Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades, #2) by E.L. James

In a way, I got desensitized by now against some aspects of this god awful story. The bad writing is a given. The facepalm moments with the Inner Goddess and the subconsciousness are also there. It never really stops being disturbing that Ana basically has three people in her head with their own personalities. Maybe she's actually a schizophrenic in a mental institution and all this is in her head. What an idea! Something like in Sucker Punch. She's actually being abused by a guy there, but in her head he's Grey, and they are having a love affair.

You may be wondering what happens in this book. Actually, I'm kind of wondering about that myself. The only way I could actually finish this thing was by listening to it being read out by Mark. This books is really boring, and about three things happen in it. The rest is sex. I think probably even a porn addict would be fed up. This is where it's obvious that the book used to be fanfiction. Fanfics are updated once a week at best, and that way you get the sex scenes in instalments. Being read one after the other becomes too much, especially because the plot is almost non-existent.

In a way, the first book was actually a lot better than the second. It had more things going on, and there was some conflict. I almost enjoyed that in a "shout at the insanity of the book" way. There isn't too much conflict in this one, and if there is, it gets quickly swept under the rug by either sex or alcohol. Not necessarily by Christian. There is one case where an uninvited guest comes into Christian's apartment, who sends Ana away to deal with it. So far so good. So what does Ana and another person do? Go for a drink.
I just don't have much to say about it, since it's really just glorified porn at this point.

Overall, I'm wondering what I'd rather do; bang my head against a wall, or read this.

Doctor Who: Royal Blood by Una McCormack * * *

I haven't read a Doctor Who book in a while, and when I saw this at WHSmith, I had to grab it. It was a good book, but I felt it lacked in some ways.

The story itself was intriguing with the mixture of medieval and modern equipment and surroundings. Trying to evade a war is never easy, but in a way the plot was given away from the start. The search for the artefact felt glossed over. Probably the biggest problem of the book was that the author was trying to keep it short, but by doing that was afraid to get into anything in detail. Most of the book was taken up by talking, plotting, without anything much actually happening.

The Doctor seemed to play a minor character here, and I found that that must have been because the author didn't have a good grasp of him. It was a bit strange, because one of her other books, The Way Through the Woods is actually one of my favourite Doctor Who books.
Clara was more of a central character in the story, getting mixed up in trying to stop a war. She seemed to have gone rogue, acting on her own.
Bernhardt was the author's own character. For some reason, his parts were in first person. This constant change of perspective was very strange. I do see the point in it, but the story was disjointed because of it. 

Overall, it was an interesting story, but lacked depth and excitement. Hence only three stars, since it wasn't bad, just not enough.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer * * * * *

Winter is the last novel in the Lunar Chronicles, which was kind of sad. I discovered the series a few years ago, and devoured the first two books. They had the perfect blend of adventure and romance, without the romance overpowering the adventure, as so often happens with books aimed at young adults. Frankly, I like some romance with my adventure, but if there is too much of it, I get bored. Then throw the book against the wall.
This book I started with a mix of anticipation and sadness. I wanted to find out how Cinder would get her throne, since she obviously would, but I knew that once I turned the last page, that would be the end of my adventures with the girls. Yes, I did tear up in the end for these very reasons.

The story itself is the longest, and the most complex of the series. There are times when I wonder how they're going to get out of the situation. All the girls have their roles to play, the end result could not be reached by the end. I also liked how no one comes out without reminders of the things they've gone through. It's very hard to write about the story without spoilers, but suffice to say, yes, it does take place on Luna, and we actually do get to see a great deal of it. It makes me hope that some day we do see the series made into film, because I would love to see it all on the big screen. However, I somehow think it would be better as an anime. Probably because of the Sailor Moon influence, but I kind of saw them as anime characters in my head.

Cinder is not the centre of the story. She is kind of the main character, but everyone is equally important, and gets equal time. These books are, in a way, very feminist. Cinder is a mechanic, Cress a hacker, Scarlet a bad-ass farmer, kind of like a pioneer woman. Winter has some issues, but in spite of her problems and limitations, she still gets things done. It could be said, that Winter does it with her feminine beauty, but that's not actually true. She wins people by paying attention to them. Her beauty comes from an inner gentle heart, and that is really what people respond to.

Levana is the villain. I thought a bit about if it would have been better to have a man as the antagonist, but not really. There are some issues that are brought up that can be talked about even outside the world of the book. After all, she was hurt by her sister, so she hurt her niece, and her people the same way. We could have pity for her, and Cinder does as well, but the truth is, she could have been a better person with what happened to her. Often, in the real world, people who have injuries, bad things happen to them, we treat them as saints, and expect them to be pure. We make allowances for them. The truth is, most of the time, their experiences don't make them good people. If they were good to start with, they will be good afterwards. However, if they weren't, they'll just be worse after their negative experiences, because often they feel entitled to be mean.

The guys in the story do their fair share, they're not there just to look pretty. While they are protective of the girls, they don't try to stop them from doing what they need to. They all work together as a team of equals.

Overall, a very good finish to the series. I did stall reading it at times, but that was more about prolonging getting to the end, than not wanting to read. I know the author is going to publish a collection of short stories, which I'll read, but I wouldn't mind if she thought of another series in the same world. I wouldn't mind going back. The question now is, what to read next that won't feel like rubbish after this?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Stolen Innocence by Elissa Wall, Lisa Pulitzer * * * * *

Many years ago, I've seen reports on a group called "FLDS", and their prophet, Warren Jeffs. I remember Oprah talking to a group of girls looking like something out of House on a Prairie, who said how their one goal in life was to get married. Having been a student of Gender Studies, and chosen religions as my focus, I was saddened by how these girls were brainwashed into thinking that was all they were good for. I wanted to get married and have children all my life myself. However, I also wanted other things, and was ever so glad that I had options, opportunities unlike most women before me, and a lot of women even now.
Mormons had been a special interest to me, since they were a major focus of my thesis paper that served as the conclusion of my university studies. I've learned a lot about their beliefs, and it always fascinated me how people could believe so much in something that had been so obviously constructed as a fraud.

I had been looking at books connected to getting out of religions, when Amazon brought up this book as something that would interest me. I decided to download a sample. Once the sample finished, I eagerly downloaded the whole book. I was fascinated by the story. I have always been curious about people who lived different lives than mine, and a girl growing up in a religious sect that for the most part lived in the 19th century, was about as different as possible.
At the start of the story we learn that at fourteen she was forced to marry her first cousin, Allen, whom she disliked for some reason. However, the story then takes us back to a much earlier time, even to before her parents were even married. It was a very interesting look into the workings of polygamous households, the FLDS, prophets, religious schools, all sorts of things. In a way, the marriage itself was just the cherry on the top.
In a way, life in the FLDS must have its good sides. Close community, keeping together is something that I've never had much experience of. However, the religion, and the whole make-up is just ripe for abuse. It wasn't so bad with the previous prophet, but only because the previous prophet wasn't such a bad man. He wasn't good either, but he sometimes tried. That's the problem with closed sects. All the people brain-washed to surrender their critical thinking, their scepticism, their rationality to a religion, a man, are just waiting to be exploited.
This sadly, is the same with all religion, but not exclusive to them. Ideologies aside from religion can have the same impact. That is why we should always keep our wits about us, and employ critical thinking to everything.
I must admit, I kind of hoped she would become an atheist. True, with all the things that had happened to her, Elissa probably needed her faith to support her hope of a better life. However, I feel a bit that she had placed in the hands of an outsider the very deeds she had done, and others as well. For it was humans that helped her get out. Her friends and family that supported her, and above all, it was her strength that lead her to not take the easy way and just submit, but to stand up for herself and her sisters. She sees a god in there, somewhere. All I see is good people. In the end, that is all we really have, each other.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

I will come for you from below the city by Zoltán Pék * * *

I’d translate the title of the novel to: I will come for you from below the city.

My first thought upon finishing this book was "that was weird". I don't read weird books. I like stories that follow the usual rules. You start at the beginning, follow the story all the way to the end, and then stop. You don’t really get the sense of stopping, even though it is a definite stop, but it leaves so many questions unanswered, you want an epilogue of something.
This story did start at a kind of a beginning. The kind where the person's life starts to change, take on a new shape. The actual story was slow. There was a lot of talk of dreams, the past, the present. What it was actually going to be about was very vague. When it culminated in the actual dystopic ending, it snuck up on me, in a kind of futility. I’m a story person, I read books for stories, but this book wasn’t really about the story. It was rather about the author communicating his view of the world.

This is a Hungarian dystopia. I have read some old, classic dystopias, like the oldest one of all, Zamyatin's We. Also modern ones, like The Hunger Games. Zamyatin was Russian, but even his world was a happy place compared to this world. In the classic dystopias the characters often think they are in a utopia, and only slowly realise the truth. The lead character in this novel, Corvinus, knows he lives in a terrible world. The reason why he is unlike all the previous leads is that he doesn't want to do anything about it. He accepts it as it is, and tries to carve out a life for himself among the debris and the filth. He has no future, no hope, no goals. All he does is exist. 
Dystopias are supposed to depict a future terrible world, but this is not the future. Not really. The crumbling buildings, the few new ones among the old, the talks of politics, the endless number of beggars, the fear of being robbed on the public transport, that is reality. The feeling of no hope, no future is what permeates the minds of many Hungarians today. Some try to make a better world for themselves, but like most of the characters in the book, the truly successful ones are criminals. Others exist like Corvinus, like the line he mentions from the national anthem that means something like: no matter what, you have to exist here. Among the ruins of past greatness, with the feeling of paranoia and fear of annihilation. Then there are those, who can't take it anymore, and try to escape to a place where there is hope, even when they know it will probably not be better, but just the existence of a belief in a hope of a better future is enough.

This book is modern in many ways, but if you are looking for the next Hunger Games, this is not it. There is no grand fight against evil. There is actually no great evil at all. No big leader that you need to end, then all will change. In modern dystopias the theme is often that if you win against something marked as evil, the world will be better. There is no villain here. No fight for the greater good, like what seems to come from the Western World. Just survival, existence of the ordinary, the little person. The main character is no real hero. In this it reminds me of the old dystopias, where the main character faded into the world without ever making an impact in it.
The language of the book is modern, but also clever. Hard to describe, but even the abundance of curse words gives it a certain type of feel. The actual character of Corvinus comes through more in his use of language than anything. The descriptions are of the sort that make you feel. Not anything good, but that is the goal.

Overall, an interesting, though disturbing book. It leaves you with a feeling of such hopelessness, you want to read something which happens in a pretty place, where people actually care about each other. Where the future exists, and you can trust that you won't just melt into the trash around you. Do not read it if you have a tendency for pessimism, or depression.

Magyar változat:

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Emperor's Blades (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, #1) by Brian Staveley * * * * *

This book has been on my to-be-read list for a while. I've read a couple of great reviews, but I've recently burned myself with a book like that, and I was afraid that this would be the same. However, I've just finished A Song of Ice and Fire series, and I've read somewhere that if you like that, you're going to like this. Therefore, I picked it up.

The beginning was weird. For a while, it just made no sense. Then there was a discussion, and finally, I realised how it was tied to the story.
The story itself is about three siblings, who are the children of the Emperor. They all grew up away from each other, under very different circumstances.
Adare is the oldest, and the sister. I have read that the author got complains that her story seemed to be the less interesting one, but he assured everyone that it would change in the later books. She is a bit naive, but growing up in the palace does that to a person. Most of her learning comes from books. However, she gets mixed up in a dangerous game, and can't even be sure what side the players are on.
Valyn is the soldier. He grew up training to be an elite soldier. In this book I enjoyed his story the most. Mainly because a mystery was introduced right away, and I enjoy mysteries a lot. I was afraid I would have to wait 'til the end to find out, but it resolved in this book.
Kaden is the next emperor. His eyes are a strange colour, and for some reason that means he's blessed. For most of the book, I found his story the most boring one. It contained a lot of his special training, which was interesting, and maybe even worth trying in real life, but still, a bit boring. There was a mystery there as well, and an important part of the story was revealed there. It was only towards the end that it picked up.

The world itself is interesting. The religion in Annur is complex, with many gods. However, most people only concern themselves with one god they chose. I also liked how the stories about the gods may have their roots in history. 
The landscape of the world varies from snowy mountains to almost tropical islands. I got a good sense of the feel of the places, so the author handled descriptions well.
It's a very physical world. Pain is a part of it, and so is pleasure. It's a very practical world, which appealed to me. Pain wasn't there just for the sake of pain, but it was always with a purpose, even if I didn't understand it at the time.

Overall, the book does remind me a bit of A Song of Ice and Fire, but not that violent so far. However, it's complex, and full of mysteries that keeps me wanting to turn the page. I grew to like all three siblings, and I care what happens to them. I'm excited to read the coming books.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Iron King (The Iron Fey, #1) by Julie Kagawa * *

I haven't read any of this book for a long while. In an attempt to cut down my Currently-reading list, I gave this another go. It didn't get better. The thing is, the whole time I was reading it I felt like I've read this before. I even knew what was going to happen in certain situations. I even thought at one point that maybe I've read it, but that's impossible. However, in a way I have read it.

I always loved fantasy, fairy tales that have princes and princesses. I still do. I occasionally watch fairy tale movies intended for kids. In my 32 years, I've seen a lot of stories. That's exactly the problem with this book. It's good if the reader is a young person, just switching over from the Grimm fairy tales to something else. This will feel familiar. However, to me, I've read this all. There is just nothing new or surprising, or witty about the story. It's like a mish-mash of things that I've read before in countless others. I just feel bored.

I've read stories intended for people less than half my age. I enjoyed the Percy Jackson series, and I can't help comparing it to this book. While Percy Jackson draws from Greek mythology, it manages to update it, and to make me want to read that version of the stories. They are not unfamiliar to me. At around the age of 10 I got into ancient mythologies. I read a lot about them, read whole collections of stories. The things in Percy Jackson were familiar this way. However, the way they were twisted around kept them from just being the same. In The Iron King the concepts, the events are just nothing new. Therefore, I cannot go on with reading this book. I've promised to myself a while ago that I'm not going to read anything that I don't want to.

The writing itself is good. There is nothing off-putting about it. The characters are also familiar, very cliché. The problem is the unoriginality of it all.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5) by George R.R. Martin * * * *

The only reason why I managed to finish this monster book of monsters is because I went over to the audiobook version. I'm not sure if I should recommend it though. While the man does the male voices well, the female voices are a horror to listen to. The rest of the text is read as if the man was half drunk.

This is the last published book in the series. Obviously, it's hard to keep it spoiler-free. I'll try my best though. Most of it is taken up by characters that were not in the previous book. Therefore, the people who were in that book are not in this one, at least, the first half. Most notably, Sansa is not in it at all, and Brienne just makes a sudden appearance. Most importantly, Daenerys features a lot in the book.

The story moves along the usual pace, at the envy of a snail. I love the world, and I love reading about intrigue, but this is the book where you skip a lot. I don't care which four men went to the meet with Jon Snow. Nor do I care what men were at the party, unless they play a role later on. There is such a thing as too many details.

Since this is the end for now, until Martin finally delivers the next book, the ending was more important than before. It can be summed up in three letters. WTF???? Yep, seriously. The characters I most care for are all going towards doing something they have been preparing for. Will they get there? Most likely not. I still hope though. There were also some deaths, that made me sad. I forgot not to get attached.

Overall, the quality is the same as ever. If someone got this far, it's worth going on, because a lot happens, just really slowly. However, now I want to lock Martin up in a house with just salads to eat twice as much. Maybe he'll deliver on his promise to finish the next book this year. Then only about 4-6 more years until we find out the ending. Or more. Though we'll know the alternative ending when the TV series finishes.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Introducing The Honourable Phryne Fisher (Phryne Fisher, #1-3) by Kerry Greenwood * * * *

The first story is Cocaine Blues, and in accordance with the title, cocaine does feature in the story. I was a bit apprehensive about how the famous drug will participate, but it wasn't in a positive light, thankfully.
Having seen the series adaptation of the books, I couldn't help comparing the two. The series has an air of the 20s about it, part of what makes it so great. The book does as well. I tried to remember if I'd seen the story itself in the series, but I couldn't remember. However, the first season was over a year ago, and my memory concerning crime serieses is notoriously bad. It does allow me to see one episode multiple times though.
The TV show has a lot of sexual elements, and the book didn't disappoint in that regard.
The story itself was a lot of fun. It wasn't unsolvable, there were no clues hidden from us. What I also liked was how there wasn't just one story in the book, but several running simultaneously. You have Phryne entering Australian society, Dot's appearance, the story of the girl, the Russians, and the cocaine. I didn't mind them though, and while it may sound a bit chaotic, the stories flowed together well.

Phryne is of course the central character, but the view is not third person limited. We do get to see other happenings, that are not centred around her. She is as interesting as she is on TV. One thing that gave more depth to her in the book was that she wasn't always rich. The last time she had seen Melbourn was as a poor child. It took her out of the regular flapper attitude, and grounded her in reality.
Dot is as endearing as on TV. Their meeting is under different circumstances, and I liked this version.
Bert and Cec are in, but the inspector didn't play as big a role as he did on TV. I'm hoping that he'll make more appearances in the following books.

Overall, a really good start. It's a fun crime novel series. What I especially liked about it was that it felt like what I usually read. The style had a comfortable, easy feel to it, that made me feel secure. I can't pinpoint what gave this feeling to it, perhaps the prose had a simple quality to it, but I really liked that.

The second story in the book is Flying Too High. Frankly, I wasn't as impressed by this one, as I was with the first one. It took me longer to read as well. It's actually not one case, but two that happen at the same time. They are connected by the use of a plane in them, but I think the bigger reason why they were put together was that they would just be too short on their own.
One is the kidnapping of a little girl, the other is the death of a rich man. As a side story, we meet more of Phryne's friends, and also see her moving into her new home.
The stories were a bit too simple. The kidnapping we already knew who had done it, it was just a matter of how they were going to get the girl back. About the death I had my suspicions, and I was proven right.
One thing that I noticed was that the stories suffer from the author not knowing when to stop. After all is said and done, we still get Phryne doing something, having a party, eating, etc. I skipped that. Hopefully the next story will be better, and this one just suffered from 2nd book problems.

The third story, Murder on the Ballarat Train, was probably my favourite so far. It also has two cases going on at the same time, but they blend together a lot more than they did in the previous story. Their real connection is the train, but also that the main victim in one case is also connected to the other case. If I said how, that would be giving something away.
There is some more sex here, and I actually liked this guy. It was kind of cute.
The murder case is interesting. I was kind of going back and forth on who did it. The case of the girl is, however, a bit problematic for me. I know that what they talk about was popular in the 20s, but in this story it's actually made up to be a legit thing. Which I don't think it is.

Overall, not a bad start to such a long series. It had a low point in the second story, but the third one brought the level back to me. While I was doubting reading on before, the third story made me want to pick up the next installment.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Blood of Olympus (The Heroes of Olympus #5) by Rick Riordan * * * * *

I have finished this book some months ago, but only got around to reviewing now.

This is the last book in the series. I was saddened by this, because I had really grown to love the characters. I did like the ending though. However, I wouldn't mind short stories about them like five years down the road. Some story lines had a rather abrupt ending, I felt.

The story branched off in this book as well. I was very glad to see Nico have his own voice. He had been a favourite of mine for some time. 

Overall, it's very hard to talk about this book without spoiling the others. I am glad that I read all five books together, because they came together as one more than the previous five. They were also more adult than the previous five. While both end in battle and some deaths, this was different. In fact, there were more than one battles, and all of them were unique. The talents of the different demigods were used in complex ways, and there wasn't just one individual that stood out.

Reading this series as someone completely out of the target demographic, as a 32-year-old woman, I still enjoyed it. It was fun on one hand, but the characters were complex and individual enough to make me care about them. Even though they were half my age, their struggles were very adult. I wondered if it really was for kids, and they are, but for the more mature. However, adults can also enjoy them, because the topics are very mature. What were those topics? Well, dear reader, you'll just have to find out for yourself. ;-)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Insurgent (2015) * *

I sat in to see this movie with mixed feelings. I was pretty bored by the first movie, and I wasn't sure if I would be more entertained by the second. In the end, it was okay.

Unlike the first movie, which had an interesting beginning, boring middle, and more exciting ending, this movie had a steady pace. While I wasn't at the edge of my seat, it was interesting enough to not cause me to start creating dishes for my other blog in my head. However, it wasn't exciting enough to actually make me feel.

In the review of the previous movie I had a few questions. Now let's see if they were answered.
  • What is the wall for? - We sort of get an answer.
  • What is the rest of the world like, and why isn't anyone trying to find out? - We sort of get an answer for the first part, but not the second. It still doesn't make sense to me why people just take at face value that the world beyond the wall is terrible. On some of the shots there were clearly forests beyond the wall as well. There are always people in every group that see the horizon and just want to find out what is beyond it. Yet in 200 years apparently no one like that was born there.
  • Why are there still so many houses with holes in them? Shouldn't they have been repaired by now or torn down? - In this movie we see some new buildings as well. Now that I know it's been 200 years, I'm still wondering why the old ones aren't torn down or repaired? They would be dangerous. Falling debris all over the place! They could build a skyscraper taller than any other building, but not deal with the old ones? Makes no sense!
  • How long ago was this war thing, and what are the general facts about it? - We only learned that it was 200 years ago. So they think. Maybe not.
  • What are the Gryffindors, sorry, Dauntless protecting people from? It feels more like they're trying to control the people who like to climb on walls for no apparent reason, and don't know that there are mountains in the world. - Apparently, in this movie their role is to bully the other factions.

The whole factions thing makes even less sense. From the movie it seems like the faction is innate. It has biological implications, because there are machines that can tell what you are. Now how is that possible? Really? Just think about it. There is no concrete biological indicator to a person's core personality. In fact, it's impossible to determine how much of who you are is genetics, and how much is experience. This world is inherently flawed in that way. In other books when there are such cast systems, they are a lot better explained. One way to go about it is like in The Hunger Games, or in real life, India. You are born into a group, and that is where you stay. Another way is interfering with nature. In Brave New World the development even as an embryo is carefully controlled, and when they are born, through conditioning and other methods reinforced. They interfere with nature and nurture to get the desired outcome.
In this world, they do neither. Determining a faction based on just the dominant personality trait is very faulty, and makes absolutely zero sense. In fact, it's not feasible.

The story itself was okay. Really not much to say about it. No great surprises, even though I never read the book. Okay, the plot point of the "message" was not something that can be foreseen, but everything else about it was obvious. Even the ending, though the precise message I wasn't able to determine, I knew it would say something similar.
The ending scene left me questioning what they could possible put in the next movie. I guess I'll find out next year. I am a bit curious, but I'm working myself through A Dance with Dragons, and I intent to finish it before reading anything else.

The actors, well, Tris didn't get any better. Not much in the passion, or smiling department. I get that she's supposed to be this tortured heroine, but the only time she seemed to actually show emotions was when she was trying to kill someone with her bare hands, or crying. Though the crying looked so awkward, I kept thinking that they should just make her stop.
Four got a little better. We learned some of his story, and he also seemed to be more into Tris than she was into him. Though there were some nicer romantic moments, that almost made the whole movie better.

Overall, it was an okay movie. I didn't hate it, just kept thinking how some parts of the story made no sense, and how some were weird. It's really watchable. The scenes were nicer than the previous movie, and there was also more action. I don't intend to rewatch it ever, but I'm glad that I saw it, because it would bug me after having seen the first movie.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Jupiter Ascending (2015) * * *

This movie reminds me of one of my favourite sci-fi movies of all time, The Fifth Element. Mostly, because when I saw it, I thought it was one of the most gorgeously shot movies I've ever seen. This was the same way. I keep remembering pictures from it, environments that I kind of wanted to melt into, and be in that scene. The space ships were majestic. The dresses that Jupiter wore, I want all of them. They were intricate, beautiful, and sleek. Kym Barrett is a goddess.

The concept of the world I liked. It was intricate, and well-thought-out. The way they meddled with genes and technology gave it a good variety, and also a great range to play with. Without spoiling the story, the Earth origin story was believable, and it gave a good explanation to what we saw.

The story itself was good. There were some humorous moments, like the bureaucracy. There wasn't much of a twist, the "mystery" element was quite obvious after the first about 30 minutes. The action was fast-paced, however, and looked great.
The romance aspect was very minor, and a bit forced. It was obviously coming, but it didn't seem to actually play a role in the events, or in how the characters interacted with each other. If they had just been friends, I don't think it would have made much of a difference. Note to film-makers, there doesn't have to be a romantic aspect in every story.

The casting was also good. Mila did a great job as Jupiter. She was as confused about everything as can be expected, but at the end could harden her face and kick some ass.
Channing is starting to be a bit overused as the resident muscled love interest. Not that he's not hot, or that he didn't growl appropriately, but I'm starting to feel bad for every other muscular male actor out there. I did feel, however, that his role was rather generic, and repetitive.

So the movie itself didn't blow me away in its complexity, just the pictures did. However, it is a fun sci-fi movie, and I would love to have a sequel, or even just books, because I want to know what happens to Jupiter in the future.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Snowpiercer (2013) * * *

I didn't hear about this movie until it was mentioned in a list of movies never released in the theatres in Hungary that were good. That's where I live, BTW. The concept sounded interesting and unique, so I decided to check it out. I also do have a thing for dystopias.

The movie is about a train that goes around the world, carrying the last members of humanity. In an experiment that we managed to mess up, we managed to freeze the whole world. The train was built to be a self-sustaining economy. I did wonder how that would work.

The first thing that came into my mind was "guns?" That's the first thing you see on the the screen of the train. A man carrying a machine gun. In a way that describes the whole movie. It is very violent. The basic plot is that the people who live in the back, the poor section, try to take over the engine at the front, to control the train, the world, really.

The rich people control the food, punish rebellious poor people, and seem to be generally running a religious rhetoric of the "sacred engine" and Wilford, the holy creator of the engine. An interesting thing is that none of the poor people seem to be buying the religious rhetoric, only the rich ones. The people in the tail section don't even actually do anything, but seem to just breed and consume resources. However, most of the people in the front, the rich don't seem to be doing anything either.

Chris Evans plays Curtis. The leader of the rebellion against the people in the front. The movie is more about his struggle than anything. We often see his face in a close-up.

John Hurt plays Gilliam, who guides Curtis in his adventure.

Yona, played by Ah-sung Ko is a strange girl, who has an especially good hearing.

The characters don't feel close. I couldn't really connect to their struggle, as the emphasis seemed to be more on the violence than anything.

What Wilford said at the end felt rational, while cruel. However, in the situation it would have been the only way to go. The real problem that I saw with the whole thing was that the very existence of humanity in this form didn't have a point. You'd think that humans as a whole are really just worth their existence as long as they develop, create, and make strides to better themselves. The humans on the train are just like the train. Going around and around, not reaching anything, not having any goals other than being there.

The ending was weird. I guess there was supposed to be hope there, but what would have really been the point?

Overall, not an average movie, but I would have liked less fighting, more characterisation. Also, an ending that makes more of a sense. Watchable though, and finding out what the whole train was like kept me going.