin Rouge, a gorgeous and heartbreaking musical. Ewan McGregor was fabulous as the idealistic, tragic Christian; I'm truly learning to appreciate his roles, and I adored the love story as well as the riches colors and sets of the film. The songs were lovely, too, as was the dancing, and the ending reduced me to tears. After that was the live-action '90s adaptation of The Jungle Book, a lovely and wonderful version. I loved Mowgli, especially his friendships with the animals and him learning human ways, and the happy ending as well as the filming was beautiful. Next was Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters, the next film in the series and as much a treat as the first one. I adored Tyson, such a sweet character, and was so glad to see him survive and be accepted by the others. Percy's skills with water were as impressive as ever, and the friendship between the half-bloods and Grover was lovely. As in the last film the re-imagining of myths was cleverly done - I especially loved the chariot and Hermes running a Fed-Ex store - with plenty of heroics and amusing moments. Then was the bizarre Inception with it's richly detailed world and complex plot which fascinated me. Leonard DiCaprio was excellent as Dom and I loved the recurring theme of the spinning top as well as the open, yet happy final scene. Next was the whimsical Big Fish. Ewan McGregor was charming in as Edward, the settings and characters were lovely, and the bittersweet ending was perfect. After that was the amusing and often hilarious spoof Austenland. I giggled at the in-jokes and loved most of the over-the-top characters. Next was 2000's Arabian Nights, a fascinating and beautifully done adaptation with magical characters and a richly detailed world. I especially loved the "Three Brothers" story, as well as the story within a story within a story format but it was all amazing. Next was the visually gorgeous The Illusionist, an unusual and fascinating peek into the magical world of a stage magician during the turn of the century. The historical accuracy was impressive, the ending was jaw-dropping, and I loved how beautiful everything was. After that was the haunting The Book Thief, a gorgeous and slow-moving WWII drama. I fell in love with the characters, especially Max and Liesel and was so glad to see them both survive and reunite..I found myself shipping them as the story went on. Having Death as the narrator added a poignant feel to the story, and the ending was beautiful. Next was the gorgeously filmed and unusual Oblivion. Jack - all of them - fascinated me, as did his poignant retained and shared memories and ultimate sacrifice. The ending was beautiful and hopeful. Then was the surprisingly good Real Steel. I was expecting little and instead fell in love with the story and characters, even choking up at the end when Charlie hugged Max. Their relationship, as well as Charlie and Bailey's were beautiful, and I loved Atom. Charlie was a wonderful mixture of gruff and gentle, and it ended up being one of my very favorite of Hugh Jackman's roles. Next was Ender's Game, a haunting and visually stunning film with a stunning, poignant ending. I sobbed when the alien wiped away Ender's tears, and during the bittersweet ending, and I loved Ender's closeness with his sister and team. After that was the adorable Kate & Leopold. Hugh Jackman was adorable and quite dreamy as the time traveler, and I loved the romance, as well as the other characters. Next was The Alamo, a moving account of the history. Juan Seguin was a fascinating character, and I loved the poignancy of the events as well as the beautiful filming. I tried the 2013 version of Romeo and Juliet which was a mixture of lovely and disappointing. The score and filming was gorgeous, and the added moments such as a glimpse of what a happy ending would have been like or the final scene when their hands are placed together were hauntingly poignant. Benvolio was precious and Tybalt and Mercutio were the best versions I've seen. Douglas Booth was surprisingly good as Romeo, despite a weak start, fusing emotion and passion into the role and excelling best in his scenes away from Juliet such as the part where he learns of her death. The beginning of the film felt rushed, with not enough time given to learn the characters or be invested in them, and Romeo and Juliet's relationship was far too fast. Hailee Steinfeld, sadly, was the worst part of the film, rushing and barely forming her lines, and emotionally flat in nearly every scene, and I couldn't care about her character in the least. After that was the haunting The Help, a poignant and deeply moving look at a tough issue, with stunning acting and beautiful period detail. Next I saw Nanny McPhee and it's sequel Nanny McPhee Returns which I ended up loving more than the first. The first was very cute, though, and I loved the happy ending and the lovely wedding, especially the snowy wedding dress. The sequel was perfect, though, with it's wonderful WWII setting, gentle humor, loveable characters, and an unexpected and poignant final tie-in to the first film. The children were quite talented, and despite him having only a tiny role I adored Ewan McGregor as their father. The final scene made me tear up, as did the part where Norman and Cyril visit Cyril's father. Then was The Impossible, a gorgeous and beautifully filmed true story which made me sob and fall in love with the family and their closeness as they went through their ordeal. I'm starting to adore Ewan McGregor and he, like the rest of the cast, did a stunning job. Next was Cowboys & Aliens a fun smash-up of two genres that managed to pack in some poignant moments and a touch of steampunk. Jake was a unique mix of violent anti-hero and gentleness, and I loved following his journey. Then was Valkyrie, an excellent and poignant true story.The period details were impressive, even if I wished the cast had German accents, and Tom Cruise even resembled the real man quite a bit. The final scene telling the history was very moving. Next was the lovely Under the Greenwood Tree with a lovely cast and sweet romance and setting. Then was The Secret of Roan Inish, one of the first movies I ever saw and my introduction to selkies. I appreciate it so much more as an adult, and its so beautiful and unique. Next was the strange but gorgeous film The Piano. I adored the theme and imagery and the ending was beautiful. Next was the tragic but gripping Agora which fascinated and moved me. Then was the lovely and strange Ondine. Colin Farrell was excellent as always and I loved the fairytale feel.

I've been working my way through the Hornblower films and they're amazing, everything I didn't know I wanted with sailors and ships and gorgeous period detail. The characters are all fascinating, the world richly filled, and everything is so beautiful it's a treat. I love Horatio; he's fabulous, both hot-tempered and kind at heart. Archie is also lovely, such a sweet, tragic character, and I love his friendship with Horatio. As I expected "Retribution" destroyed me emotionally. I adored Archie, and his death was heartbreaking, more so in that he died giving up his good name, the only thing he had left, to save Horatio, and no one can ever know. The way his death was shown with him vanishing was poignantly beautiful and haunting. I was glad Bush survived his injuries, though. Sadly, though, Horatio becomes a much harder character without Archie's sweet spirit to temper him, and I miss the optimistic young sailor I loved so much in the early films. Maria is a sweet character, though, and I wish they'd continued the films to show Horatio as a father and hopefully learning to love Maria.

I'm working my way through Band Of Brothers and the authenticity is impressive to the point of being painful to watch, especially with it's raw mix of horror and beauty. My favorite character is Eugene Roe, a sad and easy to love medic, and I adore his soft Cajun accent. I also really like Winters and his friendship with Nixon.

I saw the short film Heartless, a backstory for the Tin Man of Oz and was impressed by it's faithfulness and poignancy. I loved the more steampunk look of the Tin Man, leaving the human eyes, and the ending where he's humming the song while rusted in place was heartbreaking.

I'm watching the fifth and final season of Stargate Atlantis, a show I'm going to miss terribly, and despite some changes it's as excellent as always. The replicators storyline as well as Elizabeth's character mercifully finally end with an episode that almost manages to make me feel sorry for her. I think the new actress helps considerably. Instead the focus transfers and continues with Teyla and her son against Michael's ever-horrific experiments. I'm still not sold on the baby storyline, which felt forced, rushed, and out of character, something that could have been greatly improved if the baby's father had been introduced before the storyline, since I don't really mind him although I don't know anything about him, or better yet, making the father one of the regular characters. I gave a little shriek when Elizabeth questioned whether Sheppard could be the father, and with Teyla giving him the middle name of John I'd love to see someone do an AU of it. But, anyway, everyone, especially Sheppard and McKay are adorable with the baby, and I loved that Sheppard was able to somewhat make his peace over the people he's lost by managing to save Teyla and the baby, even so badly injured. Like Sheppard, McKay gets even more depth, and it stuns me to look back and see how much I disliked the egotistical character I first met in episode one compared to how much I love him now, giggling when he talks or complains, and tearing up when he gets hurt. "The Shrine" was an amazing acting job for David Hewlett, too, filled with h/c and some deeply poignant moments between the whole team. Samantha has sadly been removed from command, appearing only in the pilot, to be replaced with Woolsey, and while far from my favorite, he's not as bad as I'd feared and even occasionally shows a human, even amusing side. To my delight, Carson is cured and awake, appearing in several episodes, and clone or not, it warms my heart to hear that lovely Scottish accent again and watch him saving lives, even making it more bearable to tolerate Jennifer. I'm definitely not enjoying the McKay/Jennifer shipping of the season, though, even if it's nice to see McKay happy. I'm glad, after all that happened to the first Carson, that this one got a hopeful, even happy ending. "The Daedalus Variations" is an intriguing concept with a hilarious moment when Sheppard highly praises his alternate reality self. Other excellent episodes include the painful but incredible "Broken Ties" in which Ronon is captured and tortured by the wraith into an addiction to the enzyme. Watching him go through withdrawal put a lump in my throat, but I loved how the team stuck by him and got him through. "Tracker" forms an intriguing bookend to Ronon's story as another runner, this one traveling with a little girl, kidnaps Jennifer to treat the sick child. I liked the concept that runner's trackers had become more advanced since Ronon, as well as the poignant open ending - I like to think he got away from the wraith. Carson turned back up in "Outsiders", a nice closure to the Hoffa drug storyline, and I loved him going all action hero. It was nice to see McKay and he finally get that day off together, too, and it made me so happy to see him again, being all adorable with the village children. "The Prodigal" finalizes Michael's storyline, ending with his death at Teyla's hand, a dark but somehow fitting close for a tragic but evil character. "Remnants" is another strange episode but one that gives an interesting look at Sheppard's fears. The season's best is the stunning "Vegas", an unusually filmed story set in a parallel world. Parallel!Sheppard is fascinating, and so many moments, from the wraith passing as human to McKay discussing the little details that changed this Sheppard's life from the Atlantis one's gave me chills. The ending was haunting and poignant, with the song indicating Sheppard's character as he dies. "Enemy At The Gate" was a fitting finale, tying up the remaining threads to close out the stories of each person. Carson was back, although in a minor role, as was Sam. I didn't care for the handling of Todd's character, usually so sympathetic, as well as Sheppard's treatment of him, and the plot was somewhat rushed and filled, lacking in many more human moments, but the ending made it all worth while as Atlantis returns to earth, bringing the team home and leaving them looking at the Golden Gate Bridge. Ronon's death was shocking and horrible, but thankfully he's brought back to life - a shame the implications weren't explored more later - and I love everything about the scene from Teyla's and McKay's grief to Sheppard going back for him to find him alive; I found it a fascinating insight into Sheppard's character how, even being told Ronon is dead, he still goes back for him as if he won't believe it until he sees it or he's just that determined to not leave someone behind. Also Jason Momoa's acting was beyond incredible.

I've discovered and started watching the adorable '90s series Little Men which is happily set as something of a sequel rather than a remake of the film which I love, and while the Professor's death saddens me I love Nick and the color he brings to the show with his sea-faring past. The kids are all quite talented and appealing, especially Dan, Nan, and Nat, and little Rob is precious. Laurie, Meg, and Amy all make appearances and seem very much in character and believable as older versions. I also like this Jo, a perfect mix of motherly love and spirit who has a bit of June Allyson's Jo about her, and the old Canadian feel of the episodes is heartwarming. I also ship Nick and Jo and love the direction their relationship is slowly going.

I'm on the eighth and final season of Wagon Train and it's back to the comfortable black & white, hour long format of the early years while still retaining all the cast except for Duke. Bill is oddly out of character and even cruel at times but Coop is as wonderful as always, and Wooster happily gets more storylines. Barnaby is almost all grown up now, serving as co-scout, wearing a gun, and courting girls, and while I miss the adorable little boy of before I love seeing him as an adult. Excellent episodes include the hauntingly sad "John Gillman Story" with Bobby Darin in a touching role, the multi-storyline "Those Who Stay Behind", the somewhat dark "Echo Pass Story" in which Coop talks a woman into murdering a man - an evil guy but still a little creepy. I loved Coop's friendship with Wooster and the relief on his face at the end when he discovers he's alive, and the lovely "Miss Mary Lee McIntosh Story". Much of the season has an unusual supernatural obsession featuring ghosts, vampire bats, and a girl who can see the future in the quite good "Wanda Snow Story". "Betsy Blee Smith Story" is an amusing and often hilarious misadventure as Coop finds himself posing as a girl's husband, as well as being adorable with a baby. There's also the lovely "Katy Piper Story" with one of the sweetest one-shot characters in Katy, as well as an intriguing bit of character growth for Barnaby. The season's best is the haunting "The Indian Girl Story" which poses moral questions and few answers within it's tragic tale, as well as providing another chance for Barnaby to shine.

Onto season three of Once Upon A Time and I'm already sick of Neverland while it's Peter Pan mythos makes me want to bang my head against a wall. Pan is creepy and annoying, Tinkerbell gives me a pain most of the time even if she does manage to redeem herself in some slightly shippy scenes with Killian, and the constant gripping makes me want to kill off half the characters en masse. Thankfully there is a few saving graces as Rumplestiltskin's tragic story continues to unfold, and Robin Hood is back, the second actor but still good. I loved Roland and how adorable daddy!Robin Hood was, even if the man with the lion mark storyline is odd. Bae annoys me most of the time, and I can't accept him as the same person as the adorable little child of season one. On the bright side Killian Jones, minus the ghastly Emma romance subplot - she's my least favorite character and I absolutely detest her - is a fascinating character, a mix of tragedy and bad guy, especially with the haunting backstory of how he lost his brother and became a pirate, and his sort of friendship with Charming is amusing. Ariel and Eric's story which I'd been looking forward to was sadly poorly handled and rushed, with Eric coming across as rather bland, and their first meeting already having taken place. Ariel herself was fairly good, though, if more than a little naive. "Going Home" was gut-wrenching, even if part of me refuses to accept Rumplestilskin's death. I'm grateful Peter Pan is gone, and was deeply moved by Rumplestiltskin's sacrifice and final words to Belle and Bae. Regina's character growth was poignant to watch, as was her relationship with Henry. As glad as I am to be done with Storybrooke I found the scene where it's erased heartbreaking, especially as everyone vanishes into the smoke.

Continuing in my quest to watch everything Arthurian I discovered and gave a try to new series starting with the 50s The Adventures Of Sir Lancelot which was adorable and included a catchy theme. William Russell has a lovely, soft voice and the fight scenes are always fun since he seems to give everything to the part. Next was Arthur Of The Britons an unusual and quiet series portraying Arthur as a Celtic warrior rather than a king and focusing heavily, much to my delight, on his sort-of friendship with Kay.

Out of boredom I gave a try to BBC's Sherlock and found it a weird mix of the horrible and strangely entertaining. SM's influence is obvious with the annoying humor, hitting of the reset button, "everybody lives", plot holes, and teeth-gritting fan pandering - if I hear him use the T-shirt gimmick one more time I'm going to scream. However there are a few flashes of brilliance such as the scene where a wounded Sherlock comes back to life with beautiful use of light as the surgery scene overlaps with him in his dream struggling up stairs, as well as the tragic moment where Mycroft sees Sherlock as a little boy after he shoots the bad guy. While I can't stand Martin Freeman and can say nothing good about his lifeless John Watson, Benedict Cumberbatch is surprisingly good as Sherlock, capturing many of the stranger aspects while still making him likeable and often amusing. Molly is a delightful character, as is Sherlock's landlady.

I got to see the pilot for Swingin' Together which was never picked up for a series and it was quite cute, with the always delightful Bobby Rydell as a traveling singer fronting a band. It's a shame it didn't continue, because it was fun and I loved the hints of family-like friendship between the guys, especially their Mr. Cunningham and them.

I've started watching When Calls The Heart, a tv series based upon a series of books I enjoyed as a kid and it's quite cute so far, bringing back that frontier period drama feel that's been seriously lacking since the 90s. The characters, especially the children, grow on me, and Jack is appealing, even if I wish they hadn't changed his name from the book. I also saw the film, and while I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as the tv show there were some lovely moments, especially with Edward, a character I wish the series included. I can't figure out exactly where and how it fits with the show, though, since the characters are vastly different in personality and circumstances of their relationships and meetings.

I've started watching Arrow and while it hasn't completely won me over I find it's unusual version quite interesting. While I miss Oliver's humor and warmth, this scarred, troubled, and often violent Oliver is realistic seeing all he went through, and the family intrigue is a fun twist. I adore Barry Allen, such a cutie and a sweetheart, and I love finally seeing the origins of the Flash. I'm looking forward to the spin-off, too. My favorite character so far is the complex and tragic Roy Harper, and I'm fascinated by his journey from thief to superhero. There's a good heart underneath all the anger, and I loved seeing Oliver save him. "Three Ghosts", my favorite episode so far, was stunning, and delightfully whump-filled, continuing with the intriguing storyline of the Japanese miracle drug. I was saddened by Slade's turn into evil, though, since I liked both Shado and he.
 
 
feeling: ecstatic
calliope tune: "Harden My Heart"-Quarterflash
 
 
Kathleen
After a long wait, the third and final season of Hardy Boys is finally out on DVD, and it's glorious fun as Frank's eyes and sneakers get more blue and Joe's shirts get tighter by the episode. The boys, more grown up now, work for the Justice Department and globe-trot instead of remaining in Bayport. Traveling seems to have an interesting effect upon their hair which keeps getting bigger, but the brotherly caring is firmly in place, even more so than before. I love how Frank punches the guy in "The Last Kiss Of Summer" "for Joe", and Joe saving Frank from getting shot in "Life On The Line". Then there's also a wonderful hurt/comfort scene in "Search For Atlantis" where Joe gets buried in a collapsed hole and Frank goes tearing over and digs and lifts him out with his bare hands. Joe is fantastic this season, as usual; as much as I love Frank, Joe is my boy, and the episodes only prove why: he's so very kind and sweet, gently holding the disturbed girl who just tried to kill his brother, or defending a girl he's never met which leads the bad guy to remark that "chivalry isn't dead", even if he doesn't get a chance to sing this season. The guest stars are wonderful, including Robert Loggia in a fun episode where Frank mimics T.H.E. Cat complete with black clothes and a grappling hook, Jack Kelly as their boss, and the fabulous David Gates and Bread who play all of my favorite songs and get involved in a mystery the boys are working on.

I finally got to see the webisodes of Primeval and loved the intro to the characters. I giggled insanely over Matt commenting on his "unexpressive" face - I adore Matt but he could crack a smile every now and then - as well as his comment on Becker "really liking guns". I completely fell in love with him more than I already had when he talked about Connor, Abby, and Danny, and how he wasn't giving up on them. One of my favorite things about Matt and why I grew to adore him, when I thought I'd always hate any replacement for Cutter, was his caring and devotion to his team, determined to save them all no matter how much the risk. His early antagonism with Becker was an interesting touch, and I loved the respect on Becker's face by the end, and knowing they'll be good friends soon. I wanted to hug poor Becker, though, when he looks so heartbroken over losing Connor, Abby, and Danny, and then Sarah's death, too. In a way, I was glad if they had to write Sarah out, at least I didn't have to see her death since I liked her and there was enough sadness over Cutter's and Stephen's.

I watched the GWTW ep of the Carol Burnett Show and it was a hilarious and flawless spoof, especially the curtains dress.

I saw The Host, which I'd been looking forward to, and was thrilled to discover it was every bit as good as the book which I loved. Saoirse Ronan was brilliant as Wanderer and Melanie, keeping the two characters very distinct and equally fascinating. Jared, a character I didn't care for in the book, was surprisingly good, and I adored Ian, my favorite in the book, who was exactly as I'd imagined. Little Jamie was adorable and quite a talented actor and I loved how closely the film followed the book, even including the end with the other good alien, one of my favorite scenes. Everything was beautifully filmed, too, and very lovely and hopeful. Other new films this week included the unusual The Prestige, an incredibly odd but interesting film tinged with a bit of steampunk and sci-fi against a richly detailed Victorian era town. I found it somewhat hard to follow at times and I'll have to see it again to truly understand it, but I loved the concept and the magic acts, as well as the jaw-dropping final twist. Next was Australia, an absolutely gorgeous film. I knew nothing about the history or setting so I actually learned a lot as well as being entertained, and I loved the characters, especially Drover and how he changed through the film, and adorable little Nullah. The scenery and music were beautiful, too, and the film had lovely direction and acting. I'm starting to really love Hugh Jackman's films; he's incredibly talented and so good at every role I've seen him in so far. After that was Red Riding Hood, a well done spin on the fairytale. Valerie was a likeable heroine, and I loved both Peter and Henry. I was saddened by Peter being turned at the end but glad Valerie stuck by him. The mood and filming was lovely, too, and made me love the story more than before. Next was 10,000 BC, a fun adventure. D'Leh was a likeable character, the story was entertaining, and I adored the prehistoric world and settings as well as the amazing special effects and the happy ending. My favorite scene was D'Leh and the tiger, a very beautiful and touching moment. Then was the touching The Ghosts Of Dickens' Past, a beautiful imagining of what might have inspired A Christmas Carol. It presented a very different, but easy to love Charles Dickens than I imagine, and Victorian London was vividly alive. Next was the amusing Who Gets The House?, a fun family adventure with some adorable moments. I discovered Return To The Secret Garden, a sequel of sorts to The Secret Garden that imagines modern day children - the great grandchildren of Mary and their friend - discovering the garden. It was a bittersweet film since as much as I loved Timothy, Margaret, and Katherine, I was saddened to find out what became of the original children, and as a Dickon/Mary shipper it made me sad to have Mary marry Colin and then having him be killed in the war, and Mary dying in the garden. I loved the garden coming back to life, though, and Dickon, so much older, coming back to lay flowers on Mary's grave. I watched George Of The Jungle 2, not expecting much, and ended up laughing just as much as at the first. Christopher Showerman doesn't quite fill Brendan Fraser's shoes - and sometimes he's a bit too over the top - but he's animated and George's inherent sweetness shines through. He's adorable with Junior, and hilarious with the animals. The new Ursula is more ditzy than the original but with the zany plot it seemed to fit. The narrator was even funnier than in the first film and I loved all the jokes about Brendan Fraser vs. Christopher Showerman. In my goal to see every version, I watched 2010's Robin Hood, and while it took a little while to grow on me with it's vastly different take on the legends, I grew to really enjoy it. Russell Crowe was a surprisingly good Robin once I got used to him, more soldier/freedom fighter than outlaw, and the thievery element along with his almost supernaturally accurate aim has been removed, giving him a more human, down to earth feel than any other Robin I've seen. Likewise Marian is more realistic, a strong woman who's equally at ease fighting alongside Robin as she is tending her home. There was far too little of the Merry Men - in fact, I was never quite sure who was who even by the end - but Alan-A-Dale was included which always makes me happy, and going along with the more accurate feel King John is a tyrant. The soundtrack was lovely, and the closing credits with their living painting like feel were mesmerizing and stunning. Next was The Christmas Card, a sweet, although not perfect holiday film. The plot was lovely, though, and I giggled at the ending.

I've always disliked the Sherlock Holmes stories and adaptations, but I like Robert Downey Jr. so I gave a try to the 2009 Sherlock Holmes film. I was amazed to find how much I loved it. Unlike the stuffy, annoying character of usual, this Holmes was funny, quirky, and oh so easy to love with both a brilliant mind and fast fists. Watson, usually reduced to an older, homebound partner, got to something of an action hero, and his brotherly friendship with Holmes was touching and adorable. I teared up during the explosion and hospital scenes, and giggled at their banter. I loved the Victorian, slightly steampunk-tinged world, and the fast-moving adventure of the plot. I followed that with the sequel Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows and loved it just as much as the first. Holmes was brilliant in his "chess-like" game against Moriarty, and his friendship with Watson was more wonderful than in the last film. I teared up when Watson tries to save Holmes after his heart stops, and again when Holmes closes his eyes before falling into the water. All the slow-motion work was lovely, and I adored the whimsy and humor of the ending.

I gave a try to The Mummy trilogy, and despite the fact that it took a bit to grow on me I soon fell in love with Rick, Evy, and their fabulous adventures. The films got better and better as they went along, and I loved the old setting as well as the passage of years from their first meeting until an adventure with their adult son. I adored the humor, action, and whump of the series. I loved the other characters, especially the fabulous Ardeth who I desperately missed in the third film but I was so happy when he survived the first two. The ending of the trilogy was hilarious and just perfect. I also saw the two The Scorpion King films and enjoyed them both, along with all their characters, especially Ari, and their adventure to the Underworld.

I watched the incredibly fun Spy Kids and fell in love with it. Carmen, Juni, and their parents were easy to love, and I adored how they worked together as a team. Everything was wild and imaginative and I giggled through most of the film while being impressed by all the gadgets. The ending was cute and just perfect. After that was Spy Kids 2, a fun and imaginative team effort with Juni and Carmen closer than last film but still teasing each other like real siblings. I loved the miniature zoos and the twist ending about the animals. Next was Spy Kids 3D Game over, and it was still a fun film, despite being the weakest of the series and almost entirely focused on Juni. I loved the clever concept of the virtual reality game crossing over into the real world and the huge group of people who came together at the end with all the wonderful cameos from characters in the first two films. I was quite sad about Demetra, though, as she was one of the few characters I truly cared about in the film and it seemed harsh to make her nothing more than a bad program in the end. Then was Spy Kids 4: All The Time In The World and while I was a little sad to have Carmen and Juni grown up, I was glad they grew close again and stayed on to head the program. All the new characters were quite fun, though, with Rebecca and Cecil nicely stepping into Carmen and Juni's shoes to head the next generation of young spies and the bonus of Cecil being hearing impaired which beautifully uses a special needs character as a superhero. Argonaut was hilarious and I wish he'd been in all the films.

In new superhero films I watched The Hulk, and while Bill Bixby will always be my favorite, Eric Bana was an excellent, sensitive Bruce Banner, capturing all sides of the character. I didn't like how violent the Hulk was, but I loved the transitions, especially when Betty appears in the street and he changes back into Bruce. The ending was perfect, giving a nod to the tv show while putting a new spin on Bruce's future. I found the very different backstory quite interesting, too, even as much as I disliked Bruce's father. After that I tried the more recent The Incredible Hulk film, and as pleased as I was with all the nods to the tv show from the "don't make me 'hungry'" line that made me giggle to the clip of Bill Bixby on the tv, I was still disappointed with the lack of heart and over the top CGI. While the idea of a second, evil Hulk was intriguing, both actors were too flat to carry the roles, and the plot dragged, only looking up during the action scenes which were let down by the unrealistic, huge Hulk and the fact that he seems to have nearly no weaknesses. I was given little time to warm to Bruce, and as he barely speaks through the first part of the film, I felt I never got to really know him, unlike all the other Hulks. Still, Tony Stark's cameo made me absurdly happy at the end. I finally got to see Iron Man 3 and adored it; a perfect end to the trilogy. Harley was a fabulous character and I loved his friendship with Tony and the adorable scene where he sees all the gifts Tony left him. I was a little sad that Tony and Pepper didn't share as much time together as in the other films but the scenes they did have more than made up for it - they were shippier than ever and finally canon. I teared up so many times, especially when Tony thinks he's lost Pepper, and especially at the beautiful ending with Pepper wearing the shrapnel in a necklace, and Tony throwing the arc reactor into the ocean. I loved that he and Pepper had their happy ending, though, and I wish there was more to see whether Tony stays a superhero of a different kind or gives it up. I was content with Tony blowing up the suits and having the surgery, even as bittersweet as it was to have him become a different sort of Iron Man. Because of my love for the films I tried Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. but was disappointed by it. Despite a few interesting moments the characters failed to grab me the way the others do, partly because, unlike the fandom, I dislike Phil. Also the question of how he survived slightly creeps me out. The plot was alright, so I suppose with a different cast I would have enjoyed it. I did love the mention of Natasha, though.

In new animated films I saw the lovely Up, a bittersweet adventure. I loved the uniqueness of the story, characters, and their relationship, and it made me both smile and tear up. Next was the charming Despicable Me. I loved the adorable children and how they won Gru over, and the hilarious Minions. The story was very creative and so cute. Despicable Me 2 was just as hilarious, and I loved that Gru got his happy ending. Next was Meet The Robinsons, a sweet and touching story. I loved the colorful characters and the lovely quote from Walt Disney, along with the happy ending. Then I saw A Bug's Life, a completely adorable story with cute characters who I instantly loved. Everything was clever and their world was precious. After that was the charming Bee Movie. I loved Barry, one of my very favorite animated characters ever, and the funny, quirky plot. The bees' world was richly imagined and I kept grinning through the whole film. Then I watched Hoodwinked and Hoodwinked Too: Hood Vs. Evil which, while not my favorite animated films by any means, were amusing twists on classic fairytales. Wolf, ever sarcastic, was my favorite character, and the singing goat was hilarious. After that was the delightfully creative Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs and I adored Flint, such a sweet and wonderfully geeky character. His friendship/romance with Sam was too cute, and I giggled so much over the jello house and everything in it, as well as loving the jellybean rainbow. Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 was quite adorable, although I liked the original better, and I loved the food animals, especially dear little Berry and the cute marshmellows. Then I saw the heartwarming The Croods which was surprisingly fun. I loved Eep and Guy's relationship, and the humor kept me giggling with my favorite being the "rock photographs". I also loved the setting and creative ideas. Belt was completely adorable, too, and the ending was too precious, especially with the big cat and all the other animals being rescued and becoming part of their family in their new paradise. Next was the amusing spoof of 1950s sci-fi Planet 51. I loved how everything was in reverse, as well as the alien world, and there were countless adorable moments with Lem, Chuck, and especially dear little Rover. I finished Dragons: Riders Of Berk and while it took a bit to grow on me I'm loving it now, as Hiccup, Toothless, and the others have all sorts of fun adventures. Now I'm onto Dragons: Defenders Of Berk, and I'm loving the character growth, as well as the other characters. Next to Hiccup and Toothless, Fishlegs and Meatlug are my favorites; they have an adorable relationship, and Fishlegs is very sweet. Tuffnut and Ruffnut are hilarious, too, and even Snotlout isn't as bad as I thought. The dragons get more and more creative, too, as does the backstories for Berk, and I love how they're growing the story in preparation for the next film.

I finished the third and final season of Millennium and despite my sadness at it being the last, I was pleased that it ended on such a high note as the best season of the series. Frank has left the group and rejoined the FBI, introducing a new character as his partner, Emma Hollis. Her story arc both entranced and saddened me as she grows from a kind, caring friend and antagonist of the group to a full-fledged member who betrays Frank. I hope if the series had continued her character would have come back around to the good side again. Meanwhile, Jordan comes to terms with both her mother's death and her own inherited gift, making for some interesting storylines. Peter, sadly, became more of the antagonist this season, only to find redemption in the finale by saving Frank and Jordan. His implied death was heartbreaking and a tragic end to a once wonderful character. "Closure", an unsettling episode, provides insight into Emma's past and ends with thought-provoking questions. "Skull and Bones" gives closure to Cheryl but started turning me against Peter, painting a sad anti-parallel to Emma's later change of heart. The unusual "The Sound of Snow" gives closure to Frank over Catherine's death as well as showcasing an intriguing concept of the tapes. Other excellent episodes include the superb tackling of a difficult subject with "Through A Glass Darkly", the touching Christmas fantasy "Omertà", and the haunting "Darwin's Eye". The season's best are the poignant tearjerker "Matryoshka" which is both stunning and incredibly thought-provoking, and the utterly gorgeous "Borrowed Time" which brought tears to my eyes and left me with so many questions. The finale leaves much hanging, making me wish even more for further episodes and leaving me wondering as to the direction the series would have taken. Over all, though, it was one of the most brilliant series I've seen in ages, heartwrenching and beautiful on so many levels.

I'm on season two of Laramie now, the last of the four seasons that I hadn't yet seen. Jonesy, who I'd learned to like, has left with only a passing mention, and Andy, who I never cared for, has thankfully been sent off to school and only appears in a few episodes. The actors have settled comfortably into their roles, and Jess and Slim's relationship teeters between employer-employee and friends, so while their caring for each other hasn't reached the brotherly feel of the last two years, it's quite close to a good, solid friendship. The new intro, coming in halfway through the season, only adds to that feel, and I like it so much better than the strange intro and theme used for the first half. The only downside to the season is the number of episodes which heavily feature either Jess or Slim while barely showing the other. Some work, like the Jess-lead mystery tale "Rimrock", the whumped Jess adventure "Bitter Glory", or the man on the run story "Run Of The Hunted" with Charles Bronson who's wonderful as always, but many feel awkward and leave me missing whoever is absent. "Trigger Point" is a well-paced survival yarn as Jess and a handful of passengers attempt to cross the desert after their horses and water are stolen. The many facets of Jess's personality come out, from his tenderness toward the women to the nearly chilling way he stalks and guns down the man responsible. The season's best is "Men In Shadows" in which a gunfighter who once spared Jess's life earns his help in escaping from the law, only to turn more and more violent as the episode progresses. It's also a rare glimpse into Jess's past this season which was more focused on his future and includes a wonderful scene between Slim and Jess where Slim attempts to keep Jess from returning to his past life.

I've started watching Stargate Atlantis and am loving it so far. I'm only partway into season one and it's already a whump fest, especially for the quite attractive John Sheppard who's quickly becoming my favorite character. I love the humor and adventure of the series, as well as their fun, danger-filled world. Carson is wonderful, and my close second favorite character, even if the writers treat him badly - I'm still tearing up over the "Poisoning The Well" episode with it's doomed romance and pain, and I adored Lt. Ford and the brotp between Sheppard and he. McKay was annoying at first but I'm getting used to him now, and he's certainly growing braver and more loyal as the season advances. Elizabeth Weir is the only character I haven't warmed to yet, but Teyla is awesome and I slightly ship her with Sheppard. The episodes are wonderful, with my favorites including the whumpish "Thirty-Eight Minutes", the intriguing "Childhood's End", and the deeply poignant "Letters From Pegasus".

In theatres this week I saw The Christmas Candle which was as good as I'd hoped for and better, a flawless, Dickens-inspired, touching story. Hans Matheson was amazing as usual as David, a pastor haunted by a tragedy and determined to do good in his new post, and the entire supporting cast was fabulous. I fell in love with the beautiful setting and characters, cried during the poignant moments, and grinned ear to ear at the gorgeous ending. It was perfect in every detail and Hans Matheson even got to sing in it! I also saw Frozen opening night, and while not perfect and very different than what I'd expected I enjoyed it. The animation, especially the snow and ice magic effects, was stunningly gorgeous, the music was catchy, and Anna was such a loveable heroine. Olaf was adorable and I was so happy that he didn't have to melt in the end, Sven was hilarious, and, unlike most people it seems, I was thrilled that Anna ended up with Kristoff instead of Hans. I loved him in the trailer and I was hoping it would turn out that way. I also liked that Elsa wasn't truly the evil character of the story, and even if I wish they'd followed the fairytale more closely - really, what I wanted more than anything was an animated version of the 2000's live-action The Snow Queen - I was pleased that the core elements, while heavily altered, were included in some way.

I watched The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and am still divided on what I thought of it. On one hand there were so many feelings of nostalgia: seeing the Shire, Bag End, and Frodo, and the tie-ins to the party, Bilbo's sword, the eagles, the familiar music, and the fued between the elves and dwarves; but I never felt as close to the characters as the beloved fellowship, despite liking Thorin, Fili, and Kili, and I was saddened to see Radagast, a kind and caring wizard, played mostly for a fool. Also the humor felt overwhelming and annoying at times, not the quick breathers Pippin and Merry always provided, the hints of Gandalf/Galadriel made me squirm, and the tone was often too dark for what's mostly a much lighter tale than Lord Of The Rings, attempting to connect the threads between The Hobbit and the trilogy on too many levels. While he managed the humor well, I found Martin Freeman's acting desperately lacking emotion and feeling in the dramatic scenes, not up to the level of his costars who carried off their roles, however small, effortlessly, making me wish again that the director had chosen an unknown actor for the role of the same talent as the trilogy's stars. On good points the prologue was incredibly well done and powerful, the theme was gorgeous, and the way the Necromancer was portrayed was chilling and perfectly imagined. My favorite scene was near the end when Thorin finally accepts Bilbo and hugs him, a beautiful and touching moment. But the film often suffered from an overabundence of CGI and not enough heart beneath the action as well as trying too hard to impress. I broke down and finally watched BBC's production of The Silver Chair, a remarkably faithful adaptation with lovely opening credits and quite a bit to offer Chronicles Of Narnia fans. The film adds in the clever touch of having the enchanted Rillian hidden beneath heavy clothes, a beard, and a helmet that covers his hair and much of the top half of his face, disguising him from viewers who wouldn't be familiar with the story, and even the actor's mannerisms are superbly done, very different from his earlier and later scenes and whiplashing between host and tyrant in the span of seconds. While he's more threatening and overbearing than I imagined enchanted Rillian to be, and I wasn't entirely sold on his performance in the chair at first, by the end I was impressed. His final pleas, asking by the sky and by Aslan to be released, were beautifully done, dragging emotion into his eyes and voice so I could feel Rillian's helplessness. The children are good choices as well, especially Eustace, and the special effects crew makes careful and well done achievements in pre-CGI days, especially with the giants who actually appear to be carrying Puddleglum and the children around, and the sparks that fly out of the silver chair as Rillian smashes it. Regarding Puddleglum, I've never been a fan of Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor so it was a pleasant surprise to discover him perfectly cast as the gloomy marshwiggle, even capturing his good heart and friendship with the children in a wonderful scene where he offers to die for Eustace when the enchanted prince threatens him. Glimfeather's voice is brilliant for his role, and many of the costumes are quite convincing, made so by the excellent movements and skills of the actors. On another note, for me, it's wonderful to get back to the old British series with the feel of classic!who, complete with the endearing mistakes - I especially love the part where Rillian breaks his obviously plastic helmet and can't manage to shake parts of it off his hand. I only wish the BBC had continued with the rest of the series as I imagine it would have gotten even better.
 
 
feeling: drained
calliope tune: "Tracy"-Cufflinks