Category Archives: Movies

Ender’s Game ON

Okay, I know I made myself not update my blog in all this time because, well, I borked it always trying to clear out revisions and whatnot from the MySQL database (yeah, don’t do that DELETE a,b,c thing, although I don’t know if that’s what caused my comments to stop working on my custom theme), and I was trying to motivate myself to move it over to jeidai.com and clean everything up, but I really had to write this down somewhere. Nostalgia, oh hey, re-meet my blog.

Holy shnikt, holy shnikt, I finally saw Ender’s Game! After all these years! (Okay, the movie is not even three years old, but I first read the book in 2002/2003.) I loved most of it. Just seeing the story on the screen. Like, it just looks so good! Not what I saw in my mind reading the book, but it kept me watching. (Yes I have a bad habit of playing my iPad games while watching tv, missing a lot of nuances of movies and tv shows. But…it keeps away that braindead feeling after sitting for hours just…watching.)

My adrenaline was even going at the final battle scene. Although I recorded the movie on a channel with commercial interruptions, so gah, the impact may have been lessened by me having to focus on forwarding through commercials. (So many commercials.) Ugh.

But I can see how the movie wasn’t that great and how it didn’t do well. I liked it because I read the book and could fill in the whole (or most of the) story. It was a bit rushed, skipped over a lot of stuff (only two Battle Room scenes? *tear*), and they dropped the whole Valentine/Peter and Locke/Demosthenes storyline. (Sorry, I don’t know if I matched the writers’ names up correctly, haven’t read the books in years.)

Probably a lot of my complaints and questions can be answered with, “it wouldn’t have worked in a movie format,” but I will still complain and question.

  • Did they switch around the game storyline? Ender beat the giant the first time he played in the movie. He just…went straight to killing. Did not like. I want more psychology, more with the Formics.
  • Ender’s first Battle Room game under his command, they already had the rope with them. Buh. Not logical!
  • Petra wasn’t as brash and hard and, well, rock-like, as I remembered. She seemed more like… just a face, just a placeholder. And they slimmed down the storyline in Command School where it was so grueling that Petra fell asleep and had to be taken out, and how Ender relied on her too much.
  • I don’t know why, but I really wanted to see the little storyline about Graff becoming a nobody once they got to Command School. It would have served no purpose in the movie, but it kind of hinted at the whole conspiracy of what was going on, the head of Battle School going off with a kid (The Kid) to Command School just to become an old, unimportant man?
  • I liked how they designed the Formics in the movie. In my head they’re really creepy, huge ant-things. But in the movie the queen is almost…pretty? Like she’s not a completely scary alien we have to wipe off the face of the…universe.
  • Mazer Rackam was…Maori? (I can’t remember the book.)
  • Okay, why was there a dying queen there on the asteroid at the end of the movie? Booooring. There’s no way she could have stayed hidden with humans scurrying all over it anyway. I wish they’d focused a bit on Ender’s communication with the Formics too.
  • I saw the little nods to potential future sequals. I’m kind of sad we won’t see them. I’m partial to Bean anyway, having read his story first. ;P And I really like Speaker for the Dead. (Not that I’m saying they should make it into a movie.)
  • Who the heck was Bernard? (Not a complaint about the movie, I just can’t remember this character in the book.) They kept mentioning him…

In the end, I think this just means I need to reread the whole series again. I haven’t read Ender’s Game/Shadow since 2009, and I haven’t read the whole series since 2005. I think this time I’ll read them in chronological order. (Last time was Ender-focused, EG/ES/Ender series/Bean series.) (And whaaaat there’s a new Ender book and a new Shadow book? Must investigate if these are worth paying for…)

(Also, hah, this took me over an hour to write. Oh blogging, never change.)

Hercules

About two years and a month ago the Disney animated movie Hercules was playing on tv. The first time I saw the movie, at my cousins’ house on VHS back when the movie was still new, I really did not like it. I thought it was absolutely disgusting and gross and not at all pretty pretty princess like Disney animated movies should be. I also thought at the time that Disney was terrible and getting worse, the normal opinion of your average cynical teen.

That was how it stuck in my memory all that time. But when I saw it was going to be on tv, I decided to watch it again, see if it lived up to my memory or if I should give it some slack. (I even bothered to take notes on my thoughts for future reference, if anyone’s wondering why I’m writing this two years and one month later.)

My first impressions, I like the Greek art that’s apparent in parts of the movie, and how that style inspired other parts of the movie as well. It reminds me of Sleeping Beauty, how that movie was animated to look like medieval art.

I like the muses, even back when I first saw the movie I liked the muses. I did back then what I always do, I analyzed the girls’ outfits and hair styles and picked my favorite ones. ahaha. (My favorite back then: the one with the long hair, of course.)

I also, surprisingly, like Hades. The first time around I didn’t like him, for reasons I can’t remember. Was he too loud? Was it because he was the Greek equivalent of Satan? I don’t know. I can’t remember why I like him now, either, since I didn’t write notes on that… Maybe he was funny.

The second viewing, I found that I don’t like Hades’ two sidekicks. One guy’s voice just grates on my ears. (Oh man, I’m looking through Wikipedia at that actor’s filmography, and he was the sandman in Are You Afraid of the Dark?! So that’s where I remember his voice from. Creeepy.) The both of them I find to just be bumbling idiots, not funny at all but annoying.

Philoctetes, I never liked him. He’s ugly and annoying and gross and I don’t enjoy his scenes at all. blegh.

Another complaint I had when I was a kid was that Disney mangled the Greek mythology! I did not like the old stories being changed just to fit the current story. For example, why is Hera all nice and motherly with Hercules? She isn’t even his mom in Greek mythology! Now, though, it’s just a minor complaint. After all, I did decide to take movies at face value. Of course it wouldn’t have fit into Disney’s storyline that Hera, who is most undeniably Zeus’ wife, isn’t Hercules’ mom. There has to be a bad guy, and it can’t be Hercules’ own “mom”!

Now for my favorite part of the movie, now and even back then: Megara! And her song “I Won’t Say (I’m in Love).” Megara wasn’t like other female Disney characters at all, and that’s exactly why I liked her then and now. She was sassy, cynical, and she wouldn’t have cared for anyone’s wounds (Belle) or wanted to sacrifice herself for others (Pocahontas, Mulan). And her voice is so un-Disneylike as well, it’s so low, not like a certain high-voiced sixteen-year-old (Snow White).

Overall, the plotline is pretty standard fare for Disney, and some characters I like, some I detest. I don’t think of this movie with distaste anymore, though. And I don’t feel guilty about liking Megara and her song while hating the rest of the movie, because I don’t hate it anymore!

(But what’s number one on my disliked Disney movie list now…?)

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

The novel, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, came out at a time when I visited the young adult section of the bookstore more out of nostalgia, and to pick up books in series I already owned, than of any genuine interest in the genre. I remember not understanding the title of the book. (My reading comprehension still isn’t up to par, after all these years, haha!) Was it some sort of fantasy novel? This pair of pants went on journeys like Frodo and Gandalf? Nope, just another teen girls’ novel, not interested.

Years later, a movie came out based on the book, and I knew who two of the four stars were, Alexis Bledel and Amber Tamblyn. I’d seen bits of America Ferrera in the Disney Channel movie but didn’t know about her until I started watching Ugly Betty. I didn’t know who Blake Lively was until after I saw the movie, when she started Gossip Girl. So I definitely had to see the movie, I loved Alexis and Amber, and after Ugly Betty I especially wanted to see America in a different role.

I thought the movie was a fun watch, but not much else. Then the second movie came out, which of course I had to see as well. After I saw that movie, I felt I had to read the series since I didn’t know how much the movies were channging the story. I just thought it was a disservice to see only the movies and not read any of the books.

So I bought the book used from Amazon, which ended up costing about the same if I’d bought the book new from a local bookstore. Bah!

It being an easy read, I finished the book in just a few days. My thoughts? A fun story, if you’re expecting a young adult book geared for girls, which I was.

The movie was pretty faithful to the book. As faithful as can be, going from a medium that works in the head to a visual medium. Lena’s story was changed the most, but honestly, you can’t fit underage nudity into a PG-rated film. Besides, I think the film version of Lena’s story is cute. It’s very teen movie/chick-flick/rom-com, whatever you want to call it.

The problem now is that I want to read the rest of the series, considering the second movie skipped the two next books and went straight for the fourth storyline! But I don’t want to spend $8 on books I’ll read only once. Maybe I should look into the power of the County of L.A. public library system and get the book from another libary lent to my local library…

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Star Trek

I saw Star Trek today with my parents and my brother. It was so cool! Spock was really great. I think I liked watching him more than Kirk.

My Star Trek backstory: I was a Star Wars kid. My brothers and I watched my dad’s VHS tapes of the original trilogy many, many times. My parents watched both Star Wars and Star Trek, although Mum favored the latter. She thought it was more creative than Star Wars, it could do so much more, explore different ideas. I think she saw the original run on television. Both parents watched The Next Generation and Voyager, and Daddy watched Enterprise. I watched TNG as a kid, saw some episodes of Voyager, and I’ve seen a couple episodes of the original series. Haven’t seen any of the movies. Except for the newest one, of course. Yes, this was my first Star Trek movie. *grin*

So back to the movie. Figuring out who the characters were was fun; since I’ve only seen an episode here and there I only really knew Kirk, Spock, and the doctor. But from popular culture I’ve picked up Scotty, Uhura, and Sulu, and I learned about Chekov from Futurama. *grins* I didn’t figure out who the other guy driving the Enterprise was until I heard him pronounce Vs as Ws. XD

I’m not sure that I like knowing who some of the actors are though. While seeing Zoe Saldana was a delightful surprise, I see her more as Zoe Saldana, not Uhura, which kind of ruins things… It doesn’t help that I haven’t really seen Uhura in the tv show, so it’s more Zoe playing a part for me, not Zoe playing this character that I should know.

Another big surprise was Simon Pegg! I didn’t recognize him until his second camera shot, and even then I wasn’t sure until Mum whispered to me, “Hot Fuzz,” and that she was sure it was him. I’ve never seen Scotty in the show … or at least I’ve seen him portrayed in Simpsons and Futurama more often than in Star Trek which probably isn’t a good thing, heh. But I really liked the character. I really liked Simon Pegg. XD I never did see that movie where he was playing that running character.

Watching John Cho was fun, but I kept remembering him in his Harold (& Kumar) role, and yeeeah that sort of really ruined the role for me. murrr. But again, I haven’t seen much of Sulu in the show so I was watching him playing a character, not playing someone I should know.

During the course of the movie I realized, hey, Star Trek was really cool, it had an Asian character in it! Sort of like Whoopi Goldberg’s story about loving Star Trek and seeing a black woman on tv. Because I remember early in the movie there was another Asian character, who I think got blown up, but regardless he was there, being Asian.

Normally I hate being so ethnocentric, I mean why should it matter what ethnicity or color someone is, right? We should all be colorblind. But I’ve been thinking about Asians in the media more and more, starting from the time when I heard about Avatar characters in the live-action movie being cast as white people. (Or at least all the good guys.) Um, nice way to whitewash a story which is so very influenced by Asian cultures.

I’d read Derek Kirk Kim’s blog entry about Avatar and his story about how he and his brother loved acting, but never tried to make it in Hollywood because they didn’t want to get stuck with stereotypical roles. Then when I linked it online, someone told me her husband quit acting for the same reason.

While I didn’t care at the time about the lack of representation of Asians in the media (I don’t need to see “myself” on the screen because … well I just don’t, I’m secure enough to not need it), I realized oh, it’s not just about me, there are Asians out there who would like acting jobs but can’t get them because … they’ve got Asian faces. Hollywood (rightly?) thinks that most of America can’t connect to an Asian face, they need to see a white (or sometimes black) face to really empathize with the character.

(Mum is of the opinion that Hollywood isn’t really as liberal as it seems, because everyone is white. There are some black actors, a handful of Asians, very few of any other ethnicity. No one is willing to use non-white actors, lest they put off everyone else in the industry. But I digress.)

This week I saw a new episode of Without a Trace that had Chinese people in it! When I saw the previews I was intrigued, it’s not often there are Asians on tv. (I still remember that episode of Cold Case that was about the Japanese internment camps, which I will not comment about here.) I stepped in about 20 minutes into the episode, and I was really happy to see Asians speaking English with American accents, like most Asians that I know! But the more I watched the episode, the more it was about a Chinatown scandal and about being ethnically Chinese.

So … wow. Chinese people only go missing when it has to do with being from China, huh? Or in the case of the other episode, Japanese people only go missing when it involves the internment camps.

I asked Mum, why are Asians in the media always portrayed as being ethnically Asian, not as Americans with Asian faces? She said it’s because Hollywood just doesn’t get it, they don’t know what Asian Americans are really like, they can only think in terms of country of origin.

I guess not only do Asians not make it as actors, they don’t make it as writers either?

I put forth all of that in order to, in a roundabout way, explain why I really love Star Trek and how it’s so cool because it had an Asian character in it! Now I feel like watching the original Star Trek series just so I can know those characters. I will just have to grit my teeth and bear it whenever Shatner’s on screen…

edit@10pm, August 9, 2009: I found an entry someone wrote on Livejournal about the character Uhura on Star Trek that I really enjoyed reading and thought I’d link it here.

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making up an entry about Coraline

I saw Coraline on Saturday, in 3D!! It was amazing! I definitely liked how nothing flew out at me (although there was a needle poking out at the beginning…)

Random comments…

Not sure about the boy character. Maybe he served as a person for Coraline to talk to in the movie.

The 3D aspect was tiring my eyes after a while. It didn’t help that either A) my ears are crooked or B) my eyes are crooked, so I couldn’t quite see the screen clearly without holding up one side of the 3D glasses. (Also, the 3D glasses took an instant dislike to my eyeglasses and kept trying to put distance between them.)

But I still think it was worth the $5 seeing the movie in 3D. :D Mum and I went to see it in the new, fancy, higher-priced theater which charges about $3 more, and then there was a $2 charge for use of the 3D glasses.

I really liked the 3D-ness of the movie. It was definitely subtle, but pulled you into the movie. But because my eyes are funky somehow, it hurt to look at anything too “close” to me. (The closer something is to the audience, the more blurry it is, and the more I have to cross my eyes to focus on it…it’s weird. I was also never any good at those Magic Eye 3D picture books, either.)

Going into the theater I saw these preschool-aged kids, and I sort of worried for them. But I shouldn’t have. Kids these days are so jaded, nothing can faze them. Either that or they were just covering their eyes during the movie, which I couldn’t see.

Dude! That movie was so creepy! I was seriously feeling anxious about Coraline and even myself! And I don’t normally get scared in movies unless it’s in my face—you know, people or things jumping out of the dark, some maniac running toward the viewers with a bloody hacksaw…

The Other Miss Forcible? (Or was it the Other Miss Spink?) Hi-larious. She got a lot of laughs in the theater.

The Other Mother’s real form … creepy. And they didn’t come up with it until near the end of production?! Totally worth it. I would hate to ever meet her face to face.

The Other Father and all the other people in the Other Mother’s world … oh my gosh, I felt for them, really I did.

I loved the movie. :D Even if it didn’t look the way I pictured it in my head (Dave McKean wins with me, hands down). It’s just a different take or interpretation of the story. Definitely buying when it comes out on DVD. Which reminds me, I still have to buy Stardust. O_o