The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Peter Jackson brought to life J.R.R. Tolkien's epic tale, The Lord of The Rings 11 years ago with breathtaking CGI & wowed us with the spectacular plot, not to mentioned stellar casting for all the important characters in the books' trilogy.


A decade later, the director is bringing back the magic to screen with The Hobbit which is a prequel to the incidences in The Lord of The Rings. Feeling the pressure to stay loyal to the book, Jackson decides to stretch the story into a 3-part film. I was ecstatic when it was announced that the first movie, The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey will be released in December 2012 after a long wait.

Barely a month before the movie release, I pored through the books; turning one page after another as I was pressured to complete the book in time. Otherwise, it would seem strange that I read the book half way & expect the movie to fill in the remaining gaps. I guess I regretted a little reading it before stepping into the cinema because everything about the movie was exact enactment of the book. So it was a total spoiler. -.-"

Still, nothing beats having the opening sentence of the book narrated out loud in the film. Listening to Ian Holm's voice as the old Bilbo Baggins began with the phrase, "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit..." sent a rush of excitement, marking the start of an epic adventure. Those of you unfamiliar to Tolkien's work will find the first 30 mins a pain to watch because of the slow, lengthy pace at Bilbo's hobbit hole & the introduction of every dwarf (who looks & sounds alike) which is bound to leave you in a confused state of mind.

Skip all those & the movie becomes more exciting as Bilbo began his journey with the group of dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield & accompanied by Gandalf to the Lonely Mountain. There you have it, Jackson's showcase of Middle Earth using state-of-the-art CGI that will take your breath away. If you have an eye for detail, I would recommend to watch the 3D version filmed in high frame rate which claims to have the highest definition for 3D movie. I'm not a fan of 3D movies & wouldn't bother putting on a pair of 3D glasses to witness orcs running towards my direction. It is already a headache trying to deal with wearing extra glasses on top of my own spectacles.

Overall, the movie looks great & I'd have to applaud the work for its grandeur & cinematic appeal. Somehow it struck me as a more serious film for adults rather than the innocent nature of a children's tale on hobbits. Honestly, the book seems to have some sort of identity crisis because the writing style is pretty dense (though not as heavy as The Lord of The Rings) but it's definitely not the childlike kind where you find in the Harry Potter series, yet Tolkien himself wrote it for children. If this is true, I'm very impressed with the literacy level of children those days.

Also, the book only has one volume whereas Jackson took it a little too far by stretching into a trilogy. This movie already feels maxed out to its limit just to meet the 2 1/2 hour length. Nevertheless, The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey is still an enjoyable piece to be cherished & rejoiced for the casts' brilliant acting skills. Given the choice to pick my favourite scene, mine would be Riddles in the Dark - the scene where Bilbo & Gollum first met & exchanged riddles. Best scene ever. Just like in the book...

Now I need to wait patiently for the 2nd instalment next year as the anticipation builds up in unveiling the creature living in the mountains that breathes fire. I wonder which actor will play Bard the Bowman, a significant one in the next film. Can't wait!!

Pic courtesy of

The reversing car

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

It was raining while I was driving home from work at about 8pm. There was a slight jam at the traffic light interchange near Batu Tiga toll, which is a usual during a downpour. As I approached the traffic light, I stopped behind a yellow Ford Intercooler Turbo & waited patiently until the light turns green. For some odd reason, the yellow Ford started sliding backwards & moving frontwards as if the driver was struggling to balance the clutch.

As soon as I realised his car was getting a little too close, I pressed on the honk just to give him a wake up call. However, he didn't seemed to notice his car had started rolling backwards. I honked loudly & continuously, praying hard that he would just pulled the hand brakes to put a stop to his reversing car. Unfortunately, my prayers was not answered & his car hit on my front car, leaving a long scratch just below the grill. On the other hand, his car was unfazed with the kangaroo bars attached to the back.

I was really pissed to the roof but even more so because I couldn't get down from the car to confront the culprit as it was still raining heavily. We were stuck at the traffic light in the middle of the road so there was no way to park aside in order to do the talking. I whipped out my phone to snap a picture of the car with the number as a backup if I plan to make a police report. He moved few inches to the front knowing that he was at fault. This cunning man took the opportunity to escape by sneaking through the heavy traffic & sped off. Such a coward!

Upon arriving home, I complained to Dad about the situation & expressed my need to make a police report immediately. Sadly, Dad said to forget about the idea because the whole incident was not in my favour. Why?! Because I was hit on the front by the back of the culprit's car. Our police will still fire at me, accusing that I tailgated & stopping too close to the front car. Malaysian police recognises the back car will always be guilty, irregardless of the back car actually hit or was being hit by the front car. In their eyes, each driver must be focused on looking at what is ahead of you.

With that, I left the incident aside & didn't not file any report against the culprit. But this incident left me fuming mad for weeks about how unjust our judicial system is. Made me realised the importance of getting registered to vote & fight for a change. It will have to be the next elections.

Cooking Swedish

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Two months ago, I signed up for Cooking British class which is to be held in October. Unfortunately, I received a call from At 19 Culinary Studio team while I was away for business trip explaining that the aforementioned class had to be cancelled due to low participation. Apparently, there were many participants who made cancellations & I was the only one left to attend the class. As stated in their rules, a minimum of 3 participants are required for class commencement as scheduled.

Due to this, I was offered to select another class of equivalent value or get a full refund if there isn't any class of to my liking. In the end, I picked Cooking Swedish which is a favourite class among most members. When the day arrived, I totally forgot that I had actually signed up for it & was rudely awakened by my alarm clock at 9am (not early but I'm not a morning person). Already running late, I scrambled to wash up & drove as fast as I could to the culinary studio. Upon arrival, I cooked up a white lie that my car had some problems just so that it didn't look too embarrassing that I arrived fashionably late. Nevertheless, the class didn't receive overwhelming response as I thought it should be because there were only 3 students who turned up (including me).

Chef Khai was the one who conducted the special Swedish cooking class for Ikea's contest winners. Due to overwhelming response, Chef Khai decided to organise a similar class for At 19's students. We started off with Jansson's Temptations, a fancy name for potato pudding. In essence, the potato pudding is made by cutting slices of potatoes & arranging it layer by layer together with anchovy fillet or bacon in a baking tin. Next, cream is poured into the baking tin to cover up the layers & then it's popped into the oven to bake to perfection. Garnish with some English parsley & voila! You have a new dish ready.

The second dish is a main course called Lindstromare with pickles cabbage & onion sauce. Lindstromare refers to beef patty in Swedish language for those of you wondering what it means. If you can't consume beef, mutton can be used as an alternative. First, the meat patty of your choice is marinated with egg, beetroot, onion cube & chopped parsley then seasoned to taste. The patty is then pan-fried until golden brown. Next, the cabbage is sauteed with butter & balsamic vinegar, season to taste. To prepare the sauce, we sauteed the onion until brown followed by black pepper. Demi glace is added & simmered until thick while adding seasoning to taste. No idea what a demi glace is? It's actually double cream. Finally, the patty is plated with pickles cabbage & onion sauce. Yum!

A meal is never complete without a wonderful dessert. In traditional Swedish style, Chef Khai demonstrated how to prepare a simple dark chocolate kladdkaka which is known as chocolate cake to the Swedes. Kladdkaka is a fairly simple cake to bake. All we needed was eggs, sugar, butter, unsweetened cocoa powder, self-raising flour, water, salt & vanilla paste. The eggs & sugar are whipped until smooth; then flour, salt, vanilla paste & water is added & mixed until well combined. Next, we put a few knobs of melted butter & cocoa powder into the egg batter, whisking it until glossy before finally adding in a teaspoon of vanilla paste. The batter is poured into a lightly greased 9 inch tart dish & baked in the oven preheated at 150 degrees Celcius for 35 minutes. Once ready, set aside the cake to cool slightly & finally dust a layer of icing sugar to serve. Just look at how beautiful the cake turns out...

Each of us took back our own creations to savour at home. The class ended at the perfect time at noon, when it was time for lunch & had plenty of appetite to gobble up all the dishes. Even then, I was struggling to finish my creations because the meal was wholesome. Now I just need to find time to practise & replicate this dish to perfection. XD