Monday, March 30, 2015

India Appreciation Post

"So far as I am able to judge, nothing has been left undone, either by man or nature, to make India the most extraordinary country that the sun visits on his rounds. Nothing seems to have been forgotten, nothing overlooked."

 ~ Mark Twain

     From the time I was a little girl, I have always had a fascinating love for India. I once had plans to go over to India and work as a missionary (inspired by Amy Carmichael of course) and that still might happen one day. There is such a beautiful and extraordinary richness about India and Indian culture that I find it hard not to be intrigued by it. Well, for one thing, the general beauty of the country is astounding and it's historical landmarks, such as the Taj Mahal and the Golden Temple of Amritsar are just two out of staggering amount of buildings that India is famous for.

The Jungle Book (1994)
     My earliest introduction to India was from Disney's 1994 live-action production of The Jungle Book starring Jason Scott Lee as Mowgli and Lena Headey as Katherne 'Kitty' Brydon. I absolutely love that movie!!! There was something about the wide array of animals to beauty of the Indian landscape as well as Mowgli and Kitty's love story against this vast and wild terrain that I found absolutely breathtaking. It was good way to fall in love with India.

     India (followed by Paris) is probably the top of my travel list. As beautiful and rich in culture as India is, it is also one of the poorest countries in the world and is plagued by war, disease and social division. Mother Theresa herself has been a wonderful inspiration for me to go to India and find a niche for myself to help the people there. 

     I've made it no secret here that I'm a first-wave feminist and female infanticide is a cause that has always (always) been an unjust crime against humanity. The act is practiced all over the world, in America, Great Britain, China and most especially India, due to the progenitor and dowry laws of the country that still is very set in its traditional ways. In spite of the Female Infanticide Prevention Act of 1870, more often than not (and this is primarily seen in poor families; not so much with the middle-class), if a little girl is born, she is thrown out into the streets or even killed. Those who do survive are horrifically abused by their parents and forced into arranged marriages where the abuse becomes more and more rampant if they do not give birth to a son. A horrible truth, but a truth all the same.  

     If I was able to accomplish one goal in my life regarding the preservation of humanity it would be to help end female infanticide in India (as well as other countries). Yes, this infuriates me and it infuriates me even more, when people I know really don't see the horror of it, maybe they do and they are at a lost to really know what to do about it, but all the same, it is a cause that is close to my heart and something I feel called to do. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Bloody Inspiration

Now everytime Taylor Swift attempts to be intelligent, I'll have Newt's classic line playing in my head.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

The shamrock on an older shore
Sprang from a rich and sacred soil
Where saint and hero lived of yore,
And where their sons in sorrow toil.

~Maurice Francis Egen

The Scorch Trials stills!

New images from The Scorch Trials (2015)!!!!

Can you tell I'm getting a little obsessed?

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Maze Runner: Book vs. Movie Characters

     Due to the fact that every copy of "The Maze Runner" was checked out at my library and I really, really want to read this series, I finally just went to Wal-Mart and bought the whole series (all four books) in one set. I read the first book in two days and it was very good! I've already started the second one and that just throws you into a ring of fire from the first chapter.

     Like with most books-to-movies that I've read and watched, I had normally watched the movie prior to, which then leads me to read the books. Having now read the first the book, the movie plot was generally the same and although many things were changed around, they kept to the major storyline. What was different though, was many of the characters personalities, most especially the Gladers. The movie was definitely cleaner than the books; in the movie the Gladers were nice, generous, hardworking boys; bookverse...they are pretty much a bunch of crude, sardonic, pithy morons (I would use another word, but I never know who is reading). Other characters were spot on in spite of physical differences. 

      I'll rate the characters book-to-movie transitions on a scale of 1-10; 1 being least accurate and 10 to being spot-on.

~ ~ ~

     Movie-Thomas, pretty much stuck to the original book character. In both book and movie, he's insatiably curious, but also kind and very sacrificial. The book is told primarily from Thomas' POV, so the reader was able to gauge a better understanding of Thomas, whereas in the movie, it was left up to Dylan's acting (which he did a great job!).  In the book, Thomas is much more vulnerable and emotional; several times he breaks down and cries, regardless of who he's around. In the movie, Thomas is portrayed as having more control of his emotions. That being said, the movie did very well at bringing Thomas to life.

Thomas: 8.5
~ ~ ~

     Teresa is introduced in the second chapter of the book, but spends most of her time in a coma. The book allowed much more in depth characterization of Teresa, because she and Thomas have the ability to speak telepathically (something that was not shown in the movie). Obviously, due to time constraints and proper movie flow, on-screen Teresa had a limited amount of screen time, but the film made the most of it. In both book and movie, Teresa is strong-willed, compassionate and has a deep maternal instinct. She's not an alpha-bitch in any sort of way, but she will stand up to people whom she believes are being unjust and cruel. The only major difference is that the book describes Teresa as stunning beautiful, like a modern day Snow White. Kaya is pretty, but she's not stunning beautiful, but that worked in favor of the film, because they focused more on Teresa as a character to watch and not just a character to look at.

Teresa: 10
~ ~ ~

     He was exactly executed to perfection from book to movie. I mean I don't even need to go into any detail. He was perfect!

Chuck: 10.5
 ~ ~ ~ 

     Pretty much everyone's favorite character and for good reasons. In the book, Newt is the type pf guy you want on your side, no matter the situation. Like a typical Glader, he's sarcastic and flippant, but not nearly as crude as the others and does tend to be (what Thomas describes) a loose cannon; there are times when you can't be sure what he could be up to. The movie brought all those characteristics of Newt to life, but Thomas Brodie-Sansgter, seem to bring a little bit of his own charming of personality to the character. Movie-Newt was similar (maybe a little more practical), but the one major tearaway from the book was his physical appearance. In the book, Newt was described as looking like this while Thomas Brodie-Sangster is so skinny, you could snap him in half. Also, in the book, Newt has a limp, but that was hardly seen and never talked about in the movie.

Newt: 7
 ~ ~ ~

     This character was as far away from book-verse as a character could get! In the movie, Alby is portrayed as being strong and noble; he immediately befriends Thomas and gives him a tour of The Glades, he even throws a party for him. The book, however, Alby is cold and almost hateful toward everyone. He could really care less about Thomas, doesn't believe in partying and sure as hell wouldn't celebrate the arrival of a greenie. I mean I was absolutely shocked beyond belief at how much they had changed him in the movie. When I read the book, I couldn't believe that this was the same character that I saw as so kind and generous to everyone. Why they changed him, I don't know, but I definitely prefer the movie character over the book. Alby...was just not a good character in the book. He had his moments, like when Teresa arrives and the boys are fighting over who's going to be the first on top of her, Alby makes it clear that no one touches her or they face immediate banishment. And he did sacrifice himself at the end, but he had already gone crazy.

Alby: 1 
 ~ ~ ~

     Gally was kind of so-so in book/movie comparisons. In the book, he is described as a bully who will get what he wants, no matter what it takes. He is incredible cruel and a complete narcissist who has it out for Thomas the moment he arrives. There is a pure, undiluted evil to Gally, which made him a great villian in the story. They definitely kept a lot of Gally's brutish behavior in the movie, but made him more likable in the beginning and then watch his descent into utter madness. His storyline was changed dramatically, though. He never tried to take over the Glades in the books; he actually ran away and met up with the others at the former WICKED department. So either way, Gally was Gally. You can take him or leave him as he is.

Gally: 6.5
 ~ ~ ~

     Minho is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters in the series. He's intelligent, but speaks sarcasm like a second language. That was pretty much Minho's trademark attribute, his never-ending stream of sarcastic remarks. Book-verse Minho is a typical Glader that has the same belligerent attitude toward life, but is all business when it comes to the Maze. Similar to the movie-verse, only Minho (like Newt) is more serious and practical. I really would have liked them to add in more of Minho's sarcastic attitude to the movie, but I enjoyed him as a character in both book and movie.

Minho: 8
~ ~ ~

     So, the only real shocker was Alby. While the other Gladers kept their primary personalities intact, there were liberties that were taken with adjusting them and having them portrayed as more mature then they were in the books and to be honest, I liked them better in the movie. They were definitely less annoying and maybe unrealistic, but the major ones like Minho and Newt were well represented and that was good enough for me. Teresa and Thomas, I was glad they didn't change, I just don't know why they didn't add the fact that they were telepathic, because that is a huge discovery in the books and gave great insight into their forgotten pasts.

     Certain events were changed as well, such as Teresa throwing the rocks at the boys and the Glader's party for Thomas were made up for the movie and character storylines like Alby and Gally were practically rewritten. Like I've said with my movie reviewing, don't watch a book-based movie, expecting it to be word for word verbatim. Things are going to be changed, whether due to story flow or time; as long as the whole basis of the book (in this case being the Maze and eventually finding out about WICKED) is strongly intact and has remained the backbone of the story, then you can just watch it as a book inspired movie.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner (2014)

     Although I had heard of this movie (as well as the book series that it’s based on), I really had no desire to see it. That oftentimes seems to be the case with me and movies though. As of right now, post apocalyptic, dystopian storylines are the popular deal right now in the media (“The Hunger Games”, “The Maze Runner”, "Divergent", and “The Giver”) all with the same theme of children defying law and order (sometimes unknowingly) in the desire to better the world they live in. The Maze Runner may differ slightly from that popular plot, but there is the common thread of an ordinary person, called to do extraordinary things whether they want to or not.

~ ~ ~

Dylan O' Brian as Thomas

     When Thomas wakes up in a cage, soaking wet and staring up at a group of taunting boys looking down in on him, you think he would have reason to be afraid. Worse, Thomas has no idea who he is; he doesn't even know his own name. As soon as he gets out of the cage (known as ‘the box’), he makes a dash across a spacious meadow and proceeds to faceplants in front of a mammoth stone wall the stretches around the whole perimeter of farming community these boys call home. Thomas is the new ‘greenie’ in the Glade.
     Within a matter of hours, Alby, the kindly community leader, explains to Thomas about life in the Glade, how a new boy arrives in a box every month, the same box that provides them with food, livestock, and necessities to live on, the ground rules which everyone must abide by, and the common goal of living together to survive, which has worked for the three years they have been there. What Thomas’ mind is really on, though, is the stone wall and what is behind it.

     That wall houses an intricate maze that only a handful of boys, known as runners, go into every morning and study in some hope of solving it and finding a way out. Warned by everyone to not go near it, Thomas cannot stay away and finds himself (almost obsessively) compelled to become a runner and find the secrets of the Maze, even if it means coming face to face with the deadly grievers, a giant spider-like machine that gives a deadly sting to anyone who comes in contact with it. Thomas’ insatiable desire to leave the Glade and daringly take on the Maze leads him and his small group of friends into the outside world, but it is not at all what they imagined nor is what follows afterwards.

    I really, really, liked Thomas! Being a shy (or introverted is probably what we say now) and reserved character is all over popular fiction right now and to be honest, I’m kind of over it, but I enjoyed Thomas. Mainly because of his desire for answers which could lead to his freedom, but also his kindness towards others which molds him into a growing leader.

~ ~ ~

Kaya Scodelario as Teresa 
     The most shocking discovery to ever arrive in the box, a girl. Like Thomas, Teresa doesn’t have any memory of her past, but she does know her name and, oddly, she seems to know him. Teresa arrives with a note that says
She’s the last one.
     Thomas begins to remember Teresa from constant vivid dreams of working in a laboratory and being told over and over again, “Wicked is Good.” As soon as Teresa arrives, all hell breaks loose in the Glade when the grievers attack in the night and the residents must fight for their lives and their home. Thomas and Teresa both believe that they are the cause of this destruction and determine to take on the Maze in the hopes o regaining their past and attaining a new future.

    Teresa came late in the story, so her character wasn't really explored. She is independent, kind and a born fighter. Unlike most female characters in YA literature, Teresa doesn't mind letting the boys take lead as long as she’s in on what’s going on. Hopefully, the sequel will go deeper into who she is.

~ ~ ~

Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Newt
     Alby’s second-in-command, Newt is a practical and sensible voice of reason that is thrust into the role of leadership when Alby is taken by the grievers. Although he is young, Newt is one of the first boys to arrive in the Glade and understands the Glader’s world better than anyone. He’s the person who shows Thomas around and introduces him to the different factions of the community, the builders, the slicers, the med-jacks and the runners.

     When Thomas shows interest in becoming a runner, Newt cuts him off and warns him of the impending dangers of working through the Maze. Overtime though, Thomas proves his skill as a sole survivor in the Maze and Newt grants him a role as a runner. Dissension over Thomas begins to build and Newt is forced to either stay in the Glade and continue leadership in the happy community or forfeit his role as leader and follow Thomas into the Maze.

     Newt was a great character, for the primary reason of being a really nice guy. Sometimes it’s nice to have a solid person in the story that you know you can rely on and isn’t going to fail in the process. He was hardly inexperienced in his role as a leader, but his willingness to set aside his role and follow Thomas is really what made him epitome of a loyal friend and someone who yearns for the truth of who he is.

~ ~ ~

Will Poulter as Gally
     A hard working, but opinionated builder who finds himself contented as a Glader, but rather disconnected with the rabble that Thomas’ arrival has brought to his home. From the second of Thomas’ coming to the Glade, Gally has mistrusted him and believes him to be the cause of the impending accidents that befall the community only a few days later.

     Fed up with Thomas’ disregard for the rules concerning the Maze, Gally plots a rebellion to overthrow Newt and takeover that Glade for himself. Except, he doesn't realize that others are wanting to leave this closed off world and escape into an unknown one, even if it means challenging the Maze.

~ ~ ~

Ki Hong Lee as Minho
     The Keeper of the Runners who is the first person to believe in Thomas’ theories of the Maze. No one knows the Maze better than Minho and no one desires to solve it more. Patient and persistent, Minho has built an exact replica of the Maze which has allowed to discover the secrets and possible ways out. He immediately takes a liking to Thomas and his daringness to take on the Maze, even when he breaks the rules, which ultimately ends up saving his life. Like Newt, Minho is not ruled by ego or superiority, if Thomas is the key to getting out, then by all means, let him lead them out.

~ ~ ~

Wicked Is Good
The Maze Runner (2014)
     Like the Maze, this story is twisting and confusing, and always leaves you with more questions than answers. As a matter of fact, when the movie ends, none of the burdening questions are answered; they are only piled up with more questions. The acting from all the young actors was exceptional, especially from Dylan O’ Bryan and Will Poulter, they were amazing to watch together. Music and cinematography were both beautiful and astounding; the film was actually shot in the beautiful Baton Rouge bayous which really gave the film a genuinely natural feel.

      Even though I haven’t read the books, I am anticipating the sequel as well as keeping a constant lookout for the books at my library. Like most dystopian literature, the story does have the underlying sub-tones of doom and despair (and possibly everyone is going to die), but the alluring mystery of the Maze and the secrets of the children’s pasts all give the genre a new fresh energy.

Vlog #3 - March (Liebster Award)

     Thank you Bella for nominating me for the Liebster Blog award! I decided to combine the tag and my March Vlog into one post and it was a lot of fun to do!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Downton Abbey Confession #19

Mary might be Branson's business partner,

 but he considers Edith his ally. 
 Someone actually sees Edith's genuine worth!

(So suck it Lady Mary!)