The Hunger Games was a phenomenon. A book adaptation starring Jennifer Lawrence, in the lead role of Katniss Everdeen. The film was based on the book written by Suzanne Collins. Fast forward a year and a half and we've got the sequel, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Director Francis Lawrence has taken over the franchise, and the entire original cast has returned. If the first film was only the spark to something greater... this film totally catches fire! Let's go!
What I liked about the film:
Jennifer Lawrence just keeps getting better and better. Seriously, this young woman is an incredible actress, and she shows it in this film. She perfectly portrays what Katniss is dealing with internally. The character is dealing with the fact that she has killed people. She will never be able to shake that off, and she's essentially been trapped in a fake life. Lawrence has to juggle confusion, anger and compassion without having the character fall apart. It's only because of Lawrence that the film's narrative can be carried out so flawlessly. Not only is she a beautiful actress, but she's an incredibly talented one as well. And the final frame of the film will have you mesmerized by her performance until the next film.
Josh Hutcherson returns as District 12's other tribute, Peeta Mellark. While I felt Hutcherson came off as a whiny, love-struck woos in the first film, that's not the case here! Hutcherson is strong, confident, and knows who he is. I really enjoyed this character's growth! Liam Hemsworth returns as well, as Katniss' hometown love interest. I think Hemsworth did a fine job with the little material he had. Now I've never read the books, but I sure hope there's something more for him to do in the future of the series.
Woody Harrelson plays a terrific mentor to the tributes. He's still battling alcoholism, but has a fondness for Katniss and Peta that he can not deny. Elizabeth Banks returns as a fashion loving socialite that also loves the tributes, but can do little to stop the events in the film. She figuratively, and literally, adds a lot of color to the film. Lenny Kravitz and Stanley Tucci are just awesome in their respective roles despite limited screen time. And then there are the men of the Capital. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the new 'Game Master' running the new Hunger Games. He's devious and has a plan much bigger than The Hunger Games themselves. And lastly, the amazing Donald Sutherland. His portrayal as President Snow is, well, perfect. He's a man hellbent on staying in power, at any cost. He will kill, he will burn entire cities to the ground, to ensure the people of the Districts fear the government. If Katniss Everdeen is the spark to a revolution, he will diffuse it with all the water in the Great Lakes if that's what is necessary. He's creepy, and absolutely brilliant. I love it.
Everything is Stepped up a Notch
What I didn't like about the film:
Can't Wait For Mockingjay
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Check out the poster above, and the first teaser trailer below, for the Angelina Jolie starring film, Maleficent. The film is of course based on the villainess in Disney's Sleeping Beauty animated film. The film was originally going to be directed by Tim Burton, who directed Disney's other live-action adaptation, Alice in Wonderland. Burton stepped aside due to a busy schedule, and in came Robert Stromberg. Check out the trailer. Enjoy!
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
I have sort of avoided posting this 'rumor' for a few months now. Back in July, at the San Diego Comic-Con, Marvel officially announced the sequel to it's mega-hit, The Avengers. The sequel is titled, The Avengers: Age of Ultron. And none other than James Spader would be playing the primary villain in the title. That was the big headline news as far as the movie; but there was some other drama brewing that concerned some lesser known characters.
Quicksilver. Well Fox ALSO has the rights to the character, as he has sometimes been featured in X-Men comic books. So in a classic case of ego-driven charm by the two studios, the character will be featured in two different movies, with two different actors, in two very different franchises. Evan Peters got the part of Quicksilver in X-Men: Days of Future Past, and it was recently announced that Aaron Taylor-Johnson would play the same character in the 'Avengers' sequel.
We all know that Johnson has a history with comic book films. He starred as Kick-Ass in two films based on the character of the same name. I really enjoy Johnson's acting and I think he will be a terrific addition to an already star studded affair. The character is an interesting one, as long as he doesn't get sidelined by the bigger named heroes in the film. I really like Johnson's casting here. But wait, there's more! Quicksilver has a twin sister!
Scarlet Witch, will be played by Elizabeth Olsen. Olsen has been rumored for months to be playing the part, but only today it was made official when she let it slip in an interview. I have to be honest, I don't really know any of her work. I have never seen any of her films; but every time I read a review by a film critic I respect, they are usually raving about her acting skills.
|Olsen, Johnson, Cranston at SDCC 2013|
Funny thing is, in the Godzilla film, the young actors play husband and wife; while in the 'Avengers' film they'll be twin siblings. Eesh! Wierd. But a fun movie fact nonetheless. I'm obviously very excited to see the sequel to The Avengers, and what director Joss Whedon has up his sleeve for us this time around. The Marvel universe of films has not let us down yet, and I don't expect this film to be any different.
Friday, November 8, 2013
Marvel just can't miss. Since 2008's Iron Man, they have had one success after another. Their films offer up a great balance between action, comedy and drama. 2011's Thor was no different. It took the Marvel cinematic universe to outer space. Our mighty hero Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth, in all his muscular glory. His brother, the God of mischief, Loke... played by the devilishly handsome Tom Hiddleston. Their dad, the Allfather, Odin, was played by the incredible Anthony Hopkins. There was something so gracious and grandiose about the film. Something Shakespearean. While the first film felt a bit 'small' compared to other Marvel films; that is simply not the case with the sequel. Thor: The Dark World is bigger, better and funnier! Let's go!
What I liked about the film:
Not to beat a dead horse here, but no one appeared to take themselves too serious in this film. Hemsworth demands attention as the titular character. And I love what the writers did with his story arc, following the events of The Avengers. Hemsworth presents the audience with a nobility, few young actors could pull off. And it doesn't hurt that he's totally chiseled in this film. Whoa!
Tom Hiddleston is amazing in this film! Unlike his mono-tonal performance in The Avengers (which I loved), he has much more to work with in this film. Even more so than the first Thor film. He portrays angst, anger, sympathy and more. Hemsworth and Hiddleston's banter in the film felt genuine and real. I have a little brother, and I could imagine saying some of the things the characters were saying to each other. Just great stuff written for these two tremendous actors.
Supporting roles are executed fairly well here. Natalie Portman returns after her absence in The Avengers. The writers found a clever way to make her integral to the story (which I'll discuss in a moment). Jaimie Alexander returns as Lady Sif, and has a few wonderful hints of jealousy towards Portman's character. While they don't have much to do, Alexander and Ray Stevenson play great friends of Thor. Kat Dennings again gets the funniest lines in the film. She does wonderful in this goofy role that I can't really picture anyone else playing. Stellan Skarsgard also brings some comic relief, as he reprises his role as Dr. Selvig.
Idris Elba gets an expanded role from the first film, and does well (as he always does mind you). Christopher Eccleston joins the franchise as a very cool villain. Really liked his performance; and it shined through even with all the makeup he had to wear in the film. This cast is great. Each actor brought something to the table; and was able to add something to the film. While not all the characters have a notable arc, the ones that do, really shine through.
Brian Tyler delivers one of the most emotionally charged scores I've heard in a long time. There is one particularly sad scene that had no dialogue whatsoever. Just a few scenes with Tyler's music playing in the background. I was nearly in tears. The action packed leitmotif, and the slowed down drama pieces were very well done.
Alan Taylor elevated the franchise to new heights. Most of his choices are spot on! The tone, the editing, choice in music, set design, costume, etc. He took the world built by the previous director, Kenneth Branagh, and took it up a notch. I really admire a lot of his choices on this film. Let's think about this for a second. This is a superhero film, that takes place in outer space with a ton of CGI; what could go wrong? Green Lantern, that's how it could go wrong! Taylor keeps the film grounded, but light on its feet. He has the protagonists showing off his abilities much more than the first film where Thor was stuck in a small town in New Mexico. So happy with Taylor's decision to direct this sequel.
What I didn't like about the film:
The Insanely Stupid Story
Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely did so many things wrong, I had a hard time appreciating what they did right.
The story is dumb, and certain characters' motivations for their actions are dumb. I left the theater asking, 'well why would that character do that? It seems like an awful lot of trouble for that.' Certain characters are written into the film just to ensure they have a reason to be there. And there's quite a bit of there he is! No he isn't! THERE he is! And I really hate when writers get lazy and default back to those creative-less ways of moving the story forward. I do have to give the writers credit for two thing. The first being that most of the film took place on Asgard, and I loved that! The fish out of water bit worked in the first film, but would have been redundant in this film. And the second; as the trailers have given away, Loki helps Thor in his mission. The writers did an amazing job giving him motivation to ignore their past, and have the two brothers help each other. And we never really know which side of the fence Loki stands on. That was good! See, not that harsh right?
An Extremely Entertaining, yet Formulaic Film