Sunday, 29 November 2015

'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2' Spoiler Discussion

As the war of Panem escalates to the destruction of other districts by the Capitol, Katniss Everdeen, the reluctant leader of the rebellion, must bring together an army against President Snow, while all she holds dear hangs in the balance.

Welcome to the second spoiler discussion on Geekie Chic! Today we're going to discuss Mockingjay Part 2, starting with my favourite and not-so-favourite scenes, why I'm mad at the Indian Censor board, what I thought of the surprising kiss towards the end, to what I think about the bomb fiasco.

Please proceed only if you have seen the movie, read the books, or done both. Hopefully, it's both.

My Favourite Scenes
Gah, too many to count! From Katniss' speech in District Two to Annie and Finnick's wedding to Katniss dancing with Prim to the scene with the muttations to Tigris to Snow's 'execution' to Real or Not Real... this movie was so incredible, I can't even think about it again without disappearing into a puddle of tears.

But if I had to pick just one, it'd easily be Katniss and Peeta's talk during the mission, which is such a beautiful depiction of the scene from the books:
"At a few minutes before four, Peeta turns to me again. "Your favorite colour... it's green?"
"That's right." Then I think of something to add. "And yours is orange."
"Orange?" He seems unconvinced.
"Not bright orange. But soft. Like the sunset," I say. "At least, that's what you told me once."
"Oh." He closes his eyes briefly, maybe trying to conjure up that sunset, then nods his head. "Thank you."
But more words tumble out. "You're a painter. You're a baker. You like to sleep with the windows open. You never take sugar in your tea. And you always double-knot your shoelaces."
Then I dive into my tent before I do something stupid like cry."
My Not-So-Favourite Scenes
Well, in the books, when they're trying to get Peeta to think of home without riling him up, they ask Delly Catwright, a fellow District Twelve survivor, to talk to him. This works because Peeta and Delly have always been close, but she and Katniss aren't, which means his memories of her aren't tarnished by the tracker jacker venom.
In the movie, for the sake of the movie fans, they replace Delly with Prim, which sort of doesn't make sense, because a) Peeta and Prim have never actually been shown as close friends, and b) if Peeta ever felt any emotion towards Prim, it would have been because of Katniss. The idea would have never worked.

And I understand that due to time constraints, they couldn't show Katniss, Finnick and Johanna training for the mission. But making Katniss sneak into the goods aircraft just felt... off. I wish they could have at least done a three-minute montage of the training and said something about how Johanna wasn't well enough to go.

Why I'm Mad at the Indian Censor Board
Okay, so the scene I was most looking forward to, the scene I was sure would destroy me, was the one where, after Prim's *sob* death, Katniss returns to Twelve and talks to Buttercup about it. That was the most emotional point of the entire book - no, the entire series - so imagine my disappointment when the scene wasn't in the movie.

"She's not here," I tell him. Buttercup hisses again. "She's not here. You can hiss all you like. You won't find Prim." At her name, he perks up. Raises his flattened ears. Begins to meow hopefully. "Get out!" He dodges the pillow I throw at him. "Go away! There's nothing left for you here!" I start to shake, furious with him. "She's not coming back! She's never ever coming back here again!" I grab another pillow and get to my feet to improve my aim. Out of nowhere, the tears begin to pour down my cheeks. "She's dead, you stupid cat. She's dead."
If you're an international reader, you're probably shaking your head at me, because you did see that scene in the movie, and I bet it was every bit as heart-breaking as the one in the book. Well, I just found out, thanks to the internet, that the reason I - and some other Indian on the IMDb board - didn't get to cry our hearts out some more was because our dear Censor Board banned it.

And why? Probably because Katniss throws some things at him. Well, guess what, Censor Board? They killed huge dogs in the first one. Monkeys in the second - and birds! Overgrown lizards in this one. FELLOW HUMANS, TOO.
But CGI throwing at a cat is not permitted? That's the reason I walked out of that theatre just the teensy bit disapppointed?

Haymitch and Effie?!
Okay, so nobody really cared for Hayffie in the books, because they didn't have that... spark that Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks do in the movies. I guess that's why the Hayffie ship was born. But that ship has now finally become - almost - canon, when those two lovebirds finally kissed at the end. And yes, I know it was a millisecond kiss, and they were just saying goodbye, and blah blah blah, but... it's Hayffie! That's incredible.
"Don't be a stranger."

Damn You, Gale
Okay, so coming to the main point of this discussion: was Prim's death Gale's fault or not?
Well, ever since the first book, I've been anti-Gale, so maybe I'm not the most impartial judge here. But damn him, because the whole plan of bombing the crowd and then making them think they have medical attention and then bombing them again was his idea! He knew Coin would stop at no end to win this war. He knew Prim was a nurse now. He knew she was selfless enough to run to the children no matter what the consequences.
So yeah, he killed Prim. The only thing Katniss ever wanted him to do was keep her family safe, and he couldn't do it.
I hope he's happy being a warrior in District Two, but... Katniss was right. Gale's fire would never have sustained hers.

What did you think of all of the above? If you've seen the movie in a country that doesn't have our censorship values, please, please, PLEASE tell me what happens in the Buttercup scene in explicit detail. Otherwise, the only other person I can rely on is YIFY. And I don't think he'll be able to help me any time soon.
Are you a Hayffie shipper too? What's your favourite Haymitch and Effie moment? Mine would be the one from Mockingjay Part1 ("I think I like you better without all that makeup." "I like you better sober.").
Do you think Gale was right in his decision to fight fire with fire? Do you think the war and the destruction of Twelve took away what little innocence he had? Or had Gale always been ruthless?

If you have anything else to discuss, feel free. There's nothing I love more than a fandom debate. Except, you know, food.

See you around, Geeks. Happy Hunger Games, and may the odds be ever in your favour.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2' Movie Review (Spoiler-Free)

As the war of Panem escalates to the destruction of other districts by the Capitol, Katniss Everdeen, the reluctant leader of the rebellion, must bring together an army against President Snow, while all she holds dear hangs in the balance.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 76th Hunger Games.

It's hard to believe that it's been over three and a half years since the first Hunger Games movie came out. But it's even harder to believe that this franchise - this beautiful, heartbreaking, feels-inducing franchise - is done.

The Hunger Games told us the story of a girl determined to protect her sister from harm. Catching Fire introduced us to the girl determined to keep Peeta alive. Mockingjay Part 1 showed us how the things we love most can destroy us. And Mockingjay Part 2 reminds us that fire burns brighter in the dark.

This movie is pure action, from start to finish, especially since the latter half of the book is dedicated entirely to Squad 451 and their mission to take down the Capitol. Without a moment to lose, Francis Lawrence steers the story back on track and brings us what we've been longing for since the second movie ended: Katniss Everdeen, the girl on fire.

Jennifer Lawrence has some particularly difficult scenes in this one, as do Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth, and I'm glad to say that I didn't see them as anything but their characters for even a second. Even Liam, who's never been my favourite anything, surprised me towards the end.

Some of my favourite quotes from the book have been translated on screen, word-for-word. A lot of scenes are exactly the way I pictured them while reading the series years ago. A few that come to mind include Peeta and Katniss' talk during their mission, the Star Squad fighting the muttation lizards, and (of course) that lovely, lovely epilogue.

James Newton Howard's music weaves in and out of scenes, almost as though it's sewing the entire movie together. I recognised that haunting melody from Catching Fire, the intense score from Part 1, and that romantic tune from the very first Games. His music is probably fifty percent the reason why my tears just wouldn't stop.

Mockingjay Part 2 is easily the most emotionally scarring movie of the lot, as it should be. After all, there are too many deaths, too many betrayals, and too few happy moments... I distinctly remember myself sobbing my heart out during three pivotal scenes, and wiping my eyes every now and then.
Then again, I am a self-professed fandom crier, so don't believe me until you see it for yourself.
On a scale of 1 to Dobby's death, this movie is probably a Dumbledore in terms of frequency and intensity of tears.

I saw this one in 3D - because why would you ever want to watch a movie the regular way? - but in spite of the tremendous amount of action, there wasn't any particular moment when I thought, "Damn, that's some sweet 3D." I actually sort of forgot about the three-dimensional aspect until I had to take off those smudged, scratched, fingerprinted glasses (thanks, PVR).  

I'm going to go with 4.5 stars out of 5 for this one.
Mockingjay Part 2 will likely keep you on the edge of your seat, smash your heart into a billion pieces, and then sew them all together with that perfect book epilogue. Movie fans, you're gonna love it. Book lovers, you'll adore it.

Check out the fantastic trailer below, and don't forget to come back from the theatre for my Spoiler Discussion, where I'll talk about my favourite and not-so-favourite scenes, that surprising kiss towards the end, my opinion about the whole 'bomb' fiasco (this isn't a spoiler: it's a movie about war, of course there are bombs involved!) and the one scene that I wish had been a part of the movie.

This franchise was all I'd ever wanted. Real or not real?

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

What's On My Playlist (November 2015)

Sometimes I come across a band or an artist and fall in love with one of their songs without feeling anything for the rest of the album. And then there are times when I listen to one lyric of one song, and I fall in love with the band itself.

This is one of those times.

Geeks, I have discovered the awesomeness that is Cheap Trick... and yes, seven out of the ten songs on this list are by this incredible band. I discovered them while re-watching one of my favourite chick flicks (John Tucker Must Die) and decided that I simply must find out who the American Beatles are.

1) Diamonds | Rihanna

What a lovely, optimistic song! I feel like if I had to have a theme song to the TV show of my life, it could be this. Although I don't think my life is sophisticated enough for this song.

Favourite lyric:
// At first sight I felt the energy of sun rays
I saw the life inside your eyes //

2) Don't Be Cruel | Cheap Trick

This is such a fun song. I love singing this one in the kitchen or in the shower or just randomly in the middle of the day. Definitely one of my favourite Cheap Trick songs so far.

Favourite lyric:
// Let's walk down to the preacher
Let's say "Hey, I do"
And then I know you'll want me
And you'll know I want you too //

3) Voices | Cheap Trick

I discovered this a little while after all the other ones, probably because YouTube didn't like it enough to recommend it to me. The person who did was drunk Ted Mosby from one of my favourite HIMYM episodes. And if you know which episode it was, I like you.

Favourite lyric:
// I'm a fool again
I fell in love with you again
Please, can I see you every day? //

4) Can't Stop Falling Into Love | Cheap Trick

This song starts out with the singer talking about a girl who's "got legs for miles, but her face looks a mess". That part notwithstanding, the song is pretty darn catchy. Actually, that part might be catchy, too, but I'm not going to admit it out loud.

Favourite lyric:
// It's time that you just can't hide
But I can't control myself, oh, no, no
I know what you've been waitin' for
'Cause love can't be denied, yeah oo //

5) The Flame | Cheap Trick

What a beautiful, aching, hopeful song about love and loss! I can't wait to use this one in future when I'm compiling a playlist for my novel.

Favourite lyric:
// Can't see through this veil across my heart, over you
You'll always be the one
You were the first, you'll be the last //

6) Never Had a Lot to Lose | Cheap Trick

This is such a concert song, and I guess the video shows it well. It's fun, energetic, and would probably make a great karaoke song. Do karaoke bars in India carry Cheap Trick songs?

Favourite lyric:
// I tried to tell you
It's a pain you can't hide
My life's a circus
An insane chain of circumstances //

7) Wherever Would I Be | Cheap Trick

I love songs about that one person who keeps you steady and makes you a better person. Sure, I get that we don't need anybody but ourselves, but having good company, kind friends and loved ones doesn't hurt... right?

Favourite lyric:
// When I'm sure I'll never win
When it's looking like I've lost my faith
I just look at you baby
And I got reason to believe again //

8) Young and Beautiful | Lana Del Rey

I've mentioned previously that Coldplay's Gravity is the song I'll dance to on my wedding. Well, this is an addition to the list. I'm not usually a fan of Lana Del Rey, and maybe it's just because this song was used in The Great Gatsby, and maybe it's because it suits Daisy and Gatsby's relationship so darn well (in spite of that ending and the reveal that people only have their own interests in mind), but I am in love with the lyrics and the melodies and Lana's scratchy, husky voice and everything about this song!

Favourite lyric:
// Dear lord, when I get to heaven
Please let me bring my man
When he comes tell me that you'll let him in
Father tell me if you can //

9) Ghost Town | Cheap Trick

I can relate to this song so much. Sometimes when you're in a crowded room full of the noises of insignifant people, the only thing you feel is loneliness. Sometimes life really does seem like a ghost town without the people that matter to you.

Favourite lyric:
// Livin' ain't been livin'
Since you put me down
Yeah life goes on around me every day,
But it might as well be half a million miles away //

10) Alive | Sia

And Sia does it again! This lyric video is spectacular (I didn't care for the actual video so much), and there's so much pain in this song... but resilience, too. Am I the only one who thinks Alive would make a great addition to the The Hunger Games soundtrack?

Favourite lyric:
This song was written by Sia and Adele, for heaven's sake. It's absolutely perfect. But if I had to pick...
// I found solace in the strangest place
Way in the back of my mind
I saw my life in a stranger's face
And it was mine //

Adele's latest album just released, didn't it? I suppose I'll go take a look now that I'm done with my finals (hooray!). She'll probably feature very heavily on my December playlist. Also, stay tuned for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 review and spoiler discussion, because it's releasing here in THREE. MORE. DAYS.

See you then! :)

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

'Goosebumps' Movie Review

Upset about moving from the big city to a small town, young Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) finds a silver lining when he meets his beautiful neighbor Hannah (Odeya Rush). The teen is surprised to learn that Hannah's mysterious father is R.L. Stine (Jack Black), the famous author of the best-selling "Goosebumps" series. When Zach accidentally unleashes the monsters from the fantastic tales, it's up to Stine, his daughter and Cooper to return the beasts back to the books where they belong.

I remember going to the bookstore as a child and coming back home with stories of monsters and men, werewolves and ghouls, vampires and dwarves, all out to ruin the lives of teenagers. So relatable, right? It's safe to say I was obsessed with the works of R.L. Stine and the many ways in which he could turn non-threatening things like parents, shopping malls and ventriloquist's dummies into my worst nightmares.

And now, years after I've put down his books, comes the movie version of my childhood. No way in hell was I going to skip this one.
So the question is... did it live up to ten-year-old Swati's expectations? Did it remind me of bedtime stories and the thrill of reading horror? Did it give me - pardon the pun - goosebumps?

Thursday, 5 November 2015

'How to Be Brave' by E. Katherine Kottaras: A Book Review

An emotional contemporary YA novel about love, loss, and having the courage to chase the life you truly want.
Reeling from her mother's death, Georgia has a choice: become lost in her own pain, or enjoy life right now, while she still can. She decides to start really living for the first time and makes a list of fifteen ways to be brave - all the things she's wanted to do but never had the courage to try. As she begins doing the things she's always been afraid to do - including pursuing her secret crush, she discovers that life doesn't always go according to plan. Sometimes friendships fall apart and love breaks your heart. But once in a while, the right person shows up just when you need them most - and you learn that you're stronger and braver than you ever imagined.

Note: I received an advance reader copy of this novel from St. Martin's Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

2015 seems to have been the year of heartbreaking ARC novels. From The Thing About Jellyfish to Days of Awe to Everything, Everything, books about death have really hit me hard. And judging by the plot blurb, I expected How to Be Brave to take me by storm, too. 

Did it? Didn't it? Read on to find out.