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The Hunger Games Trilogy April 29, 2012

Posted by Afrozy Ara in Book Reviews, Fantasy Fiction, Sci-Fi.
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So now that I am on a book reading spree, the theme of this week was the Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Frankly, I would have never stumbled on these books if it was not for the  recently released movie with the same name. And, when there is an option for watching the movie or reading the book, I usually go for the latter because the movie somehow never seems capable of capturing the depth of emotions that a book usually does!..

Set in the fictional world of Panem, the hunger games is a twisted tale of struggle, war, love and government control; spanning across 3 books “The Hunger Games”, “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay”. Panem is a post-apocalyptic war ravaged world where the districts are impoverished; food is scarce and the Capitol, a seat of power rules the 12 districts with a firm hand. Every year, the Capitol conducts the Hunger games as a show of its power and superiority. One boy and girl will be chosen in a reaping ceremony from every district, for a fight unto death in the Hunger Games Arena. There can only be one survivor0, and the rewards for his/ her victory will be shared by the whole district. The Games are the Capitol’s way of entertaining its residents, and showcasing it’s superiority over the districts. An unabashed parade to remind the districts how powerless they are if they ever revolt against the Capitol!.

The story revolves around Katniss Everdeen, a sixteen year old girl who volunteers to take the place of her younger sister in the reaping ceremony of District 12. It is a chronicle of her anger, defiance, fears and apprehensions. A tale of how she incites a revolution in the repressed country of Panem. How she eventually brings it out of the shackles of mindless dictatorship. It has all the elements of teenage heroism which is characteristic of this genre.- a barefaced disregard for authority, a low self-esteem, a fierce loyalty towards loved ones, the self-sacrificing spirit. Katniss Everdeen is all that!

There is bit of a love triangle in the story, but that is overshadowed by much bigger themes. Though a bit too dark for this genre; nevertheless an interesting book. The story is sometimes too simplistic and naive for grown up readers, but makes up for it with its fast moving plot and the ability to capture the attention of readers throughout the 3 books of the series. It is an easy read, and a good way to wind up on your weekend.

I think I’ve read a bit too many of these dystopic world books. Need something cheerful for the next weekend. Any suggestions?

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In Time February 8, 2012

Posted by Afrozy Ara in Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi.
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It was a vacant Sunday evening foreboding a whole work week ahead. With nothing much to do (it’s pathetic to start a book on Sunday evening, unless it’s a thriller and you can get into the groove right from page 1! ) , I stumbled upon the sci-fi thriller – In Time .

The movie is set in a dystopian future when the human race is genetically modified to live only 25 years, after which everyone has to earn Time to survive. And like the ultimate scarce resource, Time cannot be created – it can only be transferred from one person to another. So as the cost of living continues to rise, the poor will die (or “time out” early) while the rich can live on till immortality.

Apart from this ingenious sci-fi theme, In Time has a very simple story. Realizing the inequity caused by the rich hoarding time, while the poor live by the hour, Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) along with Sylvia Weis (Amanda Seyfried) goes on a Robin Hood style mission to steal Time from the rich and distribute it to the poor. Armed with a gun, these 2 guys just walk in, robbing bank after bank. That’s it!

The idea to use Time as a currency is novel, giving a fresh dimension to the Hollywood fraternity’s obsession with different ways to destroy the earth (Aliens, Dinosaurs,  Godzilla and 2012! ) But then, for a story to be compelling it’s not just the idea or the scenes. It has to touch some emotional chord, and somehow I missed that soul in the movie. So, while it does remarkably well on the concept and setting, it is quite weak in plot. And the characters simply don’t stand out.

Amanda Seyfried looks stunning; with all her stunts in designer party dresses and high heels (you can hardly recognize her as one of the Mean girls in the 2004 movie). Cillian Murphy has unforgettable haunting (and sometimes mean) blue eyes! He plays a foil to the hero as a Time keeper, the cop out to catch the Time stealers. The performance by Justin Timberlake is OK, his stint in The Social Network, IMO was much more impressive.

But then, it’s not the actor’s fault. The character simply did not have enough meat! It’s like an awesome concept which was developed in a hurry. The writers just didn’t want to put more effort into it, or add complexity to the plot. The producers wanted to package something and send it out fast. And that’s quite sad for a movie that had a potential to become great (like Inception) but turned out to be “just good”.

Will agree with the IMDB rating on this, it’s 6.6 out of 10.

P.S. I don’t know why, but this movie sort of inspired me to read 1984 by George Orwell. That’s now added to my reading list.