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Monthly Archives: May 2014

It was inevitable that I would see the new X-Men movie.  I haven’t seen all the recent Marvel movies, nor indeed even all the recent X-Men movies.  But once upon a time, my introduction to comic books (at least insofar that I actually started buying them in earnest) came via the X-Men cartoon.  And the first season of that show peaked with the inclusion of (a version of) the story.

As anyone who has seen movies based on other media would expect, there were some significant changes to this story.  Even the cartoon series referenced above was a significant change from the original comic storyline.  At its heart, though, the story is the same – an X-Man travels backwards in time to prevent a trigger for what will become a global catastrophe.

I would certainly have had a more nuanced appreciation if I had seen the recent “X-Men First Class”, as this definitely figured in the movie.  I thought, though, that the movie remained relatively true in spirit to the parent material.  Conveniently for the filmmakers, the end result of the movie is that the events of the original trilogy (which were released from 2000 – 2006) to have no longer happened.  This seems to be a recurring ploy for filmmakers lately (for example Star Trek).

I only have two complaints with the movie.  The first is an old complaint on the casting of Hugh Jackman.  He does a respectable enough job with the character – my issue isn’t with his acting.  In the comics, Wolverine is all of 5′ tall – so a 6′ tall version is a little off-putting (though it does not have a meaningful impact on the story).  The second complaint is perhaps even more frivolous.  **Spoiler Alert**  In the movie, magneto uses metal railroad tracks, which he extrudes into wires, to reprogram the sentinels . . . Perhaps its pointless of me to expect a movie about people who gain psychic, telekinetic, and other strange powers from a simple genetic anomaly to be technically sound, but this one stretched my suspension of disbelief.

If you do go see the movie, be sure to stay until the end of the credits.  There’s a teaser for the next movie, which has me a bit excited.  If you’re an X-Men buff, you’ll recognize the character shown.  If not, have no fear, a little Googling will show you everything you need to know.

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A portion of the books I choose to read are done specifically because they are popular.  This makes me feel terribly unenlightened, but at the same time, as a writer, it’s important for me to understand what is popular.  I’d like to believe that the most wildly popular books are also the best written, but this is usually not the case.

And so I found myself reading Divergent, by Veronica Roth, after its recent theatrical release.

The book is about a girl toughing it out in a dystopian future.  Apparently that’s in vogue right now.  There is enough different in the setup not to dwell too much on whether or not this work took its cue from the Hunger Games.  Besides, any time you compare works in the same genre, you’re bound to find similarities.  What I noted, though, was the similarities between Katniss and Tris.

Both heroines find themselves in tough situations where they are pushed to violence.  What surprises me, though, is how both brush aside these acts.  I understand that for both of them, these are intended to be unavoidable or emotionally charged.  I have trouble seeing it that way, though.  Specifically, at one point Tris tells a friend (who has admittedly given her reason for anger) that if he comes near her, she’ll kill him (?!).  At another time, she shoots a friend (who is zombie-fied) in the head.  She couldn’t have stopped him without killing him?  Seriously?  Admittedly, Tris shows some remorse for this, but doesn’t even think whether she had another option.

I certainly accept that literature is filled with anti-heroes, with moral ambiguity, and with otherwise good people who make bad choices.  We writers try to make our stories (even sci-fi/fantasy) seem real, after all.  But both Tris and Katniss are, as far as I could tell, intended to be relatable heroines, not anti-heronies.  If poor choices are made in the heat of the moment, shouldn’t this be reflected in the writing?

In the end, I did find Tris more likeable, and less self-centered, than Katniss.  Her shifting moods and varying application of selflessness was perplexing, though.  I haven’t yet been able to tell whether this is a character quirk, sloppy writing, or because she is “Divergent” – which in the context of the story might be an acceptable explanation.

I liked the book enough that I will probably continue the series, but I certainly wasn’t spellbound enough to be in a hurry.