Wednesday, March 4, 2015
In February, I returned to my mom's home country of Taiwan for the first time in over a decade. It was a great trip, and I'll be blogging more about the food, the sights, and my family over on my own website. But here, I just want to talk about the flights. Why the flights?
Getting to Taiwan required 3 separate flights, altogether totaling (with layovers) about 36 hours of travel. And it was the same coming back. That's... a lot of time. Fortunately, transoceanic planes are now usually equipped with personal entertainment centers. So while my neck, back, and butt still had to suffer through the long ride on those uncomfortable seats, at least my mind was pleasantly occupied.
The Fault in Our Stars
Confession: This movie was just so-so for me.
(Please don't hurt me! I loved the book!)
Don't get me wrong: I still cried. A lot. And I think there were great aspects. Shailene was excellent as Hazel, as was Laura Dern as her mother. It was beautifully filmed. It captured the spirit of the story.
But I think certain things -- like Hazel's internal monologues, and Augustus's external ones -- worked better in print than on screen.
Still, I'm glad I finally saw it. Even more than that, I'm glad the movie will bring so many new readers to the book.
How to Train Your Dragon 2
I LOVED How to Train Your Dragon, so of course I was going to love seeing more of Hiccup and Toothless. And I did!
My only disappointment was that this sequel seemed to cover much of the same territory as the first movie. Hiccup trying to accept himself. The village (and especially his father) doubting him and trying to wrangle him into a more familiar role.
Nevertheless, it was a fun frolic through Nordic-inspired waters. With dragons! So many dragons! All sizes, all colors, all kinds of powers! I want one.
This was an unexpected delight.
(Well, sort of unexpected. Stephanie had seen it already and said it was really good.)
First of all, who doesn't love a good origin story? Second, who doesn't love a good twist? Maleficent is both. It's the story of how a woman became a villain -- and it makes you question whether or not she really is one.
I also adored the fact that this was not a love story. Not a romantic love story, anyway. Neither Maleficent nor Princess Aurora end up with a prince. But they still get their Happily Ever Afters.
Angelina Jolie is excellent, and I also loved Sam Riley as Diaval, Maleficent's shapeshifting henchman.
Let me get the bad out of the way first: the pacing was off at times -- i.e., boring -- and the villain was goofy beyond belief. (In fairness, Sarah has seen this too, and she loved the villain's obsession with, and grotesque allergy to, cheese.)
But the good was great. I adored the main characters, especially the protagonist Eggs and his surrogate father Fish. Visually the movie is just stunning. And the themes of identity, family, and standing up for oneself were all very poignant.
Believe it or not, this isn't even half of what I watched on all those flights. But it's the YA-relevant stuff. Have you seen any of these movies? What did you think?
One of my favorite things to do in foreign countries is go to a local bookstore and browse the shelves. Granted, I can't read most of what I see, but it's still fun. To see the cover designs and trends. To see what's popular.
Here's what I saw in Taipei. What series and titles can you spot?
1st photo: The Selection series by Kiera Cass. The Devil Wears Prada. The Book Thief.
2nd photo: The Hunger Games. Allegiant. Gone Girl. The Fault in Our Stars.
3rd photo: Eleanor & Park. Bonus: My sparkly gold flats.
Last but not least, I saw one of my childhood idols. How could I resist taking a photo with her?
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