Amy Fox

Writer. Editor. Feminist knitting designer.


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Reviewing Emer O’Toole’s Girls Will Be Girls

One of my new year’s resolutions this year was to grow out and reshape my eyebrows and let me tell you, it has been a struggle. I plucked them so thin over the years – and from above which is a mortal eyebrow sin – that it has now been two months and they still look patchy and weird. I long for the day, around two weeks from now, that I will finally get them professionally shaped. I’m quite literally having dreams about it.

Anyway. Thanks to my wonderful housemate Hattie I managed to get an advanced copy of Emer O’Toole’s Girls Will Be Girls, and I knew straight away that I wanted to review it for Abstract. It’s all about the identity theory of performativity, which changed the way I think about a lot of different things when I first encountered it at my second year of university. But it’s often written about in such overly verbose academic language that it can be difficult to share with people. Girls Will Be Girls is the book I wish I could have written, because it not only explains the theory in a language that is accessible, but it is also hilarious and entertaining at the same time.

And because I have spent so much time thinking about my eyebrows over the last two months, I couldn’t help but talk about them too. You can read the review here.

Side note: we’re relaunching Abstract for our first anniversary on 12 March, so we’ve had some amazing new content coming in. There has been some particularly great lifestyle pieces: check out Kate Duckney on male feminists on Twitter, Bethan Williams on believing she will win the lottery (IN HER BONES) and Maura Flatley on moving to Spain.

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Concrete: Rewriting the Rules – review

The self-help section is a scary corner of any bookshop. There are hundreds of titles promising perfection in your love life, your career, your soul – if only you’d follow a few easy steps.

The obvious response, of course, is that if it is so easy to fix every aspect of your life by reading a couple of books, then why are so many published? And why do they seem to contradict each other?

Combating this problem, Dr Meg Barker’s Rewriting the Rules claims to be an “anti-self-help” book. Rather than giving a set of rules which must be followed to the letter, Barker draws on her career as a psychology academic and sex therapist to offer a critical look at the “rules” of relationships.Rewriting the RulesImage via routledge.com

Do we really need to find “the One” to prove that we’re worth something? If we break up with someone, is that relationship now meaningless? What about sex – does that always have to be “normal”? What if we don’t want to be with just one person?

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Concrete: ParaNorman

Laika’s ParaNorman is the heart-warming tale of a young boy who sees dead people, which, as Bruce Willis knows, is always a winner.

More interested in hanging out with his dead grandma than the living people around him, Norman (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee) is just your average misunderstood paranormal 11 year old until he has to help save his town from a witch’s curse (oh, and zombies).

While the story is a little predictable, it’s still sweet and entertaining. There are some endearing and funny moments, mostly dependent on the mix of conventional horror tropes and realistic domestic comedy, such as Norman and his sister being chastised by their mother for squabbling with one of the zombies in the back seat of the family car. There are also several more self-aware “adult” moments which set it apart from the average kids’ film. The stop-motion animation amongst the standard CGI gives it a classic edge, particularly alongside the out-of-proportion character design.

While there could have been a few extra horror references for the movie-buffs and more shocking twists and turns, ParaNorman is an enjoyable watch with a superbly balanced blend of mock-horror and comedy.


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The internet is stupid: my existential ParaNorman crisis

So yesterday I did my first film review of the year for Concrete, the student newspaper that someone (for some reason) put me in charge of. I was super excited about it. A lot of what I’ve been doing since becoming editor involves answering emails and passing on the more interesting work to other people so that I can free up time to answer more emails. So when the film editors desperately needed a ParaNorman review at short notice, I jumped at the chance to go back to basics (and get a free trip to the cinema).

It was a pretty good film. There were better animations this summer (bravebravebrave) but overall it was funny and smart and cute.

Now for the angry ranting.

Before I went into the film, my housemate told me it was the first kids’ animation with an openly gay character. Awesome, I thought. I can totally write about that in my review!

In the end, I didn’t think it was really worth mentioning. The two “older sibling” characters are set up as a potential romance throughout the film (by which I mean the seemingly-shallow sister outrageously tries to get the attention of the oblivious older brother whose shoulders are four times as wide as his waist). After all the zombie shenanigans are over, she finally gets the courage to ask him to see a movie with her. He responds positively, and tells her that she’ll really like his boyfriend, who loves chick-flicks.

Awks.

I thought this was pretty cool, but ultimately not really something I wanted to write about when there was so much else going on – the storytelling, the humour, the cute stop animation effect. With only 200 words to play with, Mitch’s sexuality was not really relevant to my enjoyment of the film.

And then I started reading all of the other reviews people had written. My aforementioned housemate found this terrifying collection of responses from parents who were outraged at that one line which had very little to do with the rest of the plot. Let’s illustrate this point with a randomly selected sentence: “had to try explaining it to a nine year old that we hate the sin, love the sinner, and that some boys are just confused by their gender.” Followed by more exclamation marks than could fit in a single line of text.

God dammit, mothers on the internet.

My immediate response was to completely rewrite my own review in defence of a children’s film’s choice to not only include a gay character, but to include a gay character whose sexuality is of absolutely no consequence. Sort of like, you know, everyone in real life who is defined by more than one aspect of their identity, which is in itself a fluid and ever-changing process.

But then, after the second half of my review became a thinly-veiled backlash to the film’s politicised responses, I realised exactly what I had done. Part of what annoys me most about those other reviews is that they let something which shouldn’t even be important colour their whole opinion of the film. So by giving such a disproportionate amount of space to defending the action, I was really doing the same thing.

The fact that Mitch is gay is not a big deal. He admits it freely, and clearly no one else in the film has an issue with it. His line takes up maybe four seconds of screentime, in a film which is 92 minutes long (roughly 5,520 seconds). That means that Mitch’s sexuality makes up 0.072% of the movie.

I’m so mad about this issue that I did maths, you guys.

In the end, for me, or anyone else, to spend most of my supposedly objective review talking about 0.072% of a movie actually does it a disservice. And it politicises something which shouldn’t be political in the first place.

Chris Butler, who wrote and co-directed the film, had this to say on the matter when speaking to Indiewire: “I wanted it from the start, absolutely. It seemed like the best bookend to that whole tolerance thing and to do it as a joke, a kind of throwaway thing, but something that has NEVER been done before. I think we’re telling a story about intolerance, so you have to be brave about it.”

And he’s exactly right. It’s important that gay people are included across the media, and it may be even more important that their sexuality is portrayed as only a small part of their identity. Not every gay character on TV or in movies needs to struggle with coming out and defy ignorant bullies by spreading glitter and rainbows wherever they go. A lot of people just happen to also be gay, and that should be reflected too.

In the end, I took the response to the film’s responses out of my official 200 words. For me to rise to the unfairly negative reviews and focus on that one issue would just invalidate my own argument, and ignore everything else about the film which I enjoyed.

Cue angry blog post instead.


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Not quite the same thing: HBO’s Newsroom and my week at work experience

Stay classy.

This week, two significant things have happened to me so far:

1) I finally started work experience at my local paper.

2) I finally started watching HBO’s The Newsroom.

Now, I should point out that by “started watching”, what I mean is I watched all five episodes available so far in just two nights. For some reason, I can’t stand that much TV in a row when I’ve got nothing to do with my time, but going out and having a purpose makes me feel perfectly justified in coming home and doing nothing.

Plus, I need to entertain myself while I finish knitting the tea cosy I promised my aunt and uncle six months ago.

ALMOST THERE.

Anyway, it was only logical that while I am doing journalism again for a week, I should also start watching TV about journalists. You know, as inspiration in case the residents of my town suddenly decide to overthrow their local council and govern themselves in a quaint ex-manufacturing town revolution. Power to the people! If you don’t mow out our publicly-owned grass right, we will mow YOU right! (Note: I am pretty sure this hasn’t happened yet, and that if it did they would have better slogans.)

Despite my optimism, my newsroom and HBO’s portrayal of an American broadcasting newsroom are a little different. While Will informs America on primetime TV that BP has caused the biggest environmental disaster in many years, I inform the local area that a questionnaire is being sent out to pensioners and disabled people asking what they think of their free bus pass. I don’t write about the results, mind you. Just that it’s being sent out and here is how you can have your say.

There are some other key differences: Will gets paid millions; I do this for free (in fact, I am beginning to have nightmares where endless faceless figures chant “It will look great on your CV!” as they dangle a career on a stick in front of me, and I am left eating raw potatoes for all of my adult life). Their team tries to come up with the most accurate and moral way of informing a nation about complex international events; I try to think of puns about woodchipping. The staff in America are caught in a series of complex love triangles and rivalries; we throw grapes at each other across the desks.

(Side note: what is it with America and cute floppy-haired Jims tortured by unrequited love? I keep expecting Steve Carrell to show up and do an inappropriate impression of Gadaffi on national TV.)

Pam, is that you?

Basically, there are highs and lows each way. The point I’m trying to make is that I really enjoy them both so far. I love being at a proper local paper, and I’m actually learning a lot about what makes good news articles. And The Newsroom is also pretty fantastic. Did I mention it has Dev Patel being an adorable nerd? Because it does.

Plus it is well-written and intelligent and saying some cool things about journalism, even though a lot of journalists apparently hated it. But if my life does not end up like Mackenzie MacHale’s, I will just be really sad.

Maybe now that I’ve been spending so much time reading about local council decisions, I will also get around to catching up on Parks and Rec.


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I talk about John Green a lot: a review of Jonathan Safran Foer

I have been struggling for a couple of days to write a blog post about Jonathan Safran Foer’s two novels, Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. I absolutely loved them both – halfway through reading each, I declared it to be my New Favourite Book, slightly illegitimising my own statement – but when I tried to explain why, I couldn’t.

But, dedicated new blogger that I am, I kept struggling on, determined to share my Safran Foer epiphany with the world in a well-written and structured post which would inspire people to open up a new tab, head straight to Amazon and order them both. But I couldn’t. I should have known that I couldn’t – when trying to explain the book to my housemate a few days before, I had said, “He just – he uses all these – it has all these, like, different ways, you know?” Needless to say, I am far more eloquent on paper (or rather, through screen) than I am out loud, and my housemate was left looking confused, and also amused.

But even through-screen, I couldn’t really get my thoughts across. The literature student took over and I just banged on about “narrative voice”, put the word “about” in quotes (a pretentious habit picked up in a Contemporary Writing class), and reverted to rather dry phrases like “non-traditional methods”. Now, that would all be fine if I was writing an essay about the two books, and I kind of hope one day I’ll get the chance to, because writing essays about things you love ought to be the whole point of writing essays, and often sadly it isn’t. But I was writing a blog post, and kind of boring even myself.

In the end, crippled with post-book sadness and frustrated that I couldn’t accurately portray my mid-book rapture, I just started copying out whole chunks of quotations in the hope that they would do my work for me. Spoilers: this is also not how you write a good review.

And then I just gave up completely and wrote a post about Fifty Shades of Grey for someone else’s blog instead, because it is a whole lot easier to just make fun of all the stupid stuff in the world than it is to write something meaningful. Finally, I decided to just put the review aside and come back to it later, and instead went about my daily life, giving my various siblings lifts to various places, answering emails about Concrete (my university’s student newspaper, which I am editor of and without which this summer I feel bereft of all purpose), and moving on to the next book waiting in the pile – in the form of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

This was also a good book. I mean, it wasn’t Safran Foer good, but it was pretty great. It’s a Kids With Cancer book, but the kids are doing their utmost to avoid the Kids With Cancer stereotypes, and frequently point out that most of those stereotypes are a load of crap. It did really well at portraying Kids With Cancer who were actually just kids who wished they didn’t have cancer any more, because they are too young and it’s not fair and the universe can be kind of terrible. But they were also incredibly funny, and the book made some beautiful observations about life, while acknowledging that life can often kind of suck. I enjoyed it a lot.

And it was talking about The Fault in Our Stars that I finally realised what I wanted to say about Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. My dad asked, as I was around 20 pages from the end and hadn’t moved in a while, probably looking quite distressed, how it was. I told him that it was sad, “but then it is a book about cancer.”

“Oh. So not a comedy then?”

“Actually, it’s really funny. Just not right now. The best sad books are also really funny.”

It was a slightly pretentious-literature-student comment to make (what the hell gives me the right to decide what makes the best sad books? Maybe what makes the best sad books is being sad ALL OF THE TIME, with no humorous respites to remind you of the beauty of life whatsoever) but it made me realise that it was also exactly what I wanted to say about Safran Foer.

Because both his books were also immensely, heart-breakingly sad. The first was about (or maybe “about”) the Holocaust. The second, 9/11. These are not fun topics. Neither, I don’t need to tell you, is cancer. It doesn’t take a literature student, pretentious or otherwise, to make this observation.

But it was the humour of all three books I am writing about which made me love them the most. And it was Safran Foer’s humour which I enjoyed more – the difference between “I really like this sad-funny book” and “this is my New Favourite Book, no really this time, I can’t even put it into words, please just read it and find out for yourself.”

It was all in the language. Everything is Illuminated is narrated – partly – by someone who learned English through a thesaurus (“all of my friends dub me Alex, because that is a more flaccid-to-utter version of my legal name”), while Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is narrated – partly – by a nine-year-old boy who can’t stop inventing (“… or maybe a set of kettles that sings the chorus of “Yellow Submarine”, which is a song by the Beatles, who I love, because entomology is one of my raisons d’être, which is a French expression that I know.”)

Safran Foer created totally unique and hilarious characters, who were also completely traumatised and deeply sad. But it wasn’t one-minute-you’re-laughing-the-next-you’re-crying. The laughter and the sadness were all mixed up into one, each trying to conceal the other, adding to the other, taking away. I’m getting pretentious again, but I sort of can’t help it. I really loved these books.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, especially, stuck with me. It’s very visual – there are photos and diagrams; two pages of numbers and punctuation as a man who can’t speak tries to communicate what may be a lifetime’s worth of thoughts down the phone to his wife, but we’ll never know; partially-overheard conversations with huge gaps missing in the text; a flip book of a man falling from the World Trade Centre in reverse, so he appears to be flying upwards.

These could easily come across annoying, gimmicky or too Literary (capital L), but I enjoyed them – and they worked just perfectly at their own points in the novel, adding just enough to make it stand out from all the Good Books I’ve read to become Maybe My New Favourite Book. I absolutely adored it, and if I could, I would force everybody I know to read it just so that I could look them in the eye and say “I know, right?”

But then again, I’ll probably change my mind in a couple of weeks.


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Amy watches Lord of the Rings for the first time: The Return of the King

So in case you haven’t been following avidly (and if not, why not?) I recently did a marathon of ALL three Lord of the Rings extended editions. This was the first time I had seen the movies, and I knew surprising little so I thought the obvious thing to do would be to narrate my thoughts on this experience for all of the internet to enjoy (including occasional contribution from my brothers, Harry and Jack, who were also there). For the Return of the King, you join my liveblogging after seven-and-a-half hours, as I begin to lose grip of all time and reality.

19.04 All right, we’ve all recovered for 20 minutes, time to get on and finish this thing. Return of the King! Yeah! New Line Cinema logo! My old friend!

19.05 Opening shot of a maggot and a fishing hook. Going well.

19.06 Hey, this is totally Gollum’s back story! And he has his own male companion! KISS. Or fight. Fine.

19.09 Basically Gollum was always Gollum, even before he was actually Gollum. Boom.

19.11 I enjoyed that Gollum Origin story. That was fun. Now we are back to our good friends Sam and Frodo (Sodo) who are as cute as ever, but there’s already earthquakes and foreboding and so hopefully things will finally start happening.

19.14 The most dated thing about these films seems to be the cheesy opening titles.

Does it remind anyone else of Heartbeat? Or The Vicar of Dibley?

19.15 Meanwhile, the Weasley twins are still smoking their magic weed and are high as kites when Gandalf & Crew arrive. For all we know, they are hallucinating it all. Imagine if the entire final film was just the Weasley twins tripping out, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas style? That would be an unexpected but amazing twist.

19.17 Come on Gandalf, is reasoning with Evil Beard really your plan? Although everyone looks upset when Evil Beard suggests that Gandalf knew Sodo would never complete their mission alive. How is that a surprise to ANYBODY? Everything is stupid.

19.21 SNAPE TOTALLY JUST STABBED EVIL BEARD. I did not see that coming this soon. And then he fell on a spike and nobody laughed? That seems unlikely.

I mean it’s just so Sean of the Dead.

19.22 I am glad that the fellowship is already coming back together and stuff is happening though, that is a step in the right direction. But why couldn’t that happen at the end of the last film?

19.23 Also Legolas being drawn into a drinking game with Gimley is kind of hilarious, because Orlando Bloom’s confused elf face still makes me laugh.

19.26 Stryder and Gandalf FINALLY acknowledge their concern that Sodo might not complete the mission alone, but Gandalf’s wizard heart tells him they are okay, so that’ll be fine then.

19.30 Sam has figured out that Gollum is planning to kill them because OBVIOUSLY, and the whole Sodo/Gollum love triangle continues to be cute-with-a-dash-of-psychotic.

19.31 Then Stryder and Strong Female Character are having a moment and blah blah no one really cares about YOUR love triangle.

19.34 Then we learn that a) Gandalf sleeps with his eyes open and b) Fred and/or George is still really stupid and good at creating problems for people when he steals the crystal ball and it tries to kill him.

19.39 Aw no, the Weasley twins are splitting up! That’s no fun for anyone! Now one of them will definitely die.

19.40 Elves are walking slowly in the forest, including Female Character 1. Does anybody still care about Female Character 1? Oh, except now she’s turned around and is ACTUALLY doing something, that makes a nice change. But I’m pretty sure nobody cares about the love triangle. Still.

19.45 Slow-mo epic sword re-forging that requires TWO blacksmiths. YEAH, HIT THAT SWORD. HIT IT MORE.

Why do I find this weirdly homoerotic? Am I that far gone?

19.47 So Gandalf and Fred are visiting Ned Stark’s douchebag father, who is still clutching his dead son’s broken horn and apparently hasn’t moved for the entirety of the last film.

19.50 Gandalf says “return of the king”. NAME OF THE FLIM IN THE FILM. Then he storms out because he all mad that a bunch of kings who didn’t do their job properly aren’t in charge any more, and Ned’s dad doesn’t think it’s too hot an idea to bring them back. Sure, Gandalf. Autocracy never has consequences.

19.55 Okay, I stopped paying attention during the last scene. It had Sodo in it. Let’s just assume there was lots of euphemisms and/or they were making out.

19.58 Gollum has FINALLY led them to the secret way into Mordor which is basically just a wall. (Harry: If only they had some kind of MAGIC ROPE.) Then Frodo wanders off AGAIN because they still haven’t got him a bell, and then the sky explodes. Or something.

20.01 The Bad Guy army goes past, and they look pretty evil, so things are not looking to good for our heroes, but JUST KEEP CLIMBING, you won’t die yet, that would be incredibly lame.

20.05 Meanwhile, Robin Hood totally gives away his own position and has a battle with a bunch of orcs. I’m really not sure whether we’re supposed to be on his side or not. I mean, sure, we don’t want him to be killed by orcs, but is he completely a Good Guy? It would be nice to have a character with SOME moral ambiguity, but he will probably turn out to be fine.

20.08 MEANWHILE, Fred sets off a fire beacon and Gandalf says “Hope is kindled”. I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE.

20.10 But apparently he was right because everyone is on the move and armies are gathering and STUFF IS HAPPENING. Although are they basically all just marching towards Gandalf? Is he in that much trouble? It kind of just looked like he was chilling on a tower. Shouldn’t they be marching towards Mordor and, I dunno, helping Sodo out?

20.12 My brothers inform me that they are going to Gandalf’s tower because that is where the orcs are also going. I completely missed that somehow, but cool, good to know.

20.16 Robin Hood and his dad have more fights and douchefather is all “But WE should have the ring. And I swear we’d never use it. You know, unless we really wanted to.” Then he hallucinates that Ned Stark is there after all. But he’s not. Cue even more daddy issues for Robin Hood.

He will just never be as good as Ned Stark.

20.20 Something happens with Sodo and Gollum, but basically they’re just still travelling a lot.

20.22 George Weasley has joined the Night’s Watch (or something) and has some bonding time (whey) with Robin Hood. And I just referenced three different things at once, none of which were Lord of the Rings.

20.25 Douchefather STILL hates Robin Hood for no discernible reason. Like, what is even his deal anyway? Did he steal from too many rich? Give to too many poor?

20.27 Someone has stolen Sodo’s bread and at first they blame it on Gollum, then Gollum blames it on Sam and everything is terrible. Let’s be honest, we all know who the real culprit probably was.

I can’t believe it took me this long to make a Hunger Games reference.

20.29 Sodo breaking up is genuinely quite sad. Poor Sam! I am hoping that Frodo is doing this to protect him, because if not I’M GOING TO BE MAD.

20.33 Douchefather: “Can you sing, Fred Weasley?” Um. Okay.

20.34 Oh but this is actually kind of moving, with the singing and the riding into battle and the single tear! (Harry: This could be a 90s music video.) Never mind.

20.37 We get distracted talking about 90s music videos for a bit, but then I pay attention just in time for Stryder to look broodingly at a haunted rock. Or something.

20.38 Strong Female Character: “Why shouldn’t George go to war, huh? Fight for those he loves? By George, I mean me.”

20.40 Just when everybody had forgotten about her, Female Character 1 comes back to … be dead? Or in a coma? Or just really sad?

20.41 The evil elf king tells Stryder that someone is going to betray them, but I’m not sure who any more. Then I think he tells Strong Female Character that he doesn’t love her? And steals off into the night with Legolas and Gimley. That is a much better solution to the love triangle.

20.49 Some stuff happens, there are some voiceovers, the three of them wander into the haunted rock which is probably important.

20.50 Despite attempts to leave them behind, Strong Female Character and George Weasley sneak into battle anyway. YEAH, equal rights for women and hobbits! Woo!

20.52 Stryder, Gimley and Legolas are battling ghosts because apparently that will help. I feel like they should have their own awesome triple act name, so let’s just call them the Avengers to get as many pop culture references into this thing as possible.

I assumed that somewhere on the internet, someone would have photoshopped Legolas’ head onto Hawkeye’s body. Or vice versa. BUT NO. Internet, consider this a commission.

20.54 I’m not sure why the Avengers are trying to enlist dead people to help them, or why Legolas thinks shooting arrows at them will help. NOT EVERYTHING CAN BE FIXED WITH ARROWS, LEGOLAS. Although apparently everything CAN be fixed by Stryder’s fancy new sword, and that makes him king of everything.

20.57 Oh, no, avalanche of skulls, never mind. Thankfully the Avengers escape unharmed, making the whole expedition pointless. Except wait! King of the ghosts is going to fight after all, my bad! Whew, what a rollercoaster.

20.59 But Robin Hood is dead! Was he mysteriously killed offscreen, or did I just miss it?

21.00 Harry points out that one of the orcs has a skull on his helmet, names him “General Head-Hat” and everything is hilarious.

Still funny.

21.01 Meanwhile douchefather has lost any sanity he had left, so Gandalf hits him with a stick and now he’s in charge. Nothing in these movies really makes sense to me any more, but I’ll just roll with it. They’re using trebuchets to fire giant rocks, most of which miss their targets. Sweet.

21.05 More fantasy battle scenes! MORE Gandalf wielding his stick like a ninja!

21.07 Giant wolf battering ram thing shows up, it is the end of disc one, and that means it’s time to order Dominos.

21.21 Okay so pizza is here I am typing largely one-handed. I hope that my dedication to this project does not go unnoticed. So. Ghost army has arrived! Unsure how non-corporeal beings will be any use at all, but great.

21.24 Back in the caves, Frodo is lonely and there are spiderwebs everywhere! Spiderman crossover time?

21.26 The magic perfume bottle from ten hours ago is finally back! Basically it is a torch but then Frodo gets trapped in one of the webs, which was actually spun by a giant spider, and not spiderman. Way to be PREDICTABLE, Tolkein.

21.28 A deathmatch between Gollum, Frodo and Gollum finally happens, after three films’ worth of build up. It ends with Gollum/Gollum falling down a hole. Lame. Can’t help feeling that is not actually the end of either Gollum.

21.31 Blonde Elf Lady is back for a dream sequence (I guess?) and I don’t think I’ve mentioned how creepy it is that she keeps talking without moving her lips yet. But it is.

21.32 This pizza is awesome.

21.33 Also, George Weasley and Strong Female Character and wandering round without any form of disguise, but apparently no one has noticed.

Totally blending in.

21.34 Then a flower is symbolic of hope blah blah SYMBOLISM blah.

21.37 And Frodo is stabbed. Again. This time by spiderman. Until SAM ARRIVES with the MAGIC PERFUME apparently now in his possession. Seriously, as if Frodo is the hero, Sam is the only one who gets anything done and avoids BEING STABBED ALL THE TIME.

21.39 AND he kills Spiderman while Frodo just lies there all spider-mummy.

21.40 Sam is the best.

21.41 Orcs show up to explain that Frodo is not dead, just paralysed, and they are going to take him to a tower. Cue SAM IS BETTER THAN EVERYONE rescue mission!

21.42 Also Robin Hood = not dead after all. Douchefather = still all kinds of cray cray and going to burn him anyway.

21.44 Oh no! It seems like Gandalf is about to be killed! If only this wasn’t quite obviously not the end!

21.45 Yup. Army shows up in the distance, and this is enough to completely distract the dementor and stop him from killing Gandalf like he was just about to.

21.48 Charge charge, battle battle, rising music etc.

21.50 Elaborate non-consensual suicide fire pact thing with douchefather and Robin Hood. Until Gandalf and Magic Horse save the day!

21.51 Getting kicked in the face by a horse, landing on some fire, then running around until you fall off a cliff is not the most dramatic death ever for douchefather. It’s mostly just really funny.

21.52 Charging at the giant elephants goes pretty badly for someone, but I’m not entirely certain whose side they’re on.

21.54 Oh, okay, elephants are bad guys and George Weasely/Strong Female Character make a pretty sweet team battling them until they don’t any more.

21.58 Strong Female Character totally just TOOK OUT A DRAGON, YEAH FEMINISM.

21.59 Then General Head-Hat is back and then SO ARE THE AVENGERS AND THEIR ARMY OF GHOSTS. Which apparently can kill things. Still no explanation why that’s the case.

I honestly just do not understand.

22.00 Strong Female Character gets around “no man shall kill me” because she’s a woman (Harry: “Totally invoking the Macbeth Clause there.” I am mad he made this joke before I got the chance).

22.02 Legolas makes an appearance and so does the Wilhelm scream. Legolas surfs some elephants. All right, Legolas, settle down.

22.03 Strong Female Character’s father dies and that’s kinda sad I guess.

22.06 So the battle is over now I think? Seems sort of over.

22.07 Strong Female Character lets the side down by fainting but then Stryder is there for sexy slow-motion healing times.

22.09 And the Weasley twins are reunited too! Everything is great. Now to destroy the stupid ring and get this over with. Speaking of which. Why did the orcs not untie Frodo, yet still manage to steal his clothes?

22.10 Fortunately for Hero Sam, the orcs guarding Frodo randomly all turn on each other so he doesn’t have to fight so many of them. We are running out of time I suppose, we’ve gotta wrap this up pretty quickly now.

22.13 Sodo are reunited! And Sam mysteriously has the ring now! And Frodo is still shirtless!

22.16 Once again, everyone stands around talking about how difficult it will be for Frodo to do this alone, but don’t actually do anything. Except apparently Stryder’s plan is to have a staring contest with the Giant Fiery Eye until Frodo sneaks past. It’s about as good as all the other plans these idiots have had I suppose.

22.19 Strong Female Character has given up on Stryder in favour of Robin Hood. Which kind of came out of nowhere but no one really cares about the romantic outcomes of these characters anyway, so sure, Robin Hood also has a beard and floppy hair, that’ll do.

Basically the same.

22.22 Apparently even orcs are subject to inspections. The more organised and sentient these things become, the less they are actually scary. There is nothing threatening about inspections.

22.24 Sodo throw away all their supplies and armour and stuff, which also makes perfect sense, then start shivering because it’s cold, despite all of the fire. Ugh, whatever Lord of the Rings, I’m kind of done with you now.

22.27 Stop, drop and roll apparently tricks Fire Eye into not realising Sodo is about to destroy the source of all his power.

22.33 Stryder leads the armies into battle, Sodo are so close to the volcano but not quite there, things are definitely coming along nicely.

22.34 Legolas to Gimley: “What about side by side with a FRIEND?” Hahahahahahaha, lame. After 11 hours, I am running out of ability to actually form jokes.

22.35 Hero Sam is carrying Useless Frodo the rest of the way because you know what? HE IS THE HERO. Frodo has done nothing but get into trouble.

22.37 Oh look, Gollum isn’t dead! Surprise! And Sam is the one actually fighting him. Not a surprise!

22.39 Eagles arrive to save the day for Avengers & Co. (Harry: For AMERICA.)

22.41 Useless Frodo cannot destroy the ring, because Useless Frodo is an idiot. Gollum biting off his finger is kind of gross though. But look how happy he is now he’s got his ring back! Aww!

22.42 Yup, now he’s dead.

22.45 And Giant Fire Eye is dead too. Awesome. And everything conveniently stops caving in just where the Good Guys are standing. Of course.

22.48 Does this film ever end? Now they have to outrun lava. “I’m glad to be with you Samwise Ghandi.” KISS.

22.49 Okay maybe not. Screen goes black! Maybe Sodo actually do die? That would be kind of cool … Oh, no, Gandalf saves them with flying eagles, of course. Movie still not over.

22.51 Then Frodo and Gandalf just sit about laughing, although for all Frodo knows, Gandalf was dead and this is heaven. Until everyone else turns up for a big slow motion group hug pillow fight! (In heaven?)

Ho ho ho. We’re probably all dead.

22.52 Screen fades. WAIT NO, BACK TO STRYDER’S CORONATION.

22.54 NOW STRYDER IS SINGING WHAT IS HAPPENING SO CONFUSED. And it is not even an N-Dubz cover. WHAT.

22.56 And he and Female Character 1 or 2 or whatever I called her are back together, despite a lack of any chemistry or personality.

22.57 And everyone bows to the hobbits and Hero Sam looks super awkward.

22.58 And everyone’s back in the Shire and it’s all come full circle and the movie still isn’t over how cute.

22.59 And Sam marries a barmaid, and not Frodo? Boo.

23.00 And Frodo is STILL NARRATING STILL NOT OVER COME ON GUYS, IT’S 11PM.

23.02 Bilbo is back and super old now, and the movie is still going this is touching but ridiculous.

23.06 So Frodo’s also getting on the Death Boat despite no actual motivation to do so? And do we really need the goodbye hugs in slow motion too? REALLY?

23.08 This makes no sense to me.

23.09 Even the screen fading to WHITE doesn’t make the film over. We have Sam with his tiny children first. In slow motion. Of course.

23.10 AND THEN HIS DOOR SHUTS AND IT’S FINALLY OVER THANK GOD.

Final thoughts: It has been twelve hours. I want to go home. Also, I see why these are the extended versions. I would have cut some of that stuff too. Buy anyway, serious thoughts, the third film certainly had a lot more in it than the second which I’m happy about. Not really sure how I feel about Frodo not dying in his pursuit to destroy the ring, but just deciding to sail off into the distance? Is the boat even supposed to be death? I thought the boat was supposed to be death, but I really just don’t know any more. I suppose it’s better than Frodo living out his days in the Shire with a bunch of kids, although that ending does suit Sam quite nicely.

Final thoughts on the entire trilogy: I feel bad it took me this long to watch it. No, really, I do. It was good. Even if it was kind of stupid and over-reliant on slow motion. But it didn’t look out-of-date and I enjoyed it a lot. Although I’m still kind of disappointed that Stryder never did a rap.

I’m so glad this is finally over.