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Mavericks - Input Junkie
August 12th, 2013
12:37 pm

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Mavericks
I just saw Pacific Rim and White House Down [1] and liked them both quite a bit. I noticed that both of the movies are about mavericks-- people who just won't follow the rules, but it works out well.

In the real world, I notice Snowden, Manning, Swartz, and Zimmerman-- mavericks all-- and I was wondering whether there are any stories which include both people whose judgement is better than the rules and people whose judgement is worse than the rules. (Zimmerman broke a number of the rules for how neighborhood watch should behave, including carrying a gun and doing pursuit by himself.)

I also just saw the Hunger Games and didn't like it much [2], but I'm considering whether Katniss should count as a maverick. It feels wrong to describe her as one, but I'm not sure whether that's gender stereotyping on my part, or whether a person has to be part of a rule-oriented organization to rebel enough to count as a maverick.

Sidetrack: If you want a movie about an evil elite, I recommend In Time, the 2011 movie with the time zones. I haven't heard really good things about Elysium-- that it's mostly notable for the special effects. Thoughts?

*A heartwarming tale about a terrorist attack on the White House. No really, there's a man who's trying to pull his life together and who really wants to be a Secret Service agent, and who's just interviewed for the job and been turned down.....

[2]
The situation was too arbitrary-- 12 year olds competing against 16 year olds? I realize the point is cruelty, but there's also supposed to be spectacle. The rules got changed whenever it was convenient. Does a culture which can make devildogs out of nothing even need oppression? How does Katniss, who's bad at getting people to like her, figure out that starting a double suicide is the right way to get the spectators on her side? How does the sponsor thing even work? How did the nasty gang move in so much stuff? Don't you think people who were starving would eat more when they're offered food?

I'm not going say it was a completely bad movie-- Jennifer Lawrence was a good enough actress to carry the movie, and that's the main thing. I also rather admire the guts to make a relatively slow moving action movie these days, and it did keep my interest fairly well.

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From:rysmiel
Date:August 12th, 2013 05:27 pm (UTC)
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One of the things I most liked about Pacific Rim is its not buying into the trope of the maverick to the exclusion of everyone else being adults and professionals; there are personality clashes, sure, but nobody betraying anyone or getting away with ignoring the rules because of being a protagonist. yay action movies that really understand interdependence.
From:paulshandy
Date:August 13th, 2013 10:20 pm (UTC)
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I agree completely. If Pacific Rim had been a novel instead of a movie, I'm betting the main characters would have been Mako and the general.
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From:xiphias
Date:August 12th, 2013 05:41 pm (UTC)
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I think the whole point of HUNGER GAMES is the arbitrary cruelty of it. The whole idea is that the Capital is driving home the idea that "you are powerless; we can hurt you whenever we want; we will make you pretend to LIKE it; the Districts that most support us get special treatment." It's a way to keep the Districts, especially the outer districts, ground down and hopeless.

I dunno. All the things that you're looking at as weaknesses, I'm seeing as the very point of all of it.
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From:marycatelli
Date:August 13th, 2013 12:12 am (UTC)
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"Upon this a question arises: whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with. Because this is to be asserted in general of men, that they are ungrateful, fickle, false, cowardly, covetous, and as long as you succeed they are yours entirely; they will offer you their blood, property, life and children, as is said above, when the need is far distant; but when it approaches they turn against you. And that prince who, relying entirely on their promises, has neglected other precautions, is ruined; because friendships that are obtained by payments, and not by greatness or nobility of mind, may indeed be earned, but they are not secured, and in time of need cannot be relied upon; and men have less scruple in offending one who is beloved than one who is feared, for love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails.

"Nevertheless a prince ought to inspire fear in such a way that, if he does not win love, he avoids hatred; because he can endure very well being feared whilst he is not hated,"

What could make them more likely to be hated than the games?
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From:xiphias
Date:August 13th, 2013 01:32 am (UTC)
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Yeah, President Snow is going on a slightly different plan than Machiavelli. Snow's idea is to give everybody just enough hope that they think they could MAYBE get a slightly better life -- but only if they screw over every other district at the same time. And not enough hope to make them think that they can make any real change.
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From:kmusser
Date:August 12th, 2013 05:53 pm (UTC)
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How does Katniss, who's bad at getting people to like her, figure out that starting a double suicide is the right way to get the spectators on her side?

At least in the book it's fairly clear that she doesn't - she's planning on going through with the suicide, she's realized that the game is so rigged that there is no winning and sees death as the only way out. I still haven't seen the movie though.
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From:marycatelli
Date:August 13th, 2013 12:17 am (UTC)
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Actually, I thought that in the book she knew that she would win either way: the people running the games needed to have a victor. They might win by forcing the ones running the games to spare them both to get one, or by dying and depriving them of any. (You take your victories where you can.)

SPOILER WARNING FOR BOOK TWO

The political nature of this is what forced her to spend the next book trying to pretend it was just being madly in love and not political at all.
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From:sturgeonslawyer
Date:August 13th, 2013 05:21 pm (UTC)
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For what it's worth, I saw the movie before I read the book, and I thought she meant to go through with it.
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From:elektra
Date:August 12th, 2013 07:18 pm (UTC)
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Olympus has Fallen has a far more interesting main character. Also Gerry Butler.
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From:siderea
Date:August 12th, 2013 10:47 pm (UTC)
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Don't you think people who were starving would eat more when they're offered food?

This is handled right in the book, and then completely dropped on the floor in the movie, and I can't for the life of me figure out why.
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From:darius
Date:August 12th, 2013 11:50 pm (UTC)
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Snowden, Manning, Swartz, and Zimmerman

Tangential, but in that company I assumed you meant http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Zimmermann
From:paulshandy
Date:August 13th, 2013 10:18 pm (UTC)
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I think Pacific Rim worked, character-wise, because it wasn't so much about the maverick but because it was about the team, and the maverick just happened to be the point of view character. People like mavericks as main characters, but all the characters in this movie were involved in pairings that made them more interesting. If you think the main character should be the one with the most struggle to over come, we're talking about Mako, but also probably then a novel instead of a movie.
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From:elenbarathi
Date:August 15th, 2013 05:33 am (UTC)

Hunger Games

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There's a lot of points in the book that aren't picked up in the movie. The whole thing about the 12-year-olds competing against 18-year-olds is a refined bit of cruelty: the Tributes from District 1 and 2 are always the strongest 18-year-olds, because they 'volunteer'. Theoretically the other Districts could do the same thing, but that would mean losing two almost-adult workers every year, and they're too poor to spare them, so they have to watch the younger children be taken to die.

The books are written entirely from Katniss' perspective - first-person present tense all the way - so none of those scenes of the Game control-room were in the books at all. I got the impression that the muttations (AKA devildogs) were not so easy or cheap to make - in the book they weren't just 'solid holograms' like the movie showed.

I don't think Katniss ever did figure that a double suicide would get the spectators on her side, and I don't think she was bluffing, either. It was a gesture of defiance to the whole Hunger Games premise - the notion that the chance of winning, of being a Victor, was anything to hope for. It was an intensely political gesture of "Fuck You", which is mercilessly punished in the second book.

The sponsor thing works like public-television pledges: donate X amount of money to the Hunger Games, and as a thank-you prize, you get to send a supply-parachute to the Tribute of your choice.

The nasty gang didn't have to move all that stuff - it's what was there in the Cornucopia from the start; they just piled it up so they could booby-trap it with the mines from the starting-pedestals.

In the book, the Tributes eat as much as possible during training, trying to build up their reserves for the Game, but the movie didn't really show that.
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