Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Family-Friendly Serial Killer Movie? (Strange Illusion Movie Review)

The Story: After having a nightmare that a wicked man is seeking to take over his widowed mother’s life, a young man returns home from college and is shocked to find that his mom has just started dating a man. Could his mom’s new suitor be a good person, or was the dream a premonition of a horror to come?

My Thoughts: I never thought I’d see a movie that could be described as “a serial killer mystery for the whole family,” but then I saw this film, and nothing can sum it up better than that. It’s great fun to watch the naive yet earnest and caring young man try to figure out whether or not his mom’s new suitor might be evil.

Although the story and acting seem a bit clunky by modern standards, the overall plotting at least is above average for the time period and holds up pretty well today. Because of that, Strange Illusion is a suspenseful tale worth seeing for fans of good old-fashioned thrillers. Sadly, Hollywood rarely makes movies like this anymore.

Content Overview: A small amount of mild violence, which might be too much for very young or sensitive children.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Uglies Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld (Book Review)

The Story: In a world where everyone is surgically turned into a Pretty at age sixteen, an Ugly girl is eagerly awaiting her transformation. She meets a friend who opposes this mandatory procedure, and learns that rebels exist, people who decide to keep the faces and bodies they were born with. Due to her interaction with this friend, she is given a horrifying choice by the government: betray her friend and infiltrate the rebels, or stay an Ugly forever.

My Thoughts: The world depicted in the first book, Uglies, and its sequels is well-crafted, and I’d like to see it in movie form due to the striking visuals that are essential to the story. Both Uglies and the second book, Pretties, are powerful depictions of the heroine learning how to think for herself in a world where everyone is expected to be similar to everyone else and to not care about anything except partying. She is shown making mistakes, sometimes big ones, but she never stops trying to discover what’s right and hold to it.

The third book, Specials, feels more chaotic than the first two, with the story sometimes getting too rushed, but other than that, there’s not much to complain about. The ending strongly affirms that the freedom to be clear-thinking individuals who can ask questions is necessary to keep society healthy. Some people may find the frequent slang used in the series to be annoying, but it didn’t bother me, since it wasn’t confusing and it made the world feel more real. Overall, the Uglies trilogy is an entertaining read that may be worth trying even for those who don’t usually like dystopian novels, since it is not as dark as The Hunger Games.

Content Overview: A small amount of foul language. Several mentions of being nude, but no descriptions of it. Occasional vague implications that unmarried characters are sleeping together. Mild violence.

For another example of a dystopian series that isn't overly dark, see my review of the Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix.