Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday #6: Fantasy Soundtracks

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday is my own feature, posted every other Friday. It’s pretty self-explanatory: I do a feature on something to do with the genre. Sometimes it will be a book recommendation, sometimes showcasing a book or series I’ve loved and other times it might be a discussion post. You’re more than welcome to join in with this feature, let me know if you make your own Fantasy Friday post!

Today I want to talk about: my favourite fantasy soundtracks.

Yup, another excuse for a Spotify playlist! As I have discussed many times, I absolutely love film and game soundtracks, and often listen to them when I’m reading. So today I want to share some of my top tracks with you.

  • ‘Alice’s Theme’ by Danny Elfman, from Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland – whilst the film wasn’t really the best of Burton’s work, the soundtrack is pretty stunning. I love the choral part of this theme, which is used through many of the other tracks.
  • ‘A Proper Story’ by Darren Korb, from Bastion – this game is gorgeous on every single level. Visuals, voices, music and gameplay. Even if you’re not a gamer, the soundtrack is definitely worth a listen.
  • ‘The Legend of Zelda Main Theme’ by Koji Kondo, from The Legend of Zelda video game seriesThe Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker is one of my favourite games (cell-shaded graphics <3) and the main theme throughout the games is absolutely wonderful. It's epic, heroic and totally fits in with the theme of the games. It makes me want to pick up a sword and go off on an adventure (donning a little green hat of course).
  • ‘Fenris Theme’ by Inon Zur, from Dragon Age II – although the entire soundtrack is great, this track is a particular favourite. I love the harsh, scratchy violin/stringed instrument (yeah… not sure what it actually is) combined with the rest of the music; it feels as though it is comparing Fenris’ previous life as a slave as the one he has in the game.
  • ‘I Am The One (High Fantasy Version)’ by Inon Zur, from Dragon Age: Origins – because this is the ultimate song of the entire game for me, it’s the ‘defining’ piece (not the actual main theme…). What does it matter that I can’t understand it, it still sounds beautiful!
  • ‘Sovngarde’ by Jeremy Soule, from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – I’m going to avoid the obvious choice of the main ‘Dragonborn’ theme here, and go for ‘Sovngarde’, which is similar but much more focused on the choral element. It sounds so primal and wonderful and conjures up all these images of Nords singing by a flickering fire in the dead of night.
  • ‘Main Title’ and ‘Mhysa’ by Ramin Djawadi, and ‘The Rains of Castamere’ by the National, from Game Of Thrones – I am never not going to be completely in love with the Game of Thrones title sequence, and ‘Mhysa’ is a more recent version from series three, which is more appropriate for Daenerys. And ‘The Rains of Castamere’, well it’s haunting and… do I have to explain?
  • ‘Obliviate’ by Alexandre Desplat, from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 – BECAUSE OF ALL THE FEELS. Last Harry Potter book, last of the films (kind of). This was the moment that meant the trio were going on their journey, away from Hogwarts. And I’m not going to lie, the first time I saw Hermione obliviate her parents’ memories I may have shed a tear or two.
  • ‘Harry and Hermione’ by Nicholas Hooper, from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – I’ve included this one in a previous soundtrack, and all I want to say about it is that I think it is absolutely beautiful and I will never not listen to it.
  • ‘Misty Mountains’ by Howard Shore, from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – and another one I will never not listen to. How can you not love this song?? Not only the dwarves’ perfect voices, but also Tolkien’s beautiful lyrics.
  • ‘Feast of Starlight’ by Howard Shore, from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – there are quite a few similar themes on Shore’s soundtracks for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, but there’s something really different and quite magical about this track.
  • Literally every song on any of The Lord of the Rings soundtracks, by Howard Shore – don’t ask me to pick. I love absolutely anything to do with LotR perhaps a bit too much.

What are some of your favourite fantasy soundtracks?

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday #5: The Hobbit Movies

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday is my own feature, posted every other Friday. It’s pretty self-explanatory: I do a feature on something to do with the genre. Sometimes it will be a book recommendation, sometimes showcasing a book or series I’ve loved and other times it might be a discussion post. You’re more than welcome to join in with this feature, let me know if you make your own Fantasy Friday post!

Today I want to talk about: Peter Jackson’s film versions of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

I am of the opinion that Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Tolkien’s well-loved classic, The Hobbit, is a wonderful thing. As with his version of The Lord of the Rings, it is a work of love, Jackson’s own spin on Tolkien’s fantasy masterpiece. It is Jackson’s film version of The Hobbit, not a film of Tolkien’s version. When you adapt something with such a passionate and devoted fanbase, you’re never going to please everyone. You will most definitely piss people off in some way – their favourite character doesn’t look anything like that! What on earth possessed you to film that scene that way? When does Thranduil ever make a Mean Girls reference? And why on earth is that character in this scene?? – but that’s just how it is. On the other hand, you’ll also have a fanbase devoted to you, or in this particular case, Mr. Peter Jackson, and the way he has filmed Tolkien’s work.

Wait, what? I don’t remember this in the book! (image source)

The Hobbit has been a favourite book of mine for a long, long time. I remember when I was seven or eight, my mum bought me the graphic novel version, and then at the age of eight or nine I progressed onto the book proper. I read The Lord of the Rings for the first time when I was ten, and have re-read it almost every year since, so I would say I’m a pretty big fan! So you can imagine that I was incredibly excited when the films were announced.

I want to talk mostly about one particular film today: The Desolation of Smaug. I watched it the day of release, and although I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as An Unexpected Journey, I still loved it. Maybe I’m one of those types who loves it just because it’s Tolkien and Peter Jackson, I don’t know. But I just want to talk about the things that were completely new additions to the plot:

  • The character of Tauriel, played by Evangeline Lily, and therefore any dwarf-elf flirtations
  • The presence of Legolas
  • Certain events that happen in Laketown [spoiler]Kili, Fili and Bifur staying behind, orcs attacking Laketown[/spoiler]
  • Pretty much anything involving Azog – he is mentioned in the book once.
But you know what?
  • Tauriel is one of the few female characters in the story, AND she was an addition. She’s also a bit of a badass. So kudos to Peter Jackson for choosing to add some more women to a male-dominated story, and extra kudos for making her pretty awesome.
  • Legolas is used to tie together The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, a familiar face, and also clearly shows how elves do not age. He looks exactly the same in both films (okay, apart from his eyes in The Hobbit which are super creepy.)
  • Events like the extra ones in Laketown are used to demonstrate the skills of certain characters. However (book spoiler ahead): [spoiler]I’m not sure why Kili was injured and then healed. This makes me think they won’t kill him off in the Battle of Five Armies at the end? He has proven to be a fan favourite after all.[/spoiler]
  • Azog gave Thorin a bit more of his own story, and also allowed Jackson to showcase the history of the character. He is also a constant threat, when Smaug is nowhere near, making the viewer expect an attack at any time.

And you can’t forget that absolutely brilliant take on the barrel scene…

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Despite the fact that Peter Jackson made a lot of changes to characters and events in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, I still love those films because they are products of Peter Jackson’s imagination, inspired by that of Tolkien. If you’re watching them for a totally faithful representation of Tolkien’s Middle-earth, you will most likely be disappointed. But if you go in with an open mind, you’ll end up watching some truly fantastic films by a genius director, inspired by a genius author. Personally, for me, the additions only demonstrated the skill of everyone involved in making the films.

In conclusion: I see Peter Jackson’s films as a wonderful homage to the works of Tolkien, as well as Jackson’s own home country of New Zealand.

What do you think of Jackson’s films of The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings? Were you happy with his use of creative license?

Oh, and as for waiting another bloody age for the final part of The Hobbit

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Top Lists

Top Ten Tuesday #2: Book To Film Adaptations

toptentuesday

I’m taking a break from my Community marathon to join in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is a Top Ten Freebie, meaning each blogger can pick their own theme. I’ve looked through the past themes, and chosen:

Top Ten Book to Film Adaptations

1. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

Films directed by Peter Jackson – one of my favourite book and film series. I know there is plenty that was changed, added or left out, but I believe that Peter Jackson created the very best he could without making something that was days long, nor cutting out too much. I know Tom Bombadil would have been awesome but would he really have been necessary? Yes, it was Glorfindel, not Arwen, who took Frodo to Rivendell and over the Bruinen Ford, but Jackson and co worried that the lack of female characters would cause complaints – and as an avid lover of the books, I have no problem with the creative liberty taken.

2. The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

Films directed by David Yates, Alfonso Cuaron, Chris Columbus and Mike Newell) – when the first one came out, I was 11 and a massive fan. I was so, so disappointed – and I hated the films until the fourth one. I think they slowly improved with time and now, even though the first few aren’t great, I enjoy them because they’re Harry Potter and they show the changes the series went through. And the cast makes me SO proud of my nationality.

3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Film directed by Gary Ross – I feel this adaptation was really faithful, and Ross did so well in making it violent but still appropriate for a younger audience. Plus some fantastic casting.

4. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Film directed by Steven Spielberg – although the book is a lot more technical (read it if you haven’t!), and the adaptation maybe isn’t as faithful as some, I absolutely love this film. When I was younger I wanted to study dinosaurs – but somehow I ended up as an archaeologist, rather than a palaeontologist!

5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Film directed by David Fincher – I somehow feel bad for admitting that I preferred the American version to the original Swedish version, but I just did. Salander was more how I imagined her. Honourable mention to Niels Arden Oplev though!

6. Mrs Doubtfire by Anne Fine

Film directed by Chris Columbus, original book title ‘Madame Doubtfire’ – this is on my list because it’s one of my ‘comfort’ films (for when I’m feeling down), Robin Williams is my favourite actor ever, and this film turned a frankly quite depressing book into something really sweet and funny, but also touching.

7. Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding

Film directed by Sharon Maguire – how did I nearly forget Bridget Jones?! I’ve read and watched it so many times, it’s like an old friend. I’m really not a chick lit/flick person, but I make an exception for these books/films.

8. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy

Film directed by Clive Donner (1982 version) – so I haven’t actually read the book yet… it’s on my list! But I just can’t ignore Anthony Andrews’ fantastic take on Sir Percival Blakeney (or should I say ‘Blakenehhh…), Baronet. It’s really hard to get hold of this film (at least in the UK), but it’s worth it!

9. Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

Film directed by Martin Scorsese – I think the film really caught the essence of the book – creepy and unsettling.

10. We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

Film directed by Lynne Ramsey) – as with Shutter Island, this is every bit as harrowing as the book. Ezra Miller is outstanding.

And one book to film adaptation I’m not sure about – maybe it was too hyped up – is Blade Runner. I really loved the book, by Philip K. Dick (published as Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?). It’s my dad’s favourite film and he kept telling me to watch it, which I finally did after reading the book, and it just wasn’t that great. It was good, but really didn’t live up to my expectations – and is very different from the source material.

How about you? What book to film adaptations have you enjoyed, or been let down by?