Our Middle-Earth Adventure

It's a month since Mum and I were in New Zealand, and I've finally put together an album of our highlights, see below.

We arrived in Auckland, once the capital of the country and situated in the very north of the North Island, and after a couple of nights there embarked on a journey southwards in our rental car.

We would book a hotel, hostel or camping hut thing the night before using the wifi wherever we were staying that night, and rarely stayed in one place for longer than one night. Every day was filled with Lord of the Rings/Hobbit location hunting, sightseeing, and driving. Mum was very brave and drove us over mountains, on dirt roads, along canyons, through forests, and across a lot of narrow scary bridges. She wasn't quite brave enough to let me drive much though :P

I bought a SIM card with 3GB of data at Auckland airport and, boy, was that useful. We had absolutely no trouble finding our way around, and with the help of my guidebook and various websites combined with Google Maps I navigated us from site to site. I wasn't shy about using the data and I ran out bare hours before we left, 3 weeks after arriving.

Thanks to Matthew for lending me his sweet camera, I hope you enjoy the photos!

Bonus video: I recorded little selfies every day so I could make this silly compilation!

Visiting Middle-Earth

I'm busily planning a New Zealand holiday, with one particular aim being to visit a friend who's been there for over a year now doing her PhD, but while I'm there I thought it would be a shame not to see some Lord of the Rings/Hobbit filming locations!

So I've just finished plotting as many points as I could find to help me plan the itinerary. We're tentatively planning to fly to Auckland, hire a car and drive ourselves down to Dunedin where my friend is living, stopping at locations as we go. However, I'm waiting to hear about my application to the JET programme and can't book flights yet because the timing will coincide with possibly having to do some sort of complicated and possibly time-consuming medical examinations for the JET people - the frustrating thing being that they won't give any useful information about the requirements in advance, only that you should 'be available in April'.

Anyway, here's the map I've generated for LotR locations in New Zealand (click the icon in the top right corner to embiggen):

2013 in film

Just like last year I've got a list of every film I watched this year. They can get up to three golden stars () if I enjoyed them. On the other hand, if I disliked them, they might earn black stars (★) instead...

Bold titles indicate films with some significance (which means either I was highly anticipating it, it's a well-known classic, it was just especially moving, or had some other significance to me personally).

If it wasn't the first time I'd seen the film, that is also indicated after the title.

★   Looper
2012 action sci-fi time travel film starring Bruce Willis.
★★ Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
2011 sequel to the 2009 film, starring Robert Downey Jr.
2012 Judge Dredd film.
   Glorious 39
2009 WWII drama.
★  The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (III)
2012 first instalment of Peter Jackson's trilogy.
★  Lincoln
2012 Steven Spielberg historical drama.
★★ Inglourious Basterds (II)
2009 Quentin Tarantino WWII drama.
★★ Django Unchained
2012 Quentin Tarantino western.
★★Meet Joe Black
1998 fantasy/romance thing with Anthony Hopkins and Brad Pitt.
   I Wish
2011 Japanese sort-of coming-of-age film.
★★ Monsters (II)
2010 sci-fi monster movie, low budget and well-executed.
   True Grit
2010 western, adapted from a book.
★  Grave of the Fireflies
1988 Studio Ghibli anime about WWII.
   Side Effects
2013 psychological thriller with some good actors.
2013 horror type thing.
2006 scifi anime.
★  Safety Not Guaranteed
2012 surreal comedy/drama.
2012 Oscar-winning drama based on real events.
★  The Spirit of '45
2013 Ken Loach pro-socialist documentary/propoganda.
★★ Jurassic Park (many)
1993 dinosaur scifi/thriller!
★  Men in Black 3 (II)
2012 addition to the scifi/comedy franchise.
   Brave (II)
2012 Pixar fantasy movie.
★  Wreck-it-Ralph
2012 Disney film.
★★ Planet of the Apes (II)
1968 famous scifi movie.
★★★Jurassic Park (many)
Watched it in 3D at the IMAX in Universal Studios, Florida!
★★★Rise of the Planet of the Apes (II)
2011 reboot of the franchise.
   The Odd Life of Timothy Green
2013 fantasy/feel-good about a boy with leaves.
★★ The Borrower Arrietty
2010 Studio Ghibli anime based on the classic book.
   The Cat Returns
2002 Studio Ghibli fantasy anime.
★★ The Hangover (II)
2009 comedy.
   The Hangover Part II
2011 sequel to the aforementioned.
★  No Country for Old Men
2007 western thriller.
2013 big-budget scifi (one of several such flops this year...)
★  Iron Man 3
2013 addition to the franchise.
★  Mud
2012 coming-of-age film.
   Man of Steel
2013 reboot of the franchise.
★  Jin-Roh
1999 alternate-history anime set after WWII.
★  Eve no Jikan
2010 scifi anime, about robots and AI.
★★Now You See Me
2013 heist film.
   5 Centimetres Per Second
2007 anime.
★  NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Wind (II)
1984 anime that just preceeded Studio Ghibli.
★  One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
1975 adaptation of a novel, with Jack Nicholson.
2006 adaptation of the novel, which I plan to read.
★  Evolution (II)
2001 scifi/comedy.
   Despicable Me 2
2013 sequel to the 2010 animation, which I did not see.
★★ Casino Royale (V)
2006 Bond 'reboot', I guess.
   Flags of Our Fathers
2006 film set in the WWII, twinned with Letters from Iwo Jima.
★  Letters from Iwo Jima
2006 film set in the WWII, twinned with Letters from Flags of Our Fathers.
★  Silver Linings Playbook
2012 apparently funny quirky romance with Jennifer Lawrence.
   Blue Jasmine
2013 weird drama with Cate Blanchett.
★★ Alien (III)
1979 classic scifi horror.
★  Pacific Rim
2013 CGI scifi action flick (giant mechas vs kaiju).
   The Raid: Redemption
2011 Indonesian martial arts film.
★  Ender's Game
2013 adaptation of the scifi classic.
★  The Thomas Crown Affair
1999 heist film with Pierce Brosnan.
★  The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (IV)
2012 Peter Jackson Hobbit film, first in the trilogy.
★  The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
2013 instalment of the trilogy.
★★ Kill Bill: Volume 1 (IV)
2003 Quentin Tarantino action/martial arts film.
★★ Kill Bill: Volume 2 (IV)
2004 sequel/second part to the above.
★★ Die Hard (III?)
1988 action classic with Bruce Willis.

There were misses (Man of Steel, Pacific Rim) as well as hits (Iron Man 3, Ender's Game, The Desolation of Smaug), a mix of classics and new films, and not a few Japanese animations.

And 60 films is 4 more than last year! I'm already on 5 this year, but may have a change of lifestyle come August... How will it affect things? Tune in to find out!