Comparison: The Hunger Games vs. Divergent

The first thing that strikes most people (myself included) about these two series is their similarities. Let’s take a look at a couple:

1.) Both series are dystopian literature.

2.) In both, the population is divided into districts/ factions.

3.) Both have a 16 year-old female protagonist.

4.) Both are written from the first-person POV in the present tense. (SIDE NOTE: Not many books are written in the present tense, which makes these stand out in my mind. It does seem to be a new trend though, which as an avid reader, I think could be quite fun.)

Whilst the books have many similarities, in my opinion The Hunger Games stands far ahead in literary quality. Let me explain.

Suzanne Collins is a better writer. She simply  has more experience and a richer understanding of life. And while I am all for cheering on young people, her age and understanding give her a leg up that shows itself immensely.  Collins is way less wordy than Veronica Roth, who distracts from the point she is trying to make by tripping over herself with excessive explanation. Numerous times the character Tris says  “I’m too short to…” and I lost focus from the story because all I could do was internally count how many times she’d already clarified her stature for us.

When it comes to poignant statements about life,  Mrs. Collins is able to deftly say in one sentence what Ms. Roth takes 10 to do.

Also, Tris’ friends don’t make me feel much. I found myself simply not caring about their sorrows, unlike THG characters of Finnick, Effie, Mrs. Everdeen, and even Katniss’ prep team, who really endeared themselves throughout the books.

As for the romance storylines, I found THG’s to be much more powerful that Divergent’s. THG is focused on the relational side of romance. Katniss and Gale are drawn to each other because they have been friends since childhood and have worked side-by-side accomplishing tasks for years.

SC_05065.dng

Peeta has to work very hard and patiently to become her friend in order to win Katniss’ heart. She is not one to fall for someone merely because of physical appearances.  In the end, her choice about which man to marry has little to do with physical attraction.  Collins does not ignore that aspect completely; Katniss does talk about kissing Peeta a little bit,  but overall  I feel Collins  steered the romance in a much better direction.

Katniss_Peeta_Catching_Fire

In Divergent, while Four and Tris  made a cute couple, it seemed as though their entire relationship from the beginning was focused on the physical nature of things. To me it feels like one of them walked up to the other and said  “You’re divergent and you’re hot, so obviously we should be together.” NO, that is NOT a good reason to start a relationship. And beyond that, it seemed to be one of the only things that kept them together. There were moments when I in fact skipped over a page here and there because of the way in which their lust was being described. Please Ms. Roth, give me something more substantial.

divergent-tris-four-landing

And lastly, the dystopian set up of THG is more interesting and believable to me. While the twist in Divergent was fascinating, (although all of the twists with Four/Tobias were fairly obvious)  THG stills wins out, especially when it comes to how the series ended. with THG I felt satisfied. In fact, the epilogue might be my favorite part of the entire thing.

I was fine with how Tris and Four’s stories finished, but I felt extremely cheated and dissatisfied  by the way the political parts of Divergent ended.  (I would say more, but I don’t want to give any spoilers.)

 

Coin_+_Heavensbee_in_Mockingjay

 

 

So there you have it, my little rant as to why I think the The Hunger Games  is superior to Divergent.  What is YOUR opinion? Post your thoughts in the comments.

 

 

October Baby

For a long time Christian movies have been….well let’s just admit it, cheesy.

A few here and there have stood out and not been that way, but not that many.

Enter October Baby. a NON-CHEESY Christian movie.  *Cue the whoops and cheers*

I saw this movie back in October, in a per-release showing. It was amazing. It’s higher quality that Courageous.

October Baby is opening nation-wide on March 23rd. (3 days from the time of this writing.)

If you see one movie in theaters all year, let it be this one.

The acting is great. The cinematography is gorgeous. The music is perfect. The romance is really sweet. 🙂

I pretty much have nothing bad to say about this movie.

Here’s the synopsis:

“You saw me before I was born.” Psalm 139:16 (NLT)

As the curtain rises, Hannah hesitantly steps onto the stage for her theatrical debut in college. Yet before she can utter her first lines, Hannah—unscripted—collapses in front of the stunned audience.

After countless medical tests, all signs point to one underlying factor: Hannah’s difficult birth. This revelation is nothing compared to what she then learns from her parents: she was actually adopted … after a failed abortion attempt.

Bewildered, angered, and confused, Hannah turns for support to Jason, her oldest friend. Encouraged by his adventurous spirit, Hannah joins his group of friends on a Spring Break road trip, embarking on a journey to discover her hidden past … and find hope for her unknown future.

In the midst of her incredible journey, Hannah finds that life can be so much more than what you have planned.

and the trailer:

Keep your eyes out for future stuff by Jon and Andrew Erwin. It’s going to be good.

Day Twenty-Four – A Movie Nobody Would Expect Me To Love

a movie nobody would expect me to love

Unknown

Staring Liam Neeson, January Jones, and Diane Kruger

Let it be said, I LOVE action adventures as long as they are well done, this movie IS. Think Taken/Jason Bourne. It’s full of suspense, running from bad guys, trying to rescue a girl, mystery, amnesia and a great car chase.  (The first time I watched it was with my Dad and a couple of siblings at like, one o’clock in the morning, and we had great fun trying to figure out the plot.)

Plus, it has Liam Neeson, one of my all time favorite actors, in it.  It also has January Jones, who I know from Love’s Enduring Promise.

So how in the world could anyone think that I wouldn’t like this movie? It sounds great right?



Well, the ending is fairly disappointing. And quite sad really, (the very, very end is okay, but still, it’s very sad.)

So why then do I like it?  Because it didn’t have the ending I was afraid it was going to have. At least not all the way. The whole time I was biting my nails, direly afraid that January Jones was evil and that Liam Neeson would leave January Jones (his wife in the film) for Diane Kruger. (You might know her from National Treasure. )

If it had happened like that, I would have loathed the movie with all my being.  In the end, it only half did, but some things were kinda evened out.


If you see/have seen it, then you’ll probably think “With that ending, how in the world could she like it? It’s not that happy.”

To quote the Chris Rice Song “I’m a sucker for happy endings.”

Why do I like it then?
1. Because the first 2/3’s is so awesome.
2. Because it’s a great story about morals.  It really shows the contrast between right and wrong.
3. And because the ending was not what I feared (at least not exactly.)  Sometimes it’s good to come to grips with an ending you would not have picked.
4. It is super well made, and Liam Neeson is one of my favorite actors.

WARNING: We watched this movie through ClearPlay.  Don’t just dash out to Redbox without that handy device.  Unknown is  not as bad as some movies, but I definitely recommend using ClearPlay.

If you’ve seen it, what did you think/learn from it?

Movie Review – Couragous

If you know me, you know that I love Sherwood Pictures.  You also know how much I was anticipating the release of their new movie, “Courageous.”

I followed the daily video blog during filming, watching as people prayed over this flick from day one.Watching as the little team in Albany Georgia moved around town creating each scene carefully.


Daily Devotions

Prayer

Prayer


I’d been waiting for this movie for so long and hyped it up so much that I was afraid that I had ruined it for myself.  You know, when you make something into such a big deal that in the end, even if it was really good, it’s still a let down?

This wasn’t. I still loved Courageous.

If you’ve seen Facing the Giants and Fireproof, let me tell you, the production quality has really been stepped up.  They have new RED cameras, and even the editing and artistry is better.

Get that sunlight just so...

Fireproof focused on one couple, this one follows five families.  So there is a lot more going on plot-wise.

As far as the acting goes, it was much better than Fireproof.  In that movie, only 2-3 people were really good IMO.  They still have some room for improvement, but Courageous is definitely better.

The action was well done.  Bullet’s flying, foot chases, and forty year-old Alex Kendrick throwing punches.  😉


Something that Sherwood Pictures does best is humor, and this film does not disappoint.   I think one of everyone’s favorite scene involves a certain character named “Javier” and the term “Snake Kings.”  Ken Bevel, who plays Nathan Hayes, told me personally (true story) that this is his favorite scene in the entire movie.  Be ready to laugh.

The emotions. Wow.  I rarely cry outwardly during movies. I barely cried during “The Help” for goodness sake.  Yet while watching Courageous, I cried about four times.  Even during the opening scene which I’d already seen online!

"Dance with me Daddy!"

Courageous is a movie that makes you grieve in one scene and laugh in the next.  Make you shake your head at the hopelessness in this world and then lift your head up with hope with the next.
As a woman, I want men to be Courageous.  I don’t want to try to take over the role that God has given them.  I’m happy to do my part and to support them in doing theirs.

How did it do in the Box Office?  This weekend it finished #4 in the nation, making over 9 million dollars. It also finished #1 out of all the new releases with only half the theaters they had!  I wish we had more movies like this…

It’s important for it to do well this coming weekend, because one of the things they look at (when their deciding how long to keep it in theaters) is the drop between weekend one and weekend two. So if you haven’t seen it yet, go as soon as you can.

As far as child friendliness is concerned, it is rated PG-13 for violence and drug references. Everyone in my family went, including my 3 year-old brother.  The mom of a little girl sitting next to me just covered her daughter’s eyes during anything scary. Everyone was fine.

Here is a review of every single little thing that might offend.  http://www.dove.org/MovieReview.asp?Unique_ID=8944

 

This song appears at the end of the movie if you wait through the first set of credits.

Book Review – Courageous (the novel version)

Book Review – Courageous

DON’T WORRY, there are no spoilers in this review.

Based on the movie “Courageous” by Sherwood Pictures

Written by Randy Alcorn

~

I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers since I am part of their blogging group.  Since I’m writing this review, the book was complimentary. A good trade I think. 🙂 Thank you to my friend Angel Navy Wife for telling me about it.

I debated reading this book now or waiting until AFTER I see the movie. My dear friend Cara was going to guard the book for me. (Since I knew that if I wasn’t going to read it, it’d be too tempting not to peek if it was in the house.) But in the end, my Mom over at [Sweetness of Speech], told me to go ahead and read it so that I could write the review before the movie so that people would be encouraged to go see it, which is something I really want to do. Plus, I really did want to read it. 🙂

I’m a big fan of Sherwood Pictures and the work that the Kendrick brothers and Sherwood Baptist Church has done. You can really tell their heart is for the Lord and for His will to be done.
I’ve been following the production of Courageous since they announced it back in the fall of ’09. During the spring and summer of ’10 I watched the production journal videos practically everyday.  I’ve looked at every single behind the scenes photos, and I’ve prayed for the whole team, and, and……you get the picture.

So yeah, I’m a committed fan.

Anyway. The BOOK of Courageous is really good. I finished the 362 pages in a little over 48 hours. It would have been less than that if I didn’t have responsibilities. Of course, if we didn’t have responsibilities we’d never have the opportunity to be courageous. Just a thought.

I’m going to suppose that most of you know the basic synopsis  of the movie.  If not, you can read it here.  It was fun to see the scenes I’d watched in the trailer and music video (click on those words to see them if you haven’t seen them or want to again. I’ve only watched them like 20 times each.)  Actually spelled out. Literally.

Supposedly only 20% of the material in the book is from the movie script that Alex and Steven Kendrick wrote.  The other 80% Randy Alcorn added himself. (Otherwise the book would be extremely short. Movies are faster paced than books).

Warning! Some parts of this story will probably make you cry. It’s sad. And happy. And inspiring. And hopeful. And sad. (Yes, I repeated that on purpose).

This story is aimed at men.  It is about their call to be courageous fathers and husbands. So why am I so excited about it?  Because society has beaten down and ridiculed men for years. As a woman, I do not like that. I what men to be what they were created to be. Godly leaders and protectors.  When men rise up and strong it allows woman to be exactly what they were created to be. Women.  The supporters of men, but not their leaders.  Plus, this movie is not just about men, three out of the five guys in this story are married, and all of their wives help them to be what they find themselves being called to be.  They too, become courageous. One of my favorite lines from the book (and I hope it’s in the movie) is spoken by one of the wives, “If you’re gonna man up, then I’d better woman up!”

So no, it’s not weird at all for a woman to be excited about this film/book.

I would compare Randy Alcorn’s style of writing to that of Jerry Jerkins. Although this book is more plot drive as opposed to Jerry Jenkins’ development of characters. But considering the fact that he didn’t create most of these characters, he did a good job. This was my first of his fictional work. I do own this book by him, which I love.

Another thing I love is how he continues the story of Caleb and Catherine Holt (from Fireproof). They are beautiful weaved into this story, as is Brock Kelly from Facing the Giants. This is an added bonus that I’m positive will not be included in the movie.

Did this book make me less eager to see the movie? Nothing could be farther from the truth. I’m looking forward to it even more.

1. I want to see what is in the film and what is only part of the book.
2. I want to see how particular scenes are played out visually. (‘m a detail lover.)
3. Some scenes from the movie were left out of the book. I want to see them.

Do I recommend the book? Definitely yes.  I wouldn’t put it in the hands of a young child due to all the references to gang activities and such, but I certainly enjoyed the story and learned from it.   Now I’m sure that I’ll be hunting down copies of the novel versions of Flywheel, Facing the Giants and Fireproof.

BTW, if you think that you had most of the plot figured out (like I did) there are still some twists that will surprise you. (Like they did me.) My siblings keep trying to get information out of me. I will not give it up or die trying.

You can order the book here.

All photos but the poster from the official Courageous website, www.courageousthemovie.com

Movie Review – The Help

Movie Review

The Help

My Mom and I went to see this on its opening day in the theaters. She’d bought the book a few days before and had read most of it, but couldn’t quite finish it in time, so some parts were still surprises to her. 🙂 I had never read the book or even seen the trailer.

Overall, I thought that this movie was really good. It is the story of a wealthy white young lady and her friends, and also a few of their black middle-aged housekeepers. “The Help.” The Protagonist white girl is Skeeter (Emma Stone) who lives in Jackson, Mississippi. She dreams of being a writer. Skeeter is troubled by the treatment of the black Americans in the US, the south especially. So she sets about to write a book from the perspective of “The Help” starting with one she knows, Abileen the housekeeper of one of her friends (and the other protagonist of the movie.) This movie points out that there is NO difference, we are all one blood. One element in this story is that the extreme racists were building extra bathrooms for the maids, because they thought that they carried different germs or something, silly!


The characters bring this story to life. They are all so different and very well done. The authoress did a wonderful job creating them. A few are a little stereotype, but very good none-the-less.

Skeeter, writing “The Help”

Hilly, the worst of the bunch.

Abileen

Abileen and Minny

Cornelia, who ends up to be one of my favorite characters.

The movie had many moments of mirth. Trust me, everyone in the theater was dying with laughter.

There were also very sad moments, because this topic is a very serious one. (In the bathroom afterwards, someone said to me “Is your mom still crying?) The treatment of these people was very cruel. And sad to say, it sometimes still happens in lesser ways. The movie is about gathering the courage to reveal the TRUTH in order to bring change to bad circumstances.

The biggest drawback to the film is language. It’s the only thing that needs editing out. If I watching it again it will definitely be through ClearPlay. However the language is all I would need to edit out, although a few things are not for a very young audience.  (It is rated PG-13)

Watching this film in Mississippi, the very state it was centered around, in a theater full of both white and black people and everyone was enjoying it together was a very cool dynamic.

Day Three – a Favorite Book

I don’t know if I’ll get around to writing a “Character Friday” today, but I will write about day Three in the 30 day challenge – A Favorite Book

That is easy.
And I’m going to sound super spiritual saying it even though I’m not.

The Holy Bible.

I remember when I was younger, and thus, younger in my faith, that I would sometimes only say that the Bible was my favorite book because that is the only answer a Christian should give. I loved the Bible, and I loved God and was thankful for His salvation. But I perhaps hadn’t realized how great this book really is, and how much I need it. As I grew older, and the faith became more and more my own and I was faced with life, I found that this wonderful book actually was my favorite. It beats all others by light years. (And I am a lover of books, there’s no doubt about that. I just checked five out from the library on Wednesday and I’ve already finished two.)

The Bible is like a historical, mystery, suspense, poetry, romance novel all in one, and in all aspects but one.
It is True.
Truer than the blue sky and more faithful than the sunrise.
Because…”the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12

It is historical because it tells of the history of the world. This planet we sleep on, and the galaxies spinning around us. And of the creation of man. Of how God breathed life into dust and created you and me. And of how we sacrificed our purity for a piece of fruit. And of the struggle we have had ever since, as we long for our Deliverer. Long to be ransomed by One.

It is a mystery because God has hidden so many “clues” about Himself within it.

“Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? 
They are higher than the heavens—what can you do? They are deeper than the depths of the grave—what can you know? Their measure is longer than the earth and wider than the sea.” – Job 11:7-9
“Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him—” – Romans 16:24-26

“Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great:
He appeared in a body,
was vindicated by the Spirit, 
was seen by angels,was preached among the nations, 
was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.” – 1 Timothy 3:16

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” – Proverbs 25:2

God reveals Himself in this marvelous book, and we will discover more about Him if we dive in and search His Word.

It is suspenseful because there are many moments when we are held in suspense. Will Abraham really sacrifices his son? Will Queen Esther die for for going to the king without being summoned? Will Jesus be slain with all the other baby boys in Bethlehem? And many more such moments as these.

It is poetry because it holds some of the most beautiful poems and songs ever written. I’ve been reading in Psalms a lot lately, and feeling very refreshed. In family devotions, my father has been reading the book of Ecclesiastes to us, interesting stuff there. Plus many more poetic and prophetic books, including the beautiful Song of Solomon. (My parents LOVE to study the Song of Solomon, so I know more about it than your average girl.)

And finally it is a romance, not only because it tells many love stories of the various characters, but because it speaks of the greatest love story EVER! The story of the Bride and the Bridegroom, and the magnificent wedding feast that is coming. (Rev. 19:9) If fact, the entire book is about the Bridegroom’s love for us the Bride. (Jesus is the Bridegroom.) How wonderful is that?

And all these themes are tied together in a wonderful thing. Jesus came down and died an excruciating death for us.
For us.
He loves us that much. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” – 1 John 3:16a

All we have to do is repent of our sins, (which we were shown through the law, in the Bible) and believe and trust in Christ, and confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord, then we shall be saved!!

So there you have it, my favorite book of all time.

There are times when I am bored with it, when I’d rather rush onto other things, when other books seem more exciting. But all in all, this is my favorite book. I am no where near the love for it that I want. Many others enjoy it more and are more dedicated to reading and memorizing it, but I press on, desiring to desire it more, and to immerse myself in the rich promises of my Father.

There is a line in a Wes King song that goes,
“I wanna read my Bible from cover to cover, line by line, over and over.
The more I read the more I find, and I begin to uncover stories just like mine.
I begin to discover that I wanna to read my Bible, that I wanna live my life, from cover to cover.”

That should be the cry of every child of God.