Monthly Archives: November 2013

Catching Fire Film Review (Spoilers)

Catching Fire

Alas, I was unable to see this on the day it was released like I had been planning to; nor was I able to see it on Friday or even Saturday – I had to wait until Sunday, three days after its release! But it was definitely well worth the wait. From the opening scenes until the closing credits, I was absolutely hooked and my eyes were glued to the screen (just about literally, that’s how close to the screen I ended up…). I admit I was pretty apprehensive about seeing this, because although I did enjoy the first film, it wasn’t as good as I had hoped, nor did it stick to the book particularly well. But Catching Fire more than made up for what its predecessor lacked. It was clear to me there was a better budget and the new director definitely knew what he was doing – not to say the previous one didn’t, but Catching Fire’s director had just about everything spot on. Note: This will not be a chronologically done review, just me putting things down as I remember them.

So, the cast. Jennifer Lawrence was excellent as Katniss, as I knew from the first film, but she certainly seemed to get into the role a lot better in this one. Likewise with Josh Hutcherson; I wasn’t a huge fan of him as Peeta when The Hunger Games came out, but he’s grown on me – and I loved him in this. Effie, Haymitch, President Snow, and Cinna (and the rest of the team) were again fantastic – Effie brought me to tears in Catching Fire, although I think most things managed that! Now onto the new additions… I wasn’t sure about Sam Claflin as Finnick, but goodness me, seeing him in his first appearance in this film… Damn, that was a good casting choice! He just had Finnick down to a t, and I absolutely adored him. I felt so sorry for him when Mags gave him a kiss before walking into the fog. Speaking of Mags, she was one of only a few new cast members that I loved from the beginning. She just had such a sweet and friendly look about her and I knew she was going to be brilliant – I wasn’t wrong. I loved the scenes with her, and she just had such a lovely smile! When she sacrificed herself for Katniss, Peeta, and Finnick… Oh, it broke my heart!

Beetee and Wiress, again, were great choices. I really liked them, and when Wiress was killed I was really rather upset – I’d forgotten it happened, and she was so lovely as well. Her wee “tick tock” and the almost hypnotic way she recited “hickory dickory dock” was just fantastic, but certainly rather eerie at times. My final favourite new cast member was Jena Malone, who played Johanna Mason. Like with Sam Claflin, I wasn’t sure about her at first – she just wasn’t how I’d pictured Johanna! But, when she made her first appearance in the film, I realised just how perfect she was for the role – she was just so completely Johanna, and it was brilliant. I spent much of the time she was around staring at her face and trying to work out why I recognised her, and it turns out she played Rocket in Sucker Punch, another favourite film (and character!) of mine. If there’s one thing Catching Fire has taught me, it’s that I shouldn’t judge the cast before I see them in action – both Finnick, Johanna, and even Peeta managed to surprise me, and it just made the film that much better. The rest of the cast were excellent too (like Caesar. I love Caesar), but the aforementioned people were just the real standouts to me.

So, the cast proved to be excellent, but what about the arena? One word: perfect. In every way, it was perfect. I loved knowing that it was the clock, but just waiting for them to work it out for themselves created some excellent suspense. The cornucopia looked great, and I like how that little stretch of sea separated its little arena from the rest of the island; in The Hunger Games it was all the one piece of land, as opposed to the layout in Catching Fire. I’m so please with the way they did everything; not only was it all correct, it was all done really well too! The only thing I’m a bit disappointed with was when Katniss and Finnick were with the jabberjays, who were screaming, shouting, and sounding so like Prim, Annie, and Gale. Katniss realised really quickly, and I don’t remember it happening quite that fast in the book – I think it would have been better if they had drawn it out slightly before Katniss realised what was going on. That’s the only thing I didn’t like about the film, which is pretty good going if you ask me! The weird monkey things were horrible, I wasn’t a fan of them – I got such a fright when that first one screamed at Peeta! It brought me straight back to the first film, when the first muttation jumped out, because I got a fright then as well! Oh, and the fog – that was really well done too. I couldn’t remember what it was the fog did (I just knew it was something bad), but of course you very quickly found out. Honestly, I was just about on the edge of my seat when Katniss, Peeta, and Finnick (with Mags on his back) were running from it, because there were times it genuinely looked like they weren’t going to make it. As I mentioned earlier, when Mags sacrificed herself so that Finnick and Katniss could help Peeta away, it just brought tears to my eyes. It was done well, and even though they obviously couldn’t dwell on it because of the poisonous fog coming towards them, it was so easy to see how heartbroken Finnick was over it. I would have loved to see what horrors would have awaited them in the other sections, or even just catch glimpses, but alas it was not to be (I felt like that with the book as well). Overall, though, I’m just so glad they got the arena right – I feel the film would have been spoiled if they had mucked it up.

The film made me cry, or at least tear up, a lot more than I expected to. In The Hunger Games, I cried when Rue died, and I think that was it. But in Catching Fire, I cried (more like broke down; honestly I was a mess) when Katniss and Peeta visited District 11. I got really teary when I saw Rue’s face on the board, but it was when Katniss started her little impromptu speech that I had my little meltdown. It was just so heart–breaking, especially seeing Rue’s mum and siblings either crying or trying not to cry. I’m getting all sad again just thinking about it! When the man from District 11 gave Rue’s Whistle and raised his hand in the three–fingered salute, and was swiftly followed by so many others, I just got even more emotional. I have to say, I wasn’t expecting to see the spray of blood when the Peacekeepers shot him though. It actually surprised me, because in the first film they cut out a lot of the blood and gore so as to give it the 12A rating (if you’ve seen the uncut version, you’ll notice a difference), and Catching Fire was still a 12A so I was expecting much of the same blood–wise. But just as the door closed when Katniss and Peeta were being dragged away, you heard the gun shot and saw the really visible and obvious spray of blood before the door finally closed. I wasn’t expecting it. It was the same when Gale was being flogged by Commander Thread; I wasn’t expecting it to be shown so brutally – and the marks on his back were awful.

I nearly forgot; everything with Cinna was just amazing. His wedding dress for Katniss which, when she span, revealed the Mockingjay was just phenomenal. When the Peacekeepers (were they Peacekeepers? I can’t remember) came for Cinna, just before Katniss went up to the arena, made me so sad. I knew it was going to happen, but I couldn’t remember if it was in Catching Fire or Mockingjay. It was so awful what happened, and it made me really upset (AGAIN!) and I know it’s only going to get worse with the next film!

Catching Fire was, I found, a lot more emotional than the first film, and of course it’s the same in the books. I was always confident I wasn’t a fan of the last two books, and greatly preferred the first one, but now seeing the film has made me reconsider – I think that, whilst I really love the first book, the second one is a bloody good sequel. It was the same with the films; not often will you find a sequel that is so much better than the first, but Francis Lawrence did a stellar job. I’m so glad he’s directing Mockingjay Parts 1 and 2 as well, because even though I wasn’t a fan of that book, after seeing what he did with Catching Fire I honestly can’t wait for the final instalments.

Oh, and the build up at the end was amazing! I was just waiting for Gale to say “Katniss, there is no District 12”, (and yes, I mouthed the words along with him) which obviously I knew he would say from reading the book, but hearing it said, and seeing Katniss’ face… It was brilliant. I’m glad they didn’t try and add anything else into the ending, as that would have really annoyed me. I’m just so excited for Mockingjay Part 1 next year! I want it NOW!

Overall, I thought this was a stunning film, and so true to the book – Francis Lawrence definitely did it justice, and I hope he’s really proud of what he’s achieved. It’s difficult to please book fans when you make a film adaptation, and there was a divide over The Hunger Games, with some fans thinking it was great, and others being really displeased – I was somewhere in the middle. But I feel that Catching Fire may just have managed to close that divide, because it was truly brilliant, and all the reviews I’ve read so far agree.

If you’ve not already seen this film, do so! I’d also highly recommend reading the books (preferably BEFORE seeing the film, but it’s up to you!), but just make sure you see this film! 10 out of 10 for Catching Fire, and I’ll be going back to see it very soon.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Film and TV Reviews

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Episode (Spoilers)

Doctor-Who-50th

Like so many milliions of people, I sat and watched the 50th Anniversary episode of Doctor Who.

 And… it wasn’t what I was hoping for. But that’s not to say it was bad – it wasn’t. It just wasn’t as good and amazing as it really ought to have been for something so special. I liked the idea of the three Doctors being together (Tennant was back <3), although John Hurt’s voice grated on my nerves a bit. However, some of the acting was a bit cringey (putting it politely here); such as the scene where 11 and 10 are waiting for Clara to get the fez, and when 11 is trying to get Clara to pretend to be the “witch” – Clara’s acting was pretty awful at that point too, and I’m NOT just saying that because I dislike Clara.

 It was interesting getting to see the Zygons, because obviously they’re monsters from very early on in the series so it was a nice touch bringing them back, but I was really disappointed that you don’t get to find out what happened to them in the end. Remember, the Doctors had wiped their memories to make them forget who was Zygon, who was human in order to get them to agree to cancel the detonation… But that was the last you saw of them. So what about Katie, and the girl who was wearing Tom Baker’s Doctor’s scarf? Did they remember they were humans and kill of their Zygon copies? Will we ever find out?! That was a mistake, BBC, because people have noticed you forgot to tell us what happened. And another thing I didn’t like… Peter Capaldi’s appearance, however brief. It shouldn’t have been there – he’s NOT the Doctor yet. Yes, it was showing that he obviously remebers all his past regenerations, and was going back to help them because he knew what would happen, but he is NOT YET THE DOCTOR. He just shouldn’t have been shown.

The idea of the paintings was pretty clever, and I loved it when we saw the Gallifrey Falls/ No More painting for the first time… It was, to be hoenst, visually stunning. And when they realised that something – the Zygons – had broken out of the paintings… Oh, so good! Ah, and the moment when Tom Baker Scarf Girl realised the statues had been broken by the Zygons, who were hiding in their stead… That was a good moment, I loved that realisation

 Another of the moments I liked was one involving Clara! It was when she was shown Captain Jack’s vortex manipulator, and then suddenly Katie, that guy and the girl wearing the 4th Doctor’s scarf were revealed to be Zygons (I don’t know if it was meant to be a surprise that Katie was a Zygon; I had realised from the moment that she went away quite early on), and just at that moment she got the message the Doctor had left with the authorisation code for the vortex manipulator!

I also rather liked the banter between Doctor’s 10 and 11, it was just what I would expect from them! John Hurt was good as well, because obviously things are going to be really weird for him… Like “Timey Wimey”

But my absolute favourite thing about this Special – aside from seeing the sneak peak to the Christmas episode, and THEN THE SHERLOCK SERIES 3 TRAILER AT THE END – was definitely the wonderful and amazing appearance of one of my all-time favourite Doctors… Tom Baker. Oh, it was so wonderful to see him. It was weird too, because he’s so old now, but looking at his face you could still see the 4th Doctor inside him. It was a really lovely moment, and do you know what? I got a little teary-eyed seeing him, because he was just such a good Doctor, and such a well-kept surprise!

So, all in all, I’d probably give the episode a 6 or a 7 out of 10, because whilst it was good, it wasn’t riveting, and they definitely should have made it so much better for marking such a monumentous occasion. BBC and Stephen Moffat, you better up your game for the coming series!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Film and TV Reviews

“My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece” by Annabel Pitcher

My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece

In all honestly, I wasn’t that interested in this book when I first saw it in Waterstone’s a year or so ago, but when I downloaded a free sample of it onto my Kindle earlier this year, I discovered two things – one, it was a lot better than I had first assumed, and two, I really wanted to read this book. Last week, I found out that my friend had it and she offered to lend it to me, which I accepted. I started it on Sunday night, but only read half of it because it kept making me so sad, and because I was exhausted anyway. Tonight I sat and read the other half. I also had my heart broken and found out how difficult it is to laugh, cry and go “Aw, no, no…” all at the same time.

I’ve read many books that have made me cry, including Clockwork Princess, Before I Die, The Fault In Our Stars, and The Way I See It, but none of those books have ever made me want to cry within the first four pages. Yes, four pages. And no, I wasn’t just being overly emotional – I got two of my friends to read those pages too, and they definitely had teary eyes by the end as well. The emotional impact of this book grabs you from the first three sentences (this claim can be made about so many books, but it is just so, so true for this one) and doesn’t let you ago, not even when you’ve finished it. I can already tell that this is going to be a book that will stick in my mind for a long time yet, and one I’ll be going back to for a good few years to come.

As a brief summary, My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece is about a young boy, Jamie, whose older sister, Rose, died five years ago. It’s a book about how his family cope – or, in all honestly, don’t really cope – and how they’ve changed since it happened. But it’s about more than that – the book doesn’t just focus on the family, it focuses on Jamie’s own life, in school and out. It covers racism, the death of a child, and how quickly life changes. And it covers it all brilliantly.

The thing that I didn’t like about this book is something that I quickly grew to love – the voice of the narrator, ten–year–old Jamie. The book is told in 1st Person through him, which explains why the book can sound so childish, and, at times, quite selfish over silly things. I didn’t like this at first because a few of the sentences were quite short and it seemed to jump quite suddenly at points – but then I remembered, Jamie is ten. His thoughts are going to be all over the place as he finds something more interesting to talk about – heck, at 17 I jump from subject to unrelated subject almost as quickly as Jamie does! – and he’s not going to use the most extensive vocabulary you’ll ever hear. That’s what makes him such a good character, the fact that he’s so real. There’s also the fact that you can’t help but feel so sorry for him, but mostly I find that it’s because he’s so well–written.

In fact, all the characters in this book are. Jas is a favourite of mine, as well as her boyfriend Leo. Jas is (was?) Rose’s twin and, like many twins, they grew up being dressed exactly the same, getting exactly the same presents on their birthdays, so on and so forth. This changed not long after their 10th birthday, when their brother Jamie was five. Rose died in a bomb attack, and family life just changed from then on. On her 15th birthday, Jas has cut her hair and dyed it pink and had her nose pierced – and this, I feel, was just the icing on the cake for her parents. She didn’t look like Rose anymore; she was her own person, something her parents hadn’t given her the chance to be. I think this is what set off the next chain of events, that and the fact that they discovered their mother was cheating on their dad with a guy from the Support Group. Part of the reason I love Jas is that, despite everything, she’s always there for Jamie. They’ve just moved to a new place where they don’t know anyone, and their dad drinks. But Jas, despite having lost her twin sister, tries her very best to stay strong, because their mum isn’t around, their dad isn’t reliable, and Jamie is only 10. Bearing in mind Jas herself is only 15, I think she does a pretty good job of looking after her brother, and her dad. Leo is Jas’ boyfriend, and although he’s definitely not really a heavy focus, the few times he’s said something have been pretty funny, and he’s just generally one of those characters that don’t feature much, but you really love them when they’re around. And he has green hair and a lip piercing – who wouldn’t love him?

Sunya, a girl in Jamie’s class, is one of the other main focuses in the book. She’s a Muslim, and when Jamie is told to sit next to her on his first day at his new school, he’s not too pleased – after all, it was a terrorist attack that killed his sister, and his dad has always told him the Muslim’s were trouble and “all the same”. However, Jamie and Sunya very quickly become friends (and they have such a lovely friendship; it just makes me laugh because they’re only 10 and the things they get up to and say are just so childish and funny), even though Jamie’s worried about his dad finding out – he knows he wouldn’t be happy at all, and as we later discover, he definitely isn’t. Jamie’s dad has become very racist since the day Rose was killed (there’s no reference as to whether or not he was before, but I don’t think so), and Jamie is constantly torn between wanting to obey his dad and wanting to be friends with Sunya. I feel that the racism aspect is dealt with pretty well, and even though neither Jamie nor Jas call their dad out on his behaviour, they certainly don’t follow his hatred either.

As well as having some plain brilliant characters, the book itself is also wonderful. One of the things I like about it is the fact that whenever someone speaks, it’s written in italics, like this. I assume the author did this because, as mentioned earlier, the book is from the perspective of a young boy, and he’s just telling the story as he hears/sees it – there’s no punctuation marks for anyone talking, because he doesn’t see them there, it’s just words that have different emphasis on them because he’s not thinking them, they’re being spoken. That’s not quite how I was going to explain that, but my original reasoning has just completely left me, so I’ve tried to piece together (not very well, I know) what I think I thought.

Without wanting to give anything away, because I think you ought to read it yourself to find out what happens, I’m not going to mention anything more on the plot because knowing me I’ll spoil something, which I really don’t want to do. I think I’ll finish by saying that I highly recommend reading this, and even if at first you don’t like the manner in which it’s told – persevere. I’m sure you’ll grow to love and understand it, as I did, and it definitely adds to the book.

Oh, and be sure to have some tissues handy when you’re reading – I had to make do with using my jumper sleeves, and that just hurt. So I really advise using tissues instead!

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews

“Lament” by Maggie Stiefvater

Image

I bought Maggie Stiefvater’s Lament in about 2008/2009, after reading her books Shiver and Linger. When I saw she had this new book, I thought “Well, I already know I like her books, so maybe I’ll take a look,” and after reading the blurb I was quite interested in reading it. But the main thing that attracted me to buying the book was the front cover. To me, it’s beautiful. I love the musical notes and staves dotted across it (I’ll be honest, they’re the real reason I finally decided to buy it!), and the colour scheme of red and black goes so well together – with the white bird and lettering across it, it really stands out. So, I bought the book because I really loved the cover and because I knew I liked Maggie’s books.

The blurb, for those of you who are unaware, is as follows:

“Sixteen–year–old Dee is a cloverhand – someone who can see faeries. When she finds herself irresistibly drawn to beautiful, mysterious Luke, Dee senses that he wants something more dangerous than a summer romance.

But Dee doesn’t realize that Luke is an assassin from the faerie world.

And she is his next target.”

Short, simple, but very effective – I was immediately drawn in. However, unfortunately my eagerness to read was short–lived, as the prologue, whilst good, didn’t have my attention from the get–go, which is of course a bit annoying. But, I persevered and fortunately it picked up pretty quickly. Dee’s internal monologue in the first few pages of the first chapter (and indeed throughout the novel) always has me laughing quietly with amusement – things such as “Man, he was definitely not a picnic table”, which just crop up seemingly out of nowhere, have my laughing instantly because it’s so unexpected and obviously such a strange thing to say (that quote does make more sense when in the context of the conversation, but it still never fails to amuse me!).

The character of Luke is introduced to us pretty quickly, and he quickly became a favourite character of mine. He’s funny, and he’s nice to Dee, but there are definitely times when you can tell there’s something sinister about him – even without the blurb telling you he’s an assassin! Dee is another good character, though I get really irritated with her at points – but that’s typical in just about any book, there’s got to be at least one character that annoys you! Overall, though, I do like Dee’s character.

My favourite character in the whole book, though, would have to be Aodhan – or “Freckle Freak”. He’s not a nice character at all, yet he’s still a favourite. It’s unfortunate that he doesn’t feature more often in the book, but hey – he’s there, and that makes me happy!

One thing that I really disliked about the book isn’t to do with the writing style, or the characters, or punctuation mistakes within the book – it’s the fact that the blurb led me on. So, the blurb tells us that Dee is the next target of Luke, a faerie assassin. Yet this is barely referenced in the book! Okay, I get that you wouldn’t go up to a girl and say “Hey, I’m Luke and I’m going to kill you. Sorry about that”, because that would just be daft. And the book’s written in the first person’s voice of Dee, so you couldn’t exactly jump off to Luke having thoughts about killing her – that would just be weird. But how hard would it be to have Luke actually trying to kill her, or at least going to attempt it then deciding he can’t go through with it? It just annoys me that the blurb says one thing, and it’s only brushed upon briefly in the book – I wanted some cool faerie assassination, but no, it seemed it wasn’t to be.

Despite this, I really enjoyed Lament, and its sequel, Ballad, is also quite good too – I’m just waiting for the third book now! I’d definitely recommend reading Lament as it is pretty good, and I vastly preferred it to Shiver and Linger. The music in this book is also amazing, as I’ve been listening to the songs on YouTube for the past hour – they really fit in with the book, and it’s great 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews