Friday, 23 March 2012

The Hunger Games (2012)

Running Time: 142 minutes 
Directed By: Gary Ross
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Toby Jones, Wes Bentley,
Screenplay: Gary Ross, Billy Ray and Suzanne Collins
UK Release Date: 23rd March 2012 - UK

Quick Plot: Set in post apocalyptic America, the Capitol select one boy and one girl from each of the12 District's of Panem for the annual Hunger Games televised event. District 12's Katniss Everdeen volunteers herself in place of her younger sister to compete against the twenty three other tributes in a death batlle where there can only be one winner.

Review: One of 2012’s most anticipated teen fantasy films is finally here and to put it simply- it’s fantastic. Hollywood is use to the teen book turn film by now, however The Hunger Games has everything in line making it unbelievably breathtaking while bringing a fresh flare for dystopian fiction.
Having a huge, devoted fan base, Gary Ross’ The Hunger Games has picked up anticipation from the moment the film was announced. With the high expectations, the film could very easily wallow in disappointment and shatter the delicate fan base, except the cast, the glorious cinematography and the script don’t let it fall.

Away from the fact it’s based on a book, The Hunger Games works as a film alone. There’s no need for prior research to understand the ruin and dismay that the population of Panem have to face. The first thirty minutes are executed perfectly by a ray of fantastic cuts from the gloomy, grey and bleak District 12 to the eccentric, colourful and bizarre Capitol. Katniss wakes to the cries of her younger sister in a nightmare, then sets out early to get good ‘game’ along with her best friend Gale. District 12’s poverty is enlightened when Lawrence rips a hand sized piece of bread and smells it; making it known this is a rare occasion. Katniss’ warmth from the fresh bread is short lived as it’s soon followed by the reaping. An almost unrecognisable bright pink Elizabeth Banks walks out as the white faced Effie Trinket, clearly revealing she does not belong in the district, and begins the annual introduction to the history of the games.

Ever growing with her talent, Jennifer Lawrence is faultless as our protagonist Katniss Everdeen. Becoming the heroic teen role model would have been a task and a half, yet Lawrence makes it look effortless. The film is unable to capture Katniss’ inner voice like the novel, but from Lawrence’s natural strength she completely glides her way to be Miss Everdeen physically and mentally. Katniss isn’t a push over instead she’s independent and will do all it takes to protect her family since her motherly instinct kicked in after her father’s death. Heck, she volunteers herself to save her sister from a death match where the odds are not at all in her favour to win- that is something special. She has attitude but a soft side, which helps make the film frightfully believable. Rising star Josh Hutcherson is the boy from tribute from District 12, Peeta Mellark Hutcherson, though unnaturally blonde, gratifyingly captures Peeta’s first appearances as uncomfortable and weaker opposed to Katniss. As the story continues, Hutcherson displays how the character grows, keeping to his vulnerability but portraying Peeta’s confidence that he finds in the games.

Though the games are the centre of attention, there is a deep insight to how important the build up to the games for the Capitol and the ways they are glorified as entertainment. Here we meet the stylist for District 12 Cinna (Lenny Kravitz), who brings warmth to Katniss’ as a friend and is one of the only people who she can bring herself not to snap at. These scenes before the games are beautiful and it is as if the book has been brought directly onto the screen. The grand opening where Katniss has to make her impression picks up pace while leaving the small feeling of worry over what lies ahead.

The screenwriters could have taken a risk and had the film following only Katniss on her journey from volunteering to be in the games, but thankfully the Capitol and gamemaker’s have a huge involvement. Their brutal toying and manipulation of the game matched with the commentary by Caesar (another perfect casting with Stanley Tucci) means that all areas of the game are witnessed like a televised event. It’s all a bit too familiar to events we watch on television now, which is the chilling part.

Gary Ross doesn’t just stop with having a perfect cast and brilliantly adapted screenplay, everything in the editing suite is at the highest standard. The soundtrack is haunting, captivating and enhances the rush of the games and the dystopian theme back in District 12. With the use of a handheld camera, quick cuts through the violence and close ups on the deaths, tributes and severe concentration on little features creates irrational, invasive tension. Though it shouldn’t be compared, these techniques correlate to the book’s precision of detail. Keeping it to a 12A has its drawbacks for an audience, but with the swift editing and camera work the deaths and violence are quick to leave a lot more to imaginations. Despite the cuts, the film remains horrifically and brilliantly brutal.

The Hunger Games never once lets you stop for air and keeps on going till the credits. Jennifer Lawrence gives another exceptional performance boosted by a fabulous cast and editing team. Gary Ross has certainly created the teen sci fi fantasy that will define 2012.

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Saturday, 17 March 2012

Ramble: My adoration for The Hunger Games novel and why I can't wait to see the girl who was on fire

Something a little different for my blog, I'm going to talk about a pretty important movie event this year, The Hunger Games.

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Wednesday, 14 March 2012

The Raven (2012) a non-reviewy review

I saw The Raven last weekend and I'm still unsure if I liked it or not.
I'm sure it was definitely the better choice for a film than seeing John Carter I imagine, but I still feel a little...unsatisfied.

From James McTeigue, the director of V For Vendetta, The Raven certainly has the same feel to the 2005 adapted comic book thriller. The dark, ghastly atmosphere of 1800 Baltimore is quite daunting in places and though it would have been pleasant to have seen some of the surroundings and the scenery of the town, it's easily a believable setting.

Like most people, I adore John Cusack. Sad to say that I wouldn't class his act as Edgar Allan Poe in a list of his greats, but he adds something to the character that many wouldn't be able to. Out of them all, it's Luke Evans who comes out having gained something from The Raven. Though The Three Musketeers didn't do well critically, Luke Evans gained a name over in the US and continues to with The Raven. There's a charm and extreme likability to him that makes all of his performances entertaining, while always being quite adorable.

There is an obvious similarity between The Raven and Guy Ritchie's recent portrayal in the Sherlock Holmes films from the quite manic protagonist, dark crimes and Alice Eve's Emily to Rachel McAdams Irene Adler. Emily was too weak and the fact she holds the damsel in distress act for the majority of the film is really quite poor given that Alice Eve could do with a strong, femme fatale-esque role instead of always playing the pretty face. Though the femme fatale wouldn't quite work with her and Poe being completely in love, something stronger for Eve would have been ideal.

It's definitely an interesting look at the last few days of Edgar Allan Poe's life and from the small detail I found out from my cousin about Poe's last remaining words 'Fields and Reynolds', it makes for an interesting and much more exciting idea of what could have happened to Poe. Better than just thinking that Poe went mad and died I guess.

For Luke Evans and my adoration for Cusack films, I think I quite enjoyed The Raven.
If I were to make this into a more structured review, I'd give it 3/5.
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Thursday, 1 March 2012

February viewings

I'm really slacking in cinema viewings, but I've seen some films on DVD/TV for the first time that deserve a mention.

War Horse (2012) 4/5
The Sum Of All Fears (2002) 2/5
Salt (2010) 2/5
Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) 4/5
Sanctum (2011) 3/5
The Vow (2012) 3/5
Melody Time (1948) 2.5/5
The Artist (2011) 4.5/5
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949) 2/5
Troll Hunter (2010) 4/5
Drive (2011) 4.5/5
The Guard (2011) 4/5
Submarine (2010) 5/5
How To Marry A Millionaire (1953) 3/5
Sea Of Love (1989) 3.5/5
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