Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Maze Runner – Sources of the characters

This will not be a comprehensive review. As I indicated in my previous post, the movie was much better—kind of a Lord of the Flies meets Peter Pan in a maze. But that was because they changed the plot and characters immensely.

But first, a couple sentences so I can participate in Teaser Tuesday. That bookish meme asks us to randomly pick two sentences from our current read:

Using the same method of pushing each of Alby’s arms and legs up two or three feet at a time, Thomas slowly made his way up the stone wall. He climbed until he was right below the body, wrapped a vine around his own chest for support, then pushed Alby up as far as he could, limb by limb, and tied them off with ivy.

Instead of reviewing the plot, I will contend the characters in the book (not the movie) correspond to characters in Alice in Wonderland. Thomas is Alice, the main character who knows this strange world should not be this way and reproves the odd characters encountered. As a clever move, this equivalent of Alice is male and goes up to the strange place, instead of down a rabbit hole.

Gally, who has insane hatred for Thomas from the start, is the Mad Hatter. (I don’t know how many times he’s referred to as “insane” in the book.)

Chuck, the constantly cheerful young kid who is immediately friendly to Thomas and sometimes seems to appear out of nowhere is the Cheshire Cat.

Minho, one of the runners who is constantly nervous in the maze, to the point of abandoning Alby when he is wounded, is the White Rabbit.

Teresa, the girl who gives Thomas cryptic information, is the caterpillar.

Alby and Newt, the two leaders, don’t have much in the way of distinct personalities. They could be Tweedledee and Tweedledum, but that is much less solid.  

Keep in mind, I’m saying the characters correspond to Alice in Wonderland, not the plot. The plot is obviously much different. For those of you who have read the book, do you agree? Disagree?

Using archetypal characters in new fiction happens all the time. For a much stronger example, remember the movie Inception, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Ellen Page running around through different levels of reality? For my analysis of how those characters are from Alice in Wonderland, see my review of Inception.

When I told an English and literature teacher that these characters that Lewis Carroll used are archetypes that occur over and over, she asked me where Lewis Carroll got them from. I shrugged.  

Monday, September 22, 2014

Movie Review: The Maze Runner

Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) wakes up to find himself in a cage—no, actually it’s an elevator taking him up to some unknown location. But he can’t remember anything about himself. He emerges to a jeering crowd of other teenage boys who call him “Greenie” because he’s the new guy. He breaks free of them only to find himself in a large, grass-covered glade. Beyond the trees in the distance are immense stone walls a hundred feet tall.

Thomas soon discovers that the walls continue for some distance, forming a maze. For three years a new teenage boy has arrived once a month, only to find out the glade is pretty much a prison. The “runners” who explore the maze have never found a way out. Worse, the entrances to the maze close at night, and anyone stuck in the maze overnight gets killed. But when Thomas sees a couple runners trying to make it back, he runs through a massive stone entrance right as it is closing. What will he discover?

I have no hesitation in giving a strong recommend for The Maze Runner. If you profess to love Young Adult stories, you should hang your head in shame if you don’t go see it. The movie is much better than the book, which I’ll review soon. I don’t normally say this when a movie is based on a bestselling novel, but the movie is better because it adds action. The novel has Thomas sitting around or wandering around, all insecure and nervous. In the movie, Thomas is a natural leader.

From the start, the glade has a real Lord of the Flies vibe to it, with Will Poulter as Gally just thriving as the teen who relishes the tribal nature of the ceremonial fires and impromptu wrestling. Ki Hong Lee is great as the level-headed Minho, leader of the runners. And Dylan O’Brien, best known as Stiles in the television series Teen Wolf, is in a league of his own. Unfortunately, Kaya Scodelario as the lone girl Teresa does not have much to do in the movie version, except stand around with great-looking hair, though I don’t think there’s any conditioner in the glade.

The maze itself is a standout part of the movie. The crenulated, vine-covered walls have a fascinating texture, and they shift around, rise, and even twirl at the most inconvenient times. It’s a grand thing that special effects have advanced enough to give a visual treat that seems a real part of the background.

Overall, Thomas can be thought of as a Peter Pan leading a group of lost boys, with the maze and the creatures inside serving as the crocodile with the ticking clock. So while the movie version is Lord of the Flies meets Peter Pan in a maze, the characters in the book have a different nature, which I will reveal soon. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Scotland Votes on Independence

Scotland votes today on whether to secede from Great Britain. This has caught a lot of people off guard. A few months ago the Yes vote was around 40% in the polls, so the issue was ignored. But in the last few weeks they caught up and now it is considered too close to call.

This was partly because the Yes or Independence vote rallied with all their might, while the No or Unity vote just sat around, thinking nothing would happen. I have no way of predicting the outcome, which should be announced tomorrow.

In the meanwhile, I highly recommend the soundtrack from the movie Braveheart. Some people say the main theme is the same as Holt’s “Jupiter Suite,” but the composer James Horner modified it enough to call it his own. It’s great background music while doing other things. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Richard “Jaws” Kiel Passed Away

Aw. Richard “Jaws” Kiel, who played that recurring henchman in the James Bond movies, passed away this week. I believe his only line was “Here’s to us,” as he clinked glasses with a girl with braces.

For those of you who like to watch reruns, he was also the alien in the Twilight Zone episode “To Serve Man.”

public domain

I would like to get his autobiography Big, but it was a limited edition and kind of pricey. I did find this line he wrote about himself, after getting free of all that alcohol that floats around in show biz:

“Not only did God deliver me from the bondage of alcoholism, he also blessed my family financially because of my commitment to honor what he had done for me and for not doing what I believed could possibly be destructive to others.”

So see you, Richard Kiel, presumably in the big and tall section of heaven. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Scandalous Photo

If you have a photo leak out that you would rather not have people use, if it wasn’t a selfie, you can’t control it. If you did not take the photo, you do not own the copyright. You cannot legally demand that people who post copies of it take it down, and you will not have standing in court if you try to sue. So let’s look at the recent wild photo that made headlines:

Gimme the copyright or it’ll
be Planet of the Apes, okay?

Well, what were you expecting? This is the famous selfie taken by a monkey who snatched the camera from a nature photographer. (I assume it came out so perfectly because the monkey was fascinated by the camera action, so it stared straight into it.) Since the photographer himself did not take the picture, this is public domain. And since the monkey is an animal, it can’t own the copyright either—so says the Copyright Office:

“The Office will not register works produced by nature, animals, or plants. Likewise, the Office cannot register a work purportedly created by divine or supernatural beings, although the Office may register a work where the application or the deposit copy state that the work was inspired by a divine spirit,”draft report, “Compendium of US Copyright Office Practices, Third Edition.”

This can easily be used as a plot twist. If a werewolf or an angel takes a significant photo or video, there is no copyright. It could be something crucial, or something cringe-worthy—I can’t find the video of Al Gore dancing around to “Man, I Feel Like a Woman,” but you get the idea. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: Batman and Psychology

Teaser Tuesday is a meme at Should Be Reading. We’re to post two random sentence from a current read.

“Long before he makes the crazy-sounding decision to run around dressed like a bat, Bruce Wayne first makes the decision to wage war on all criminals—a goal in some ways crazier than wearing a mask because one person cannot fight all criminals. To understand how the decision to fight crime anonymously evolved somewhere in between these two points, we should look at how his general thinking ability developed.”

This is from page 56 of Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight by Travis Langley, which I reviewed in last week’s post. Again, this is a clever way to get people to learn about psychology by applying it to the Batman universe.  


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