Monday, April 29, 2013

I Am Legend (revamped!)

I was very interested in reading I Am Legend, having seen the movie adaptation of the novel. I was pleasantly surprised to find, from what I read, that the book and the movie are different enough to be two similar, but stand alone stories. I Am Legend was an incredibly influential short horror story, that changed the vampire genre. He takes the old vampire myth, and adds a twist of science fiction to it.

I am Legend is a novel that I wanted to continue to read (it's not a long read. Can be done in one sitting). There is something about it that had me hooked. I'm not sure if it was the easy to follow, simple, but interesting way it's written, or the need to know the fate of the character. Since Robert Neville is the only character (live character, anyways), we get to delve into his innermost thoughts and feelings. We are completely immersed in his everyday life. His situation is so alien, and unthinkable to us, but to him it's just his normal routine. I think the fact that the scenario is so outlandish and unthinkable makes I am Legend such an interesting read for me. It also may be that I am attracted to stories about other peoples misfortune.

I could see people feeling that the book is a little slow paced, or boring, but I feel like the story may not be for everyone. Just the fact that I am aware of the vampire-zombie's, and the destruction they can cause was enough for me to not be bored by the build up. I was always anticipating something. Waiting for a big, exciting event. I was hanging on the simplest words. There's something about it that just kept me hooked, wanting to delve deeper into Nevilles past, his daily life, the reason for the vampirism.

The story alludes to the use of biological warfare as the cause of the Vampirism outbreak, although no real reason is deeply explored. Neville attempts to give some insight, explaining some of the scientific reasoning for the outbreak, a bacterium he calls vampirus. Neville also connects and believes that the Black Plague could have been caused the an outbreak of the same bacteria. The fact that an abnormal approach to the cause of vampirism was used in this novel was really interesting to me.

Overall, I really enjoyed I am Legend. I can see why many horror authors hold this story to high esteem. It's a fresh take on a classic myth. It was new, interesting, and gripping, but not too over the top. I would definitely recommend this story to another.

The Magicians

The Magicians is definitely not one of my favorites. Being a Harry Potter fan, there was just something annoying about how obvious The Magicians takes from the Harry Potter series (as well as the Chronicles of Narnia. There's a lot taken from there as well). One thing that I didn't mind was they made the concept of magic a more realistic dynamic. When I think of learning magic, I don't think of it being as easy as they show in the Harry Potter series. At least they have to work at it in the Magicians.
That, mixed with the fact that the main character is an annoying, whiney, miserable brat just made for a really unejoyable read. There were a few parts that I began to get into, but I just couldn't handle how much I didn't like the book. Honestly, I didn't even finish it.
A friend of mine read it, and if I recall correctly mentioned that this is actually a series of books. I'm not sure if that's true, but if it is maybe they get better as the series go on, but I sure won't be finding that out. If I couldn't even get through the first one, I don't think I could get through any of the others.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Snow Crash + Blade Runner

Snow Crash (and the movie Blade Runner) were both pretty interesting to me. I kind of have a thing for peoples perceptions of the future and the way they interpret it. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson, is about Hiro Protagonist (ha ha), a Mafia run pizza delivery man. He escapes his reality by spending a lot of his time in the Metaverse. The  is a fully immersive, cyber-space, internet world. People from all over the world can come together and interact using their avatars. The book was riddled with sarcastic humor and puns, which was pretty funny to me.

Blade Runner is about, well, Blade Runners. Blade Runners are a bounty hunter sort of deal. They are sent to Earth to kill Replicants, humanoids that were created by scientists to perform tasks. They were basically created for space slave labor. They aren't allowed to exist on Earth, which is why the Blade Runners are sent in to kill them.

Both of the stories revolve around humans and human interaction. In todays day, we as a society have been quickly shifting into a completely digital world (have you been to LaGuardia Airport? They use Ipads instead of waiters). Snow Crash is a look into what our world could become. People use the metaverse for social interaction, but is it really as satisfying? Is it real? Blade Runner brings up non-humans acting with human emotion. Sometimes acting with more emotion than actual people. It brings up really interesting moral questions.

I think the reason I enjoy both of these stories is because none of us know what the future holds. Being able to kind of peer into it using fiction is exciting and interesting. I can't wait to see where the future takes us.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pan's Labyrinth + Big Fish

Pan's Labyrinth and Big Fish are two of my favorite movies. Pans Labyrinth is an adult fairy tale, blending together the beautiful and the harsh of both reality and fantasy. Set during the Spanish Civil War, a young girl named Ofelia and her pregnant mother get swept away into hiding with army captain Vidal. Ofelia is plunged into a fantasy when she decides to explore a stone labyrinth run by a mythical faun (Pan). She is convinced that she is the lost Princess of their world and undergoes three tasks in order to return to her throne. 

Big Fish is the story of a father (Edward) and son (William). Edward is on his death bed, retelling tales of his life to his son and his wife. The stories in Williams eyes are all tall tales, filled with impossible characters. His life seemed too good to be true. No matter how ridiculous the stories are, the beautiful thing is the way Edward touched peoples lives, as Will comes to find when meeting with a "witch" from his fathers stories.

Both of these movies place fantasy elements into a real life setting. I think one of the reasons I like them so much is for that reason. Sometimes, fantasy and sci-fi can be really over the top. Sometimes that works for me, most of the time it doesn't. This application of fantasy in real life is perfect, because it makes you think about your own life, and makes you insert fantasy into it.

JK Rowling, Harry Potter

I have read every Harry Potter book at least 4 times. I love the series, I love the movies. The story follows the life of Harry Potter, a young wizard, and his journey of self discovery. It all starts when he discovers that he's a wizard. He gets sent off to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he gets into all kinds of hijinks and life threatening situations.
The fantasy world of Hogwarts excites me. I always wishes I could go to school there. I believe that's linked with the fact that I was reading them while I was in school. The books cater to a wide range of ages, and you could even say that is caters to people who otherwise wouldn't be interested in fantasy/sci fi. The books are relatable and easy to digest, riddled with intense adventures, and fantastic characters.

JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit

JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit is the definition of a heros tale, and a very successful example at that. Although The Hobbit, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy are extremely popular, I can't say that I'm the biggest fan. It's not that I dislike them, I just didn't get into them as much as I thought I would.
However, The Hobbit is a great hero's story. Bilbo starts out as a 'weak', timid character, but after accepting his destiny, and with help from his mentor, he grows into the hero he needs to be.
One of my favorite things about the story is the diversity of the characters in the stories world. It was an interesting mix, and I love creating them in my head.

Ju-on: The Grudge

Ju-on is a Japanese horror movie, that was the basis for the American movie 'The Grudge'. The movie is shot as 6 different stories that all seem to connect together because of a haunting spirit that harasses anybody it comes into contact with.
Something about Japanese horror movies has always really bothered me. I'm not exactly sure why, because honestly they can be kind of cheesy. Ju-on was no exception. Although some parts of the movie were so ridiculous I couldn't help but laugh, parts of it bothered me to the point where I would cover my eyes and ears. Something about a ridged, paper white figure crawling towards you with jet black hair in its face really bothers me.
One thing that I really enjoyed about Ju-on is the way they divided the stories into 6 different ones. It kept it interesting and fresh. Sometimes when I watch movies, I zone out, but Ju-on's changing stories kept me interested. Another interesting thing is that the movie doesn't have a conventional ending. They kind of leave it up to interpretation. Gives you a little room for your own creative ending. Overall, Ju-on was/is a great watch, and I would/will definitely watch it again.