The Rodízio Smaug Date

Last night my wife and I had a rare treat. We happened to be visiting family in Utah and my brother and sister-in-law volunteered to watch our son while we went on a date.
My wife and I currently live in Maryland and we have no family out there, so it's a lot harder to find willing babysitters. So we took the opportunity to get a nice meal with a Christmas gift card and catch a movie. 

We ate at the wonderful Rodízio grill in American Fork.

Brazilian Churrascaria
The food was wonderful. Most of the beef was on the medium-rare side of things. I tend to prefer my meat more medium-well, but found myself enjoying all of the meats brought out.
For those who haven't eaten at a Churrascaria, it is a must if you like meat. For vegans and vegetarians, you probably wouldn't enjoy it. The main feature of a Churrascaria is that it's a meat buffet, but they bring the meat out to you on stakes. They'll keep bringing meat to you until                                                                                           you tell them to stop.
All kinds of beef, chicken, pork, even pork wrapped in bacon. All of these cooked the Brazilian way, which in my humble opinion is the most delicious way to cook meat.
Our service was great, one of our servers was from Brazil, and he made our experience comfortable.

After our meaty meal we hopped next door and picked up tickets to the new Hobbit movie, The Desolation of Smaug.
The Desolation of SmaugI came expecting it to be fun and exciting with lots of action, yet lacking in significant character development and depth. With these expectations the film did not disappoint.
The beginning of the film felt a little disjointed, opening with a scene between Gandalf and Thorin in the Prancing Pony at Bree, it then jumped quickly from there back to the quest of Bilbo and company as they are being chased by the giant, ugly, scarred orc from the first film.  Having not watched the first Hobbit movie in a while, it took a little while to get into the film.  It felt a little like the director, Peter Jackson, had just dumped me into the film with very little to help me get into the frame of mind again.

After that slightly jarring intro, the film consisted almost entirely of chasing and action that never really stops. If they're not being chased by orcs they're trying to escape wood elves, fighting giant spiders, running from a great bear, and running from the men at Lake Town. All of this running and fighting, with a fair number of orc decapitations thrown in for good measure, and a lengthy appearance of Orlando Bloom as Legolas (which is definitely not in the book, but worked just fine for the movie), made for a very exciting movie that kept me captivated and entertained but not necessarily amazed. Which is fine with me because it was obviously a film designed to be fun and exciting.

With no love interest present in the book, Jackson brought in Legolas and a special red-headed she-elf to give it some romance. During the course of the movie this fiery red-head follows the dwarves because she finds herself smitten with one of the dwarves (I can never keep their names straight), and Legolas follows the red-head, we are led to believe its because he likes the she-elf, but we all know that his only purpose in the film was to kill orcs in cool ways, and he did that, a lot.

With all of the creative liberties that they took bringing Legolas in and adding some of Gandalf's adventures that weren't really in the book, I would have been mildly disappointed with the direction they took, but the last scene with Smaug all but made up for adding to Tolkien's book like they did. 

I had wondered if they would be able to make Smaug believable; after all he is a giant, talking dragon. This could be a bit hard to swallow on screen. They used a directorial device that was very effective for helping the audience suspend their disbelief.
When the dwarves are in Mirkwood wandering about, they get captured by giant spiders. Bilbo was up in the trees trying to see which way they should go. He climbs down and gets wrapped in spider silk and taken away to get eaten. He narrowly escapes and slips on his magic ring that makes him invisible. As soon as he puts on the ring he hears the spiders talking amongst themselves.
By using the ring and it's mysterious powers as the reason why he can hear their voices it helps the audience suspend their disbelief in the possibility of talking spiders.
Jackson uses this same device in Smaug's lair. When Bilbo puts the ring on he can hear Smaug, which helps suspend the disbelief of the strangeness of a talking dragon. The difference with Smaug is that once the audience is used to Smaug talking he continues talking even after Bilbo has taken off the ring.
This is just one aspect of why Smaug was so great. Smaug was a well designed, computer generated, fire breathing dragon. He had an awesome, deep voice that echoed in the giant dwarf halls. And to top it off they used Smaug's lines from the book, with (from what I could tell) very few alterations. Smaug was, in short, awesome. He was terrifying, cool, larger than life. He was everything the great Smaug should be.

It is apparent throughout the whole film that they were taking so many creative liberties because of Peter Jackson's decision to make one book into three movies.  They could have easily made it in two movies.  With three movies they needed some more content to make the second film long enough.  So, as a result, there were extra battle scenes, extended fight scenes, lots and lots of fighting, and there was some dialog in there too.  There were heroes and heroines, dragons and wizards, dark lords and fallen elves.  In summary, it was a great film if want something exciting, thrilling, and action packed.  It's one of those films that I'll be sure to buy once all three films are on DVD (or BluRay, whichever).  
The food was amazing, the movie was exciting, and the company was beyond compare.  

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