The Fifth Wave

On Saturday night, I convinced my action movie loving family to watch The 5th Wave. “It’s an alien invasion movie!” I told them. “You’ll love it!”

At that point I had read, according to my Kindle, 32% of the book. So far, everything had been about the first four waves, the different ways that the aliens were trying to take over Earth. It had real potential and I was so excited.

Look, in hindsight I probably should have read the blurb. Or watched the trailer. I had bought the book based on a friend’s recommendation, and she isn’t usually one for romance.

You can probably guess where I’m going with this review.

I was severely disappointed in this movie. In fact, I read another review that summed it up very, very well.

Everything that comes after the confident, dangerous first half-hour just makes you pine for what could have been as this devolves into ten-a-penny teen-lit sludge.

The first half an hour focused solely on the first four waves, and where Cassie is now. It focuses a little on her life at high school, but mainly to contrast with her life now. There is a mention of a crush, but it’s quickly announced that he’s probably dead (spoiler alert: he isn’t), like the billions of other people who didn’t survive the first three waves. You found out that the aliens were inhabiting humans, and I got really, really excited. It was going to be something a little different from your average alien invasion movie, but was still going to include the action and guns and pure adrenaline that makes them so enjoyable.

Then she gets shot. Evan, a different boy, saves her. And everything goes downhill from there.

Incredibly quickly, The 5th Wave turns from an edgy, exciting, alien invasion film to a sappy, sludgy, chick flick romance.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against chick flicks. I love ‘em. But when I was promised aliens and I don’t get aliens, I get a little annoyed.

Things I Enjoyed

  • They focused on Cassie’s family relationships. She was more concerned with her younger brother’s safety than anyone else’s, which was a nice change.
  • The first half hour, with the descriptions of the first four waves, was exciting and really enjoyable. It was darker and more detailed than most other dystopian films we’ve seen recently, with much more structure and comprehensiveness than say,

Things I Didn’t

  • Evan Walker. Evan Walker was a walking cliché. Over-compensating for misplaced guilt? Yup. More complicated than we could have possibly imagined? Of course! We even get to see him bathing in a lake and chopping wood while Cassie sighs over him.
  • All the terrible tropes this film fell right into.
  • The corny, trying-too-hard dialogue that attempted to be heartfelt and came off as awkward and clunky.
  • The slightly confusing plot.
  • The stereotypes. All the stereotypes.
  • My absolute pet hate – disregard of what would have been a serious injury (bullet wound) and lack of research on how the injury would have healed, combined with a completely unrealistic tiny little scar with perfect stitches (despite being done by someone with no medical training). Also she does that “I’m going to yank out my own IV” thing. As someone who has had multiple surgeries, scars don’t work that way. Neither do stitches. Or IV’s. Please try to be a little bit realistic.
  • It was an alien invasion movie, and at no point do we actually see any aliens.

Surprise, surprise, this film is left wide open at the end, with the audience guessing whether or not Evan is alive. There is no real conclusion, because the movie just isn’t good enough to draw people into a sequel without the need to find out what happens next.

If this movie comprised only of its first half hour, I’d give it five stars. However, having witnessed the rest of this movie (including the line “I wasn’t human, and then I saw you.”), I have to leave it at a generous two.

Good Oil

Cover image from Goodreads

If you’re anything like me, you’re staring at the title above thinking what an odd name.

That was certainly my first thought when I picked this book off the library shelf, but it wasn’t long before I was thinking many other (not positive) things about it.

First of all, the blurb (found on Goodreads);

‘Miss Amelia Hayes, welcome to The Land of Dreams. I am the staff trainer. I will call you grasshopper and you will call me sensei and I will give you the good oil. Right? And just so you know, I’m open to all kinds of bribery.’

From the moment 15-year-old Amelia begins work on the checkout at Woolworths she is sunk, gone, lost…head-over-heels in love with Chris. Chris is the funny, charming, man-about-Woolies, but he’s 21, and the 6-year difference in their ages may as well be 100. Chris and Amelia talk about everything from Second Wave Feminism to Great Expectations and Alien, but will he ever look at her in the way she wants him to? And if he does, will it be everything she hopes?

You may also know the book by it’s original title Love and Other Perishable Items (which had to be changed due to copyright infringement). But I picked this book out with the title Good Oil, which I then found was actually Australian slang  for something good and desired at that particular moment. Apparently I am bad at my own country’s slang.

I so wanted to love this book. It’s by an Australian author about an Australian girl who is my age! I was so ready to relate to this book and to Amelia and her problems. While I may not have a crush on anyone at my job, I hoped she would talk about the other issues that come with starting a job – customers who yell at you, being totally overwhelmed, not wanting to screw-up but not being confident enough to ask questions – but that was my problem with Amelia. She only talks about Chris. The whole novel, that’s pretty much all she discusses. I mean, the poor girl is obviously besotted, but she must have some other interests. I also found her incredibly whiny and I hated the fact that at the end of the book, she leaves Woolworths because Chris does.

Although, admittedly, my issues with Amelia were still fairly minor. She was a little whiny; that I can deal with. She made some bad decisions; so does everyone. She has an all encompassing crush; that bugged me the most, but again, I can deal.

My main issue was with Chris.

Ugh. Talk about a man-child.

First of all, he mentions alcohol in pretty much every. Single. Diary. Entry.

We get it. You’re a 21 year old. You’re probably going to drink rather than deal with your problems. But the amount you’re drinking is definitely a problem at this point. It’s beyond ridiculous.

Also, nothing says “responsible adult!” like buying a six-pack of beer to share with a 15 year old that technically you’re the superior of where you work.

Secondly, he acts as though he’s the perfect example of a feminist, discussing second-wave feminism with Amelia and pretending to be a responsible person because despite the fact that he’s totally attracted the 15 year old he works with, he doesn’t act on. Except then he does, because his ex called him and mentioned she was engaged, so he got drunk, kissed her on the bathroom floor and then turned her down with a rehearsed speech. Oh and let’s not forget the time she almost was raped (after no consent was given and she was drunk) and Chris proceeds to make an announcement about it across the entire store.

To add to the ‘Things Chris Did That Bugged Me’ list;

1) He does cocaine and then sleeps with a 16 year old. “It’s totally legal,” he says. “It’s totally not,” I say.

2) He has a list of “perfect women”, including Amelia if she was “just a few years older”. Surprise, surprise, the only one who wants anything to do with him is the 15 year old who doesn’t know any better.

3) He moves to Japan because he’s basically running away from all the stuff he screwed up in Australia.

4) He refers to his crush as the Kathy-virus. Because every healthy relationship starts with the other thinking of you as a disease.

I don’t know. I just felt that Chris really grated on my nerves with his angsty diary entries that were borderline pretentious. I also found it very hard to be sympathetic for him, because in my mind he abused the fact that Amelia was young and vulnerable and easy for him to manipulate. After a week of ignoring her and poking fun at her for an incident that she’s embarrassed about, when she stands up to him he dismisses her on the grounds of “aww cute, she can get angry”, takes her out for pizza and beer and she’s magically no longer mad at him. It frustrates me that he uses the fact that he’s older and well aware of her crush on him to take advantage of her.

I was thoroughly disappointed in this book. I was hoping for so much more, because usually I absolutely adore Australian YA Contemporaries. Unfortunately though, this book left me frustrated and grossed out by Chris.

I give it 1.5 stars.

 

The Last Five Years

I went on a movie watching binge the other day and after watching The Last Five Years I absolutely knew I had to write about it.

In this adaptation of the hit musical, The Last Five Years is a musical deconstruction of a love affair and a marriage taking place over a five year period. Jamie (Jordan), a young, talented up-and-coming Jewish novelist falls in love with Cathy (Kendrick), a Shiksa Goddess and struggling actress. Their story is told almost entirely through song. All of Cathy’s songs begin at the end of their marriage and move backwards in time to the beginning of their love affair, while Jamie’s songs start at the beginning of their affair and move forward to the end of their marriage. They meet in the center when Jamie proposes. (Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes)

Upon finishing this movie, I wanted to scream about it from the rooftops. I kind of did, messaging my best friend about it with increasing frequency and many many capital letters and exclamation marks. It was amazing – the music, the acting, the characters, the lyrics. Everything. The lyrics were comedic and raw and real and painfully astounding. Some of my favourites included;

“Perfectly balanced, then I start making conscious, deliberate mistakes”

“Why am I trying so hard, these are the people who cast Russel Crowe in a musical”

“I wrote a story and we changed the ending”

There is no doubt the whole show is genius. They songs are perfectly balanced and the concept is original and very well translated into a movie (albeit sometimes clunky in transitions).

However, as I was explaining it to my friends that evening over a pizza dinner I realized that the ending is slightly problematic.

You know from the beginning of the movie that their marriage ends in divorce, as you listen to Cathy (played by Kendrick) sing “I’m Still Hurting”.

However, the end of the movie places nearly all of the blame on Cathy for the breakdown of the marriage, despite the multiple affairs Jamie (played by Jordan) has.

The song, titled “Goodbye Until Tomorrow/I Couldn’t Save You” features Cathy at the beginning of their relationship, singing about how she doesn’t want to say goodbye, and Jamie at the end of their relationship, leaving their shared apartment with all of his belongings.

He sings about how he couldn’t save her from herself and her self-doubt. And I will admit – she had a lot of self-doubt. And it did damage their relationship. She was jealous of the success Jamie garnered with his writing while she struggled to make it on Broadway. She wanted him to fail so she would feel like less of a failure, which he (rightly) refused to do, singing “I will not fail so you can be comfortable, I will not lose because you can’t win”.

But at no point in the final song does he sing about the affairs he has and the strain this has on their relationship. They are both equally to blame and I find it very frustrating and damaging that the final song in the movie places all the blame on her.

Overall, I would still give it 3.5/5. I loved the music (enough to buy the album for my phone, which I never do), I loved the acting, I loved the characters. I loved that they weren’t perfect and I loved how realistic their flaws were. I just hated how the ending panned out, and I wish they’d explored the strain his affairs had on their relationship more.

(This post was written before changes to my blog, when all posts where categorized by “sparks”. Any and all references to Katy/Everyday/Travelling/Life Sparks or Sparkszine are as a result of this)

Mockingjay

So it took us nearly a month, but my friends and I finally got out act together and went an enjoyed an afternoon at the movies, watching Mockingjay Part 2!

Warning: This post contains spoilers – please do not read any further if you don’t want to know about it.

I have to say, I was less then enthused. I didn’t come out of it raving, the way I did about Part 1; in fact, I didn’t even come out crying the way I did with Part 1. Mockingjay was not my favourite book in the series and I felt that the ending was rushed and choppy. I also felt that Prim’s death was a cheap plot twist, there to shock viewers and readers alike, but it had absolutely no relevance to the story. If she had died and that was what prompted Katniss to become the Mockingjay, then maybe I could understand it, but I hated the way she died. It was pandering to a fanbase that wanted to be shocked. To be entirely honest, I had hoped they would rectify at least the rushed ending in the film, but they didn’t. If anything, it was more confusing then the book. I took a friend with me to watch it and she had to clarify whether Prim and Snow actually died.

I also felt that they didn’t split the movies very well. There was a lot of action in the first one, and a lot of pointless moving between districts and useless conversation in the second. It felt long and dragged out and difficult to really continue to pay attention to after a while.

I do also have to admit that I went into this movie expecting to come out a mess; The Hunger Games are important to me and the book was full of very raw emotion. However I didn’t feel nearly as connected to the characters in the movie; Katniss annoyed me and while my heart broke for Peeta, it certainly didn’t feel as gut wrenchingly horrific as it did reading the books. Katniss came off as cold and distant, which I understand she is, but you just can’t translate the emotions she was feeling in the book into a film. While I understand this and understand that this is why I’ll never love a film more then a movie, I still came away disappointed.

So I think in future, I’ll just stick to the books.

(This post was written before changes to my blog, when all posts where categorized by “sparks”. Any and all references to Katy/Everyday/Travelling/Life Sparks or Sparkszine are as a result of this)

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

This is Jesse Andrews’ first book, and if he releases any more, I’ll certainly be on the lookout, because I’d love for him to redeem himself.

But I have to say, I was very disappointed in this book. I was hoping for something akin to Fault In Our Stars I suppose – something that would maybe leave me a little upset and certainly satisfied, but probably not having any grand realizations about my life. Having never had cancer, or known anyone with it, I certainly didn’t expect for this book to change my life in any way.

It did change my life.

It made me realize that I shouldn’t waste time on books that I don’t enjoy, or read something just because it’s being made into a movie.

The thing about this book that annoyed me was that it kept putting itself down. Over and over, the narrator, Greg, would talk about how it was “brain punchingly inane” or that you should “smack yourself in the face a couple of times right now, just to complete the outstandingly stupid experience that is this book”. You have to have confidence in whatever you do, and writing a book is included. I understand that this was a character trait – at no point in the book could Greg take a compliment well – but that’s another thing. Greg annoyed me.

He was whiny and miserable and at no point in the book did I feel any kind of connection to him. He was awful to the girl who had cancer – there is a difference between treating the person who is terminally ill the same as always and just plain trying too hard to be normal and coming across like an idiot. Greg always crossed that line.

I have to give credit to the author. The book was formatted cleverly. Greg wishes to be a film maker, and so most of the dialogue was written in script form, which was clever and new and kept me engaged throughout the book but that was it’s only redeeming factor.

It was a book about a girl with cancer, that tried too hard to be a “different” book about a girl with cancer. It tried too hard to be The Fault In Our Stars, minus the life changing revelations. And it read that way.

My opinion is only mine, and if you love this book, that’s great! Go ahead and love it, that’s your call. Everyone loves different things and personally, I just did not enjoy this book. But you might and that’s fine.

I would rate Me and Earl and the Dying Girl 1/5.

(This post was written before changes to my blog, when all posts where categorized by “sparks”. Any and all references to Katy/Everyday/Travelling/Life Sparks or Sparkszine are as a result of this)