Category Archives: Arts
In a few weeks, you’ll be able to drive down the Cedars segment of I-30 and take in a dashing new Dallas landmark: a 10-foot-high, 20-foot-long, two-ton bowler hat. A derby, if you prefer (not a vernacular).
Another day in the life of Downtown Dallas landmark grand openings — and this time, it’s the Perot Museum’s turn. After three years of construction and wondering how that angled elevator was going to fit into the final structure, the museum is finally opening its doors.
Tickets should be available throughout the day, but be prepared to be admitted in 30-minute intervals. In honor of its grand opening, doors will be open until midnight tonight (December 1). Admission is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students (age 12-17), and $10 for children (age 2-11).
And here, as promised, is your time lapse video. Try not craving enchiladas after seeing a full shot of El Fenix for the first 30 seconds:
Three years and countless construction delays have come and gone — and the Klyde Warren Park over Woodall Rodgers Freeway is finally set for its grand opening. All events are 100% free (tickets required for The Concert for Dallas):
Saturday October 27, 2012
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
10:15 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Dallas Symphony Orchestra Performance
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
The soon-to-open Perot Museum of Nature and Science has added a pretty convincing exhibit: a couple of Nobel Prizes.
One of the medals, a Nobel Peace Prize, is on loan from the family of Dr. Norman Borlaug. Borlaug was an agronomist (as in agriculture) who has often been called “the Father of the Green Revolution”.
The other award is a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine that was awarded to Dr. Alfred Gilman in 1994. Gilman served as a professor and provost at UT Southwestern Medical Center and was renowned for the discovery of the G protein.
Obligatory warning: contains spoilers!
Many Dallasites and Americans alike will see The Hunger Games this weekend. It wasn’t uncommon to find hundreds of moviegoers lined up with snacks and blankets for the midnight show. Last night, most showtimes were sold out and the attendance for other Friday night movies was probably a bit thin — it even broke the opening day record (non-sequel) with a staggering $68 million in ticket sales.
With all the hype surrounding The Hunger Games film, you probably know what it’s about by now. Essentially, a group of 24 teenagers have to fight to the death in a government-imposed (and sponsored) contest. If that doesn’t sound like something that interests you, read no further, because the details can get a bit gory.Viral Hollywood hype never comes easy, though. I’ve heard a few references comparing The Hunger Games to the 1999 Koushun Takami book Battle Royale and even accusations that Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins stole the idea from Takami (Collins denied any knowledge of Battle Royale during writing). The 2000 Japanese film adaptation of Battle Royale is one of my personal favorites to date, but I haven’t read the Battle Royale or Hunger Games books. Everything written from here on out is solely based on movie comparison. For the sake of the average moviegoer, that’s probably a good thing.
When I sat down in a Plano theater last night, I knew of a few similarities from the get-go. I knew that Hunger Games, like Battle Royale, centered around a group of people who were thrown into the fray and had to fight for their lives until one remained. I also knew that the cause of the “games” in both movies was a totalitarian, Orwellian government that had seemingly abandoned all reason.
I can let these similarities go though, I suppose they can be chalked up to coincidental Romanesque [group] gladiator themes. However, there were some finer similarities that made me wonder just how much Battle Royale really influenced
the Hunger Games film.
For one, both groups of free-for-all contestants are high school aged, complete with young love and teenage angst. Love actually becomes a major theme in both films, and even directly influences the winners in both. Hunger Games could have easily gone with a group of grown men and women, but instead opted for the Battle Royale route.
After the death of a contestant, the result is announced to all surviving contestants. In both films, it would have been interesting if there was no announcement, and survivors were kept guessing until the last survivor is left standing. The announcements didn’t necessarily detract from either movie, but you can add it to the list of coincidences nevertheless.
The last, pretty glaring similarity was the tracking system. While Battle Royale players were tracked with a collar and Hunger Games contestants were tracked intravenously, the behind-the-scenes idea was nearly identical. A group of mindless drones sat around a giant digital map, directed by a single leader, and watched the contestants as they fought to survive. The Minority Report touch screens in Hunger Games couldn’t mask that similarity. In both films, the finalists cheated the system and found a way to escape the game intact.
However, there were key differences that set Hunger Games apart from its counterpart and made me appreciate the film for the unique adaptation that it was.Hunger Games features more of a futuristic, dystopian feel, where an elite ruling class shave their beards artistically and sip cocktails while the peon masses huddle up like cattle in 12 different regions. Of course, inter-region travel is not permitted (by way of electric fence) and it leads to some stark differences among the members of each region. One male and one female are selected from each of the 12 districts, which makes for interesting interactions among the 24 contestants of the “74th annual” Hunger Games. Battle Royale takes place in an alternate Japan where the economy has collapsed and civil unrest runs rampant. Students are boycotting school and the government passes the BR Act, which allows for the contest. In this respect, Battle Royale is more startling and borderline believable, while Hunger Games is more of a far-off fantasy — but don’t take that the wrong way.
The Hunger Games contestants, in contrast to Battle Royale, seem to be battle-hardened and are even trained prior to the contest, which makes sense, because the whole thing is televised for elite entertainment. There are only a few people, slightly younger Rue included, who are really numb to the whole situation they’ve just been dumped into. In Battle Royale, the majority of the characters are like Rue, and many try to achieve some sort of peace.
Plot-wise, neither tournament lasts longer than a few days. Film-wise, the Hunger Games competition seems to last less than half of the screen time (an hour or so). The other half is spent on weak character building and not-so-weak setting development. I say that because, by the time the battle actually rolled around, I found myself not caring if one character survived or got killed off by genetically-modified hornets. In Battle Royale, I felt the same way, but it’s because I was supposed to. Less than five minutes is spent introducing the story line and the group of schoolchildren is almost immediately thrown into pure island chaos, and a few of them don’t even make it that far.
The contest rules are also different. Hunger Games contestants had an obligation to kill each other, but there was no time limit. In Battle Royale, the added suspense of a three-day time limit imposes on the minds of all 42 contestants and drives many of them to do things they would never have dreamed of doing.
The most prominent difference, and what ultimately solidified my Battle Royale bias, was the contest setting. Hunger Games took place in a giant electronic nature dome where Truman Show operator had the power to alter everything, including the weather and the challenges. This includes fireballs coming out of nowhere and pit bull mutants popping out of the ground (…really?). Battle Royale, on the other hand, took place on a deserted island — and that’s it. Most of the contestants are from the same school class, gassed en route to a field trip, and thrown onto the island. In this respect, the viewer gets to witness the progression from innocence to cold-blooded killer. There’s nothing in between.
All in all, The Hunger Games was a very good movie. If you like Battle Royale, you’ll probably like Hunger Games (and vice versa). Nobody can say with certainty if Suzanne Collins was influenced or not, but we’ll have to take her word for it. If you’ve never seen Battle Royale, you’ll probably experience the initial shock of seeing a dystopian teenager-laden battle to the death. But if you have seen Battle Royale, Hunger Games might come up a little short. However, in the style versus substance battle, Hunger Games definitely has the style aspect locked up.
A solid Woody Harrelson job never hurts either.