Mook Review: A Princess of Mars/”John Carter”

A Princess of Mars – Written by Edgar Rice Burroughs

A Princess of Mars, Book Cover, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Mookology, Review

via BN.com

From the beloved Tarzan series author Edgar Rice Burroughs came the tale of heroic John Carter in A Princess of Mars. I was very excited to read this book.  As a sci-fi and fantasy genre fan I thought this classic would be fun to read and go hand in hand with the release of “John Carter” – Disney’s film adaptation of the story.

At almost 500 pages,  A Princess of Mars is not nearly spectacular enough.  It was incredibly tough for me to get through this novel for a number of technical reasons; Burroughs has an affinity for run on sentences and a total lack of commas. However, I mostly felt disconnect because there was no depth to the characters whatsoever.  Our narrator and antagonist John Carter is so two dimensional.  There was no reflection on his past life in Virginia, no emotional distress for miraculously ending up on Mars, and no validity to his love for Dejah Thoris.  The only mild case of feeling I found was his friendship with Sola and her bond to Tars Tarkas, which was feeble at best.  Perhaps I am missing something because I didn’t read the series as a whole, but I could barely make it through A Princess of Mars and I don’t know how anyone could continue with the series.

I don’t know what I was looking for with this novel but whatever it was, I didn’t find it.  For me, a truly good book requires some sort of mutual understanding of the characters and a developed plot; these things were just not there with A Princess of Mars.  It was a genuinely interesting idea and the world building was thorough and exceptional, but A Princess of Mars was too much action and not enough substance.  In plain words, Burroughs’ novel was not my cup of tea.

“John Carter” – Directed by Andrew Stanton

John Carter, Movie, Mookology, Andrew Stanton, Taylor Kitsch

via IMDB.com

Disney spent over 200 million to create this long-awaited adaptation.  After reading Burroughs’ novel, I expected that this attributed to high quality CGI and digital effects, considering several of the main characters of this story are somewhat mythical. In this respect, “John Carter” did not disappoint.  The intense imagery of Barsoom and its creatures (Green Martians, Woola, Thoats, etc) were pretty incredible and definitely respected the novelists’ original ideas.

However, that is probably where the praise for “John Carter” ends.  Truth be told, I love sci-fi and fantasy, I love stories that transcend other worlds, and I love action and suspense in films.  “John Carter” was unsuccessful in achieving any of these things and, as a whole, was void of any human emotion.  Taylor Kitsch’s portrayal of John Carter and Lynn Collins’ portrayal of Dejah Thoris were pretty awful, although I don’t think it was entirely their faults.  They became victim to over-acting in light of the outrageous fictional atmosphere and vivid concept of Barsoom, which caused John Carter and Dejah Thoris to seem out of touch and unrealistic.  The last thing you ever want in a movie is for the viewer to genuinely not care about it’s main characters, and that is exactly how I felt watching “John Carter.”  As for the action sequences, they were intense and ‘spectacular’ in a visual sense of the word but, personally, I felt a lot of it was pretty hokey.  The musical score was kinda of corny and reminded me of a low-budget action film from the 80’s.

As far as staying true to the novel, “John Carter” was on and off.  There were several scenes I recognized from the book, but the way the story flowed was much differently than in A Princess of Mars.  Several changes were made from the start of the film; Dejah Thoris is betrothed before she even meets John Carter, we learn about the Ninth Ray much earlier on, and John Carter is not obly taken as prisoner by the Green Martians, but is treated with the same care as the infants.

To be quite honest, I had a hard time finishing this movie in the same way I had a hard time finishing the book.  It is just not captivating.  The story has potential but was poorly developed and, in the case of the movie, was too exuberant in its presentation and lacking relatable characters.  Sorry Disney, but I have to agree with critics.  “John Carter” was an epic flop.

Mook Rating  ★

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“The Host” Makes its Way to the Screen

The Host Movie Stephanie Meyer aoirse Ronan

via Wikipedia.org

Stephanie Meyer, author of the best-selling Twilight Saga, may achieve another level of fame with the big screen adaptation of her 2008 sci-fi novel The Host.  This story takes place in a world where human beings have become inhabited by aliens, leaving little trace of human life on planet Earth.  Melanie, the protagonist of the story, becomes a host for alien soul Wanderer, but refuses to let go of her human life.

The Host was released to critical praise, but did not achieve success like that of the Twilight books.  Coincidentally, the first trailer for “The Host” was released over the weekendalong with a teaser trailor for “Breaking Dawn pt. 2”  This film is set to be released in March 2013 and stars Saoirse Ronan, Jake Abel, Diane Kruger, and William Hurt.  Check out the newly released teaser trailer below.

Mook Review: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games – Written by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins, Katniss Everdeen

via BN.com

Many literary snobs turn up their nose at Young Adult fiction. I am definitely not one of those people. I love the recent surge in Young Adult fiction, particularly fantasy, and their development into highly successful mooks. These novels fly off the shelves and become box-office hits instantly… so what is there not to like? I do recognize the many failed YA adaptations, but when given an amazing text to work with it seems natural to want a big-screen translation. A prime example of this is The Hunger Games.

I was first introduced to The Hunger Games by my 8-12 year old dance students. They would not stop talking about the despised “Capitol” and their beloved characters Katniss and Peeta. They begged me to read the book but I had brushed off the novel as being way too immature for me to read (the 10+ age gap between myself and my students was a red flag.) I soon began to realize that everywhere I went, someone was reading or talking about this book. I finally gave in and picked up The Hunger Games this past November. I literally could not put down the trilogy for the following 7 days.

Suzanne Collins is a specialist in children’s writing, and it shows in The Hunger Games. This novel is in no way a difficult read. The language is concise, the metaphors clear, and the plot lines are straight to the point. It is not a “literary masterpiece” but it is divine in its own right. Katniss Everdeen is an amazing female character and heroine. She is a strong-willed fighter who will do anything to survive and, in my opinion, is a fantastic role model for young readers. The novel is told from Katniss’ perspective so we are limited in what we know, but from the start it is clear that Gale Hawthorne plays a major role in Katniss’ life. However, once the games begin, he is discarded and becomes a very minor character. The same is for Katniss’ sister, Primrose. Katniss is constantly talking about how much Prim means to her but we barely know anything about her. This is a serious problem I had with The Hunger Games and felt myself feeling empty towards the minor characters.

Undoubtedly, this novel is a page turner and the casual attitude towards the violence in Panem is eerie. Collins keeps us in the dark about information surrounding the Capitol, the games, and the districts (one of the reasons why the following two novels are so thrilling.) I found myself trying to scrape up any bit of information I could find and trying to piece it all together. Although this is considered a Young Adult book and the main characters are all children themselves, there is nothing childish about Collins’ dystopia and its transgression to the screen should be nothing short of incredible. I anticipate it to be a box office smash.

“The Hunger Games” – Directed by Gary Ross

The Hunger Games Movie, Lionsgate, Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Gary Ross, Mookology Review, Katniss Everdeen, Peeta Mellark, The Capitol

via IMDB.com

First, I would like to thank my good friend Matt (@mattw6789) for taking me to an advanced screening of “The Hunger Games” yesterday afternoon! If you are one of my twitter followers (@Mookology), you may have seen my tweets of HG-themed cocktails and countdown posters. It was amazing! Now, onto the movie.

For all you fans of the book series, be prepared to see some changes. These are minor changes, mostly, with a few added elements. However, these things needed to be done in order to present the Capitol, the Districts, and the Games with proper detail. In the book, we are inside Katniss head and she guides us with information on the world she lives in and how the Games work. What we miss in the film without Katniss’ narration is made up for with added scenes and explanations.

One of my favorite things about the movie, for example, was that we are able to see the Gamemaker Headquarters (which is AWESOME!) which gives Seneca Crane a much larger role. Everything about the Capitol is quite intense, super glamorous and a stark alternative to the lives in the Districts. The movie is able to put the Capitol on display in the way the book cannot. Gary Ross does a great job of directing in the sense that each aspect of the films’ settings are different and capture the mood of the scene.

The casting was phenomenal. I am a huge Jennifer Lawrence fan and it was no surprise that she was fantastic, but everyone else was equally as powerful. Elizabeth Banks as Effie was hilarious in all the right ways and probably one of my favorite portrayals in the film. Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark, who I was nervous would not impress me at all, was PERFECT and he completely reinforced my “Team Peeta” mentality. Lastly, Stanley Tucci as Ceasar Flickerman is flat out flawless and becomes the face of the Capitol in the most strange and corrupt way. Ceasar Flickerman narrates the Games as if it were the Superbowl, which brings to the surface how twisted the Capitol is and how far removed it’s citizens are from the sanctity of their tributes’ lives.

The only problem with being such a huge fan of the novels is that “The Hunger Games” film feels rushed, even at 2 and 1/2 hours. Katniss and Rue’s friendship is so short lived and, while powerful, you just want a little bit more. The same goes for Katniss and Peeta’s romance. But these small issues in no way harmed the integrity of this film.

“The Hunger Games” is a gem in an era of franchise movies and I hope everyone who sees it feels the same. It’s impossible not to! I had super high expectations and this film met most of them with flying colors and has me eagerly anticipating its sequel, “Catching Fire.”

Mook Rating ★★★★1/2

Awesome blog and sweet posting on 2012 mooks!

Fandango Groovers Movie Blog

I read the book A Princess of Marsby Edgar Rice Burroughs many years ago when I was at school although I enjoyed it at the time hadn’t given it a second thought until the trailers for the movie John Carter appeared a few months ago. Judging from the trailer it is a lose adaptation at best taking characters and ideas but not the plot from the novel originally published nearly a century ago (1917). Given the number of versions Edgar Rice Burroughs other creation, Tarzan it surprising to learn this is the first big screen outing for John Carter and “Barsoom” series of novels. Tomorrows releases got me thinking about other books I have read that will be hitting the cinema this year:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: From a novel I read a long time ago to one I have only just read. I saw the box…

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First Look at The Hunger Games Film!

Over the past month quite a few clips from “The Hunger Games” have been released and, to my relief, they do not expose much from the movie.  These short clips (most run about 30 seconds long) are giving fans a first glimpse to the film adaptation, the similarities, and differences that will come into play.  It also gives some reassurance that the actors will portray the beloved characters appropriately.  But don’t expect any insight to the arena! Lionsgate has kept that aspect of the film a secret for the most part.

Below you can see all of the clips released to date.  Don’t forget to catch “The Hunger Games” this weekend!

 

 

 

 

The Best Books = The Best Mooks

It’s no surprise to both book and movie fans alike that the two go hand in hand.  More often than not, the best movies have been adapted from incredible books.  So what does this all boil down to?  A story.  There is nothing more successful than an invigorating and wonderful story and the culture of mooks reveals this to us.

Taking a look at this list of the all-time best novels from the Huffington Post I am happy to see literary classics that have transitioned to the screen.  Some are even in the making right now (such as The Great Gatsby and Great Expectations both to hit theaters later in the year.)

So what are your favorite books my dear followers?  What are your favorite movies?  Are they one in the same?  Feel free to share your thoughts on this matter.

Snow White & the Huntsman Revealed!

Snow White and the Huntsman, Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron

via Wikipedia.org

The June 1st film debut of this classic fairy tale gone awry has many fans anxious – including myself!  “Snow White & the Huntsman” featuring Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart, and Chris Hemsworth will pose a stark parallel to the March 30th Snow White inspired movie “Mirror Mirror” led by Julia Roberts and Lily Collins.  While I am excited for both films, “Snow White & the Huntsman” looks riveting and intense, and holds hope that Stewart can display better acting skills than those shown in the “Twilight Saga.”

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves is a story that has been manipulated and reinvented over the course of history.  It tends to be quite an eye-opener for those familiar with the Brothers Grimm tale, considering its touchy subject matter (An evil Queen poisons a young beauty? Not quite a comforting bedtime story, despite the Disney film version.) “Snow White & the Huntsman” seems like it will show a deeper, darker version of this traditional tale.

Entertainment Weekly has posted a video compiling mini featurettes, filled with behind the scenes looks at the film as well as the magnificent costumes.  Take a look by watching the video below! Additional info and insight on this movie can be found at the films official website, www.SnowWhiteandtheHuntsman.com.

The Liebster Blog Award

Liebester Blog AwardA big thank you goes out to Alicia at Why We Yell for granting Mookology the Liebster Blog award!  This award is given to interesting, up-and-coming bloggers striving for success.  I am very thankful and accept this award graciously!

There are a few ground rules involving the Liebster Blog Award.  First, you must thank the blogger who nominated you along with a link back to their site.  Next, you must paste the award on your blog.  Finally, you should pass the award along to other deserving bloggers.

Mookology would like to grant the Liebster Blog Award to:

  • The Anxiety of Authorship Stephanie and I have been friends for some time and her blog posts are thought provoking and clever.  Each of her posts are well thought-out and meaningful, giving her readers a glimpse into her life and personality.  Not to mention, she is a fantastic published writer!
  • The Place to Zone Out My dear friend Tom is witty and his posts are exactly as his blog describes; a place to zone out.  He touches upon the mundane existences of everyday life combined with interesting thoughts and life anecdotes.
  • The World According to Cheese No one loves cheese more than Anna does and  The World According to Cheese is filled with ridiculously interesting information on this favorable dairy product.  She even tried the delicacy Casu Marzu, a maggot-filled cheese.  Talk about determination!
  • The Food Crawl My Aunt Lorraine makes some of the best food I’ve ever tasted and her blog makes me drool instantly.  In her own words, the definition of her blog is “Food crawl (n). a multi-stop investigation of the best restaurants, meals, or specific item on the menu. Food crawls may last a few or much longer depending on the type of crawl.”
  • Such a Book Nerd – Now this is a blog that truly deserves some attention and it is presented for all you closet book nerds out there.  Get reading this blog and reading some books!

And there you have it!  Congratulations recipients, enjoy :)

Not-Quite-Mook Review: A Game of Thrones

In honor of the upcoming second season of “Game of Thrones,” I decided to pay homage to one of my favorite books-turned-TV-shows.  George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy is complex, intriguing, and incredibly diverse in it’s characters; it is a series of novels that are truly captivating.  HBO is, most likely, the only network that could have adapted GRRM’s written work into an amazing TV series, whose first season enchanted both the avid readers and newcomers to the story.  Here is my Not-Quite-Mook review on A Game of Thrones!

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book #1) – Written by George R.R. Martin

A Game of Thrones, Book Cover, A Song of Ice and Fire Series 1, George R.R. Martin

via FanboyBuzz.com

This is a bit of a flip-flop situation for me.  I began watching the HBO series without knowledge of the books, but I immediately ceased viewing and picked up the novel when I discovered “Game of Thrones” was an adaptation.  There is no denying GRRM’s keen sensitivity to detail and a ridiculous ability to create characters.  There is a Tolkien-esque inspiration here when it comes to character creation and incredible world-building.  GRRM’s fantasy series is absurdly complex and vividly real.  Make no mistake, he is one talented fantasy author.

Once delving into A Game of Thrones, it is difficult to not be immersed by this world.  I am totally obsessed with alternating person view, mostly because it breaks up the story into bits and pieces that have you thinking “huh?!”, but also because it gives you something to look forward to.  From the get-go, Daenerys Targaryen, Tyrion “The Imp” Lannister, and Jon Snow were my spotlight characters and the ones I looked forward to reading about the most.  Additionally, I found a true love-to-hate passion for the Lannister twins.  In GRRM’s world, the characters’ House is everything, and they stay true to their family ties whether it is good or bad.

A Game of Thrones, as a stand alone novel, is compelling and direct.  Perhaps GRRM rambles on at certain points and maybe there is a bit too much detail every now and then, but these qualms were forgivable.  Unlike the later series novels (IE: A Dance with Dragons… snooze) A Game of Thrones is jam-packed with information and storyline, and finishes with the reader thinking “HOLY $#^&!!!” … and eagerly anticipating the following novel.

“Game of Thrones” HBO Series Created by David Benioff & D. B. Weiss

Game of Thrones, HBO, TV Series, Review, Mookology

via boomtron.com

As I confessed above, my first introduction to this world was the HBO series.  By the first 20 minutes of the pilot episode, I was hooked and knew I needed to read the [what I expected to be amazing] novels.  Instantly, I was struck with how accurate the opening scene of “Game of Thrones” was to the prologue of the novel.  These moments mean close to nothing to the viewer and reader at this point in time, and often gets forgotten about once the drama of the story begins.  Now, after reading the series, I am very thankful the writers and directors of the show choose to keep this scene part of the pilot episode.

As the TV series progressed, Tyrion Lannister played by Peter Dinklage became the frontrunner of the show, as he was hilarious and sarcastic in all the appropriate ways and well-deserving of his Emmy win.  Aside from Tyrion, I truly felt all the characters were cast well.  One advantage I had reading the books was understanding the character dynamic and, to be honest, their names.  One faulty element of GRRM’s world is his endless number of characters.  The very friend who told me to watch the show to begin with didn’t even know who Littlefinger and Varys were by namewhich is completely understandable.  It is hard to keep track of the characters when there are so many. Without saying, the final episode was just epic and definitely pulled in watchers for the next season and  *SPOILER ALERT* dragons!!!!!

Season two can’t get here soon enough. Every “WAR IS COMING” advertisement I see makes me giddy with joy.  Lost characters will be missed, but having read the novels I know there are many more to come, along with twists and turns galore.  Thank you HBO for creating a wonderful series!  Tune into HBO on April 1st at 9PM to catch the series premiere.

Not-Quite-Mook Rating  ★★★★★

Check out a recap of Season One below!

“The Hunger Games” is Already Breaking Box-Office Records!

The Hunger Games, Jennifer Lawrence

via EW.com

Entertainment Weekly has launched its own section for “The Hunger Games” where visitors can find the latest and greatest news on the series (both film and print.)  Though this may be a bit of old news for some, “The Hunger Games” has already ousted the “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” in advanced ticket sales!  Take that Twi-hards!

According to a report from Fandango.com, the February 22nd release of advanced tickets for “The Hunger Games” accounted for over 80% of their daily revenue.  Rick Butler, Executive VP and General Manager of Fandango stated on February 23rd:

“Yesterday we saw the biggest first day advance ticket sales in our company’s nearly 12-year historywhich is especially impressive for a March release and a non-sequel.” via BoxOffice.com

Since this statement, E! Online has announced that a “Catching Fire” script has been presented to Suzanne Collins with a temporary release date of November 2013, so fans of the trilogy can rest peacefully.  In general, this is fantastic news for “The Hunger Games” and mookologists around the globe!

Buy advanced tickets to “The Hunger Games” at Fandango.com