watching, reading, and writing stories

Two Great Movies: The Hobbit and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Over the Christmas holidays, I found myself busy as always. And although I intended to write reviews for these two movies earlier, it just kept getting put off. But here they are, two movies that I highly anticipated and that managed to still impress me.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Movie Review

Let’s start with The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. I’ve done a blog post about this series already. And I have to admit I was a little worried going into this movie. I didn’t want to be upset at the changes Peter Jackson was likely to make, but I had just reread the book recently. Thankfully, although there were quite a few changes made, I still found the film intriguing. In fact I was almost glad that Peter deviated from the book, because then I didn’t know what was going to happen, and I became more engaged with the stories.

Not everyone will like the changes he made, and there were a few that I wasn’t thrilled about, such as splitting the dwarves up and only sending a few to the Lonely Mountain. It didn’t seem right to do it, but there were so many other changes that I loved, that I can forgive this one.

For example, I loved how the dwarves actually try to battle Smaug in the Mountain, instead of sitting in a tunnel, fearing for their lives, like in the book. I also liked getting to see more from other perspectives, such as the elves, or even Gandalf. These storylines were skipped over in the original Hobbit book, though I’m pretty sure some of them were discussed in other Tolkien books.

In any case, I enjoyed the movie, it was exciting, interesting, had good character development, and it really sets up the next film nicely. I can’t wait for next Christmas!


Now on to The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. This film hasn’t gotten the good reviews that I think it deserves. Some people may not enjoy the “artsyness” of this film, but I thoroughly did. From the beginning of the movie seeing the opening credits etched onto building sides and pavement, I knew I liked this film’s style. It has gorgeous footage of far off places, and a great soundtrack. But beyond all that, the story that it tells can relate to us all.

Walter Mitty is a guy with a big imagination. Ever since he was a kid, he wanted to explore, and discover and do great things. But he had to grow up quick and be the provider for his family, after his father passed away. Yet even in his routine life, he can’t help but imagine being the hero, catching people’s attention, and doing great things.

I know I’ve felt this way, wanting to be different, to make an impact on the world, to do “something mentionable or noteworthy.” To have a life.

As the film progresses, Mitty begins to take steps towards fulfilling these dreams, and begins to actually go to new places, do new things, and fulfill that desire.

I found the movie a perfect fit for the new year. It reminded me to not be afraid to try something new, and to go out and live, love and laugh.

So if you haven’t seen either of these movies, I’d encourage you to check them out. Or if you have, feel free to leave a comment.

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The Editor

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Let’s face it, every writer needs to edit. But at some point, we need a little help.

I remember some of my first English classes in high school and starting to learn how to edit other people’s work. It’s kind of funny how we so easily spot errors and unclear ideas in another person’s work but when we stare at our own, we can’t figure out what’s wrong or what we need to change.

Recently I’ve been working on editing my first novel, and it’s hard. I’ve read over the whole thing so many times I’ve lost count, yet there’s still little details that need to be changed. Thankfully, I have friends and family to act as my editors. Even if they aren’t “professional” they still notice when I use “their” instead of “they’re” or accidentally type the same word twice. Even plot lines and illogical scenarios are easily spotted by another person’s perspective. I was quite surprised when one reader came back to me after reading about 8 chapters and handed me a large sheet of paper with several notes. For some reason I thought I was “done” that only one or two errors could possibly be left after all my own editing and hard work. But as I made my way through the long list of things this “editor” had noticed, I realized just how much work I still had to do.

I think the problem I have, and probably a lot of writers have is getting stuck in our own little world. Everything makes sense to us here, whether because of long thought and careful decisions, or because it has stayed the same so long, that it feels normal. But once someone new, who hasn’t seen all the drafts, revisions, changes, and subplot starts reading our work, things we never noticed become apparent.

And it’s kind of cool to be on the other end of the line; to be the editor. You get to read someone’s work and point out things, give suggestions, say what you liked and didn’t like and know in the end the author could listen to you or totally ignore you. And it’s cool to come back to the finished product later and see what the result of your suggestions were.

When I was in college, one of my professors told a story about how she suggested something about adding potatoes into a short story by a fellow writer. And the guy actually used her idea. I saw the same thing happen over and over in the creative workshops I attended. Someone’s different perspective gave a spark to an author. We all need that sometimes, whether it’s encouragement that what we’re writing does actually make sense to  other people, or a critique that helps us see what needs to change. Even writer’s block can be helped by a friend reading your work and telling you what they think.

I know author’s are often criticized as not allowing anyone to read their work till it is “finished.” But I don’t think that is the way it should be. You may not be the person they want critique from, but I bet they’re letting someone read their work and give them feedback. Because that’s how we become better writers, we keep learning, keep reading, and keep listening to what others are saying.

So thank you to anyone who’s been an editor, whether in grade school when you read your classmate’s essay, or professionally. Thank you for adding your perspective to an author’s world. I’m sure there are several writers out there, who wouldn’t be where they are now, if it wasn’t for a good, or several good editors.

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