And just like that, the last real quality YA adaptation franchise came to an end. Have fun with The 5th Wave and Divergent, plebes. Continue reading
Tag Archives: The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 1 (Movie Review)
So, after my announcement a few days ago of the initiation of my new Deathmatch series, in which fictional characters get ripped from their comfort zones and are forced by me to engage in an ultraviolent fight to the death, it seems only fitting that this would shortly precede my review of the third movie in a franchise in which characters get ripped from their comfort zones and forced by their despotic puppet masters to engage in an ultraviolent fight to the death.
Except, y’know, they’re children, so I have that over Suzanne Collins, morally. For now, at least.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 1
Directed by: Francis Lawrence
Produced by: Nina Jacobson, Jon Kilik
Written by: Danny Strong, Peter Craig
Based on: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Genres: Science-fiction, war drama,
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Natalie Dormer, Sam Claflin, Willow Shields, Mahershala Ali
Music by: James Newton Howard
Plot: After the events of Catching Fire, Hunger Games veteran Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is whisked away to District 13, which, contrary to popular knowledge, was not wiped out by the tyrannical regime in the Capitol, and now houses the rebel movement fighting against President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and the jackbooted thugs named”Peacekeepers”. Katniss, along with fellow victor Finnick Odair, her childhood friend, Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), her trainer, Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) her family and former Gamesmaster Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) may have been spirited away to the rebellion, but her on-again, off-again sort-of boyfriend Peeta Mellark has been captured by the Capitol, and is being used, seemingly willingly in propaganda videos against the rebellion. With the knowledge that Peeta is in danger, Katniss is torn between her desire to save him, and the duty imposed upon her by the Rebellion of being the Mockingjay, a symbol of hope for the oppressed people of Panem.
So, in the pursuit of making all the money, Lionsgate decided to not only adapt the Hunger Games trilogy to film, but also to divide the final installment, Mockingjay, into two parts, following the trend set by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and The Hobbit. While it’s obviously a sound financial plan, the prior two movies, while none of them bad, per se, did suffer from the undesirable problem of trying to spread too little an amount of subject matter into two hours, or, in the case of The Hobbit, three years. To Mockingjay‘s credit, I didn’t feel like too little material was spread over too much time…Much. There is a scene in the middle of the movie where Gale and Katniss go hunting that looks like it’s building up to something, but doesn’t really go anywhere. Problem is, the movie’s actually too damn short. It’s around twenty minutes shorter than Catching Fire, and cuts off very abruptly, leaving the audience kinda surprised when “Yellow Flicker Beat” starts playing over the end credits. It kind of makes me wonder why they didn’t do something radical like just make one longer third movie. I mean, the people going into it should be expecting a truly epic conclusion to the series, so would it really be that much of a sin to extend it a little?
Whatever. Silly me for wanting trilogies to be actual trilogies, I guess.
By the way, in case you haven’t paid attention during the trailers, don’t expect too much similarities between the newest movie and the previous two in terms of action. While the other two movies were at least moderately action-packed, taking place in an arena full of teenagers murdering each other. Needless to say, there was quite a bit of exciting, brutal violence.
This movie, however, relies much more on subdued political drama than the first two. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like the political elements were non-existent, but they definitely put more of an emphasis on the politics of revolution-mongering than, you know, kids breaking each other’s necks. I thought it was a welcome change, as it moved the plot along and was intense in it’s own way. The lack of action seems to be a major criticism of the movie, but if you don’t mind watching a lot of “moves and countermoves” then I don’t see why you wouldn’t let at least that aspect of the movie suck you into the story. Those of you not conditioned thanks to, say, Game of Thrones, might be a little less receptive, but know that you’re gonna sound really weird when you say that you favoured the jarring shaky-cam in the first Hunger Games over watching Jennifer Lawrence spar verbally with Donald Sutherland and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Of course, to really enjoy the drama, the actors have to show up, and fear not, because, as was the case in the first two movies, the performances are great in Mockingjay. I’ll get to Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss in a bit, but the other actors are definitely worth a mention. Philip Seymour Hoffman is, for the second-last time unfortunately, great, and injects some much needed humour into this very dark, grim movie. Yeah, as progressively dark as the movies in this series have gotten (Because, again, child murder) this movie actually might be the funniest of the three. Oh, don’t get me wrong, it’s not a funny movie as a whole. Not even close. But having Hoffman and Lawrence, as well as Woody Harrelson, who is always good for a few laughs as Haymitch, spout a couple of funny lines helped bring somewhat of a sense of levity to a series in which his happens:
Oh, uh, belated spoiler alert, for all three of you who haven’t seen the first Hunger Games yet.
Anyway, Elizabeth Banks is once again fantastic as Effie, newcomers Julianne Moore and Natalie Dormer are both good as the rebel President Coin and propaganda filmmaker Cressida, and the only weak link in the recurring cast until now has, mercifully been eliminated. Yeah, I really hated Willow Shields as Katniss’s younger sister, Prim. I still cringe every time she delivers her lines. This time though, she’s pretty great by child actor standards. She also has some solid chemistry with Jennifer Lawrence.
Which brings me to Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen. Now, I don’t think anybody buys that she’s a teenager anymore, and I doubt that anyone even bought it when the casting was announced before the first movie. That said, I wouldn’t want anyone else playing Katniss. She’s strong, yet frightened and insecure, she’s occasionally kinda funny, and she gets some great chemistry out of her relationships with Gale and Peeta (Two more great performances, by the way). I guess some people would have a point in saying that it’s kind of annoying that it looks like she wants to save Peeta more than reverse the fortunes of Panem through being the Mockingjay. Yeah, there are some moments that you kinda wanna shake her, but when are humans ever that simple in real life?
Weak, I know, but it’s the best devil’s advocate response I could come up with.
Overall: It’s definitely a different direction for the series to go in, and I’d be lying if I said I was a fan of the halving of the last book, but Mockingjay is still a great installment into the series, getting by mainly on the strength of its performances, and making the audience forget about the notable lack of action.
The Maze Runner (Movie Review)
It’s kind of a rough time for the young adult sci-fi/fantasy book adaptation film genre these days. Since the Harry Potter series ended its reign as the dominant force in teen movies (And the highest grossing film franchise, period), the only books that have really gotten both critical and commercial success through adaptations have been The Hunger Games and its sequel, Catching Fire. Otherwise, though, it’s mostly been movies that have gotten critical success even if they sucked from a technical level (the Twilight series, the brand-spanking-new Divergent series) or movies that have downright sucked from both a critical and financial perspective.
The latest development in Hollywood’s hopeless churning out of these movies is The Maze Runner, based on a popular book by James Dashner, and judging by the trailer, it looked a little bit more promising than some of the other dreck. The cast looked good, the atmosphere looked very gritty, the special effects looked fabulous, and it had a notable absence of fantastic beasts for emotionless teenage girls to fall in love with. In fact, there was no real romance at all!
So, do we have another young adult classic on our hands?
The Maze Runner
Directed by: Wes Ball
Produced by: Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, Wyck Godfrey, Marty Bowen, Lee Stollman
Screenplay by: Noah Oppenheim, Grant Pierce Myers, T.S. Nowlin
Based on: The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Genres: Thriller, science fiction, action
Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Aml Ameen, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ki-hong Lee, Will Poulter, Blake Cooper, Kaya Scodelario
Music by: John Paesano
Plot: Our protagonist, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) wakes up in a creaky elevator with no recollection of who he is, and with no EZ-Listening music to comfort him on the distressing lift. How rude of the people who put him there!…. Whoever they may be. Yes, in addition to not remembering a damn thing about his own backstory, Thomas also cannot remember why he is in the elevator or who put him there.
The elevator ride eventually comes to an end, and he is helped out of it by a group of other boys and young men, who also came out of the same elevator shaft as much as three years ago. These boys, led by Alby (Aml Ameen), live in a peaceful wooded area known to them as the Glade, where they have formed a Lord of the Flies-sque society, except without the infighting and murder (So yeah, not really like Lord of the Flies, I guess). The glade is surrounded by an enormous wall, much too high to climb over, There is an opening, but unfortunately, it leads right into an enormous maze, which appointed runners, led by Minho (Ki-hong Lee) try to map in order to maybe escape from wherever the hell they are. Unfortunately, if the runners happen to be caught outside at night, as there are giant scorpion monsters known as Grievers that murder anything that steps foot in the maze.
Thomas is very anxious to figure out what the hell lies beyond the wall, which causes some tension between him and Gally (Will Poulter), one of the older kids. Things are even further complicated when a girl named Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), the first girl ever is sent up by the boys’ captors. Despite the fact that it takes a whole day for the boys to actually remember their names after they’re brought up from the elevator, Teresa remembers her name right after she wakes up. Why? Fuck if I know.
See, this movie kind of reminds me of Lost, in that the premise is very interesting and it builds up very nicely, but the payoff is very disappointing. I guess it hurt more in Lost, if only because six years led up to mostly bullshit, but this movie’s ending is also pretty shitty. I’m fine with cliffhanger endings, but come on! Off the top of my head, I can think of the following questions that the movie left unanswered (Spoilers Ahead):
- Like I said, how did Teresa remember her name so soon after her arrival? And why were there no girls before her?
- Why does Griever poison bring back memories of life before the Glade for the boys?
- Why did the scientists need to fake their own deaths?
- Why is Chuck so much younger than the others?
- Why are Thomas and Teresa the favourites of WCKD? And if they were the favourites, why did they get sent up to live amongst the other gladers?
So, yeah, as you might be able to tell, this movie has some pretty damn serious problems. That said, I like it quite a bit more than I thought I would. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I almost loved it! Why is that? Well, apart from the great action and the good special effects in the maze scenes (Even if some of them were very obviously CG) I really, really liked the characters. The lead is played by Dylan O’Brien (Of Teen Wolf fame. The MTV show, not the Michael J. Fox movie), and he’s likable enough. The character of Thomas doesn’t, admittedly, distinguish himself from many other movie heroes (Brave, curious, sense of humour, big fucking whoop)but he’s likable enough, he’s charismatic, and he’s a nice enough vessel for the audience to experience the movie through. It doesn’t hurt that O’Brien is actually a good actor, either.
The supporting cast is really good too, when you consider that it’s mostly a cast of young actors, who can really be hit or miss. Thomas Brodie-Sangster plays Newt and, while it was a little hard for me to look at him and not think “Oh, hey it’s that kid from the worst storyline in Game of Thrones” he does a really, really good job.
Will Poulter is good as Gally too, and succeeds at making him a very likable character, who has his relatively safe, familiar world destroyed by change and opposing ideals and simply can’t bring himself to adapt as well as the others. Hell, I even like the little kid who plated Chuck (Blake Cooper), and I never like little kids!
Kaya Scodelario (Teresa) also turns in a fine performance (Which is good, because her resemblance to Kristen Stewart was causing me irrational fear) even if she doesn’t really do all that much after she sets off a sequence of events, but meh. I’m just happy they didn’t give her a forced love story with Thomas. I guess there’ll be tie for that in the sequels though. Oh, joy.
One last thing I’d like to point out about this movie is that it is dark. Like, super dark. I know that Hunger Games isn’t exactly a damn Care Bears cartoon, and the last few Harry Potter movies made me cry like a pussy, but…You know what, watch the movie until the end. You’ll see what I mean.
Overall: If you’re expecting the next Hunger Games….Don’t. But hey, if you really need to get out to the movie theatre after a dreadful month of August (Guardians of the Galaxy notwithstanding), or if you’re a fan of the genre, you could do a whole lot worse than The Maze Runner.
Coming Soon to PKTM…
Holy crap, so much for one hundred posts this year, huh?
In my defense, I’ve been kind of busy this past week what with starting my senior year of high school and working late for the last few days. And even worse, I don’t have a topic to rant about (At least, not one that hasn’t been rendered irrelevant thanks to procrastination on my part), or a movie on tap to review (Thanks to the fact that no interesting movies are coming out for a while). However, far be from me to let some crappy education get in the way of my bitching about unimportant things. Here are some things coming up here at PKTM that I hopefully will not chicken out on actually writing (This is what is known as a “filler post”).
Movie Reviews: The most prominent feature of this blog isn’t going away any time, and, in fact is probably gonna get even more prominent now that I’ve discovered that public transportation is not merely a way for the mentally unstable to get from place to place. Fun fact: It’s also an effective way to get to movie theatres. Who knew, right?
I plan to do a lot more reviews for new movies, seeing them the Friday that they come out (And hopefully getting them out some time during the following weekend) or, failing that, as soon as I possibly can (Unless they’re horror movies, because 95% of horror movies suck). Some movie reviews that y’all should look forward to soon include (But do not exclude):
- The Maze Runner
- The Equalizer
- Gone Girl
- The Judge
- The Book of Life
- Fuckin’ Birdman!!!
- Big Hero 6 (If I can get into a showing devoid of small children)
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -Part 1
So yeah, I’ll probably get around to seeing those movies (Unless circumstances prevent me), and I’ll do previously released movies as well, but maybe not as frequently as before (Which wasn’t that frequent to begin with). Also, as was the case before, I’ll be reviewing any movies nominated for Oscars or Golden Raspberries. Hopefully, I won’t end up two movies short again this year.
Other Movie Stuff: Ever wondered who would win in a fight to the death between the great Quentin Tarantino villains? No? Not even a little bit? Well, screw you guys, I want to figure that out.
Also, with a bizarre Dynasty Warriors/Legend of Zelda crossover coming out later this month, I ponder how one could adapt the video game phenomenon that is The Legend of Zelda to the big screen. If it should be adapted at all, I mean.
And, with Disney following up the all-conquering juggernaut of a movie that was Frozen with Big Hero 6 in November, I count down the Top 15 animated films of the 21st century. Hopefully, I get around to finishing that.
An Introduction to Canada: I really hope to get back on this, because I really had fun doing the articles on geography, which is coincidentally the most fun I’ve ever had with anything geography related in my life.
Instinctive Rants: Poorly thought out, rushed and usually overly vulgar. God, I love ’em.
TV Reviews: More on this later, but long story short, I’m going to be reviewing TV shows (And the MLB playoffs, because why the hell not?) starting with Gotham later this month. Stay tuned, people.
My Saturn Award Picks
In a few hours, the 40th Saturn Awards are due to be presented are to be presented in Burbank, California. Those of you with lives that involve more than lazily scrolling through Wikipedia might ask me what exactly the Saturn Awards are and why they should care about them. The short answer is that the Saturn Awards are presented each year by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films to honour the best in not only movies of those genres, but also TV and, for some reason, home video.
As for why we would need this fairly anonymous award, that’s rather straightforward as well. While I love and cherish the Academy Awards, they can be notoriously stuffy when it comes to nominating movies for the Best Picture Award. There’s a reason that some movies are referred to as “Oscar-bait”: It can seem sometimes that all some movies need to to is try really hard to be nominated for an Oscar and the Academy will lose its shit over it, even if it’s just so-so or, in some cases, just plain bad.
One of the more recent examples is The Dark Knight in 2009. TDK was the highest-grossing movie of that year and is widely considered, along with The Avengers and the new X-Men movie to be in the running for the title of greatest comic book movie of all time. It’s such a damn great movie that even the Academy took notice, rewarding it with 8 nominations: Best Visual Effects (Which it lost to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Best Film Editing (Lost to Slumdog Millionaire), Best Makeup (Lost to Benjamin Button), Best Cinematography (Lost to Slumdog Millionaire), Best Art Direction (Lost to Benjamin Fucking Button) Best Sound Mixing (Lost to Slumdog Bloody Millionaire) Best Sound Editing (Which it won) and, obviously, Best Supporting Actor for the late Heath Ledger (Which it also won, as it damn well should have).
Notice anything about those categories?
Not a single one of them is the Best Picture category.
Now, I can understand that not every great movie can get a nomination. If that was the case, the Oscar ceremony would double in length, and Ellen DeGeneres was already a bit thin on material during regular programming. But do you know what movie was nominated for Best Picture instead of TDK? The Reader. A movie that just barely got a “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes and that you have probably never heard of before. Oscar-bait at its most stereotypical.
So basically, that’s why I like the Saturn Awards so much. Even if the movie are, in general, inferior to the Oscars, the Saturn Awards still let the movies that us plebes enjoy take the spotlight. Besides, let’s be honest here: How many of you actually watched 12 Years a Slave before it won the Oscar?
Ah,whatever. I’ve rambled long enough. The following are my Saturn Award picks. The list of nominees can be found here. I won’t be doing predictions for TV or Home Video categories, but I do hope that Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones clean up.
Best Independent Film
My pick: 12 Years a Slave
Second place: Inside Llewyn Davis
12 Years a Slave is the best movie of 2013 (The Academy didn’t screw this one up!) So it’s obviously going to win the majority of awards it’s nominated for, and it doesn’t even have to contend with Dallas Buyers Club or Gravity this time around.
Best Special Effects
My pick: Gravity
Second place: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Gravity has proven since its release that as long as you combine an unspectacular, somewhat predictable script with plot holes, nobody will give a shit if your movie looks pretty enough. Hell, I didn’t care! I gave it a 9.5 out of 10!
My pick: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Second place: Thor: The Dark World
Any Middle-Earth movie is pretty much a shoo-in for awards like this. Odd that they couldn’t do anything about Orlando Bloom starting to look like Joaquin Phoenix though.
My pick: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Second place: Thor: The Dark World
This might be the only category that 47 Ronin has ever been nominated for that wasn’t “Biggest case of cinematic blue balls of 2013.” Don’t pretend like you didn’t hear the words “Keanu Reeves samurai movie” and immediately start pissing yourself in excitement. Or maybe that was just me.
I might have problems, you guys.
Best Production Design
My pick: Gravity
Second place: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Man, if Gravity hadn’t been released in 2013, The Hobbit might’ve really cleaned up in their Oscar categories, never mind the damn Saturn Awards.
My pick: Gravity
Second place: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
I’m still not totally sure how to properly evaluate editing, but when in doubt, go with Gravity.
My pick: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Howard Shore)
Second place: Iron Man 3 (Brian Tyler)
I’m kind of surprised that Steven Price wasn’t nominated for Gravity, but hey, he already has the damn Oscar, and it’s not like you could ever go wrong with Middle Earth music.
Best Performance by a Younger Actor
My pick: Chloe Grace Moretz, Carrie
Second place: Ty Simpkins, Iron Man 3
Yes, Carrie was total dogshit, but Chloe Grace Moretz was the best part of that whole mess. Just please pick a better movie next time.
Best Supporting Actress
My pick: Scarlett Johansson, Her
Second place: Evangeline Lilly, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug… I guess
It might seem like an odd pick, considering that ScarJo never once appeared on screen, but a) She was pretty damn amazing in that movie and b) Name one other actress on that list who was anything other than “pretty good.”
Best Supporting Actor
My pick: Benedict Cumberbatch, Star Trek Into Darkness
Second place: Tom Hiddleston, Thor: The Dark World
Some people may criticize Benedict Cumberbatch for being, y’know, a white guy playing an Indian character (Khan Noonien Singh), which would be a legitimate argument if he wasn’t already played by Ricardo Montalban in The Wrath of Khan, who was, you know, Mexican.
My pick: Jennifer Lawrence, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Second place: Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Because Jennifer Lawrence is amazing, and Gravity can’t win everything.
My pick: Joaquin Phoenix, Her
Second place: Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis
I also really loved Robert Downey Jr in Iron Man 3, so any of these three actors winning would be fine in my book.
My pick: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis
Second place: Spike Jonze, Her
Her might have won the Oscar, and that was a fine movie, don’t get me wrong, but to tell you the truth, I grew a lot more attached to the Coen brothers’ movie. On an unrelated note, I was surprised that Jennifer Lee was nominated for Frozen. I love Frozen, but.. y’know, come on.
My pick: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
Second place: Peter Jackson, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Ah dammit, we’re back to kissing Gravity‘s ass. I guess you couldn’t really argue with it. 2013 was kind of Alfonso Cuaron’s bitch.
Best Comic-to-film Motion Picture
My pick: Iron Man 3
Second place: Thor: The Dark World
Gwyneth Paltrow notwithstanding, Iron Man 3 is the only nominee from this category that isn’t all that seriously flawed, although Thor, Man of Steel and Wolverine were all very enjoyable, in my opinion.
Best Animated Film
My pick: Frozen
Second place: Despicable Me 2
Best International Film
I don’t usually watch foreign films, so I’ve missed out on all these movies. The World’s End looks awesome though, so I’ll have to check it out at some point.
Best Action/Adventure Film
The only one of these movies that I’ve seen is The Lone Ranger, and fuck that movie.
Best Thriller Film
I haven’t seen any of these movies either.
Best Horror Film
My pick: This is the End
Second place: None. Horror movies suck.
Horror movies are, in general, pretty damn stupid. But hey, if this Academy is going to consider This is the End a horror movie for some unfathomable reason, then who am I to complain? That movie kicked all sorts of ass!
Best Fantasy Film
My pick: Her
Second place: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
I considered going with The Hobbit, as I don’t consider Her to be a fantasy movie (At least in the traditional sense). However, This is the End isn’t an actual horror movie, and I still gave that movie the nod in that category, so whatever.
Best Science Fiction Film
My pick: Gravity
Second place: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
With no 12 Years a Slave or Dallas Buyers Club to stand in its way, Gravity should take the top prize it is capable of receiving. Much respect to Hunger Games, Star Trek and Pacific Rim though, who would have been top contenders in any other year.