A brand new Mockingjay Part II trailer was released today and it looks absolutely heart racing. From the trailer it looks like things are picking up right where Part I ended and boy are they heating up.
I’m super excited for this last installment of the Hunger Games franchise. So far the Mockingjay installment has been my favorite of the series. Something was missing from my chest when the lights went up after Part I. I was incredibly moved. The second part is bound to be just as breath taking.
This is a film America really needs to see right now. With the parallels of police brutality and class struggle between Panem and our own world, Mockingjay sends a powerful message. We need to unite as people and overthrow that which oppresses us. While a film franchise is hardly the solution to these problems, it raises awareness and gives the public a vessel through which to learn. Mockingjay Part II couldn’t come soon enough.
FOX Studios must have had a brilliant plan up there sleeves all along for marketing X-Men: Apocalypse. At San Diego Comic Con, they released the first red band trailer to extremely excited audiences and the whole thing really amped up the buzz around the film. Alas, FOX says that footage will remain for SDCC audiences only, so unless you saw the pirated footage that was leaked on the internet (which you shouldn’t have, because that’s stealing, but if you did OH MY GOD THAT WAS AWESOME RIGHT?! Not that I’ve seen it or anything…) you may be out of luck.
However, FOX teamed up with Entertainment Weekly to give non-SDCC attending audiences a glimpse of the film to hopefully get them just as pumped. The new issue of EW will hit news stands on July 24, 2015 and will feature a full-length introduction to the film and several characters and their costumes. Psylocke (Olivia Munn), Apocalypse himself (Oscar Isaac) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) grace the cover, and on the inside spread we get glimpses of Quicksilver (Evan Peters), Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Professor X (James McAvoy), Moira McTaggert (Rose Byrne), Beast (Nick Hoult) as well as first looks at new comer mutants Jubilee (Lana Condor), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), amd Jean Grey (Sophie Turner).
You can look at the first photos here, and be sure to pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly when it comes out next week.
All images belong to FOX Studios and Entertainment Weekly. They are credited to Alan Markfield.
Katniss, played by Jennifer Lawrence, is seen in the poster looking svelte in a red outfit that is sure to kill. The ‘fit also comes with a set of matching arrows. To die for.
The teaser shows Miss Everdeen standing on the District 12 statue and then a cutaway to a message from District 13.
The marketing for this franchise is incredibly clever, mirroring the same tactics Panem and President Snow use to instill fear in the people. Too bad for him because the rebellion is here, and it is looking really good.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 will be in theater November 20th, 2015.
Genre – Sci-Fi Dystopian/Book Adaptation
Director – Francis Lawrence (Catching Fire)
Cast – Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Phillip Seymour Hoffman (RIP), Julianne Moore, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson
Alluring element – S*** finally gets real in the Hunger Games saga!
Check it out if you liked – The Hunger Games franchise, other young adult lit turned film
When Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games adaptation came to the big screen, I was ecstatic. Me, who had been a literary disaster since choosing to go to an engineering college after high school, who had not read a book without pictures in it since Huckleberry Finn. The Hunger Games was the first story where I felt fully immersed in the world I was reading about.So far, the movies have been pretty great at capturing that same fire (heh) and excitement that I had when I read the books for the first time. Heck, we gave Catching Fire a 91%. Only a year has passed since the second installment came out, but so much has happened since.
Jennifer Lawrence’s off-screen drama has been a severe distraction (not her fault, but a reality nevertheless), and the thought of a grown and sexy JLaw (ala American Hustle) was just too awkward when you consider she is playing a 17 year old Katniss Everdeen. The negative reception that the film has received since its release was disheartening. Going in, all this movie had to do to impress us was, quite blatantly, not suck. The result was one of mixed feelings; this film far from sucked, but from the start, we definitely felt that Mockingjay did not need to be split into two films – something that really has, or ever will, only worked for Harry Potter. The final movie in the trilogy had the potential to be the heart-pounding finale that we all deserved, but instead, the heart-wrenching powerful moments were broken up by a casually-paced and matter-of-fact story progression.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let me tell you how much I genuinely enjoyed Mockingjay. The arena has always been one of the more interesting aspects of the books, and so by actually pulling our heads out of the District 12 sandbox we’ve had our heads in this whole time, we are able to connect to the other Districts. That connection is really what drives the film until the end. From Katniss’ guest appearance in District 8 to District 5’s courageous effort at the dam, you understand that everybody is fighting against a common goal. Katniss, the Mockingjay, is at the center of all this, but while it might seem like she is the spark of hope, she is turned into nothing short of a puppet, a symbol for hope, by District 13 President Coin. It actually reminded me of the way Captain America was used to punch fake Hitlers and rile up the crowd when he had a perfectly adequate skills for actually taking on the enemy. And like Captain America, Katniss pushes herself right into harms way to get her point across.
Another big theme here is propaganda, or propos as Heavensbee would like to to call them. Basically spitting back out the same strategies that the Capitol is using against them, District 13 sends their camera crew to follow Katniss and get usable footage for these advertisements is really no better than your local Congressmen’s ads that run during Scandal. The only reason I can forgive it from 13 is that they have Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones) on the mic. But seriously, taking advantage of Katniss’ vulnerability (and, in the process, turning Jennifer Lawrence into a pop star!) during her “Hanging Tree” performance is really just as despicable as the Capitol using Peeta against her. It’s a topic I wish the film would have dove in on, especially since it had two hours to do so. Katniss is just a tool, and will be treated with such revery only as long as it serves District 13’s purpose.
On the bright side, we get a noticeable decline in both Blair Witch camera and Jennifer Lawrence cry face – a repeat offender in the first couple films. The supporting cast this time around was much stronger, too. Julianne Moore and Phillip Seymour Hoffman (RIP) play a perfect President Coin and Plutarch Heavensbee, and on the other side of the mirror, Donald Sutherland is even more frightening than before as President Snow. Jeffrey Wright also makes his return as the genius Beetee, who is finally realized as the vital character that always has been. It’s also nice to see him back to being a good guy after his villainous stint in Boardwalk Empire. The old gang also makes a return, with a made-down Effie Trinket and sober Haymitch rounding out the cast with Gale, ever-ready to play soldier and submit himself to the cause.
At some point in the movie, the revolution turned into a love story. I know this is a movie aimed at teenagers, but it can get eye-rolling at the fact that, in a middle of a rebellion, with so many other brave and adult decisions being made, a young woman’s sole interest is not overthrowing the government, but saving her boyfriend. I’ve read that Jennifer Lawrence once tried out for Bella in Twilight; well, it looks like she won’t have to be in a sucky vampire movie to play the role of Bumbling Idiot in a Love Triangle; she has that already. This is not a love story, and it doesn’t need to be a love story to keep teenage girls interested.
Overall, I really enjoyed Mockingjay: Part 1. There are many things happening and in an entirely new environment – enough to keep me engaged the entire time (and I am notorious for falling asleep through movies). That being said, I’m still convinced that a single movie to encompass the third book should have been in order. For its own two-hour block, it would have nice to touch over the more subtle themes of the book – especially the propaganda. If they were going to use it in the promotional materials, why not discuss it in the movie? There is simply too much exposition for this film to catch fire like its predecessor did. However, with the finale guaranteed to break hearts and box office records, there’s still a lot to look forward to when the finale rolls around next November.
All pictures belong to Lionsgate production company.
I was lucky enough to see an advance screen of The Fault in Our Stars last week and I am still dizzy from the emotions it surfaced for me. I’ll admit that I am a bit biased when it comes to this movie. The Fault in Our Stars is my favorite book and it means a great deal to me, personally. Author John Green shares a YouTube Channel with his brother Hank called “The Vlogbrothers,” of which I am a massive fan. Their fans are called Nerdfighters (fighting for nerds, not against them) and they are some of the most passionate, intelligent, caring people you will ever meet. While writing the novel, John documented his progress as well as read the first two chapters to his fans via Livestream before the book was even published. The Nerdfighters were even able to catch a mistake in the book before it was printed. So when I say I’ve been with this story since the beginning, I mean the very beginning. Seeing this story finally hit the big screen feels like a triumph.
Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) is an atypical teenager living with cancer, oxygen tank trailing forever behind her. While medication and frequent doctors visits have extended her life quite a bit, she is very much aware that she is dying. After being deemed depressed by both her mother and doctor, Hazel begins attending a cancer support group. It is here that she meets Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort), a charismatic, sly, metaphoric loving cancer survivor determined to make his mark on the world. Together they find “a forever within the numbered days,” a love that transcends their illness, and an adventure that makes them both feel infinitely alive whilst on the border of death.
Lovers of the novel will be extremely satisfied with the adaptation. Countless scenes have dialogue directly pulled from the book. The casting could not be more perfect. I personally can not see anyone but Shailene Woodley playing Hazel and Ansel Elgort makes the perfect Augustus. While the movie was actually shot in Pittsburgh, set designers and cinematographers were able to make it feel very much like Indiana, scouring out every flat piece of land they could find and recreating the sculpture “Funky Bones”with such detail that the original curator Sarah Green couldn’t tell the difference. Watching the film felt like reading the book all over again. The few scenes they cut I didn’t even notice until later watching an interview with John Green. It is clear that the people behind the movie cared for the book just as much as it’s diehard fans.
While Augustus may be “on a roller coaster than only goes up,” this film takes its audience for an emotionally diverse ride, so much so that DFTBA.com sells a “TFIOS Preparedness Kit” – tissues included. Witty dialogue and ingenious timing create a laughable atmosphere throughout the movie, allowing the audience to believe everything is going to be okay just long enough that when things take a turn for the worse, it cuts all the deeper. However, despite how much the movie made me cry, I still wouldn’t classify it as a sad movie. The Fault in Our Stars is just as much about life as it is about sickness and death. The characters are joyful through much of the film. They are falling in love with each other and with life, despite how little time they have left. In fact, it may because of their mortality that they are able to do this so freely. One thing should be made clear; this is not a cancer story. Yes, it’s a love story about two kids with cancer. Yes, Hazel’s oxygen tank and Augustus’prosthetic leg makes it abundantly clear they’re ill. Still, The Fault in Our Stars is a story about people faced with their own mortality and the mortality of their loved ones. It’s about laying things clean and dry on the table to stop beating around the bush. It’s about two young adults realizing that this life is all they are going to get and that that’s just fine. Their lives are not perfect, in fact they’re far from, but they are still lives that demands to be lived to their fullest. This is a story about overcoming pain and finding joy despite it. This is not a cancer story.
The soundtrack alone could warrant a review. Ranging from big names like Ed Sheeran and Birdy to lesser known, but just as talented artists such as Afasi and Filthy, the album’s mood fluctuates similarly to the film but still manages to be cohesive. “Bomfelleralla,” a personal favorite of mine, may be the only song that doesn’t seem to quite fit until you see the film. It’s plucked directly out of a scene where Van Houten (Willem Dafoe) plays the song for Hazel and Augustus.
The Fault in Our Stars is an important story because it shows that cancer patients are not their illness and have lives outside it. It shows sickness in a light we rarely get to see. So often we look at someone with a cannula and all we see is their sickness. We visualize them as “the other”when they are very much just like us. The Fault in Our Stars breaks down this “otherness”with a story about two lovers who are like every other couple. They just happen to have cancer.
The film comes out June 6th but if you hurry, you can see it early. Theaters all over the US are hosting “The Night Before the Stars”where audiences can see the film the day before it comes out as well as a following livestream including cast members Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort and Nat Wolff (who plays Issac) , Author John Green, Director Josh Boone, Producer Wyck Godfrey, and performances from Birdy and Nat and Alex Wolff. Attendees will also receive a commemorative charm bracelet and exclusive movie poster. Tickets are $25 and going fast.
Even if you haven’t read the book (though I sincerely recommend you do) The Fault in Our Stars is a film you will find yourself thinking about long after the credits roll. From the brilliant cast to the heart wrenching plot, this film is destined to be a Summer hit.
All photos belong to 20th Century Fox and Marvel Comics
After the foul tail-end of the original X-Men trilogy, followed up with two more poorly-received Wolverine movies, Bryan Singer and company attempts to start all over with Days of Future Past. Do they succeed? Yes, but like its source material, it is not without its flaws.
When Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the X-Men in the 1960’s, the team was spawned from a reflection of the Civil Rights movement. Social commentary through badass super-powers became the norm. So when Chris Claremont progressed the subject into one of total annihilation with Days of Future Past, it was as much a nod to the mutually assured destruction of war as it was about saving the world from evil sentinels.
That’s not to say that I wanted the movie to be preachy, but at the heart of the X-Men concept is that of a team. The idea that everybody can have their own favorite X-Man, and they were all useful tools in the struggle, was one that appealed to me as a kid, watching the X-Men animated series. However, this movie was really boiled down to four main characters: Professor X, Magneto, Wolverine and Mystique. The movie was marketed as including a slew of side characters from the future, as well as a reunion of the original cast; instead, they showed up to be collateral – with their forced dramatic deaths failing to make me feel the gravity of the situation.
X-Men has always been a team concept, and this movie turned it into an excuse to flaunt their biggest stars. We get it; Huge Jacked Man and the glory of Jennifer Lawrence’s Bloobs are hard to pass up, and the McAvoy/Fassbender chemistry feels just as authentic as Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen do. However, if you’re going to sell this as X-Men movie, can we get some more X-Men in there? Not every team movie needs to be The Avengers (thanks Joss, for setting the bar impossibly high), but the camaraderie here doesn’t even hold a candle to the original X-Men, or even First Class.
All of a sudden, having an all-star cast is more important than a well-rounded cast – a sentiment I’d be fine with on almost anything that wasn’t the X-Men. They do a decent round-about way of making Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine the centerpiece over Ellen Page’s Kitty Pryde, until you realize that Kitty Pryde never had the ability to send anybody else’s consciousness back in time. It’s not that I’m that upset Singer’s Kitty Pryde didn’t get the main role, since Bishop filled in the role quite well in the animated series. There were a ton of other logical brain-farts we saw throughout that seem to be credited to tying in the horrible Last Stand in order to make the whole saga canon – a valiant effort, but still a sham.
One place DOFP absolutely succeeds is in the portrayal of Quicksilver, who helps the team break into the Pentagon and free Magneto from imprisonment. Played by American Horror Story‘s Evan Peters, Peter (Singer felt his comic book name, Pietro, isn’t a realistic name for a teenager) Maximoff is self-indulgent and hilarious, but is intrigued by the challenge of the prison break. There’s a particular sequence where Quicksilver shows off his skills that gave me the butterflies like a superhero movie is supposed to (something I definitely did not feel throughout the rest of the movie), and was around just long enough to make me want more.
Mystique also takes center stage here, and she kicks ass. Jennifer Lawrence absolutely owes it to her stunt double. Lawrence herself is not believable as Mystique, often coming across as a rebellious teenager. There’s just something about her face that doesn’t fit the look (we debated on whether it was the chin, cheeks or her large forehead that we didn’t like), but the fight scenes were incredible. She isn’t the only character that falls flat with me; Michael Fassbender’s Magneto, who had one of the most amazing displays in First Class turns into nothing more than a caricature of himself here. It’s a shame to see a character so complex turned into a one-dimensional bad guy.
For being a movie based off a two-issue comic book, Days of Future Past does a good job of spacing the story out over its 2 hr 11 min runtime. There are a handful of awkward stares off into the distance I could have done without, and there’s a Magneto scene involving a entire stadium off the ground that feels forced and anti-climatic, but that’s neither here nor there. The sentinels looked spectacular (both past and future), and Peter Dinklage’s Bolivar Trask was a great addition to the movie. In the comics, he is the creator of the sentinel program, and his role is practically a seamless swap for Senator Robert Kelly (the target in the books).
Cleverly enough, the DNA swipe of Mystique, which is used to create the chameleon-esque sentinels of the future, isn’t impossible to believe. The genetic engineering process as we know it, “the direct transfer of DNA from one organism to another,” was invented in 1973, the same year the past events take place. The snippets of 70’s style reel film to capture the mutant attacks were also a nice touch. Some of it didn’t really work for me. Weeks after the new Godzilla film blamed Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Godzilla himself, Magneto takes the fall for the assassination of JFK. Nice try, guys. What’s next? Did Aquaman knock over the levees in New Orleans, too?
This was supposed to be the resurgence of the X-Men franchise. To be fair, a lot of the complaints I had about the movie were fanboy-driven, but I feel like this formula is really starting to wear on me. The need to make this an “epic,” detracts from the point of the story, and clutters it with a bunch of nothing. I mean, when the half-hour animated episode does a better job at telling a story than the $200 million budgeted film, I can’t help but leave disappointed.
The magic of Days of Future Past comes from Peter Dinklage as Bolivar Trask and Evan Peters as Quicksilver. Those aside, its been over a decade later and we’re still relying on special effects to sell creativity, forcing dramatic stare-offs to make people feel like important scenes are unfolding, and using Scott Summers to cock-block Wolverine. The more things change, the more they stay the same. And that’s the problem…
All photos belong to 20th Century Fox and Marvel Comics
Will J.J. Abrams make Star Wars too pretty? Did Jay-Z ruin The Great Gatsby? Is Jennifer Lawrence too adorable for life? Get the answers to these pressing questions in Best Movies of 2013 part 2. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram and LIKE our Facebook page for free giveaways and contests.
Genre – Based (loosely) off a true story, Dram-edy
Director – David O. Russell (The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook)
Cast – Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner. Appearances by Louis C.K. & Robert De Niro
Alluring element – Fat Bruce Wayne having sex with Lois Lane, All 70’s music, clothes and lingo, Jeremy Renner wearing Bruno Mars’ hair
Check it out if you liked – The 70’s, dry humor and plot twists,
When I first saw the trailer for American Hustle, I was immediately sold on Amy Adams’ boobs stage presence. I didn’t care what the story was about, I didn’t care how well it was filmed; all i saw was Jennifer Lawrence in a skin-tight outfit and Amy Adams with enough tasteful side-boob to make Zac Efron bashful. What we got instead, though, is a playful, almost Oceans-esque drama about con artists and the love trapezoid that they are caught in. The film is set in the late 1970’s and centered around Abscam, an FBI operation that was initially set up to catch trafficking stolen goods.
The operation ended up leading the FBI to catching many politicians taking dirty money for a variety of reasons, and really opening up America’s eyes to the corruption amongst civil servants (which I’m sure is long and gone today). As far as the movie goes, that’s pretty much the extent in which it follows real life. The names have been changed and the story of our actual main characters are completely fabricated. Which is not a bad thing. By taking a real event and spinning a ludicrous and entertaining situation out of it, there’s less scrutiny to be placed on the accuracy. It’s more about using imagination to create a situation than telling the story of the past.
The acting in American Hustle is top-notch – a comic book nerd ensemble that we can really be proud of. Consisting of Batman (Bale), Lois Lane (Adams), Mystique (Lawrence), Rocket Raccoon (Cooper) and Hawkeye (Renner), I was thrilled the whole way through. As hard as it for me to see Christian Bale as anything but The Dark Knight, his oddly charismatic, comb-over sporting con man, Irving Rosenfeld, is played very well. So well that Bale gained over forty pounds and gave himself two herniated discs trying to achieve a slouched posture. Oh, and talk about a role being tailor-made for an actor, (probably because it was) Jennifer Lawrence is bat-shit crazy as Bale’s wife, Rosalyn Rosenfeld. It’s the perfect blend of over-the-top Real Housewives of New Jersey-style insane that leaves you wondering if it’s just too obscene to be real. I was left hating her character, but in a good way. Really though, it was Amy Adams’ portrayal of Sydney Prosser, or Lady Edith Greensly, that stole the show. Her emotional struggle to find her identity and the way she can seamlessly shift between pseudonyms fooled even me, at times, and I knew it was a scam.
Aside from the main characters, there are also a couple of guest appearances that deserve mention. Robert De Niro plays a big-time crime boss with his hand in the pot trying to fund a casino in Atlantic City and Louis C.K. plays Bradley Cooper’s superior in the FBI. Another nod to Atlantic City, there are a couple guest spots from HBO’s Boardwalk Empire in Shea Whigham and Jack Huston – who, might I add, looks much better with a full face. None of them have significant screen time, but add some credibility to the film and make it feel like the big-time production it really is.
In a time when every big movie out needs a gimmick, American Hustle, ironically, has none. It’s a film with romance, action, humor and plot twists – ya know, like the kind that your mom used to watch. Everything in the movie is set to the late 70’s, from the hair to the wardrobe to the colloquialisms to the lens filters and technology. There were multiple times that I forgot I was watching a 2013 movie. And at just over two hours of run-time, there was never a lull in the story. Not everything came with dramatic death-defying scenes or explosions, but it was still thoroughly compelling. The film does a great job of saying things without saying them, which is an aspect lacking sorely in movies recently. Most importantly, American Hustle isn’t afraid to make fun of itself. There is not a moment too serious that the writers couldn’t insert a joke to show how ridiculous the plot – and era – of the movie are.
When it comes right down to it, American Hustle is a great story about how the system thought they could corner a con man, and how that con man saw right through it all. With a robust ensemble cast and a plot with enough momentum for the entire film, Hustle relies on story-telling and power-house performances to guide it – not high-tech special effects (Notes: This is the highest rated film we’ve done for 2013, and the five under it are all science-fiction). It will make you laugh and the ending is very satisfying. I highly recommend this movie.
Oh, December. The month of movies vying for the Oscar, the movies that didn’t fit anywhere else in the year, and the comedy to keep us laughing until the end of the year. Here is Hush Comic’s movie preview for December:
December 6 – Out of the Furnace
Starring: Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Willem Dafoe, Forest Whitaker, Sam Shepard, and Zoe Saldana
With such a stellar cast, there isn’t really much else to say about this movie. Ok, ok, I’ll talk about the plot. Two brothers are very close. Then, one goes missing. The police get involved, but don’t do much. The other brother takes matters into his own hands like Batman does. Oh my God, the guy who takes matters into his own hands is Batman! Crazy. Written and directed by Scott Carpenter of Crazy Heart fame, and starring a sundry of Academy Award nominated actors, Out of the Furnace is bound to be nothing less of impressive. – A
December 13 – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, and Benedict Cumberbatch
Come, don’t be shy… step into the light…err, I mean… The dark movie theater, to watch the second installment of The Hobbit – Desolation of Smaug. Bilbo (Martin Freeman), Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and the rag tag band of Dwarves continue their adventure to retrieve the Arkenstone from the former Dwarf kingdom and now home of the dangerous and deadly dragon, Smaug. The Hush team is pumped to see Orlando Bloom return as everyone’s favorite archer (sorry Katniss, but you’ve got nothing on Legolas), as well as several other new characters Tolkien-ites will be excited to see on the silver screen. Previews have teased the public with glimpses of the lurking flame giant and come release day hopefully we’ll get a full frontal of the monster. In my personal history, second installments have been my favorite – The Two Towers, The Empire Strikes Back, The Matrix Reloaded (hate on haters) – and Peter Jackson’s most recent go-around is set to please. It’s going to be the best movie on Middle Earth this year – don’t miss it! – T
December 18 – American Hustle
Starring: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremey Renner, and Robert DeNiro
Hunger Games: Catching Fire was great – don’t get me wrong. But do you know what it was missing? Jennifer Lawrence’s boobs. And Amy Adams’ boobs. And a fat Christian Bale. This crime drama set in the late 1970s focuses on the ABSCAM project, a sting operation to help bring down corrupt politicians. Cooper’s FBI character enlists the con talents of Bale and Adams. However, the plot thickens when the grifters start their own side-hustles. This movie boasts an all-star cast and a pretty interesting story loosely based on real events. Jennifer Lawrence’s cry face in The Hunger Games drove us crazy, but she has some real emotional range and acting prowess. I wouldn’t recommend it over the other movies out this weekend, but I definitely think it’s worth checking out. For totally non-boob reasons, too. – S
December 20 – Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
Starring: Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David Koechner, Vince Vaughn,Christina Applegate, and Baxter
I’m not usually a big fan of sequels to comedies, but I think Anchorman 2 will prove me wrong. Following the hijinks of the news crew from San Diego, this film takes us to New York City where the gang try become number one again, but this time with “GNN”. They say and do incredibly stupid things and in general make asses of themselves, as is expected. Steve Carell stole the show in the preview, so he probably will do the same with the movie, and I am most definitely O.K. with that. Stay Classy, New York? – A
December 20 – Saving Mr. Banks
Starring: Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, Colin Farrell, Paul Giamatti, and Jason Schwarztman
Disney’s newest film, Saving Mr. Banks, is actually about Walt Disney (Tom Hanks), who tries, and obviously succeeds, to convince P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), the author of Mary Poppins, to give the rights to make a film version of her novel. Mr. Banks refers to Travers father, and the main inspiration for the father in Mary Poppins. With two of the best actors to live starring, the heart-warming plot and the light humor, Saving Mr. Banks is sure to be one of the best holiday time movies to come out and will be one I definitely see this year. – A
December 25 – 47Ronin
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Kô Shibasaki, and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa
Keanu Reeves is back this holiday season in the awesome new samurai flick, 47 Ronin. The story follows Reeves as Kai and his 46 fellow samurai sword slingers as they work to avenge the death of their master who was taken down by a military shogun (fun fact – Ronin translates to “leaderless samurai” in Japan). This story has been told and retold for quite some time now – dating back as far as the 18 century as a playwright and a most recent rendition of a 1941 film. I’m excited to see Reeves back on the big screen – his first since The Day the Earth Stood Still remake. While that experience left the average sci-fi buff wanting more, I have much higher expectations for 47 Ronin. Released film footages tout glorious landscapes, vibrant characters, badass creatures of lore and – of course – plenty of sword fights. 47 Ronin promises to deliver flashy, action-packed samurai goodness into my Christmas week and I recommended you get it in yours as well. And don’t forget fans – this story is based on true events. So when you see Rinko Kikuchi transform into a flame spitting dragon, remember that it actually happened. – T
December 25 – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Starring: Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Sean Penn
Based off the original story published in The New Yorker in 1939 (the same year Batman first appeared in Detective Comics…. totally unrelated, but I had to…), The Secret Life of Water Mitty is my pick for best dramatic film of the year. It was actually made into a comedy movie in 1947 and starred Danny Kaye, but this is one case where I can fully endorse the remake. Starring and directed by Ben Stiller (who is in desperate need of a comeback), Mitty has been in production for nearly a decade, with names such as Mike Myers, Jim Carrey, Johnny Depp and Sacha Baron Cohen attached to it. Judging from the trailer, Stiller was a great choice. The story follows a Life magazine reporter on a journey to find a missing photo, but is really about the journey to get out and experience life. Taking on a much more inspirational mood than the original, this film is sure to make you quit your job! – S
December 25 – The Wolf of Wall Street
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey, Jon Favreau
“You can dis me all you want on a blog, or write whatever you want in this magazine and I’ll just be like, ‘Whatever, man. Scorsese thinks I’m awesome,” – Jonah Hill. Telling the story of Jordan Belford, a New York stockbroker who was BALLIN out of control. Literally, he was out of control. There was FBI fraud investigations and the mob got involved. It may seem outlandish, but it’s just the type of character that Leo knocks out of the park. Jay Gatsby, J. Edgar Hoover, Howard Hughes, Calvin Candie – all very powerful men who see everything go up in flames around them (alright, Candie was a joke). The film was pushed back to Christmas Day so that Scorsese could kill some babies to decrease the run time 30 minutes and to try to get it from an NC-17 rating down to an R rating. Should be a great showing, and do a lot to remind you of how broke and crappy you are at life. Because no matter what you got for Christmas, you didn’t get to throw midgets at a Velcro board at the office. – S
Genre – Dystopia, Fantasy, Scif-fi, Action, Book-to-Movie Adaptation
Director – Francis Lawrence (Constantine, I Am Legend, and no relation to Jennifer Lawrence)
Cast – Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Donald Sutherland, and Philip Seymour Hoffman
Alluring element – It’s based off the best book in The Hunger Games trilogy, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Check it out if you liked – The Hunger Games franchise, any survival movie ever.
As I rated The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and argued my points for my rating scale, I realized that my high scores are coming from a biased fan-girl prospective. That being said, Catching Fire was the most enjoyable movie I have seen since Star Trek: Into Darkness. Was it as great as the book? Well, is any movie as good as the book it was adapted from? Catching Fire is arguably the best book of author Suzanne Collins teen-based dystopian trilogy. I had very high expectations going into this film and felt greatly rewarded *gush*.
Catching Fire continues to follow the story of the winner of the Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen and the aftermath of winning the Hunger Games, particularly because of the way she won, by defying the rules of the Hunger Games and offering to kill herself with her televised lover and District 12 partner, Peeta Mellark, rather than be forced to kill him herself. If this is too confusing for you, you may want to go back and either read the first Hunger Games book or watch the movie as the sequel does not include much explanation from the original story. The consequences of winning the games is on par with actually being in the games.
Many of the reasons I am so fond of this movie is because of the clear differences between it and the first film. First off, no more motion sickness camera. Throughout the first film, I found myself having to constantly close my eyes or else get sick. With a new director on board, the jiggly first-person camera went away. We also lost the amount of dramatics the Peeta/ Katniss (Peeniss) relationship had going. The first film made their relationship so awkward it was uncomfortable to watch. I can see the argument that the reason for that was because the two had to make “a show” for the viewers from the Capitol to be interested enough to send them gifts, thus making it easier to survive, but I also think that the “love” between the two was a ploy to keep the Twi-hards of the moment involved with the story. In Catching Fire, the forced love was a ploy for the real audience, but was better acted as ploy for the people of the Capitol. It was also better demonstrated by the heart-to-heart President Snow had with Katniss at the beginning of the film about her relationship with Peeta vs. Gale. Once Katniss and Peeta ***SPOILER*** enter the games again, Katniss has genuine feelings about Peeta’s well-being and shows it better than she did the last time they almost died together.
There were many little moments that really made the film amazing for me. At one point President Snow asks his young granddaughter when she started wearing her hair in a braid, to which she says that all the girls at school are doing it. It is such a small and quiet scene, but the acting by the wonderful Donald Sutherland is enough to make it extremely significant. The dress Katniss wears, made by Cinna, to reveal as the beautiful bride turned Mockingjay aka The Face of the Rebellion is also noteworthy. When she raises her arms to reveal the wings, it culminates what readers of the book would have wanted to see.
The portrayal of the edgy victor, Johanna Mason, played by Jena Malone, was very well done. She is questionably loyal to Katniss, but proves herself worthy at the end. And she is an actress I have followed since she was a child, so it was cool to see her play a sexier, older role. The change in Effie Trinket is also nice to see. She is still all about the fashion of The Capitol, but is also very dedicated to the “team” from District 12 and is genuinely sad about the bad things that happen to each of her victors. The relationship between newcomer, but resident victor, Finnick O’Dair, played by Sam Claflin and his pseudo-mother, Mags, is really moving during their scenes in the arena.
Another note about Finnick is that he is the Aquaman of this universe, and the trident is officially cool because of it. And despite the outfit he is forced to wear to the tribute tour, he is damn sexy. The segment featuring the training arena also did an amazing job of showing how strong Katniss is. She performs at top speed while practicing her archery skills. She then shows the Game Makers her amazing skill (although not archery) during her solo evaluation. They also touched on the gratuitousness of the Capitol people who eat and then throw up just to eat more. The Game Maker’s room and the translation of that room to the actual arena was visually stunning.
It is rare when a film can capture the imagery of a book’s description so well. The arena is beautiful and the technology behind it is just as intriguing.
More importantly, the Game Maker himself, Plutarch Heavensbee, is so expertly acted by Philip Seymour Hoffman that he is reason I give the film an “A” rating. I call in the Hoffman offset. He is so intriguing and easy to hate that the twist at the end is even more shocking when the audience finds out his true nature.
Of course there were moments the movie missed. They could have been included as small allusions, as many other great moments were. It seems like at this point we should know how Haymitch won his games considering he is mentoring our two heroes, he is a complete drunk mess, and that ***SPOILER*** he is revealed to be the one who is creating the rebellion and stamping Katniss’ face on it. The way Haymitch won his game is at the least slightly important to this story. Also, despite the detail of the solo presentations by both Peeta and Katniss, it is never mentioned in their interviews with Caesar Flickerman what their final scores were from those presentations. It’s small, but I think worth nothing since it was a major scene in the first movie. Before the victory tour starts for Katniss, she discusses running away in the woods with Gale. In the book, she actually does run for a short while and finds other people who are also on the run. The movie was already a bit on the lengthy side, so it may have been purged because of time constraints, but it could have been an interesting addition to the film’s depth. And lastly, I’m putting it out there, why the hell does Peeta still have his goddamn leg?! For gods sake, it was cut off in his first tour, and if they didn’t have the guts to do it for the first film, this could have been their film. But no, its still there. and honestly, when Peeta is on the screen, I just stare at his legs with bated breath waiting for a random meat cleaver to come swinging from the jungle trees and chop it off. Perhaps they will save that for the last movie, but I’m starting to think its never to going to happen. Sigh.
The brutality in Catching Fire is worth noting. The games themselves are brutal, of course. The Careers are brutal, of course. But it is the commentary on the Government and the Peace Keepers enforcement of the peace that is particularly striking. When the people start showing signs of rebellion during the Victory Tour and during The Reaping, Peace Keepers oddly do exactly the opposite to keep the peace. There are some very hard scenes to watch because of the violence that occurs on the people in the districts. It is particularly shocking because of the juxtaposition of the dystopian society and the society we live in today. One scene shows a very brutal and bloody whipping of one rebel and may be a bit much for little ones. At the same time, it is was great to see, not because I’m a sick person, but because this movie is far from a love triangle, but rather the story of a people who are trying to make a better world because the one they live in is so controlled and the lengths those people are willing to go to accomplish that.
As a final caveat, I just have to talk about Jennifer Lawrence’s cry face. I’m not usually one to talk about how people’s faces look, because its just not nice, and I adore Jennifer Lawrence. But her cry face is just awful. And I say that with full confidence that the cry face she constantly wore during the film is not her true cry face, but the face she made especially for this film. Katniss cries all the time in the film. And I feel that she was justified in crying most of those times because she is put in so many positions that we would all cry. But the thing about Katniss is that she is supposed to be the Face of the Rebellion because she is different from previous Tributes. She is emotionally stronger and more skilled than the others that preceded her. From a feminist standpoint, it was a little annoying to see this strong-willed, smart young woman be taken down a notch by her overwhelming use of emotion and make her the weaker sex because of it. I still think Katniss is a better heroine that most teens in today’s pop-culture, but the film made her more delicate than she was portrayed in the books. That being said, with all the other social commentary going 0n, it may have been hard to relate to her by making her cold to her surroundings. The world isn’t quite ready for the full effect of Katniss Everdeen, the kick-ass teenager who changes Panem, but Catching Fire did a fine job of preparing us for those changes and the girl who will lead that rebellion; the Girl on Fire. Until next time, May the Odd be Ever in Your Favor.