liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[personal profile] liv
Reason for watching it: I went to the cinema with friends including a teenager, and it was his choice. It would probably have been quite low down in my own priorities, given it's the middle of a trilogy where I've neither seen the first nor read the books, and YA dystopias aren't terribly my thing anyway. But I was very glad to join my friends on their cinema trip.

Circumstances of watching it: I'm working from home today, which meant for once I was in Cambridge Sunday evening, and was able to join the party going to the Light cinema in the complex behind the station, along with [personal profile] jack, [livejournal.com profile] ghoti and her oldest.

Verdict: Insurgent is watchable even if it's not the kind of thing I'm usually into. I also agree with [personal profile] jack's review quite a lot.

I've seen a fair number of rants about Roth's Divergent trilogy, and yes, it is a stupid dystopia where oh noes, bad things happen to pretty white people and the world-building makes no sense whatsoever. And it's too too obvious to have the evil régime persecuting people for having more than one talent / trait, so that the despised outsider is without even trying sympathetic to the audience given she's an outcast precisely because she actually has a personality, not to mention being super awesomely multi-talented.

At the same time, there's something heartening about the fact that it is a big blockbuster movie made out of a book that's explicitly aimed at teenaged girls, where the Chosen One is female and so on. [livejournal.com profile] ghoti was saying that the unexpected success of Twilight meant that Hollywood suddenly woke up and started considering adaptatations of books written for and read by teenaged girls as a viable market. So it's a big dumb action movie that's mostly pure marketing, but it's no worse than any number of films that are fanservice for young men with disposable income.

I was able to enjoy it by not merely suspending disbelief but by approaching it with no disbelief whatsover, simply ignoring any questions of plausibility, from the fact that there's shiny high tech futuristic electronics and lots and lots of shooter game style guns but no evidence of any industrial base, to the way that everybody's far too clean and well made up for the circumstances they're supposed to be in. There's some nice post-apocalyptic decaying city landscape and generally rather nice visuals and cinematography.

We ended up going to the 3D showing, which is something I've never experienced before. I ended up feeling quite doomsick, though tbh I still don't feel one hundred percent today so I'm not completely convinced it was the 3D screening's fault. Whether or not it make me sick, it wasn't an example that convinced me that 3D films are worth it; yes, you did see stuff apparently projected in front of the screen, but everything was slightly blurry and I think my brain is better at interpreting flat, but rather higher definition pictures. Also lots of shots looking down from the tops of high buildings, and I'm not especially afraid of heights but I don't find that a particularly pleasurable experience.

I did like Tris as a protagonist, she really gets all the hero tropes, the impulsiveness, the character growth, the angst about people who have been killed because she wasn't yet awesome enough to save them, the boyfriend who's very much her reward or at best side-kick. She does get rescued a bit more often than perhaps a male hero would, but still. I particularly liked the bit where she makes the morally right choice to turn herself in when the enemy threatens to keep killing the outlaws who are harbouring her until she's captured, and the narrative is clearly sympathetic to this, even though her boyfriend, Four, makes an impassioned speech about he loves her and therefore her life is more important than everybody else's. I did have a bit of a hard time telling the secondary male characters apart, particularly the brother Tris is trying to protect and the "friend" who is mostly obnoxious and often treacherous.

Still, dumb movie or no I did agree with the teenager in our party that the film shares the typical flaw of YA dystopias that it shoehorns in a rather unnecessary romance arc when the saving the world from the evil government should be much more interesting. I was rather appalled to learn that her fear of intimacy in the books has been transmuted into a fear of rape *eyeroll*, not to mention the gratuitous tentacle rape imagery in the scene where she's captured by the evil government.

I was also pleased by the structure, cos despite being the middle of a trilogy, Insurgent actually has a proper climax. Apparently the three parts are more or less three standalone novels in the same setting, so it didn't feel middle-ish at all.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-23 02:39 pm (UTC)
jack: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jack
Yay, glad my review helped :)

the morally right choice to turn herself in when the enemy threatens to keep killing the outlaws who are harbouring her until she's captured

I'm still mulling over what I said about this last night. "Should you do one smaller bad thing to prevent a larger bad thing" is basically utilitarianism, which intuitively made sense to me. But so much fiction is full of examples of NOT doing that, I feel there's good reasons not to even though I find it hard to work out exactly when.

I think one is, if you give in to someone's threats, they have every incentive to just keep on doing the same thing. It's also common that the protagonist is in a position of knowledge and authority where if they give themselves up their followers will likely be screwed, even if not immediately, though that wasn't exactly the case here.

And I feel like there's some more nebulous reason, like, saying "we never do this" makes it more likely people will accept it. I guess like the pacifism -- whether to avoid violence even in defending yourself or someone else, it seems bad, but may have a good effect overall, but you're not sure...

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-23 05:43 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] flippac
Only applying non-iterative game theory to real life produces bad results?

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-23 02:49 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] flippac
I don't know if it's applicable here, but I think romance arcs do belong in YA dystopias: how the hell to make relationships work under pressure is a topic a lot of us have to deal with for real, and most who're going to hit it younger than I did. That said, navigating the balance between "nobody can be expected to do it in this situation" and modelling what might actually work is tricky.

One of the things I appreciate about Seanan McGuire's Velveteen stories is we see how it didn't work and what happens when everyone's grown up a bit more instead, with the fantastic elements being used to talk about why it is we get to see a better outcome than the merely-appalling elements would normally allow. But then, I'm not really in a place where I need more dystopias these days - I'm not waiting for the big knocks any more.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-23 06:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ghoti.livejournal.com
I can't speak for Liv, but teenager says that it's fair to summarise his position as 'some people are asexual; get over it'. He adds that some people don't want to see kissing slammed in their faces all the time, which also seems fair to me.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-23 06:49 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] flippac
*nod*. I feel differently about the former than the latter - grey-asexual myself, and most probably not aromantic.

I certainly don't think it's a mandatory thing for the genre to explore and asexual representation is certainly something that needs to exist - preferably for the entire asexual spectrum. It's certainly possible to be clumsy with such arcs. There should definitely be material where it's not a big part or just plain not present. But the phrasing above reminds me rather of how those of us who're non-normatively romantic are and especially were often treated.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-23 07:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ghoti.livejournal.com
Yes. He gets very frustrated at the 'straight monogamy is the norm and all we will show', which is a lovely thing to watch grow but I wish I could give him more counterexamples. It's not that he never wants to see straight and monogamous, just that he knows that doesn't reflect the life of people around him.

But it makes my heart grow two sizes larger every time he expresses that, so I like to brag a little.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-24 03:02 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] flippac
*nod* - I'd been knowingly taking a bit of a tangent initially, and what you're describing is indeed a tedious waste of time!

By comparison, I have really good personal reasons for not touching the Hunger Games books and films past the first of each, and the romance arcs are as much caught up in that mess as anything else. I have to admit I was pretty relieved by the extent to which the first film there toned things down - a book-accurate adaptation would have a lot of feel in common with Apocalypse Now.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-03-23 04:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ghoti.livejournal.com
I went to the cinema with friends including a teenager, and it was his choice.

Not quite; I asked Benedict & Jack because I knew Benedict liked the books, and I knew Jack had recently watched the first film.

Soundbite

Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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