Friday, November 29, 2013

Catching Fire (the movie): Review

Ok, so on Tuesday, I saw Catching Fire.
And what did I think of it?
Loved it! It was awesome! It upped the action, the sacrifice, the emotions, the stakes, the characters... This movie was amazing, it was much much better than the first one! Buuuut... it could've been better!


Ok, ok, let me elaborate: I am fangirl, of course 'll be unhappy about something, even if it's a nitpick (and most of them are). And of course - you are always welcome to disagree with me, and I'd love to hear it, but this is my blog and therefore - my opinion.

First, my rating:           (9 s)

SPOILER ALERT!!! (For both the movie and the book. If you haven't seen the movie/or read the book, you should probably stop reading)


Now, let's start with the good:

Well, most of it really. But I am not going to go into detail about what's so amazing in each and every scene, so I'll do this instead: I'll say what I liked in the movie better than I did in the book/the previous movie.

Now, have in mind I haven't read the book in a year, but I still have a good memory, so there it is: 


1. Effie

  I loved Effie and even more so in the films. Elizabeth Banks is amazing and she looks like she's having the time of her life. Ok, I like Effie equally everywhere, but I could really feel how much she cares here.

2. 'The Odds Are Never in Our Favor' 

    Damn that graffiti inscription on a wall gave me a geekgasm every time I saw it in the trailer and of course - so it did in the film! It was just the perfect motto for a rebellion in that universe.

3. Snow's granddaughter.

   It was mentioned that he had one in the books, but we could never get an emotional attachment, as we never saw her, Here we see here and... she's just a normal girl about Prim's age, despite obviously being fed the Capitol's propaganda - that's not her fault.

4. 'Someday, I'll volunteer like you did.'

    It was a very powerful scene when this little girl told this to Katniss in one of the districts. Very good commentary there. Katniss's face (screaming internally) was really the most powerful thing in the scene and it shows how amazing the visual medium can be - just one facial expression manages to convey so much from the books.

5. I understand Katniss a lot better.

     I thought that the first movie made Katniss a lot more (or at least slightly more) likable than she's in the books and it's the same with this film. For instance,  the scene where Katniss has to choose allies and she goes for the ones that seem the oddest of them all. In the book it felt like she was purposefully separating herself from the rest of the victors (which in a sense she is), but it just seemed that she  was being stubborn and an idiot, while in the movie, when I actually saw the rest of the victors/tributes, I really understood and sympathized with Katniss. In the long term it really wasn't the smartest move, but Katniss is an emotional person and often goes with her feelings rather than her brains.

6. Peeta (compared to the first film.)

   Now, when the first movie came out, it was around the time of the Twilight-clones, when movies were trying to look/seem like Twilight, to attract that crowd and if you look at The Hunger Games more carefully, you'll see it, especially with Peeta's character.They really wanted to play him as the tormented, but deep guy that no one understands and in the process turned him extremely emo and suicidal (aka Edward), which... he is not! There is so much more to his character! He is likable, accessible, friendly, everybody liked him (even Gale, who tried very hard not to), the cameras loved him, he wanted to rebel in his own way in the Games, he cares, he is a good person, he is talented... Yeah, he had (and did until the end of the trilogy) this emo side to him, but the first movie really wanted to play it as if this was his most major characteristic and it wasn't. This movie really felt like an apology in that sense.


Now the Bad.



First, let me start with the nit-picks  and the smaller things.


1. The info-dumps (Snow and Plutarch conversations & other things outside of Katniss's POV)

   Now, maybe I am saying this as someone who's read the books and these scenes were actually helpful for audience members, who only watch the movies, but... really? This movie really did a lot more telling than showing than it should have! In the first film, I felt the scenes outside Katniss's POV in the first movie were well placed and necessary, and even if they weren't they were at least way less in numbers, where here I felt beaten over the head with it. We get it, Snow's a bad guy, move on, please!


2. Missing scenes: 
    - Plutarch's mockingjay clock.
    This scene was a major plot point in the book! That's how Katniss is tipped off about the arena and that there is something going on and maybe Plutarch is part of it. They already added the dancing scene, would it have been that much of a bother to add like 5-10 more seconds of screen time, so he can flash the clock at her?!
    - The truth about 13.
     13 is the major source of revolution and it will be a very, very important setting in movie 3. Yes, they dump 13 on us at the end, like it's no big deal, but it is and Katniss figuring it out was important!
    - Katniss and Peeta bonding.
     Yeah, they talk about colors in the film, whoopty-do! They had a lot more real connection in the book. We get the scene where he stays to sleep next to her, which was pretty great, but we don't actually see them spend quality time together. 
     - Peeta's paintings of the Hunger Games and Katniss's reaction to them
       They show us Katniss's PTSD but what about Peeta - did he just went on unscarred by the Games? And like 10 seconds of screen time, where Peeta would've really benefited my previous point about the bonding.
     - Peeta and Katniss watching Haymitch's Hunger Games
       Yeah, it's not like that was important plot point in the book or anything and it's how Katniss decides to destroy the force field at the end or made the characters bond or the fans wanted to see it so bad, they made their own fan videos or anything... No, we can skip that 5-minute scene.
     - The bread that signified the plan for interrupting the games
       I am not bothered that much by this one, but it was important in the book, so I'd just like to point it out.

3. This movie could've benefited from (at least) two montages with noor almost no speaking:
     - Katniss and Peeta bonding/victims of the new regime in 12 montage. 
      This could've been great and both a happy and sad montages by showing katniss explaining plants to peeta and him painting them after she got hurt which also wasn't in the movie) and then cut away to the whipped people Katniss's mother and sister heal. It could've been a beautiful bit and it didn't need to be longer than 2-3 minutes.
     - Training/Film reel from previous Hunger Games montage 
       This was important! Yes the scenes where Katniss, Peeta and Haymitch face the idea of going back into the arena and Haymitch teaching them about the other victors were still pretty great, but they could've been better.

4. Games related pet-peeves;

     Why were some tributes shown and interviewed together and others not?! And did ya' miss a canon or two there (AGAIN)?!


But ok, all of those are as I said nit-picks, which forgive, but here are my two actual problems with this film:

5. Johanna Mason is hilariously miscast
      I am so happy with the casting in this film, everyone just fits their role perfectly!  Well, except for my favorite character - Johanna Mason. She is a tough character to cast and I was especially worried when I found out they were casting one of the girls from Sucker Punch. Yeah, great choice there, director!  Jena Malone wasn't even convincing in that stupid movie (SP) as the smart-assed bitchy sarcastic one of the group (and there it was all an act, because inside she was actually a dreamer inside), let alone here.
    Now, in all fairness I think that the writers and director did a decent job with her character and the actress god-bless her does her best, but... she just looked like she was trying too hard. Whenever I saw Johanna on screen... she just looked like an angry teenager acting out, because her mother grounded her for a month, and now she was going to miss prom and not like someone who's every reason for existence has been slowly and painfully taken away from her in constant, in attempts to shatter, but instead turned her into a weapon for the rebellion. I mean, Katniss seems much more hurt, rebellious and hardened and sarcastic than Johanna and no one she loves has even been taken from her yet.

6. 12A (UK)/ PG13 (USA) Rating
   This as an adaptation of a book focused around teenagers killing each other and people dying on daily basics how does that not get at least a 15 rating?! It's filled with violence and heavy theme and because of that stupid rating we got to see none of it! It was either:
1. cut away from through ridiculously fast editing 
2. my 'favorite' shakey-cam technique was used. 
Also Johanna's cursing was actually censored! I... no, just no!

To summarize: It may seem like I am bitching a lot, but I always do that, so do not be fooled: I loved the movie, I thought it was awesome, I did not feel how the time passed by and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Peace out,
Thea K

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Prologue

I read this twice, in case you were wondering. I was deeply confused by the first reading and I am only about 30% more certain of what I read after the second one. And that's probably due to the second-language thingie.

Ok, there is a strange phenomenon going on in this book in the sense that it seems to be both not written by Stephenie Meyer and written too much my Stephenie Meyer.

What do I mean by this?

Well, first of all it's not Smeyer's usual 5-line incredibly-literal-symbolic/metaphoric meaning prologue. It's about 3 pages long and it does insert us into a setting and plot too.

It's also not told from the heroine's point of view, though I am still unclear as to who our main protagonist is supposed to be - is it wanderer the soul or Melanie the human? And I can't believe that I am saying this, but: no spoilers, please.

Also it's not um... bad. I am not sure that it's good yet, it's too early to tell from the first 3 pages, but so far it's kind of interesting.

Ok, let's get this out of the way right now.
My Rating for the Prologue is: 


Moving on:
What I mean by that it's written too much by Stephenie Meyer?

Well, the purple prose of course! Where we would be without Mrs. Meyer's unintentionally hilarious rape of complicated adjectives and adverbs.

Now, don't get me wrong - I love me some pp (that does not sound as good as I thought out-loud, but I'm probably going to keep using it.) I think if applied right (in the right places and the right amounts) it can achieve great things in all genres of fiction, but in particular YA and romance, which this is both. It can be used from parody and satire to poking fun of thropes to actual genuine (albeit clichéd) moments of insight into someone or something.

However when it's used it creates a sort of artificial feel of the text and it may take away from the story, because you'd be trying to focus too much on certain details, instead of you know - the important stuff. I've been reading Angela Carter for school lately, and I have to say my head hurts from all the fluffed-up writing.

Anyway, getting to the actual issue at hand:

Dr. Ford something-something (I am sure he is not important so I won't be bothered to remember his full name) is a Healer has healed a girl and is now preparing to do a procedure called 'insertion', which is apparently so run-of-the-mill that literally anybody can do it. No, not just any healer he says:
'any soul on the street street could perform it'
I don't understand the healer's job in such case. Ok, he also says 'in an emergency', but really what is the difference? An emergency would actually be more stressful. Also - soul emergency? Please, clarify, Meyer! No? Nothing? Ok, moving on.

Here's also another one of Mrs. Meyer's patents in writing - the nonsensical description.
Because he was a soul, by nature he was all things good: compassionate, patient, honest, virtuous, and full of love. Anxiety was an unusual emotion for Fords Deep Waters.
Irritation was even rarer. However, because Fords Deep Waters lived inside a human body, irritation was sometimes inescapable. 
What? How can it be so rare, but then also be inescapable? How does being in a human body affect all these emotions anyway, having in mind that human is (obviously) not there. Why are souls 'good by nature'? I cannot...

Ok, so all of his students are excited about seeing a 'wild' human for the first time. Oh, and let's not forget the 'You know this, but I'll repeat it to you, anyway' cliché compulsory to all sci-fi and fantasy.
They've never seen a grown human before,” Darren said.
Fords raised one eyebrow. “Are they blind to each other's faces? Do they not have mirrors?” 
“You know what I mean–a wild human. Still soulless. One of the insurgents.” 
There's some explanation about how they look the same, because the all wear humans. Ok, the text doesn't say 'wear', but that's how I interpret it.

There's also some whispers about the soul Dr. Ford is going to insert in the girl's body and they are all... Well, they sound like legends. You know like all these awesome things that hero did, but it can't be him, because no one is that awesome? And it most probably isn't him. But, well, I just have to post it:

 “She's been almost everything. A Flower, a Bear, a Spider –” “A See Weed, a Bat –” “Even a Dragon!”
 This is my first actual WTF moment so far. First off:



She can live as a flower, a bat a spider and a seaweed? Than why the fuck would you want a human body? That seems like jackass thing to do, really!


Also - A dragon? Are you fucking kidding me?! I think you are mixing up your genres here, Meyer, because sci fi isn't the same as fantasy (yes, I make a distinction).

And before that we have some brutal name-dropping about some Seeker, who is looking for some information  and something about this soul (obviously they are talking about the soul) being put through some challenge, which is actually an assignment that may or may not be for the greater good. It's kind of confusing, really and knowing Mrs. Meyer it'll either never come into play or it will be something stupid, so I am not delving too deep into it and I am not posting the text.

So the insertion procedure, which is described rather bizarrely takes place - half of the time I can't understand what is going on, thanks to Meyer's word-choices mostly - and the obligatory purple prose when the soul is described. I am not posting it, because it's actually kind of weird and it's just bad foreshadowing about the specialness of character, obviously.

Than something even more bizarre happens. The doctor feels bad after the procedure. I don't...

I mean - why? It can't be for the human girl, which will be destroyed now that the soul is in her body, because these souls obviously view humans just as animals, but good hosts. Maybe he feels bad for the soul - he does wish her luck in the end.

Oh, also - Darren is in this chapter. He's the Healer's assistant. We don't know much about him besides that. Wait no - he also has gray hair and hasn't changed his name from his human's host name. How did he know his human host's name, since the human dies the moment the soul enters his body and why would he need to is beyond me, but hey I'm guessing he'll never show up again either, so I won't be too bothered with any of this.

We don't know much about this characters, apart that there's a clear hierarchy and respect in their relationship, but in my head canon they ate both moderately attractive men in their early fifties with cockney accents, who spend their time having middle-age-crises sex, walk around in their bathrobes, drink tea and discuss politics and those pesky kids. Dr. Ford something-something is obviously the respected, calm neighbourly Healer with conservative views, while Darren is relaxed, friendly and the cool-uncle all those med students never had, but it's cool, because he he is the link between them and their a bit stiff, but good-hearted teacher.

Oh, my god, I bet that's more awesome than anything that happens in the actual book. Someone write this please!