Book Review: The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien

The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien was first released in 1937 and was the first story in the Middle Earth series and acts as a prequel to the Lord of the Rings, it tells the story of Bilbo Baggins a hobbit who enjoys the simple things in life, sitting by the fire, reading books and smoking his pipe, one day Bilbo is visited by Gandalf the Wizard and a band of Dwarves who wants his help to steal a vast treasure from the Dragon Smaug who lives inside of the Lonely Mountain.

I think this book does a fantastic job at displaying character growth and change, this is especially prevalent with Bilbo Baggins who begins his journey as a hermit and a recluse, hiding away in his Hobbit hole and living a boring life ending the story as a Hero, someone who has experienced the outside world and now understands a greater value of themselves while still enjoying the simpler things in life.

The Dwarves minus the leader Thorin Oakenshield are mostly forgettable and struggled to maintain my interest, Thorin definitely has the most character development due to his tough nature and general grumpiness towards Mr Baggins, he is also a Dwarven King who is desperately trying to reclaim the Dwarven home in the Lonely Mountain.

Gandalf plays a small role in this story as a means to bring our band of heroes together, he comes and goes as goes offering small bits of advice to Thorin and company but overall does not stick around and takes a step back in comparison to his role in the later Lord of the Rings story. I think Gandalf’s absence here is actually to the books benefit for a few reasons, first of all he is far too powerful and while the orcs and goblins are a threat in this they would be no match for the more powerfully superior Gandalf the Grey.

The other reason is because his absence gives Bilbo more of a chance to become a hero by using his wits and quick thinking to solve problems in ways that are unique to his character. Gandalf is not only a very powerful magic caster but is also incredibly wise and intelligent so would already know the best ways to defeat enemies. Bilbo uses his quick thinking to trick the creature Gollum during his game of riddles not only saving his life but allowing him to keep the magic ring he found.

The main purpose of this story was too expand into the Lord of the Rings so Bilbo discovering the ruling ring is the most important and prevalent part of the book, here the ring does turn the wearer invisible but Middle Earth was still not fully imagined so Mount Doom, Sauron and the Nazgul were still very much absent at this point.

For as short as this book is coming in at only 304 pages Tolkien’s writing style allows for some decent world building without taking away from the main story, the descriptions are subtle but do the job in allowing readers to fully imagine how Tolkein had drafted the different areas such as Rivendell and the Mountain to be.

Some major differences worth noting between this book and the three motion picture adaptations are as follows

During the scene with the trolls in the movie Bilbo keeps them talking about how to cook the Dwarves before the sun turns them to stone but in the book it is actually Gandalf who tricks them by throwing his voice to sound like one of the other trolls.

In the book Bilbo gets his Elven blade sting from the Trolls cave where as in the movie it is first discovered by Gandalf.

Saruman and Galandriel are not mentioned in the book but do make appearances in the motion pictures.

Radagast the Brown is one of my favourite characters in the book but his role is vastly increased during the movies,

In the movies we get to see fan favourite character Legolas make a return, he is not mentioned in the book

Finally Azog the white Orc leader is not in the book but is part of Middle Earth lore being killed years before Bilbo’s Journey.

Other major differences are in connection with character deaths that I do not want to spoil here.

I have read the Hobbit three times and it I cannot wait to read it again, it is one of my favourite stories and holds a very important place in literary history, if your not a fan of reading I recommend listening to the story read by Andy Serkis (Voice and character actor for Gollum) he does a fantastic job and even commits to his iconic Gollum Voice!

This is one adventure you surely do not want to miss out on

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Pokemon Gen 1 – Red,Blue,Yellow (1996/1998) Review

Pokemon its officially the best selling videogame franchise of all time and one of my personal favourites to sit down and play, I have only ever covered spin off’s on this website so far but I feel that we should start deep diving the main series, starting with Generation 1 and covering Pokemon Red, Pokemon Blue and Pokemon Yellow (Green never left Japan so I wont be discussing that one here)

If you are new to this series you may be a little confused as to why we are covering three games today, to makes things even more complicated all three are the same game with just minor differences. The reason for this is because Pokemon games are made with the idea of trading with friends as its main feature, in order to make it impossible to catch all 151 Pokemon on one cartridge developers split the Pokemon into two packages, the basics are in both but certain Pokemon were only either in Red or Blue meaning that in order to catch them all you needed a friend with the other copy and a Gameboy link Cable. Yellow was released two years later in 1998 and changed some dialogues, sprites and gym battles to better represent to anime television series.

I will be covering as many differences as I can throughout this review and will try to give Gen 1 as much justice as I can.

After your initial set up and introduction to the Kanto Region by Professor Oak you soon find yourself at his Laboratory where he will offer yourself and your rival one of three of Pokemon, you get to pick first first from either Charmander a fire type, Squirtle a water type or Bulbasaur a grass type. I always choose Grass as it is strong against Rock and Water types which just so happen to be the first two gyms of the game.

In Pokemon Yellow, you dont get to choose instead you are given a Pikachu, your Rival who most name Gary would then be given an Eevee.

Either way after choosing your first Pokemon you take part in your first battle, at this point your level 5 Pokemon will only have a few moves, normally scratch and growl, Scratch an offensive type will damage your opponent and growl will weaken their attack.

As you level up by battling you will earn money to buy moves but with patience Pokemon will learn most of the best moves when they reach certain levels or evolutions.

In the games there is a total of 151 Pokemon and players can build a small team using Pokemon that they trap in Pokeballs, their are different types of Pokemon who will have advantages and disadvantages against others. In Gen 1 there are 15 types you can get Normal, Fire, Water, Electric, Grass, Ice, Fighting, Poison, Ground, Flying, Psychic, Bug, Rock, Ghost, Dragon, Dark and Steel.

As you progress through the game these encounters become more challenging and better Pokeballs such as Ultraballs are needed to ensure capture.

There are specials moves you find throughout your adventure which allows certain Pokemon to interact with the environment, these HM moves are generally very useful for example cut allows you cut down certain trees, flash can light dark areas, surf means you cross water, strength can move heavy boulders and finally fly allows you to fast travel back to areas you have already visited.

As Pokemon level up they may start to evolve this will change their form and ultimately make them stronger, it will also count as a completely new Pokemon which helps you on your quest to get all 151 (if you decide to actually do that) some however cannot exist or evolve without help from an item, early on in the game you get to choose between two fossils and which one you choose can resurrect an extinct Pokemon later on in the game. Items such as elemental stones or moon stones can help evolve Pokemons for example I used a moon stone on my Nidorino to get a Nidoking and then I used a thunderstone on the secret Eevee you can find to get my Jolteon.

Your journey takes you through many trials and landscapes, the main goal is to beat the gyms these are buildings with trainers and a leader focusing on one specific Pokemon type, gaining badges allows you further access to use HM’s and in turn further progress through the game.

For me the best part is actually exploring the different areas throughout the world, the SS Anne is a ship that is filled to the brim with Pokemon battles, its a great place to level up early in the game, Pokemon Tower a grave site for deceased Pokemon’s while pretty creepy its a fun place to catch the few ghost Pokemon of the game and my absolute favourite thing to do is find and catch the four legendary Pokemon Articuno, Moltres, Zapdos and Mewtwo (Mewtwo is only obtainable after beating the elite four)

A casino area in Celadon City is available in all three games, here you can play slots to earn or lose money, once you get high amounts of casino coins you can trade for rarer Pokémon’s, in Yellow a surfing minigame was added as one of the new features, it is a pretty fun game and is one of most memorable parts of Pokemon Yellow.

The Safari Zone might also be considered a type of minigame, you need to complete this to get Fly but its main purpose is as giant wild area filled with easier to catch Pokemon’s, you cant battle these but can make them angry or bait them in hopes of having a better chance of catching them, you only get 30 balls and can take 500 steps so try to finish the area and get Fly before you are forced to pay and start again.

As you slowly progress towards Victory Road and the Elite Four you will be catching and training many different Pokemons, its up to you to decide who will be your main team but you want strong Pokemon with a good balance of status and offensive attacks to win, this final stretch has you fighting 5 battles in a row with no chance to heal at a Poke Center so taking all of the potions and healing items you need is completely necessary.

This time around my final team was Venosaur, Ninetails, Snorlax, Nidoking, Jolteon and Lapras.

The soundtrack is one of my favourite videogame soundtracks of all time, there is not a single song that I dislike, I feel they all suit the game extremely well, the opening gets you so pumped for the adventure your about to go on and from there it just gets better and better, the creepy music from lavender town always comes to mind as quite unsettling, the silph co music is ton of fun and of course that battle music is insanely good. It could be nostalgia talking but this particular soundtrack really does mean an awful lot to me.

The first generation of Pokemon is what made up a lot of people’s childhoods, many a day was spent trading Pokémon’s and battling our friends using the link cable and today it holds up very well, there are not many people to trade with these days but the actual main campaign is a lot of fun, it has a great story, memorable characters and really fun areas to explore. The game can be very challenging because the difficulty does increase vastly as you progress so some grinding and strategy is required to beat the game.

The only issue I had with the game was that the item storage system was badly organised and I had to rearrange it and empty it a lot, the PC storage system has a limit so that filled up quickly as well, one final slight annoyance was that status effects happened far too often, I would get poisoned or burned then use the item to get rid of it but the opposing Pokemon would just reapply the status effect almost immediately, this happened a lot and while I know it is part of the game I feel maybe the developers could have made these effects happen just a little less often than they did.

Apart from these tiny set backs Gen 1 is a really a great set of games, obviously Yellow is slightly better than Red and Blue because you can get all of the starters in that game and that extra minigame is a bonus but these are pretty solid titles that even today I would give Red/Blue 9.0/10 and Yellow 9.3/10.

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Book Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Goblet of fire is the fourth book in the Harry Potter series, it was released in 2000 and is the first larger book in the series with a page count of 636.

The book follows Harry Potter in his fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, this year Harry’s names is slipped into the Goblet of Fire which forces him to compete in the Triwizard tournament, a deadly competition with students competing from various magical schools.

Every year the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher is replaced, in the Goblet of Fire it is Alastor Moody who is nicknamed Mad Eye Moody. Mad Eye Moody a rather scary looking fellow and a famous Auror has a threatening and serious demeanor about him, by the end of the story you realise that he has a connection with another character from the book and is maybe more menacing than he already seems.

Madma Maxine a temporary love interest for Hagrid is worth mentioning as well as the meddling Reeta Skeeta a writer for the Daily prophet.

There are three tasks to the Tri Wizard tournament and these were best parts of the book for me as they really helped to add more intense moments and changes in the environment from the usual Hogwarts castle. My favourite task was the second task where the Champions had dive into Hogwarts Lake and rescue the person they cared about the most, for Harry it was Ron however Hermione was to be rescued by Durmstrang student Viktor Krum.

The book differs an awful from the film and a lot of changes in the movie completely mess with the lore of the Harry Potter universe, an example of this is the choice that while Beauxbatons school takes in the majority of European Withches and Wizards, in the film it is female only making no sense what so ever. Dumbledores reaction to Harrys name being entered into the Goblet of Fire is completely different in the book as he comes across as more calm and doesn’t get as angry as he does in the film, the final task is a lot more interesting in the book as the film took out many of the creatures, riddles and traps due to time constraints. The film cut out Dobby the house elf and a house elf called Winky who played major roles in the book. Hermione’s sub plot fighting for house elf rights was also cut from the film.

The final major change I feel I should mention is that the Dance lesson in the film was not in the book at all and was a new addition.

What a fantastic read this one was this is easily my favourite Potter book yet but I do wish they adapted it better to film, this is where the series starts to get really serious and is the first book to not end on a happy note, it leaves the reader nervous about whats to come and unsure of if they should be worried or not and I love it because of this, If I had any complaint Ron Weasley is fairly unlikable in this book due to his fallout with Harry, I can understand why hes upset but it comes as childish and slightly annoying.

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Pete’s Dragon 2016 Review

petes_dragon_2016_posterOut of every Disney movie that could possibly be remade Pete’s Dragon was one that I never expected Disney to touch again, the original movie was a 1977 musical about a young boy and his pet dragon who are on the run from his abusive adoptive family, the movie is a lot of fun and the songs will be stuck in your head for years after you see it, unfortunately the movie didn’t make a lot of money at the box office and Pete’s Dragon was eventually kicked under the rug by Disney and it was never mentioned again until this year when it got remade.

petes-dragonFor the remake they didn’t take the musical route, they instead tried to make Pete’s Dragon into a Drama which is fine if its still entertaining but the problem is that it isn’t, the film is so boring that I honestly just wanted to walk out of the cinema, the CGI is amazing and Elliot the Dragon looks awesome but the tone of movie really makes the film too slow for you too really care that much about how good the CGI is, I believe that if the film wasn’t about a dragon then it would have been a half decent Drama about a family trying to adopt a little boy who they find in the woods but because its a Disney movie and it really tries to reach that younger audience it just ended up being a film that wanted to be taken seriously but ultimately ended up being trapped inside of a kids film.

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I have to admit that I really liked Elliot in this movie, he wasn’t quite as charming as the quirky cartoon dragon I’m used too but this new version of Elliot more closely resembled an actual animal which was really cool to see, I notice a lot of people complaining that they didn’t like the directors choice to make Elliot act like a big green dog at times but I personally found it gave him a more playful and cuddly personality, I just wanna give him a big old hug.

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The casting is great, I love the cast from the original film but I never really liked the actor who played Pete (Sean Marshall) and in the remake the actor who played Pete (Oakes Fegleywas surprisingly really good at acting,I felt his emotions throughout this movie and I hope that this role pays off for him and he gets to be in a lot more films in the future, the rest of the cast was also very good but honestly the 1977 version had Mickey Rooney and you just cant top that.

Am I saying that the movie is terrible? no but I would be surprised if you don’t end up falling asleep or giving up half way through.

What did you think of Pete’s Dragon?

Do you agree with my opinion of the film?

Thanks for reading

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