Thursday, June 30, 2011
Book two (in the trilogy, The Death Cure, comes out in the fall) starts right where the last one ends. Thomas thinks he and his friends are safe after surviving the maze, but he's wrong. So very wrong. There is another trial set before him and this time it's under a maddening hot sun, desert storms, and lightning strikes that fry you to the bone, along with Cranks (crazed out diseased people wanting to eat you). Thomas must make it to the safe haven with his friends in two weeks or they will be dead. He still doesn't quite know what is going on. His memory remains blank with a few dreams popping here and there to give him some kind of hope that all is not lost.
I enjoyed the first book, and this one is good too. But it took me longer to get into it. The mystery surrounding these tests and trials can be tiresome. It's sometimes difficult to root for or care for characters when we don't really know the reasoning behind their story/plot because it could all just be fake anyway, and then where's the payoff with that? I'm sure book three will make it all clear. I'm just worried that the big reveal behind everything that's happened so far will be a let down, or so far fetched that it won't be plausible.
The book is well written and the narrative flows fairly well. The violence is written realistically and some parts are quite gruesome. Skin burning off flesh, and heads eaten by metallic metal glob makes these trials something you never want to experience.
That being said, I will read the final book and fingers crossed that I'll be satisfied by all that came before.
I give it a B.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
The above poster really says it all. This film is a love letter to Spielberg and ET and The Goonies.
Super 8 is a monster movie that's really kind of an alien movie that's ultimately an adventure film. A group of kids are making a zombie movie on their 'super 8' camera in 1979. While doing so they witness a terrible train crash and are almost killed by its spectacular explosion that unleashes a monster (or is it?). They're told to keep it a secret or they will be killed. Strange things start to happen in the town. The military arrive and people begin to disappear. Joe Lamb, the shy kid whose mother dies in the opening credits of the film, eventually leads his group of friends on a rescue mission to save their friend (and girl crush) Alice from the said monster. His father, Jackson, played by the lovely Kyle Chandler, is the town's Deputy who takes over the investigation when the sheriff, himself, goes missing.
The film itself isn't anything original. An homage or love letter like this can never really be original, can it? As it takes many parts from preexisting stories and films that came before. But when it takes from great films that came before then that's a good thing. I liked the film for its nostalgic nods to the past. With the internet and modern technology, a film like this couldn't be set in the present day. There were some cliches thrown in, like the dead parent, the absentee father, the fat kid, the evil military man and so on. Also, some clarity would be nice as to why some townsfolk who go missing are alive, and others are not. It does feel forced at times with the sentimentality (near the end), but overall its heart is in the right place.
The hype leading up to the release of the film and the secrecy surrounding the storyline was all about marketing because as I said before, the film isn't original.
But any film that features, The Knacks' My Sharona is a-okay in my books.
Friday, June 10, 2011
I've seen all the Xmen Movies. I liked them, but am not a fan. I don't think I cared that much for the last one that came out a few years ago. So we now get an origin story. And it's good. It wasn't fantastic. But I liked the emotional pull of the film, and James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are key to that connection. They play Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr who will eventually become Professor X and Magneto.
The plot is this: A bad mutant, Sebastian Shaw, Kevin Bacon, wants to start WWIII and is using the Cuban missile crisis to do it. The mutants along with the CIA try to stop him. And along the way, they discover the chasm that exists between mutants and non- mutants and it's a big one. They'll never be truly respected or accepted no matter how hard they try. It really shows the ignorance of humanity. And because of this, the lines between mutants is drawn.
The film is rather long, but for the most part, it's a fun ride. I liked the 1960's backdrop and the soundtrack. I particularly really enjoyed the climactic showdown. It was tense and well acted. And thankfully, January Jones, as Emma Frost, was not participating. January Jones, once again, is the weakest link in this film. She is terrible. And some might wonder why I have such a hate on for her. And it's an annoyance on because she is a horrible actor. And I can't understand how she gets work, as I am sure there are nicer blond actresses out there who have actual talent. It's a mystery to me, so if anyone can shed light on that for me, I would appreciate it. I also felt that Jennifer Lawrence was miscast as Mystique. There was just something slightly off about her performance. I hope she pulls through as Katniss in The Hunger Games (March 2012) because I am obsessed with that book.
The summer is upon us and the superhero films are coming at us full throttle. So get ready to geek out!
Thursday, June 9, 2011
I am continuing on with my dystopian fiction, am on a roll, and loving it! Divergent is more violent and along the lines of The Hunger Games rather than Delirium. Not as good as Suzanne Collin's novel, but it's pretty damn good. Divergent is set in a future Chicago where humans are separated into factions, five of them. You're either honest, brave, intelligent, peaceful or selfless.(There's also the factionless, those who live on the edge of society's acceptance: ie. the janitors, garbage collectors, the homeless.)
Beatrice, who will eventually change her name to Tris, was raised selfless, except she doesn't feel like that, so when it comes time to choose a faction that she wants to belong to she goes for the brave one, Dauntless, which ultimately is the violent one. But what she finds out when she is tested as to what faction would best suit her is that she is something called Divergent, and those are people who can blend into more than one faction. They have more options, and are considered dangerous by some, hence why Tris is told to keep it a secret or she could die.
She leaves the Abnegation faction, her father horrified by her betrayal (and it's a double whammy for the family when her brother, Caleb, chooses to leave to become an Erudite, the smart ones), and it's not until she fully immerses herself in the Dauntless initiation that she discovers what's really going on, and it's not pretty.
Tris is deeply flawed, and at times unlikable, which makes me like her more in a way. She reminds me a bit of Katniss in The Hunger Games (although Katniss is a stronger character). There is some romance as well, but it doesn't distract too much from the main action, it blends well together. And the passage depicting the blooms of first love are well written and the butterflies of young love springs from the page. I like that Tris doesn't know what she's feeling. It makes her realistic. A flawed character is the best kind of character to relate to, especially since most of us are covered in flaws.
The book, as most of these dystopian books are, is Part One of a trilogy. I am looking forward to where Roth is taking us with this series. Is it the most original YA story out there? No. Does it feel, at times, like it wants to be like The Hunger Games? Yes. But ideas and book publishers have different timelines, and I believe that no idea is really truly ever original. It's all about the implementation of the idea that counts. And this novel is well written, and feels honest.
If you like YA fiction about dystopian futures that have violence, and romance, and war then this book is for you.