Divergent

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Divergent has arrived.

A lot of people see the female protagonist and the futuristic setting of this new film and immediately think it’s a copy of The Hunger Games. But despite these similarities they are completely different. It would be like comparing ‘i,Robot’ and ‘Robot & Frank’, both containing a male character that, through unlikely circumstances, befriends a robot. Completely different. OK there might be a few more similarities than that but you get my point.

The story line really is quite different. If you’ve read the books then you’ll be nodding along, and thinking ‘just wait till the next couple in the series, it sets itself even further apart.’ But I do understand where people are coming from saying they’re the same. As well as the common attributes I’ve mentioned above, they also have a very similar tone, with actions, tension and secrets, and of course the romantic side. Though this is maybe of a story in the Divergent series.

Of course being a big fan of the books, I went to see it on the day of the UK release, and I loved it! Despite the fact it was a teensy bit long, there was the right amount tension – both dangerous and sexual; some brilliant action scenes; secrets withheld and revealed; and it actually sticks pretty close to Veronica Roth‘s original story which is a massive plus. Even though I knew exactly what was going to happen I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, I couldn’t wait to see how they were going to do certain scenes and I was just as excited coming out as I was going in. The acting was good, could have been better but it was what’s expected with that kind of film. Shailene Woodley was great as Tris, I think she did a great job. Theo James was OK, the typical good looking heartthrob of a YA film, but I think he was lacking his ‘meanness’. In the book, his character, Four/Tobias, is quite harsh with Tris and definitely has a mean streak going on, but in the film it was quite obvious he was a big softie underneath. He wasn’t the tormented man we were expecting. When it came to Miles Teller, I just wanted to punch him the face, so I guess he did a good job as Peter. I think the best actor in the whole thing was Kate Winslet, of course. She was brilliant, carrying off the suave, menacing character that is Jeanine. Straight away you know she’s going to be a problem but you’re not entirely convinced she’s a completely bad person… just maybe a bit twisted. Not a bad thing can be said about her role.

I do have to say I would have enjoyed it more had there been a higher risk of danger or death, but I know that this is to come in the next installment so I’m not too worried by this.

Something really petty that I don’t like is the tattoo, the three birds are a lovely idea but the way they’ve been designed just doesn’t look right. They looked like Microsoft clipart if I’m honest.

 

There’s a lot of complaints that the future isn’t realistic, that people aren’t ‘buying’ it, and all I have to say to you is WAIT! It is a bizarre system, one that shouldn’t work but if you wait for the rest of the story you will understand why it’s been done like this. If you can’t wait, then READ THE BOOKS! They explain everything.

I think in a lot of ways this film is far more relatable than that of  The Hunger Games; it focuses on the terrifying choice of choosing between ones family or to follow your own dreams; of wanting to do the right thing but struggling with not putting yourself first; fitting into a new place; trying to prove your own strength; and the frightening scenario of intimacy. And it doesn’t stop there, the next couple of books/films delve further into the complexity of the mind and we start to see our heroes suffering with mental challenges as well as physical. It’s definitely something I appreciate, and might even encourage young adults and teenagers to open up about their own problems.

No, it’s not going to win any Oscars but it’s a good entertainment film and personally I loved it!

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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Have you guys seen the new Captain America Film yet? I was so excited about watching it I went on the first day it was released in the UK. I thought the cinema would be packed but when we arrived the screening was only about half way full. I was really surprised as the Marvel franchise has become so popular, but maybe it’s just because we were viewing it 3D… who knows.

If you haven’t seen it I would definitely recommend it! It really is brilliant, even if you don’t like Captain America, as I’ve found many don’t, you’ll still find something to like.

I never was one of those people that disliked Captain America, I’ve always liked the first film and am a fan of Chris Evans, but I do understand the reasons for disdain. He’s very old fashioned, some would say he was a bit of a drip, though I would say that he was just a gentleman. But in this new film his character is much improved, he’s witty, sarcastic and cynical of the work he’s doing, however, underneath that lies the man too afraid to get close to anyone, and after what he’s experienced who can blame him?! There’s a particular scene with his old beau Peggy, in which we see the heartbreaking condition she’s now in, whilst he’s still young and able. Despite this he manages to carry of some brilliant sexual tension with his partner in crime Natasha Romanoff (played by Scarlett Johansson). The whole film is a ‘will-they-won’t-they’ moment; fans of the Black Widow/Hawkeye duo may find this hard to digest but do not fear, I don’t think anything is definite – maybe a love triangle will spruce things up a bit in the next Avengers…

The action in it is also, in my opinion, much better than the first film. The car chases, one on one combat, guns, things get blown up left right and centre, and not to mention Johansson’s fancy moves. That girl can really kick butt. And we also have the new female bad ass Kate/Agent 13 played by the brilliant Emily VanCamp and the return of Maria Hill (Colbie Smulders). This one’s got all sort of female empowerment roles. Just what we like. They often put the men to shame.

The addition of Sam Wilson/Falcon (played by Anthony Mackie) is another welcome new friend to stand by Cap’s side, and his cocky humor provides great banter between the cast. I certainly hope to see more of him as the franchise progresses.

And of course not to forget the story line, taken from one of the original graphic novel plots, it doesn’t fail to meet expectations. There’s so much tension throughout and the twists and turns are placed very carefully, if you don’t know the story already then you’ll be shocked to find out some of the secrets revealed.  I knew parts of what was going to happen and I was still on the edge of seat. The Winter Soldier’s story is definitely one to keep an eye on. However, it still doesn’t sit right with a lot of fans as the films steers away from the ideal that the Captain is made out to be. Chris Evans particularly has stated how excited he is to see his character make some mistakes along the way. I’m certainly one of those eager to see what they can come up with over the next few films.

I really think it’s a fantastic film and if you don’t believe me the go see it for yourself and prove me wrong!

Take a look at some of the secrets revealed in the film that you might not notice HERE

Iron Man 3

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I know it came out a year ago now but I re-watched Iron Man 3 last night and though I should do a post on it.

I loved the first Iron Man and was even keen on the second, despite popular opinion. I thought it was very watchable and entertaining, so I had high hopes for the next installment. I wasn’t disappointed. I was really intrigued to see how they would deal with the aftermath of The Avengers, how would they explain the lack of the other characters? Would one character by itself quench our thirst for action? They never really explain the lack of the other heroes, but in regards to the second question, then one is definitely enough!

I loved it. Robert Downey Jr. as usual, was brilliant as Tony Stark, and it was fascinating to see him in a different light. There was a darker side to our protagonist as we witnessed him struggle through Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. For me the anxiety attacks didn’t seem as real as they could have been but it was a brave move nonetheless.

The film focused less on him as a superhero and more on him as a person, he definitely came across more human than in the previous two films. It was the first Marvel film to do this and it was slightly reminiscent of Nolan’s Batman franchise.

Of course we still get to see the witty banter produced by Tony, and the laughs are just as good. It has just the right amount of ‘cheese’, as needed for any superhero film, getting the balance right between that and the deeper essence of the story. Hence the reason it was a box office hit.

The storyline was good, amusing in places but I felt there was something lacking; I wanted to see more of what the ‘bad guy’s’ plan was, why he wanted that power. He came across as a bit flat overall. And don’t get me started on his ability to breathe fire. It didn’t seem at all believable, and that’s saying some in this franchise. But I guess that’s what Marvel excels at – bending the rules and working with the unrealistic. Also I think Tony could have been a little more crazy, after experiencing something so traumatic in New York, it would have been completely understandable.

What about Pepper Potts as an ass-kicking human bomb… ? I didn’t really like it but I can see why they put it in, it’s nice to have someone save the hero once in a while.

However I still enjoyed it, enough to buy it on DVD, and I’ll always have a soft spot for Tony Stark. He’s just so sassy.

The Amazing Spider-Man

I wrote this review a couple of years ago now but with the new film coming out soon, I thought it should go up.

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Appearing in the same year as huge blockbusters such as ‘The Avengers’, ‘Dark Knight Rises’, ‘Skyfalland ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, ‘The Amazing Spider-man’ wasn’t given much notice as it crossed our big screens. Only five years after the Tobey Maguire franchise released their third film, it strangely felt as if the remake was long overdue. However the original films did have some credit to their name, with great sets and exciting story lines they were great for the family, all they needed were a little substance, and a decent lead character. Speculation amongst comic book fans suggests that the third one was made specifically to be bad in an attempt to the end the franchise there before they got any worse; whether this is true or not, it worked. Where Tobey Maguire faltered Andrew Garfield has succeeded; giving viewers a taste of how Spiderman is really supposed to be; sarcastic, witty and with the right amount of ‘dorkiness’. Garfield pulls achieves a role that both fan boys and girls can appreciate.

Though Garfield pulled it off with triumph not all credit can be awarded to the talented actor; the writers of the film (Vanderbilt, Sargent, and Kloves) deserve huge acknowledgement for the humour and emotion that the story entails. Giving Spiderman a more complex and interesting history the audience are enthralled with the outcome and find him a much more relatable, and generally likable character. With Marc Webb then bringing the whole piece together, showing the same flair as in ‘500 Days of Summer’, it is difficult to find someone who cannot appreciate the film in some way.

The decision to hire Emma Stone as ‘Spidey’s’ first love, Gwen Stacey, is another detail that also has to be recognised; her natural chemistry with Garfield makes the relationship believable and we find ourselves rooting for her before we have even met the future Mary-Jane. She brings a kindness and sensitivity to the film that would otherwise be lacking, and within the first few seconds of being introduced to her character we find that we too are falling for Stone’s charms.

What is found to be most refreshing about this film is that we are not faced with the unoriginal plot of ‘The Secret Identity’. Although Peter Parker doesn’t go shouting about his vigilante ways he accepts that it’s something that needs to be shared with those close to him, primarily Gwen, and we are left with the feeling that his Aunt May might also suspect his late night antics. He even uses his true identity as a reason to be allowed to fight the bad guy, as well as saving a young boy from a fatal accident; it’s a relief not to have to view his struggle to ‘tell the truth’.

Despite the film being an exhilarating watch, we are still left with the lifelong question of ‘What is he swinging from?’ however this is left in the back of our minds as we enjoy the abundant hit that is ‘The Amazing Spider-man’.

We’re Going on an Adventure

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With the recent release of the second Hobbit film; The Desolation of Smaug, I thought I would check out some of the fan-based extras that were available. On my phone I came across two apps that I thought would be worth downloading, one was free, ‘Middle Earth Index’ and the other cost £0.94, ‘The Lord of the Rings Project’

I was first recommended The LOTR Project which I happily downloaLPded; it looked very neat but I was a bit disappointed with the lack of rustic charm that you would expect from such an app. Other than the map and small tree symbols, it contained no images to show off the fantastic world that Tolkien created. The family trees were large and contained all the information, but they were so big that it took ages to scroll to find the character you were looking for.

I found the timeline impressive, with a lot of the events there would be a small clip from the map to show where it happened, and it contained every event you’d be interested in knowing about, however, unless you already knew the timeline pretty well it could be quite difficult to find certain events. If you’re a true fan this might not be considered a problem, but for those just discovering Middle Earth and can seem like a lengthy and unnecessary process.

One thing this app did have was statistics regarding characters, including life span, sex, age distribution etc. I thought this was a good thing to include and I found it really interesting to see how numbers changed over the years. However I did get a little confused at some of the graphs, not being a ‘maths person’ I struggled to understand what some of them meant.

unnamedAfter doing some research I found another app called ‘Middle Earth Index’. Straight away I was more impressed by it, the first impression is so much better than the previous app; it provides a more visual aspect and gives a better Lord of the Rings vibe. It doesn’t contain as much information as LOTRP but the layout is much easier to navigate. Though it doesn’t include family trees or maps, it does include information on plants, animals, events, languages and tales. It works more like a dictionary or encyclopedia.

So it really depends on what you’re looking for in a Lord of the Rings app, if you’re a fan but don’t want to spend any money then the M.E. Index would work fine for you, however if you want that extra bit of information and don’t care about the appearance, LOTRP might be the one worth downloading.

Though these two aren’t perfect, I think it’s such a good idea to make books more interactive in this way; you could create an app for any book you wanted, they could then be used for study or recreational use depending on the user. I hope to see more like this over the coming years as the Digital Revolution gains momentum.

OTHER LOTR/HOBBIT APPS WORTH HAVING A LOOK AT

Hobbit Translator

Eye of Sauron

Lord of the Rings 3 Sounboard

BookMark Travel

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As part of my university course I had to collaborate with other students to develop a new Digital Publishing idea. After much research and deliberation we decided to head down the route of book recommendations when travelling, and BookMark Travel was created.

Our Mission Statement

What do you do when you’re out of books right before you fly off on your next travelling adventure? You turn to Bookmark-Travel, your page in travel. Our itinerary based website provides book enthusiasts with the best reads for their journey. With our drop box system, users can search for books about the country or city they are visiting. They can get involved with discussions and comments from our other users and share opinions about their favourite books. We want to give literature back to the public; ignore those ‘Top 10 holiday reads’ chosen by the big brands, and take your choices into your own hands. Discover the forgotten, re-brand the old and ignite the new flame in literature from the readers themselves.

It is still a work in progress but you might be able to find recommendations based on your destination.

You can find the website here

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And follow us on Instagram @BookmarkTravel13

Hashtags #BMT #PageinTravel

Snapchatting the Conversation

mzl.gcsoziyjSocial media has become one of the world’s most utilised aspects of the internet and mobile devices; including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. This year has seen the up-rise of the new app ‘Snapchat‘. Instant status updates have proven to not be enough in communicating with others, and even with instagram the public seem dissatisfied with its uses. Snapchat allows consumers to take a photo and immediately send it to anyone on their contacts. The images only stay on screen for a matter of seconds but it provides the public with yet another way of presenting their every thought and action of the day.

Don’t get me wrong I have downloaded and enjoyed the app myself, it’s amusing to see some of the bizarre faces my friends and myself can pull, but it’s a very guilty pleasure. I find myself getting annoyed at the constant use of technology in our lives, I miss having a conversation with someone rather than sending faces to each other; it makes me sound very old fashioned but it’s true. The constant fear society has of being left out keeps us downloading these apps and I know I will succumb to the this temptation along with most others.

This ad for Snapchat highlights the benefits of the app, making messages seem more personal and occasionally cheeky. It aims the product at a fairly young generation, aged 16-25, as they are the ones more interested in the latest developments, especially when it comes to smart phones. However, despite its popularity at the moment I don’t have strong beliefs that it will last much longer. The novelty of the app will ware off and soon it will be known just as a craze of 2013.

Spotify App Review

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 I love music and spend a lot of my time listening to various bands and artists, from Einaudi to Mumford and Sons. I enjoy such a wide range that I struggle to keep buying it all, there’s too much and it ends up being very expensive. Spotify ended up being my saviour; I could listen to as much music as I liked at the small price of listening to a few adverts. Because their service has always bee free I’ve been reluctant to pay for the upgrades (Spotify unlimited, Spotify Premium) which come at a monthly cost, but more recently I have been tempted to succumb to their upgraded service. A couple of days ago I gave into temptation and payed £9.99 for the Premium deal and downloaded the app onto my phone.

o-que-há-de-novo-em-spotify-para-ios-android-e-windows-pcSo is it any good? So far, so good. I’ve really been enjoying having my playlists on my phone, it’s easy to navigate and you can even listen whilst offline. Coming up to Christmas it’s definitely going to be useful, with all those parties; we can listen to all the music we like without the ads, which do ruin the dance flow, just by plugging my phone into some speakers. It saves having my laptop out, which is a big relief. It also saves having to take around my phone and iPod everywhere I go, it’s all in one place, which makes me feel a lot safer.

Disadvantages? The cost can be considered quite high, £9.99 per month does add up, if you have it for a full year that’s nearly £120, a little high for an average student. Personally I’ll use it for the Christmas period and any other special occasion, but I’m not bothered by the odd add, I’m happy to stick with the free version. Though if you can afford it I would say it was worth the money as the range of music is fantastic!

However if you have internet access you can now listen to it on your phone for free. It only allows a shuffle service, and you still have ads but it is an alternative to dishing out £10 a month.

You can download it on iTunes or Google Play now

Downloading Christmas

Red-Christmas-decorations-christmas-22228015-1920-1200Christmas is just around the corner and as usual I have found myself jotting down a list of what to ask ‘Father Christmas’ for. But this year is different to previous ones as I can guess quite accurately what I’ll be receiving – vouchers. With each holiday that passes I find my pile of presents decrease and a small stack of envelopes in their place; gone is the excitement of tearing open the wrapper and finding the long awaited gift, and in are the paper cuts as I slide my fingers in to the pouch to reveal yet another Amazon or iTunes card. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate anything that isn’t a lump of coal, but it does take the excitement out of it when it is all you’re faced with.

In some ways vouchers are the perfect present, they require little thought, easy access and a content recipient, but there is a small sadness in instead of receiving a brand new book, you are given a Kindle voucher. Society seems to have changed so much that all our gifts to one another are digital; even the film industry has taken advantage of this as Lovefilm and Netflix have started to provide their own gift cards.

voucher_2monthsOf course there are differing opinions as to whether ‘digital presents’ are a good idea or not, for some they provide a range of choice, the receiver can choose whatever they like to be their gift and there’s a smaller chance of disappointment; for others they provide yet another decision to make in a day, sometimes it’s nice not to have to decide what to get, or to do, but to be provided with one option.

iTunes gift vouchers-580-90At the moment I am in the belief that the best option is that which allows you to enjoy Christmas, whether that be spending time choosing individual gifts, or taking the stress away with vouchers, after all presents are not what Christmas is truly about. Is it?