Monday, 2 September 2013

On City of Bones and the Mortal Instruments

So given how the genre of Young Adult Urban/Contemporary Fantasy is rather flooded right now there are countless lesser-known and occasionally greater-known series I will never even touch. Not because I will dislike them necessarily but simply there is a lot of things to read, and pigeon-holing myself in one genre is not particularly interesting.

The genre tends towards a lot of silly tropes of Regular-Girl-Meets-Guy-And-He's-Magic-And-It-Turns-Out-She's-Special-Too, and the Mortal Instruments is no exception. But still, having read the original trilogy I thoroughly enjoyed it and would certainly have recommended it. Now? Mm, I dunno. I'd still recommend the original trilogy. It had the unfortunate fate of being one of those complete trilogies that got expanded, this time into a 6-part series with the sixth book on the way in 2014. It also came with a prequel series set in Victorian England which is, admittedly, a quaint idea. But having read the original trilogy, it resolved itself perfectly and the idea of extending the series two years after the series ended and a year after you started making a prequel series seems... odd. I haven't read the fourth through sixth and don't really care to. As I've said above, plenty to read and I already feel like I've reached a satisfying conclusion.

So why are you writing this, Raven? As the poster above shows it got its own movie which came out last week and which I obediently went out and dragged a few people to see opening weekend. The trailer made it seem like it could actually be a Legit movie in the sense that it looked like it was actually made like a big-budget film. It certainly had a lot of big... uh... television names. In supporting roles. And the protagonist was played by Lily Collins who has been in such large roles as Mirror Mirror (largely forgotten in the shadow of the other Snow White picture that year, Snow White and the Huntsman).

So watching this you see that there are quite a few famous actors and actresses like Lena Headey of Game of Thrones fame, Jonathan Rhys Meyers of the Tudors, and Aidan Turner of Being Human, and Jared Harris of... uh... well, he was pretty good in Fringe. Well anyways, you get it. There was quite a bit of talent in this and everyone you'd recognize was pretty good given what they had to work with. And the special effects were neat and never broke the immersion.

What DID break the immersion was the unfortunately stilted script. The movie jumps from scene to scene with barely any justification beyond "more things to do suddenly!" and while I understand the demands of compressing a novel into a film, the whole thing seemed less like a plot and more like a series of events strung together loosely. Plus lots of dramatic moments that we all just laughed at. It's already gone into pre-production for the sequel, despite making less than $10 million for the opening weekend, and I will definitely see the sequel just to see how it is.

Although, scratch that. This was an enjoyable film. Even my friends who hadn't read the books and aren't particularly into the genre enjoyed the film because it has a mix of planned humour and accidental humour combined with some half-decent demonic critters and fight sequences. Plus, jokes about how after Game of Thrones' Cersei and the Sarah Connor Chronicles' Sarah Connor, Lena Headey is YET AGAIN typecast into "vaguely disapproving Mom".

Unfortunately while this film is enjoyable, it is not very good. The script seems half-assed at times and it seems as if the movie wasn't quite sure what it wanted to do with itself. It was faithful to a lot of things in the book while omitting some obvious details, and even though the casting of Jamie Campbell Bower makes the love interest Draco Jace "more sass and less hunk" the casting is still... well, the casting is actually all pretty off honestly. The protagonist Ginny Clary was notably Ginger and it seems yet again we've been robbed of a proper Ginger Hero[ine]. The major actors and actresses all acted well, but you have a distinct sense having read the books that these are not the characters you knew because despite [previously] being only a written story, the entire fandom seemed to have a pretty similar mental image of all the characters. And strangely the movie does not reflect that at all. Well, except Lena Headey. I can totally buy her as Coma-Mom now.

Anyways, the movie is enjoyable but probably not necessary to see in theatres. I give it 6 baby squirrels out of 9.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Circumnavigation Complete

So I am back in the country after 2 weeks abroad, and I have successfully circumnavigated the globe in a Westerly direction (the one where the days are longer).

There's no way to read this left to right, so just go to the furthest right point and follow left.

So it was 9 flights, two drives, and 2 train trips to get around the world ignoring all the little day-trip deviations around.


which got us to Nepal and across the Pacific, which was incredibly dreary since the plane was cramped full of old people and an Australian girls' track team. We spent a few days in Kathmandu went rock-climbing in a jungle, ate some local food, saw the monkey temple, and I bought the greatest hat ever. It is 100% hemp.


We flew into Dhakka, Bangladesh. although the flight was late and Dhakka was mostly on strike the next day, so we ended up spending the night and then flying out the next morning. We were going to catch the "Friendship Express" to Kolkatta, but train-ticket buying is a miserable process that did not work out.


So we flew into Kolkatta and found our way to the seedy little hotel in some sort of questionable technology store sector of the city (also fans, there were fans). It was actually less seedy than expected, although the area was a little sketchy. We saw some colonial junk, met an Irishman at the Victoria Monument, tried the subway, and ended up with him and some Swedish girls at a strange bar playing Western rock covers. We were going to catch a train to Goa, but that failed too since apparently the train was full. So, we made another flight!


We flew into Vasco Da Gama and got a ride to our "Resort" out in Mollem, which is basically just an intersection. Still, it was an hour away from town and... well, basically in the middle of nowhere. But it was near an animal sanctuary and a waterfall and all sorts of neat naturey things. There were absolutely no Western tourists at the resort, which meant there was generally no interaction with anyone else there given the language barrier and general apathy. Still, we went hiking, rode an elephant, people were attacked by ants, it was great! And we experimented with the Indian rail on a smaller scale and managed to secure tickets from Madraon to Mumbai.


So after getting a 5:30 am ride to Kollem (about 5 km south of Mollem) we caught a train west to Madraon and then from there up to Mumbai, totalling about 13 hours for some inexplicable reason. I had a friend in Mumbai who had previously come to Ottawa for a script-writing class, and was incredibly apologetic for forcing him to wait at the train station for an extra hour and a half because of Indian rail. He showed us around, so we got to eat at a good Indian restaurant and also had pizza for another meal just because. We only had a day in Mumbai and so we splurged on a hilariously fancy hotel the likes of which I can't really afford in North America. ...Well, and really couldn't afford in India for much more than one night. But it was all quite fun, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear that after he couldn't get a script-writing job in Ottawa, he actually had a really cushy script-writing job in India. I was moderately jealous, but I decided that I don't really want to live in India because I missed clean water and toiletries and clean air and stuff.


And so we flew home after a dreary night in an airport waiting room, leaving at 6:30 am and arriving in London Heathrow long enough to get my Mumbai duty-checked booze confiscated (because they don't like Indian fluids or something?) and have a beef burger before we flew off across the Atlantic to arrive back in Ottawa at a semi-reasonable time in the evening.

I didn't take pictures or take many souvenirs, but the experience certainly makes me appreciate simple comforts like breathable air and clean water. Go, Canada, go.