The Westing Game (1978) by Ellen Raskin

Categories: 1978, Books, and Fiction.

This is the kind of novel all kids should read. I am far too old for this type of book now but, as a child or tween, this would have been great. It feels like a legitimate game (it’s basically a far more complicated version of Clue with character development) and its humour is rooted in character and well-known stereotypes (in the sense of debunking them). It’s a crime this book wasn’t turned into a kid’s adventure film in the 80s, ala Goonies. Read More

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013, Harald Zwart

Categories: 2013 and Movies.

This is one of the innumerable young adult fantasy franchises that has seemingly popped up out of nowhere over the last decade and a half. I watched it for the same reasons that I watch all of these – I enjoy bad movies. This one is, at times, better than a lot of the other lower tier of these films, because it has a sense of humour and it has a sense of humour about the cliches of the genre. Yes, I know, this one was a flop. But it’s certainly more entertaining than a lot of these pandering “You Read More

The Scorch Trials (2015, Wes Ball)

Categories: 2015 and Movies.

I did not like the first film at all. But that movie had a “high concept” that I could at least respect on some level (though it struck me as something I would have dreamed up as a teenager), even if the execution was pretty awful. But this movie is worse. Yes, that’s right. It’s worse. SPOILER ALERT if you care about your subpar young adult film adaptations… Read More

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014, Francis Lawrence)

Categories: 2014 and Movies.

It’s now customary to get whatever you can get out of a franchise. I guess it’s to be expected. But, not knowing the source material, it sure seems like they are milking the final Hunger Games novel for all its worth. This is the weakest film in the series so far; it feels like table-setting for the climax to the series yet, somehow, that table-setting is 2 hours long. A lot of this movie just feels like Katniss doing propaganda for the rebels instead of for the capital (which she spent a lot of time doing the last time out). Read More

The Hunger Games (2012, Gary Ross)

Categories: 2012 and Movies.

So first, my general impressions: the film is pretty well-made, if a little long for its subject matter. I didn’t detect any glaring problems with the editing, direction, etc. The problem is, of course, the source material. As one would expect from a novel aimed at teens or tweens, there’s not much here for adults: it’s very clear cut who is good and who is bad, and the story arc is telegraphed way too much. Which, of course, begs the question, why is this so popular? Read More