Into the Arena: the Hunger Games


After seeing the review of the book by Geek Crash Course,  I decided to investigate.  As usual, it was a priority to read the book before I went to see the movie.  With not a lot  of downtime between school, work and homework, and the fact that I like my sleep, it took me a bit longer than usual to finish.

As it stands, it’s totally worth it, both reading the book and seeing the movie.

First the Book:

The dystopian dictatorship taking place after a rebellion that engulfed and essentially, destroyed the United States, and probably Canada and Mexico, to the point where the borders have fallen, and the resulting nation of Panem spans North America.  Introduced to the hardship of the average person, we are enthralled with this image of ourselves, that if an uprising of the masses, would not only not fix the problems we have, but make them worse, is a startling, and shuddering realism about the underbelly that exists within our country.  We are forced to face a situation that has not arisen in this country, but is seen in others.

Katniss is a reliable narrator, a 16-year old girl forced to grow up before her time, making her cynical and jaded, past the point of the loss of innocence in the story, essentially taking over as breadwinner and head of household after her father died.  Her journey through the Hunger Games, is both heartening and terrifying, bloody and brutal.  I can’t wait to pick up the other two books.

Second the Movie:

Nicely stylized, but nicely adapted.  The script was nicely cut  to movie format, probably because the author of the book was deeply entrenched with the writing conversion, so there was no Percy Jackson Syndrome here.  The director walked a very fine line between the violence of the book, and the PG-13 rating of the movie, forcing fast cuts, possibly providing some people with motion sickness, due to the constant movement and whipping around in order to not have to focus to closely on the bloodier, more violent deaths in the story.

Overall, still enjoyable and authentic to the source material, but probably not a movie for small children, considering the violence of the plot.  I would definitely go see it again, But I would still recommend reading the book first, as there were things cut from the movie that might leave viewers a little confused.

PotterWatch: Lightning has struck…

And so ends the Harry Potter Dynasty as we know it.  Even with the Pottermore site coming out, all we are left with is movie marathons, fanfic, and re-reading the books a thousand times, because JK Rowling has said that she won’t write anymore HP.
As far as conclusions go, Deathly Hollows Part 2 was stellar.  And even though I’d been looking forward to the older actors that might have been them in the epilogue, I’m kinda glad they stayed with the original actors.  These are the people who began the journey, and they should be the ones welcoming us to the finish line with them.
And yet, despite the fact that they split up the last book so as to not lose anything, they still manage to screw it up.  Ah well.  Thus is Hollywood.
The effects were right on with what I would have imagined for the scenes in my head, for the most part.  And I thank my visiting peanut gallery for coming to see it with me.  Snark always makes a movie experience better.
So for now, we bid you adieu, Harry James Potter.  Until next time.

Dark of the Moon: Transformers 3

OK, first off, sad face that they replaced Megan Fox with the Vicky’s Model, but lets get over it.  I was pissed off when they replaced Evie in the Mummy movies, but at least for this she’s a totally different character.  And I think she did a decent job.

That being said, all I have to say is this: This movie is EPIC.

If they go on with the franchise I’m not sure how they would top it.  It raised the bar that much.  But if they do manage it, I’d be happy to fork over my money to see it.  But can we leave the 3-D alone.  It’s great for IMAX, but the extra dimension doesn’t really add anything to the table, it just makes for an awkward experience, if your looking at one part of the screen not covered by the glasses.

Happy Easter egg. those of you jonesing for your Wash fix, he pops up, and nicely bad-ass.  And nicely done,  incorporating like three different Presidents that in no way really show up.  I guess they had some fun with Photoshop.  I think they got the same voice actor that they used for COD: Black Ops.  I would so go see this movie again, if I could afford it.  And i might put it on pre-order for my Amazon Wishlist.  Michael Bay definitely delivers in his usual style, and it was great seeing the old gang.  And for the NASCAR fans, they have two of them, albeit if a Grand Theft Auto military geek got ahold of them.  I won’ t tell you which ones.  That would be cheating.

Oh, FYI there’s nothing in or after the credits, so you don’t need to stay.

Ska-doosh: Return of the Dragon Warrior

A star-studded cast returns in this adorable sequel as we find ourselves on the journey to finding Po’s origins.  Led by Jack Black, all of the original casting returns in this romp to save China.  Our favorite love to hate villainous actor Gary Oldman voices the antagonist responsible for Po’s mysterious origins.  I always hat in animated sequels where they don’t bring back the original actors, thinking they can find some that’s close enough to fool us.  Thankfully that isn’t an issue here.

The story was solid and the synergy between characters palpable.  There are no missteps in this movie, and and no downslide in quality.  In fact, it’s on par with its predecessor.  But of course they have left it open for another movie, but I find myself not minding.  In fact, I look forward to the coming obstacles as we battle along side with Po and the Furious Five as they achieve their destiny.

Green Lantern’s Light: The Rise of Hal Jordan

Not being overly familiar with the comic book series, but a fan of Ryan Reynolds, I was nervous about seeing this movie.  But I think going in with a fresh mind, unbiased about the story telling, was the best idea.  I’d gotten ahold of the animated movie that had come out in the last couple of year, but haven’t watched yet.  When I do go see an adaptation, I tend to compare are gather insight from those that are very familiar with the source material.  This is one of the few comic book movies that I’ve seen in a long time where I could just sit down and enjoy the experience, unmindful of plot holes, mistakes, or differences.  I just got caught up in the story.

And what a story.

The concept of a group of people that are so individually diverse working together towards a common goal in harmony is something mankind has wished to achieve since we achieved a higher state of intelligence than our animal brethren.  We are no where close to that but the fact that we still try is an amazing feat.  Hal is inducted into a society that has been around probably before humanity became Homo erectus.  Having the power to create anything that your mind can think of is a staggering concept.

But I should get back to the story.  Hal’s back story and transition from Peter Pan to superhero is masterfully handled.  The suit has possibility to look ridiculous, but the effects people do a great job to make it work.  Visually breathtaking, this is one joyride that should not be missed.  Should they decide to do a sequel, I will glad fork over my money to fly with Hal Jordan.

Entry for the Super 8 Ohio Film Festival or What the Hell was that?

Given that J.J. Abrams’s last creature feature didn’t work out so well, to the point where I never saw it, I spent a fair amount of time anticipating this movie.

Everything this movie promises, it delivers.

You have your cute moments, because it is centered around kids, plus drama.  I had some jumpy moments due to the plot, and was amused.  Everything you’d expect from the creator of Alias, especially being teamed up with Mr. ET himself.

It’s a quaint story, set in the seventies, and what typically what happens to a small town when Hollywood is in charge.  All the natural disaster or alien movies destroy major cities, but small towns are the hot beds for zombies, monsters of the terrestrial variety, and serial killers.  At this point, I’m thinking it’s in my best interest to move in with Santa Clause, or an island.  Oh wait, islands have giant man-eating reptiles, monsters, viruses, or we  just go Lord of the Flies.

This movie is kid friendly, as long as you don’t suffer the delusion that your Jr. high school child isn’t swearing up a storm as soon as they’re out of earshot, and this movie does hold you on the edge of your seat.  Or in my case, huddling in your seat, hiding behind your hands.  I would happily watch this again, but I have other things on my agenda.

Later days.

First Class: Now in Session…

I decided to have a movie day today, which means I spent a nice long time, and good chunk of change, at the movies.

First up: X-Men: First Class

Of all the origin stories that we have been given glimpses of, the beginning of Professor X has been second only to Wolverine, who was nice enough to appear long enough to tell Charles and Eric to f*ck off, till we see him again in his movie.  I’ve never much been a comic book geek, so most of my knowledge of the X-men world is derived from the early 90s cartoon on FOX, and that hasn’t been seen in a long time by me.  While this did manage to answer many of the questions I’d had over the years, it left me with some nitpick moments.  Unfortunately, the writers failed to take into a count some continuity issues.  I won’t say what they are, but if you use the event time lines created between this movie, Wolverine, and the first X-men movie produced, discrepancies start popping up like a Whack-a-mole.

When working in an established universe, unless you give yourself wiggle room to go off on your own tangent, as expertly demonstrated by the new Star Trek movie, you leave yourself open to undercut plot lines that have already been seen, an unfortunate example is Batman Forever.

I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, its scope and grandeur made it a wonderful prequel.  The casting was tailor made for the actors selected, I couldn’t be more pleased, and can’t wait for what comes next.

Can Jack Come Out and Play?

Captain Jack is Back!

Waiting to see whether or not the fourth Pirates movie would sink or swim, I was ecstatic that Jack was once again up to his usual eccentric antics, with no one to steal scenes from but himself.  Which he still manages to do.

Without the distraction of the endless Will/Liz drama-rama, Jack is free to take the spotlight.  Though they did attempt to inject another star-crossed couple, they didn’t feel the need to draw it out for a million years.

The action was good, the plot engaging, and the effects were amazing.

Answers to questions not answered:

1. We have no idea the scar on his face is about, neither does he.

2. No clue what the after credits means, except trouble for Jack, and ANOTHER movie.

Just questions:

1. How will they get the Black Pearl out?

2. Is there another movie in the works?

Well, as far as I’m concerned, I can’t for the Captain’s next outing.

P.S. I would very much appreciate comments to my posts.

Fast Five, Furious Six

While I have no idea whether or not they plan to make ANOTHER movie, though they did make allusions during the after credits, that would be my pick for a title, for continuity’s sake anyway.

While there aren’t as many car races as we have come to expect, the plot was good, the action was delicious(the throwdown between XXX and The Scorpion King was delightfully brutal), and the interplay between the characters was poignant.  I have to agree with the critics who called this the best one yet.  Me, and my nephew will be chomping at the bit to get this movie on DVD, though for different reasons, considering he’s 11, and I’m not.  Should they decide to make another one, I’ll be in line, waiting for my ticket.

I’ll leave off this post with the last line of the movie: “Do you believe in ghosts?”

Dropping the Hammer on Thor’s Day

When engaging the comic book movies, I tend to stick to what I know; X-Men and Spider-man, from my familiarity of the mid-90s cartoons that aired on FOX, Batman – when it was being handled by Tim Burton, Superman – early recollections of Lois & Clark.  Iron Man and Hellboy grabbed me immediately, Incredible Hulk – I skipped the first and latched on to Ed Norton.  Thor was out of my sphere of influence, and I was apprehensive.  Until I found out it was being helmed by Kenneth Branagh.  Having been an avid Shakespeare fan at an early age, I’ve watched his work in front of an behind the camera with unmitigated glee.

I was scarcely familiar the the background mythology behind the comic series.  I tend to gravitate towards Greek Mythology(yes-I’m a fan of Hercules and Xena).  That being said, it piqued my curiosity and made me go surfing for books on mythology.  For now they reside on my Amazon wishlist.  I consider this movie a brief introduction to a new world.

Unexpected treats for me was finding Rene Russo as Thor’s mother Freya(fully aware they spell it different, it’s the same name, I know that much), and Idris Elba in gold armor.  The helmet threw me off.   Casting Sir Anthony Hopkins as Odin was a masterful stroke of genius, NO ONE ELSE could have done it better.  The imagery of Asgard was breathtaking, to the point where I wanted to walk through the screen and step into the hallowed halls.  Costumes, imagery, SFX, fantastic.  I was a little thrown off with the sideways camera angles, however.

In short, had I still been in Korea, I would have borrowed a pirated DVD, then annihilated it from overuse.

This is going on my list of movies I demand for X-mas.

Keep up the good work, Kenneth, and Thor, I search the skies for your return with Joss Whedon.

The Hangover Part II

In general, I’m not really fan of over the top, ribald comedies that revel in their status in the gutter.  Actually, I don’t generally watch comedies.  I’m usually enjoying a plethora of explosions and whup-assery or something animated(not anime).

However I do tend to follow actors through their various roles.  My leash for this movie and its predecessor: Bradley Cooper.

I followed him from Alias, to Kitchen Confidential to The Hangover.

This is a delightful movie of insane chaos that I thoroughly enjoyed, especially since I can imagine some of my relatives dealing with similar scenarios.

Outright, I will say this: The Hangover Part II was even more disturbing than the first one.  I’m pleased that the sequel curse did not befall the writers and filmmakers.  No, the sequel is on par, or surpasses the first, and I can’t wait for it to come out on DVD.

I’m not going to spoil the movie, however I will say some fan favorites return, and the Wolfpack’s excursion in Thailand is not to be missed.  And Stu’s tattoo should seem very familiar to those who pay attention.  If they ever decide to do a Part III, I will be in the front row, anxious with anticipation.