jack: (Default)
[personal profile] jack
Thank you to ghoti and B for taking Liv and me to the cinema, which we wouldn't have otherwise got round to do. And it was nice being with someone who could say what interesting things there were in the background that you only knew by reading the books.

I made a giant effort to be positive and not give in to the desire to nitpick, because there were lots of worldbuilding things that made NO SENSE (see rant below), and I do enjoy ranting about that, but I don't have anything more to say about that than I have in previous rants. Whereas it's easy to miss the good things in a flawed film, even if they're actually really interesting and exciting.

Brief summary

A post-apocalyptic world is divided into five factions: clever, brave, selfless, peaceful and honest (erudite, dauntless, abnegation, amity and candor). Except for people who don't fit who are taboo.

Things I liked

I liked that the middle book/film of the trilogy had the big climax, and the third is what's beyond that climax. (I loved the scouring of the shire at the end of LOTR.)

The protagonist had agency, and made decisions, and generally mattered.

I liked the characterisation of the factions, and the rest of the city, the visuals of each were very impressive.

The plot wasn't just a linear a-to-b, it goes through several iterations where different people's decisions matter.

There's a reasonable number of female characters, including amongst the soldiers and leaders. It passes the Bechdel test not as much as it might, but clearly.

Is this a VR sim? Is this still VR a sim? How about now?

Jack Kang (leader of candor, played by Daniel Dae Kim)'s face.

Things to think about

Is complete non-violence possible without a police force backing you up? (I'm leaning to no, that non-violence is an ideal which is attained by increasingly large proportion of society, but you always need to police people who don't agree somehow.)

When is it ok to make the decision to execute someone, if ever? (I'm leaning to, when they're clearly going to go on killing people if you don't.)

Divergent factions. Hogwarts houses. DnD alignments. Chalion gods. Myers-Briggs personalities. Real and fictional, which are the most interesting ways of categorising people? Which are useful? Are any a clear division rather than a spectrum? Are you more like onion-layers, or a mix, or a this-means and this-end?

Nitpick rants

Where is the train going from? Where to?

How can a post-apocalyptic society have 20% of people be solicitors and nobody work in factories? Where does all the high-tech come from? What proportion of people are faction-less and how do they live?

Why don't they use truth-serum in trials by default?

When people do unethical things for bullshit reasons, is that because the bullshit is bad worldbuilding true within the confines of the story, or because they're lying to themselves, or somewhere between?

Why does everyone expect evil power-grabbing woman to just stop when it's proved her reasons for power-grabbing were bullshit?

The whole thing feels like a small town level of population, but the propaganda and council politics don't seem to make sense on that level.

I think some of these make more sense in the book. But I'm trying not to dwell on them, most don't make a difference to the good bits.

Date: 2015-03-23 11:51 am (UTC)
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
From: [personal profile] liv
I really agree with this review. Especially the bit about Kang's face.

Date: 2015-03-23 06:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ghoti.livejournal.com
OK, I have no idea what this is about. I mean, lots of people have unreadable facial expressions, so he didn't seem unusual to me. But could you try to explain?

Date: 2015-03-23 09:37 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Oh! Yes, the actor is very pretty. He has super high cheekbones, like you but even more, and I figured that was why because I do tend to like cheekbones like yours.

Date: 2015-03-24 02:33 pm (UTC)
liv: oil painting of seated nude with her back to the viewer (body)
From: [personal profile] liv
Partly I just meant that he's very pretty and I'm shallow? But he does facial expressions a bit like Spock, very clearly (to me) conveying his reactions, but with minimal muscle movements compared to what's typical for film actors.

Date: 2015-03-23 02:02 pm (UTC)
chess: (Default)
From: [personal profile] chess
I haven't read the book but some of these things made sense to me:

1) The train is going from various stops throughout Amity into the city - it's carrying agricultural and low-tech goods that are made on the periphery.

2) They don't usually use truth-serum at all outside Candor - in fact it looks like people outside Candor are meant not to know of its existence - they save it for only very important occasions so people don't get upset about it. It also looks like it's essentially a torture device - it doesn't _make_ you tell the truth, it makes not telling the truth _hurt_ until you do - which they might reasonably be unwilling to use on non-consenting subjects (and indeed attempt to keep it secret so no-one else makes them use it on non-consenting subjects!).

3) _I_ expected 'evil power-grabbing woman' to just stop when presented with updated facts, because I hadn't modelled her as 'evil power-grabbing woman' - I had modelled her as 'woman who has a solid utility function and pursues it regardless of the collateral damage'. I was very much hoping that she was going to visibly update the calculations on her utility function and suddenly throw her lot in with the good guys, cue everyone being utterly confused as to what to do with her, because she'd clearly done Bad Things but equally clearly only did things for Good Reasons and would be a great asset when provided with good facts.

4) There are really quite a lot of people on the march-out scene.

My headcanon says that Abnegation do the factory work under Candor management, giving both factions something clearly useful to do with that many people, but as I said, I haven't read the books.

Date: 2015-03-23 09:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ghoti.livejournal.com
A lot of the tech is left over from before - and the inhabitants believe it all is. The rest is answered in the third book, so hopefully film. ANd I think it's realistic that people lie to themselves and act accordignly. I know I do. I rationalise the thing I want to do to try and make it add up.