Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The Hunger Games - Film Review

This is not just a review, but a comparison. I have now been to see the film twice at the cinema. I am definitely a fan of the film, but I am a bigger fan of the books. I am now halfway through Mockingjay (the third in the series) and if you have read my book reviews you will know how drawn in I am to this story. I feel like a part of it, a part of Panem. Though I know the films are simply ‘based’ on the books and not an exact replica, I cannot help but get annoyed at even the slightest change.

Overall the film is great, evidently seeing as it has achieved the third best opening weekend box office sales, of any movie. Having seen it twice in the opening weekend myself I can see why this is. The Hunger Games already has a huge fandom and bringing it to the screen only increases that, bringing it to audiences who prefer to watch than read. Although, personally, I believe that those who are fans of the movie cannot identify themselves as Hunger Games fans. Having just seen the movie they will not have all of their facts right. That is why I am calling this review a comparison. Perhaps you do not have time to read the books, believe me – they will consume your life from the moment you turn the first page – Therefore I have written this blog, it will inform you and allow me to vent some of my annoyance at the misrepresentations and false facts.

I understand that in order to bring the story to the screen it has to be condensed. The transition of The Hunger Games from book to screen has not just condensed it, but altered it. When the lights came on and the credits rolled, I was surprised to see Suzanne Collins’s name under the title of producer. I think it is great that the author of the novels has had great involvement of the production of her work, but seeing her as producer puzzled me – Why would she allow for some of the changes that were made? Perhaps she was overruled, or perhaps she simply had no choice. Maybe it had to be done that way for it to have made sense to those who are new to The Hunger Games.

Some changes made perfect sense. In the novel Haymitch’s gifts whilst in the arena came with no note or clue as to the timing of them. Katniss worked it out. However it is a bit tricky for what is in Katniss’ head to be expressed in the movie – so having the notes I found to be a good compromise. Not being in Katniss’ head was probably the thing they had to alter most. During the tribute interviews they are not on the stage behind Caesar Flickerman, they are lined up waiting for their turn – and are able to watch on screen. This I feel is also a good compromise for the adaptation as you are able to see Katniss react to Peeta’s interview on a screen backstage, which makes it clearer what her thoughts are on what he says. If she were on stage she would have had all eyes on her and had to play along, leaving the viewer’s unsure as to her true thoughts. Whereas in the book we know what she is thinking when she plays along, in the film that would be difficult to portray, as with the in-cave-scenes where the only inclination as to her pretending is in Haymitches notes. The only issue with the tributes not being on stage during the interviews, is how it will affect the second film, as I feel the victors hand-holding-scene is a crucial one – But we’ll see how that happens when the time comes.

There were a few little things that annoyed me: Katniss going into her private session before Peeta, Plutarch not falling into the punch bowl, Katniss’ crying scene (if you’ve read the book you’ll understand why), appearance of the Cornucopia, the leaves for Tracker Jacker stings having not been chewed, and the minor continuity issue I noticed during my second screening – where before the fire outbreak Katniss goes to sleep in her sleeping bag, wakes up and it’s gone. This may have been done in order for her to be able to make a swifter exit – But Katniss isn’t a magician, either it is there or it isn't.

There were also some bigger things that annoyed me. First of all, the thing which annoyed most readers – is Madge, or the lack of. For those of you who have not read the books, the Mockingjay pin is not a present which Katniss gave to Prim, in order to protect her, it was given to Katniss by Madge for protection, as a token (which also, I should add – all tributes are allowed, one token, therefore Cinna hiding it is slightly annoying – though it does help to identify him as a friend). Madge is the Mayors daughter, and Katniss’s not-yet-close friend.  Having Katniss give the pin to Prim and then Prim to Katniss, does represent their bond as sisters – but writers do things for a reason, and Madge was introduced at this point for a reason. My only guess it that that reason is no longer relevant, and that it will be altered in the second film (we’ll have to see). Other key moments that were missed/added to my annoyance were: Haymitches lack of revealing Katniss to Peeta as having pretended, the adding of District 11 starting an uprising after the death of Rue, Peeta’s lack of a badly damaged leg (resulting in amputation), and a lack of introduction/mention of Katniss’ prep team. We’ll have to wait for the following movies to find out how these changes will affect the future films.

My final thing to discuss is the actual portrayal of the characters – most of which were spot on. Stanley Tucci’s depiction of Caesar Flickerman I thought was perfect, both his appearance and attitude were exactly as imaged. As with the people of the Capitol, their appearances were just as bizarre as the book describes. The one character which I am not so please about is President Snow. It is as if the casting team heard the word ‘snow’, immediately thought of winter, leading them to Christmas – and immediately came up with a depiction of an evil Santa look-alike who has put all 12 districts on the naughty list. I was not impressed. He looks nothing like the botoxed puffy-lipped supreme leader I’d imagined. Even despite his appearances, or perhaps because I couldn’t get past them, President Snow simply did not feel scary enough.

One added moment I particularly love is how Seneca Crane is shown to have been killed; it is brilliant and a really good touch. Though this review must have seemed like a little bit of a rant, I genuinely love the film. The alterations seemed to have just added to my anticipation for the next three (Three books, four films) as I want to know how they are going to achieve things which, having changed/missed/altered in the first film, would be difficult to portray in the next. Good luck to them, and “may the odds be ever in your favour”. 

"Let the games begin!"

Friday, 23 March 2012

Catching Fire - Book Review

The Hunger Games trilogy is gripping. I picked up the second book in the trilogy near enough as soon as I finished the first; I needed to know what else the ‘Capitol’ could possibly put Katniss through. There is a build-up of anticipation ‘as whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol’ spread across Panem. A rebellion started by Katniss’ bold act at the end of the Seventy-Fourth Hunger Games.

As with the first book, each chapter in ‘Part II’ ends in suspense. From the moment the Quarter Quell is announced the book will hardly leave your hands. I became drawn into the world Collins had created. You will become emotionally involved. You will feel Katniss’ pain, her hunger, her confusion. You will want to help – but you can’t. You will read in anticipation fearing for her, and needing her questions answered. It is a thrilling intense experience.

The third in the trilogy, Mockingjay, is now by my side. At exactly 7.30pm I’ll be sat in the Silver Screen Cinema in Folkestone, ready to see how Collins’ vision of the future has been depicted on the big screen. The big screen will bring Panem to audiences who prefer to watch than read, but also bringing what many readers have held in their head and hold dear, to life. I am excited for the film but can safely say now – it will hold nothing on the books, films never do. 

I am now a part of The Hunger Games. 

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Seagull - Poem

The seaside seagull
Is my siren.
My morning alarm.
It is not melodic music,
Nor a sweet song.
Nothing at all like the birds at home.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

The Decoy Bride - Film Review

The only good thing about The Decoy Bride is that it has David Tennant in it. Granted I laughed-out-loud on one occasion, so yes it is partially funny. Also, it is a Rom-Com - typically feel-good movies, which this is - an upbeat romance story which makes the viewer feel good. I’ll probably watch this again, because it is a fun feel-good movie, oh and it has DT in it. Other than that, the film hasn't got a whole lot going for it.

The film is set on the “sleepy island of Hegg” where American actress Lara Tyler (Kelly Macdonald) slips away with her British author fiancĂ© James Arber (David Tennant) to get married without disruptions from the press. Obviously nothing goes to plan and when stalker paparazzi, Marco Ballani, is found creeping around the island a ‘decoy bride’ is employed to keep him off the scent, and to stop him snapping that all important picture. The decoy (Alice Eve) ‘accidentally’ signs her own name on the marital register, becoming Mrs Arber, and in case you didn’t guess – she falls in love with him. Incredibly predictable.

If you love David Tennant (like me) or enjoy feel-good films that will make you smile and occasionally laugh, then watch this film. If you are one of those who don’t see the attraction in David Tennant or enjoy suspense, twists, and surprise endings – then don’t waste your money. 

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Uni Task - Chav speak

We were given the task at Uni to use dialect in dialogue to reflect the location. 
Our tutor set the task of writing a scene where a male and female collide into another males car - a minor road traffic accident. This scene he asked to be written in Estuary English. Being from Chatham, I wrote it in 'chav speak' - How most people talk there! 

Our tutor also said to stay clear of dialect unless you have a good ear!

Here is my take on the task: 

“Heya Chels what’s the goss? What ‘appened to Jacks wheels?” Lauren sat down next to Chelsea in the college canteen.

“Ah I’m well pissed, me an' Jack were out skuddin an' he was like well distracted by the gal drivin’ the car behind us. E’ din’t even notice the traffic lights change an' he smashed up the car in front.”

“Shit Chels, you alright?”

“Yer babe but the cars well fucked an' Jacks propa pissed me off, yer know what I mean? Not only did we crash coz of ‘im but e' got in a fight wid the old geezer that e' hit. The gavas got involved an' everythin. I’m fumin Lor. E' was actin like it were pure bant, but it’s serious init? Probs gonna get a criminal record now, fuckin twat.”

Literally #1

"She got her knickers in a twist"

She got out of the bed in horror. She couldn't remember much of last night and now, somehow, she had woken in Sam's bed. her clothes were in a pile on the floor. She crept out of the bed, trying to avoid waking Sam and having an awkward confrontation. Avoiding stepping on any of the junk on the floor, she bent over to pick the clothes up. It was a t that moment that Sam woke "Nice ass!" he said. She was horrified. She picked her knickers up and started putting them on, the first leg was in when she tumbled to the floor after tripping on all the junk. There she was, a naked pile on the floor with her knickers in a twist. 

Monday, 12 March 2012

The Hunger Games - Book Review

Suzanne Collins has created a dark version of the future. Her vision is one which is not dissimilar to the ‘Big Brother’ of Orwell’s 1984. Collins’ version of ‘Big Brother’ is known as the ‘Capitol’, which in simple terms is the capital city of the country Panem (which we now know as North America). Panem is divided into 12 districts which all serve a different purpose to the ‘Capitol’ from mining, to manufacturing and agriculture.

The ‘Capitol’ have many laws and rules in place, and ‘Peacekeepers’ roam the districts to control this order. And, as if the laws and fences surrounding the district’s weren’t enough to keep the citizens in check, the ‘Capitol’ hosts a yearly game show to reinforce the power they have over the population. This ‘games show’ is somewhat like the dark reality TV shows on the ‘Bad Wolf’ episode of Series 1, Doctor Who in 2005. Twenty-four ‘tributes’ are selected and forced to take part in the fight to the death, one boy and one girl from each district. This live TV show has but one rule: kill or be killed. “Winning will make you famous. Losing means certain death.”

Katniss Everdeen, our stories protagonist and heroine, dwells in the ‘Seam’ (the poorest part) of district 12. When the name of her younger sister is called during the ‘reaping’, sixteen-year-old Katniss steps forward to take her place. The story will have you hooked from the offset due to the curiosity that will overtake you, and the ambiguity of the narration leaving you needing to know more. From ‘Part II’ of the novel the suspense builds as each chapter ends in a cliffhanger. Wherever you read this book better be comfy as you won’t be able to move. I spent a whole day in bed clutching the book, gasping and getting teary. It is definitely worth a read. 

"Winning will make you famous. Losing means certain death." 

The Vow - Film Review

Rachel McAdams (The Notebook) and Channing Tatum (Dear John) create the perfect on screen couple, that is until a car accident causes Paige to lose all memory of her unrealistically beautiful husband. Paige’s memory takes her back 5 years to when she was engaged to another man and studying at law school – a big contrast to the life she had been living, a married artist living in the city.

As with every typical Romance film Sucsy has included the clichéd standing-in-the-rain-scene, and knowing that Tatum is a lead you will find a few of the expected topless scenes. Putting these aside, the story of Paige and Leo is one based on true events, one based on the lives of Kim and Krickitt Carpenter. Though the story has of course changed through its transition to the screen, Sucsy has still managed to maintain a sense of realism in the film, and though the story has altered it still hosts unpredictable moments as does real life.

The couple have many challenges to overcome (as if the challenge of Paige losing all memory of her husband wasn’t enough!) one of which being Paige’s dad, played by Sam Niell, who uses the accident to get Paige all to himself once more.

In true Romance film fashion they manage “find a way back to each other” as they’d vowed, despite this the outcome is still one which was not expected, unless of course you were already aware of the story of the Carpenters. The story is both touching and heart-warming and is sure to bring you near tears.  

The unrealistically beautiful couple ...