On Writing: But Look at J.K. Rowling!

It is impossible to live without failing at something…unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all. In which case, you fail by default.”

 –  J.K. Rowling

 

Quick! By a show of hands: how many unpublished writers have talked about their work and added, “But, of course, writers never make any money.” And how many have received the all-too-casual reply of, “Well, unless you’re J.K. Rowling”?

If so, you’re probably too frustrated at hearing this much repeated response to bother telling the person that you are, in fact, not J.K. Rowling. Nor have you ever been J.K. Rowling, as cool as that might be.

Don’t get me wrong: Rowling is amazing. She’s my idol, actually. When I got a reply to the letter I wrote her last fall, I was ecstatic. Even though I didn’t start reading the Harry Potter books until middle school, I still grew up with those things. I was at the midnight premieres for the last two movies, I saw Half-Blood Prince with my best friend the night before he moved, and I’ve re-read each book probably five to ten times.

It’s easy to see why Rowling was richer than the Queen by 2003, and it can be just as easy to assume that yes, if you write an amazing book (or, better yet, book series!), you’ll soon have enough cash to quit your day job, move to the city, buy a mansion, and spend your days sipping sparkling water, with your biggest worry being that an earthquake will come, sending your stacks of money toppling down on you.

Which, incidentally, was death 333 on 1000 Ways to Die.

But I digress. The point is that, sadly, one of the reasons Rowling is considered to be such an incredible exception to all the rules is because she’s exactly that: an exception.  She went from dirt poor to billionaire. That doesn’t happen every day. In fact, getting a book published, period, doesn’t happen every day.

We always hear and talk about success stories like those of J.K. Rowling or Suzanne Collins. But we never hear about the hundreds of manuscripts rejected daily, or the thousands of turn-down slips that aspiring authors get in the mail. Even though Rowling received more than a handful of those, it’s never mentioned. I think she herself summed it up best in an interview with Oprah:

Failure is so important…it doesn’t get spoken about enough. We speak about success all the time…but, you know…I’ve met some extraordinary people through Harry Potter, and not one of them didn’t have their failures.”

And thus, I want to close by once again saying how much of an inspiration J.K. Rowling is to me. She’s a rich woman who gives most of her wealth away to charity. She’s one of the most famous (not to mention one of the most influential) people in the world, yet she always acts with humility and has enormous respect for her fans.

And if you’re a fan of hers, too, I would strongly recommend you check out the movie called Magic Beyond Words: The J.K. Rowling Story. It’s a TV movie that came out a few days before the final Harry Potter last summer, and tells the author’s journey from her childhood, to the writing of the first book back in 1990, to the publishing process and the success that followed. The movie is on iTunes, and in my opinion it’s well worth the money.

 

So, those are my thoughts on one of the most famous authors alive today. (I’m currently reading her new book, The Casual Vacancy, which I’ll review soon but will make no mention of yet so as to spare you its less than pleasant details.)

I could go on and on about how much I could say to this woman. But instead of making a ten-page list—which, believe me, I could do—I’ll instead close by saying what I believe to be my most important sentiment. One that, I think, quite a few people my age would like to say, too.

Mrs. Rowling, thank you for my childhood.

Well Thank God That’s Over (Movie Reviews: Breaking Dawn Part 2 and Vampires Suck)

“You’re going to hear a lot about Breaking Dawn Part 2 being the best of the Twilight movies. That’s like saying a simple head cold is preferable to swine flu. They all make you sick.”

 –  Peter Travers

 

Oh my oh my. What rich fodder this franchise has provided for this meager blogger trying to make his mark on the world of humorous commentary.

Let me start off by saying that I don’t have a passionate, burning hate in my heart for the Twilight saga like most teenage guys do. I don’t like it nor think it’s worth much other than laughing at, but I don’t see it as the bane of humanity, either. I did read the first book…granted, that was on a personal mission to discover what all the hype was about; a quest that I have yet to fulfill. And I did see all the movies, though that was more because it was on my list of 100 Things to Do Before I Graduate, right under “walk to the back of Spencer’s” (which I actually accomplished yesterday…my God. Dear, sweet God).

So, then. I watched all of the movies this past summer, an endeavor that cost me just over eight hours of my life and a generous amount of IQ points. But I did survive, and I decided that I needed to see this final chapter of the saga when it hit theaters.

And oh, my dear reader, did I see.

This is the point in the review when I warn you that there are spoilers, except I’m not sure if that’s the right word. Because this is a rare case where if you’re told about the end of the movie before you see it, I believe you’ll enjoy it more. 

So. The first hour and a half of the movie is about what I was expecting…mildly funny, sometimes intentionally and sometimes not. The plot, for want of a better term, is as follows: Bella’s all changed into a vampire and adjusted to her life. Except someone sees her daughter and assumes she’s an “immortal child”…a member of this awful race of vampire kids that must be killed or they’ll destroy all life. You know, the usual.

So, the Volturi—the only movie villains to have names more ridiculous than their outfits—set out to kill the kid once and for all.

The fascinating part of this plot twist is that it occurs about half an hour into it, yet the baddies take until the end of the movie to finally get to Bella’s home land. I’m not sure if they walked all the way from Italy to Washington state, but in any case it gives Bella and Edward a good while to gather vampires for a confrontation.

And then, they confront.

It begins with negotiations between Edward and the villain, Aro. The only thing I remember about this conversation is that Aro, upon spotting the child, lets out a laugh so indescribably absurd that I am officially labeling this movie as a comedy.

Seriously, look this laugh up on YouTube.

Then, a battle ensues, and several main characters die. Everything is in ruins, and Aro is just getting his head ripped off (literally) when…a flash and…

It was all a dream!

But seriously. I guess the more accurate word is ‘vision,’ but that doesn’t change the fact that the entire last half hour of the movie was just a projection of the future from one of the Cullens, Alice. None of it actually happened.

Blanket sweep, anyone?

There is no battle, there are no deaths, and the movie closes with everyone just going home.

Which, I think, makes me safe to tell you that by the literal definition, NOTHING happens in this movie. No characters are born, none die, there are no revelations, and most importantly, there’s no development. The characters, much like the audience, come out of the movie as they came in: filled with regret of the time they’ve wasted.

In conclusion: see this movie if you want a few laughs, but keep in mind that you won’t get much else out of it. The film drags on too long, stumbles through dialogue, and in the end is as much of a dull, listless cheat as its main actress.

Rate: 2 out of 10.

 

Vampires Suck:

 

I don’t want to talk about this movie too much, but I did feel this was a good time to give a brief blurb of my thoughts on it.

I saw a commercial for this back in August 2010, texted all of my friends saying we had to see it, and the Sunday before 10th grade started, we did.

Okay, I’ll admit it: I had a great time watching this.

Is it a stupid movie? Absolutely. But it has a joke about every thirty seconds, and while most of them miss their mark, a few stick and overall it’s a good time. I’d definitely encourage seeing it with friends…when I did, I found it to be well worth the money. I don’t know why…there are just lines I can’t help but laugh at, such as when Bella’s new friend, Jennifer, walks up to her in the school cafeteria:

“Hi, I’m Jennifer! I’m going to pretend to be your BFF, but if you touch Rick—” [draws switchblade] “I’ll cut you.”

It’s stuff like that I think is at least mild entertainment. I just find this movie to be fun, if nothing else, and at least it—unlike the actual Twilight saga—knows when we’re laughing.

In conclusion: don’t expect this one to blow you away with hilarity, but if you and a few friends want to see a short, stupid parody of Twilight that makes fun of it in all the right ways, go for this. I’d recommend it over the real thing, anyway.

 

Rate: 5 out of 10.

*Just fyi, I apologize for the bitterness. In all sincerity, I don’t disrespect anyone who likes the Twilight saga. If you roll that way,  more power to you.

My Lord of the Rings Thanksgivings (AKA Thoughts on Holiday Traditions)

“Once again, we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice.”

 –  Dave Barry

 

If you want to make one of my friends laugh, tell them I’m not a person of tradition.

Seriously, you’ll have them on the floor.

Okay, so I’m a bit of a traditional guy. And not just in your usual “we HAVE to get out Christmas decorations this year or I’m calling social services” kind of way. I mean with everything. I have a set of activities I do on the first day of school, the last day of school, the first night of summer, the last night of summer, etc. I wear the same shirt on the first and last days of the school year.

I think this is partly because I remember dates so well. I remember the exact date of almost every time I’ve seen a movie with my friends, every party I’ve been to since sixth grade, every first and last day of school for the past five years, and other general fun outings I’ve had.

So, naturally, I also remember everything that happened on holidays.

And thus, when things like Thanksgiving break roll around, I repeat the same general set of activities.

My Thanksgiving traditions were laid down in eighth grade, when I spent the night before Thanksgiving watching the movie X-Men: The Last Stand on FX. I’d seen the movie for the first time on a bus to summer camp between sixth and seventh grade, so it had been a while since I’d last watched it. But I watched it again.

Then I went up to my grandparents’, got home that Saturday, and did my entire science fair project while watching the TV marathon of all three Lord of the Rings movies back to back.

Which takes nine hours and eighteen minutes, mind you.

(As a side note, had I watched all three extended versions instead, the running time would’ve bumped up to eleven hours and twenty-two minutes).

Anyway. So that formed my annual traditions: each Thanksgiving break from then on, I’ve watched X-Men: The Last Stand on Wednesday night, then spent the rest of the weekend procrastinating homework.

As for Lord of the Rings, I usually watch it on Wednesday morning when I first wake up. Not the whole thing—I’m not THAT strict on tradition—but usually the snippet where Frodo meets Aragorn, and then where he and Sam climb Mount Doom.

All that being said, I turned on my TV last night to put in my DVD of X-Men. As I was getting it out, the TV Guide listings scrolled by. Then my jaw dropped.

X-Men: The Last Stand was playing on TV. The night before Thanksgiving. The same night I watched it in eighth grade.

On the same channel as in eighth grade.

At the same time slot as in eighth grade.

WHAT.

All I can say is that there’d better not be a Lord of the Rings marathon on TV Saturday. If my mind gets blown to bits, I can’t do my homework for Monday.

So thus were my traditions this year. Along with watching this genius dub…all credit to Brock’s Dubs.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Driving: Hitting the Road (And Nothing Else)

“I changed the beep of my car horn to the sound of gunshots. People move out of the way a lot faster now!”

 

I consider myself behind the times: I never sat behind the wheel of a car until I was almost sixteen, and that was my first time EVER driving it anywhere (in this case, in circles in a parking lot).

That was in January of 10th grade. Getting my permit a week later took about four hours (luckily I ran into a friend to keep me from dying of boredom) and I didn’t really put it to good use until the start of this summer. I mean, I drove on the highway and stuff, but not unless it was in the morning with relatively few cars.

If you’ve never driven a car, let me tell you how it was for me: at first, scary. The brakes on our family vehicle were a tad more sensitive than I’d expected…I was convinced touching a toe to the pedal with too much enthusiasm would send me through the windshield.

The gas pedal was a slightly shinier side of the same coin. During my first two times driving in a parking lot I refused to hit it, and when I finally did I almost sent us through a fence. So I had evolved from sending people flying forward to torpedoing the entire vehicle.

And then in that summer came…Driver’s Ed.

[Thunderclap.]

If you haven’t taken Driver’s Ed yet, I wish you luck. Who knows? Maybe you’ll have an animated, cool instructor who fills you with invaluable information and whips you up into a driving pro that Ricky-Bobby would be jealous of.

As for me, I got to sit through three hours times ten days of discussions about “risk.”

It wasn’t my instructor’s fault…she was funny, and instead of stretching out the ten hours’ worth of material into the required thirty, she made sure it was in our brains, then spent the rest of the time showing us comical road signs and the “Trunk Monkey” commercials.

Which would’ve been peachy, except it was three hours a day during my first week of summer after tenth grade, and we only got two breaks that were seven and a half minutes each (not seven, not eight, seven and a half!) and the only food we could eat was from the vending machines, and all they had were old strawberry Pop Tarts and Sprite Zero, and I was left sitting there thinking about how flavorless everything was and how risk was more like a one hour topic and get me out of here right now THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS.

Okay, so I wasn’t quite that dramatic. But it wasn’t fun.

 

Now, I’m pleased to say I’m a licensed and reasonably good driver, give or take. At least, in comparison to some of the incidents that have occurred at my high school.

I’ve seen kids park in multiple spots. I’ve seen them park with their car facing perpendicular to the way it should be. One student I know of drove up to a roundabout on a highway, kept going until they were up on the sidewalk in the center, then drove on the sidewalk until veering off at their turn.

I was also sitting at a light one time, waiting to turn left along with dozens of other cars in front of me, when someone got impatient. The driver in front of me decided they didn’t feel like waiting, so they pulled off the road into the ditch alongside it, drove in said ditch until they reached the intersection, then scooted their truck in front of the first car in line.

Sometimes I wonder how DMV instructors sleep at night.

I actually asked mine during my test if she considered hers a dangerous profession. She laughed and told me how she and the other instructors prefer to look at each day as an ‘adventure.’ Then she told me some of her craziest stories, including how one test taker about a year ago decided to go fifty miles per hour.

At that point I, driving on the open road, said, “Wait, isn’t the speed limit fifty here?”

To which she replied:

“Not back on the course, it ain’t!”

Excellent point, ma’am.

So, in case any adults are wondering, there are still teenagers out there who drive carefully and are annoyed by the people who don’t. I just try to be as careful as I can, and hope that everyone else on the road with me is halfway sensible.

And, meanwhile in Russia…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPkE2hHneP4&feature=g-logo 

 

I wonder what their driving instructors think.

On Writing: The Last Sentence (For Now)

“Success is a finished book, a stack of pages each of which is filled with words. If you reach that point, you have won a victory over yourself no less impressive than sailing single-handed around the world. ”

 –  Tom Clancy

 

I haven’t posted about writing for a while, but last I remember, I discussed the actual writing of a book, of transforming the bullets in an outline into the words on a page. I was a bit limited with that subject, as people have their own way of going about laying out their story. But tonight I wanted to talk about what it feels like to actually finish a manuscript (albeit the first, unedited draft).

Some people don’t. In fact, I don’t think it’s too bold of a statement to say that many people who start novels end up giving up and never finish them.

I’ve only done this once. And I’m not sure if that time counts, because it was a novel I’d never planned on taking very far. It was actually based off a TV show I enjoyed, but it only ran for a few episodes. The series closed on a cliffhanger, so I decided it might be fun to imagine how the story ended. I knew from the start it was mostly an informal chance to play around with writing techniques, and after a few months I scrapped it, moving on.

I have finished my share of first-draft manuscripts, though, and I must say I’m still not used to the feeling of typing the last words of a story I’ve worked on for months.

Based on what I’ve heard, that feeling is different for each person. Some people feel sweet, amazing relief that they satisfactorily completed a story, start to end, and they just want to put it away for a while. Others want to immediately whip out the editing pen and get to work making every word as perfect as possible.

I’m mostly in the middle, but if we were to draw out a spectrum, I would be more towards the first option. With my time as limited as it is, I’m so relieved just to have a manuscript done and wrapped up that I don’t want to come back to it for a while. When I finish, I make note of the time and date, jot down a few words to commemorate it, whip out the sparkling grape juice, and usually watch the movie Super 8 if only because I still enjoy it.

I give myself a resting period of a few days (not too many, though) and then get—as our friends in Aerosmith say—back in the saddle. Generally that means deciding what story I want to start on next, because I believe in letting a manuscript sit for at least a month before beginning the process of editing.

But, that’s another subject. One that I’ll be tackling soon, in fact.

So. If you actually do finish (or have finished) a novel, congratulations! I know that doesn’t mean much coming from a stranger with a blog named after an obscure sci-fi movie, but I still like saying it.

Because I know so, so many people who have given up on their stories, and that always makes me sad, because I feel like if you love something like writing, you would keep doing it no matter how bad the finished product is. Maybe that’s because I have low standards, or else because I’m ridiculously stubborn in finishing something I’ve started. I’m not sure.

In any case, even if your story isn’t published (none of mine are, for example), you can still keep them for yourself. Neil Gailman once said that “a book is a dream you hold in your hands.” I at least try to keep in mind that not every dream we have is meant to be shared. Sometimes, they’re so precious because they’re ours alone. No one else’s.

Sometimes, dreaming itself is what’s important.

What Am I Watching? (Motion Picture Review: Thankskilling)

Kristen: “There’s no such thing as an evil turkey. There’s no such thing as an evil turkey. There’s—”

Turkey: “No such thing as an evil turkey. Oh wait…I lied!”

 –  The most clever dialogue in this film

 

Tonight I am the bearer of sad news. My sarcasm is gone.

Okay, so it isn’t gone for good. But it has been shocked out of me for a good few days, so tonight I’ll have to settle for sarcasm’s uglier cousin, snarky cynicism.

Let me back up.

 There is a motion picture in existence called “Thankskilling,” released as an independent horror film in 2009. The plot revolves around a turkey, who has the same size and appearance as everyday turkeys. In fact, he’s quite a bit like normal turkeys, except that his eyes are yellow.

And oh yeah, he talks and kills people, too.

Yes, this is real. Yes, it can be rented on iTunes (in HD for an extra two dollars, an offer I’m sorry to say I took advantage of), and yes, it can be watched. Having said all that, it is not a movie. It is a motion picture, yes, but it can’t be defined as a “movie” by the most liberal use of the word.

I knew it was going to be bad going into it. I was told about it by a friend, who tried to convince me I shouldn’t watch it. I ignored her advice, watching it with several other friends only yesterday. I was all set to come home and write a ridiculously sarcastic review: “Best movie ever! The plot had so many twists, the acting was top notch, and the special effects left my eyes spinning in their sockets. Screw Super 8 and the Harry Potter films; move over for Thankskilling! Rate: 11 out of 10!”

Yeah, I can’t do that. As I said earlier, my sarcasm has been shocked out of me by this adventure. So feel free to sit back and read my entire breakdown of it.

I’d say “spoiler alert”, but that would imply the existence of a solid plot.

So, we meet five college students, who all seem to fit perfectly into their stereotypes: A jock, a nerd, a redneck, a good girl, and a party girl. They all happen to be driving home from an unnamed college for Thanksgiving break, when their car suddenly breaks down in the middle of the road. Seeing as they just so happen to have sleeping bags and tents in their trunk, they decide to camp in the woods for the night. During the night, they realize these are the same woods in which, moments after the first Thanksgiving, a Native American put a curse on a turkey to attack any humans it saw. This turkey was supposed to rise 550 years later…which is apparently this night.

Now, I’m no mathematician, but seeing as the first Thanksgiving occurred in 1621 (which the film even acknowledges at the opening), this story either takes place in the year 2171—highly unlikely, given the quality of the props used—or the producers decided that being off by 164 years was an acceptable margin of error for the sake of the story.

Anyway. Seeing as I’ve just covered roughly the first half of the film, here are the things I noticed so far.

First of all, the acting is—to use my Calculus teacher’s favorite word—putrid. And I don’t mean it was bad on purpose. No, it was much like the movie itself…such a poor attempt that we’re not even really laughing at them anymore. We’re just shaking our heads and wondering where in the world this production crew dug up these teenagers.

Second of all: the script. Oh, Lord, the script.

Well, they definitely had one. This was painfully obvious as the actors attempted to deliver their lines with…well, pretty much getting them delivered felt like a victory to us. If you want to know how the dialogue was, picture an eight year old writing out what he thinks college students say to each other on a normal basis. Throw in a bit of cussing and tone down the intelligence by a few notches, and you’ve got the screenplay.

Third of all: the story had more holes in it than an old pair of crocs. Major ones so far include the car breaking down for no reason and then being perfectly fine the next morning, the kids randomly having tents in their trunk, and the fact that the killer Turkey can walk and talk (though I’m going to accept that one without question, as that pales in comparison to the plot holes of the rest of the film).

 

The second half is where it gets interesting.

Summary: the kids all go back to their homes. Meanwhile, the turkey stands on the side of the road until someone pulls over and gives him a ride (I swear, they act as if he was a human being), and after killing this person, the turkey pushes him aside and begins to drive.

Did you just read that correctly?

Yes. Yes, you did. The turkey begins to drive.

We’re never shown how, and I’m sure it’ll be a question that will haunt me almost as much as “Why in the name of God did the driver let the talking turkey in the car in the first place?”

Anyway. The turkey drives to each of the kids’ houses and begins killing them off. This is usually done with him using his wings, wielding a shotgun (another inexplicable feat), and in the most notable case, pecking off a man’s face and proceeding to wear it.

But wait, there’s more!

The kids all meet up at the house of the man whose face is now being worn, and when the turkey—who, keep in mind, is around two feet tall—answers the door, the kids all hug him and tell the “man” they’re glad he’s alright.

Wait, what?

This is the point at which I declared this not a movie. Because in a motion picture like this, where the kids don’t realize turkey has killed a man until they see turkey actually standing over the body, is a motion picture not worthy of being called a movie.

The next event is equally unbelievable: one of the kids is walking home, sees a cartoon roasted turkey (identical to the kind eaten on Thanksgiving) and swallows it whole. Seconds later, his stomach is pecked open from the inside, and the killer turkey emerges.

Keep in mind, this turkey is around the size of a microwave.

Which is an excellent segue into describing the finale of the film: the remaining kids chase the turkey down, turkey is shot, and turkey lands in a dumpster of radioactive waste. The kids then walk home, make popcorn and watch a movie together—hours after all their friends and parents have been killed, mind you—and one of them remarks how in a way, they’re glad this happened because it brought them closer together emotionally.

Dude, almost everyone you know just got murdered.

No sooner has he said this than the turkey attacks them…and the turkey is glowing bright green.

Yep. Radioactive fowl on the loose.

After taking out everyone except one girl, said girl goes into a rage and throws the turkey into a pile of sticks that happen to be perfectly arranged in tipi bonfire form, and she throws a match that just so happens to ignite the pile within two seconds.

Wow, I wish I could start campfires that easily.

And then, as the turkey dies in the fire, a chicken leg—yes, a chicken leg—falls out, and the girl takes a bite.

 

A valuable devotion of my time and money, indeed.

Well, I’ll stick to my usual reviewing format, I suppose. What I liked about this film:

……Please hold.

Eh…the turkey was punny, I suppose. At one point he kills someone with an ax, then remarks, “Oops. I had an ax-ident”, followed by a detailed explanation as to why that’s a play on words.

What I disliked:

Seriously?

But don’t change the channel yet. Because if you did enjoy this movie, you’ll be excited to know it’s the first in a trilogy.

I haven’t seen the other two, but here’s what I know for a fact: the second movie is essentially the same—well, plot, for lack of a worse term—except it takes place in space, and the turkey is part cyborg. In this one, he dies for good.

Which is why the third movie’s tagline is, and I quote, “The first horror movie to ignore its own sequel.” This third movie literally says that the second installment never existed, and here’s what really occurred after the first adventure.

I was expecting nothing less.

In conclusion…

[Coach Carr voice]: Don’t watch this film. Because you will be brainwashed…and die. Don’t watch this with your friends, don’t watch it alone, don’t watch it with family…just, don’t do it, promise?

Seriously. If you’re that desperate for entertainment, find a turkey to actually peck out your eyes. It would hurt less and probably be a better use of your time, too.

Rate: Lolz.

More Like An Appetizer (Movie Review: The Hunger Games)

“Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective, a lot of hope is dangerous. A spark is fine, as long as it’s contained. So…contain it.”

 –  President Snow

 

I’ll confess right now: I didn’t hop on the Hunger Games bandwagon until October 2010, when a friend told me about the series and how good it was. I read the first book in two or three days, and the next one within twenty-four hours. The third one was the same (though the ending was far more disappointing. But I’ll save that for later).

So, naturally, I was at the midnight premiere with one of my friends, dressed in my Hunger Games shirt and ready to have my mind blown.

I was disappointed.

But wait, don’t go! I promise I’m not one of those people who hated every aspect of the film, nor am I someone who loved the whole thing. I had mixed feelings about it, and still do. And those I present now.

Also note that I present those with spoilers, only because of one major scene I have to give a shout out to, so if you aren’t familiar with the plot, feel free to leave now.

I should start by saying that if I were Suzanne Collins, I would be happy with the adaption. The casting is well done, the acting by said cast is great, and in my opinion the story does justice to its source material. Collins was smart to write the screenplay herself, and did a good job of not recycling the book’s dialogue word for word (*cough* Deathly Hallows Part 1) but retold the story we enjoy.

One of my closer friends is nearly impossible to please when it comes to film adaptions. And indeed, he argued that this didn’t provide enough back story of the characters, especially Avoxes (though they are present in the movie, it isn’t explained what they are).

I think that sort of thing is best left to be told my Katniss herself, through her own narrative, but backstory is actually one of my primary complaints about this movie, except for the opposite reason: they take too long setting it up. The reaping isn’t for a good twenty minutes into it, and by that point I was resisting the urge to think, alright, get to the point, already.

From there, I can’t actually think of anything specific I disliked about it. The suspense of the story is good, which is saying something considering that I’ve read the book a handful of times. The pacing is a bit odd, with a dragging-out feeling attached to everything leading up to the arena. And then, when I saw it for the first time, it got to the point where once they were in the arena, I was a bit detached. I’m not sure why; maybe that was just me.

One scene I can’t go without applauding has to be [spoilers!] the death of Rue. She is portrayed exactly as described in the book, and her death is as emotional as the first time I read it. But what really kept me fixed on the screen was the rebellion shown in district 11, and the peacekeepers marching in to silence it.

THAT was well done.

I also did like how the filmmakers included other scenes not from Katniss’ point of view. The conversation between President Snow and Crane is a nice addition, and seeing the game makers controlling what happens to the contestants gives the brutality of the games some extra emphasis.

All that being said, I am excited for the next movie. It’ll be interesting to see what it’s like, since this screenplay won’t be by the author, nor will the director be returning. But who knows…maybe the new production team will bring an amazing new quality to the second film to make it (much like the second book) better than the first installment.

In conclusion: I wish I could figure out what disappointed me about this movie. Looking back, I think there was just way too much hype, and I let my expectations get too high. But fear not; while it isn’t the best movie ever (as everyone was saying at the time), it’s excellently acted, with additional scenes not in the book and everything important that was. Aside from clunky pacing and an uneasy start, this is one adaption that does enjoyable justice to its source material.

Rate: 7 out of 10.