Jumanji through the Years

Jumanji is one of those films I watched as a child only because it regularly played on TBS. It’s a weird movie that I enjoyed for no particular reason, other than that it has an intriguing premise that was fun to reenact with friends.

Adapting picture books into movies is always an interesting process. Picture books aren’t plot-focused so making a movie adaptation is more about representing the “essence” of the book than it is about retelling the story. Chris Van Allsburg’s premise is simple: Judy and Peter play a board that brings each challenge to life within their home. Though startled by animal stampedes and thieving monkeys, the kids have no problem powering through the game and winning. Continue reading “Jumanji through the Years”

Read & Reel Rumble: The Hobbit


It’s been awhile since I’ve gone to see a movie at midnight. So despite last night being a week-night, I headed to the theater to see the 3D double feature of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. I was slightly skeptical at being able to sit comfortably for more than 7 hours in a movie theater, and I was a bit worried that other Tolkien fans would swarm the theater. I had no need to fret, though. At 7:45 when I entered the auditorium, there were all of 6 other people there. And this was 45 minutes before the movie was scheduled to start. By the time An Unexpected Journey began, there were maybe 15 people in our theater. I was a little disappointed by this because I’ve been to some great midnight showings before where people show up dressed in costume and the whole crowd will gasp or ooh and aah together as the movie progresses. Nonetheless, the whole experience was worthwhile and memorable.

Rewatching An Unexpected Journey right before The Desolation of Smaug was the best way to get super hyped up for the new installation in the trilogy. By the time midnight rolled around, I was antsy with anticipation, and, I will admit, slightly eager to see Orlando Bloom make another appearance as Legolas even if that’s not exactly how it happened in the book.

The Desolation of Smaug was a solid follow up to An Unexpected Journey. It picked up much more quickly than the first with the dwarves, Biblo and Gandalf rushing to make it to Erebor on time while being pursued by Azog the Defiler and his band of nasty orcs.  The action remained a constant throughout the film and it followed a number of storylines as the movie progressed.

I enjoyed The Desolation of Smaug for its entertainment value: the wonderfully choreographed fight scenes, the humorous interactions among the dwarves, the gorgeous scenery and, of course, Smaug himself. There is a part of me, though, that wonders if all of it is necessary. The Hobbit was around 300 pages, and I can’t help but ask why did it need to be turned into a 9-hour, three-part movie trilogy?

I liked the fact the Orlando Bloom and Evangeline Lilly show up as wood elves from Mirkwood. Gandalf’s attempt to save Middle Earth from an all-encompassing evil foreshadowed things to come in the Lord of the Rings movies. There was romance that made me lean forward in my seat and hope beyond hope that they could make it work. The interaction between Biblo and Smaug was intense. Thorin’s dedication to his quest was inspiring. I could go on and on… There was a lot packed into this movie and nothing is resolved by the end. Be prepared to go into the movie and be introduced/reintroduced to all sorts of characters and storylines that will be far from complete by the end.

If you’re looking for a direct interpretation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, you won’t find it with The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. You will, however, find plenty of flying arrows, dwarven lore, a wicked dragon and Legolas’ gorgeous, flowing hair. I’m already looking forward to the final movie in the trilogy and just hope I can remember all the story lines that are bound to pick up in the next installment.

Read & Reel Rumble: The Great Gatsby


The Great Gatsby was required reading back in ye olde high school. In my wild youth I was philosophically opposed to having anyone dictate my reading material and so I naturally hated the book on principle. I resented the flighty characters and their flexible morality. My dislike carried me through until I sat down to watch the 2013 Leonardo DiCaprio rendition of The Great Gatsby.


The whole beautiful tragedy of The Great Gatsby really came alive in the movie. There were rousing parties, reckless car chases, irrepressible spirits trapped by marriage and duty- and they were all so sympathetic. I hadn’t really seen past my prejudices to see the humanity peeking through the pages of the book and so I was completely astonished to find it all so vividly portrayed on the screen. Oh they were all fools, but they were merry fools drinking and partying and making horrible decisions without a care for what might come next… and then there was Gatsby driven by love and ambition and hope for the future stuck among all those glittering, giggling fools.

To this day, I side with the movie over the book, but it is all on principle- you understand right? Also, this movie/book contains mature themes that may be inappropriate for some readers/viewers. If you do choose to read the book or watch the movie let me know what you think!!