I was officially 'Not Interested' until I relented because Kirsten… MoreI was officially 'Not Interested' until I relented because Kirsten Dunst is the star, and you know what, this is a pretty funny, high-energy flick. I know I know, who cares about competitive cheering, right? I'm right there with you. The filmmakers seem to realize this too and don't put all their focus on the competitions, they're more interested in the people who are taking part in the competitions. Cheerleaders are both validated and mocked in a surprisingly well-written script that elevates it head-and-shoulders above the typical inane high school production. There are a couple great smaller moments too, like a flirty toothbrushing scene(!) that plays without a word of dialogue. Easy to see why this really was a star-maker for an 18-year-old Dunst at her bubbly best while wearing belly-baring cheerleader uniforms. Eliza Dushku is equally appealing as the newest member of the cheer squad, they have such great gal-pal chemistry that they should make another movie together. It's certainly not too late!
The structure is exactly the same as the first movie: a wilderness… MoreThe structure is exactly the same as the first movie: a wilderness scene between Katniss and Gale, a reaping, a train ride, hobnobbing in the capitol, sugarcoated televised interviews, training, and finally the Games themselves. While the over-familiarity cannot be ignored, I enjoyed this sequel more because the actual Games are much more exciting and includes a wrinkle element of "who do you trust?" We meet fewer of the contestants but they are more interesting, like Nuts and Volts the brainy pair of past champions. The story is stronger as seeds of rebellion are being sown, but as the source material novels are basically kids' stuff, the political element plays out like Insurrection For Idiots. As in the first movie plot points that seem important are dropped (e.g. Katniss' initial meeting with new gamesmaster Plutarch never develops further), and the reasoning for keeping her in the dark doesn't make ANY sense, especially in light that she nearly kills herself several times!
I realize I'm probably expecting too much from an adaptation of teen fiction, but the lack of complexity is what keeps me from really celebrating THG: CF as more than escapist fare. I really like Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss (although she's asked to go into histrionics too often this time) and Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, plus both the opening & closing shots and those burning dresses are pretty cool. Adding a star to each of my ratings would be an accurate adjustment for fans of the books .
My aunt had a copy of this novel through her book group so when at her… MoreMy aunt had a copy of this novel through her book group so when at her house I gave it a perusal to catch the fuss. I had to stop after 5 random pages because the mawkishly adolescent drama showed it was clearly aimed at a juvenile audience, and not a particularly critical thinking one. Also, "Katniss"?? "The Hunger Games"? Naming things not the author's strong suit either.
I watched the movie anyway. Sources say it follows the book pretty faithfully, but they sure could've given some background for the novice audience - for example, there is no mention this is set in an America of the future! The screenplay is unfocused, taking forever to get moving with too much emphasis on preparations leading to the actual Games, particularly when time spent on plot elements, like acquiring sponsors, later become either largely inconsequential or forgotten. Thanks to an uneven script, the romance amid the fight for survival between Katniss and her District 12 compatriot Peeta ("Peeta"?!?) is kinda hokey too. "I remember that day in the rain when you threw me some bread." Hardly "We'll always have Paris," is it? The production design is lush, but since the lopsided economics in this world are never explained, the garish clothes and makeup look more like the product of a costumer's wet dream than anything any society would actually wear.
So why see The Hunger Games? It all hangs on Jennifer Lawrence who creates a character to really root for. As Katniss she's protective of her family, shows kindness when others have no mercy, and picks herself up after getting knocked down. She also believably conveys all the fear, desperation, and steely resolve that a person would experience if suddenly thrown into a win-or-die gladiatorial situation. My favorite scene has her shooting an apple out of a roasted pig's mouth to capture the attention of some disinterested rich people during her trials. She mockingly curtsies at their startled faces and then takes a couple steps to storm out of the room, but forgets she still has her bow in her hand, quickly turns to slam it back on the rack and then departs. I don't know if that was an accident or planned, either way I love how it is such an honest moment and shows how she has great instincts as an actress. Woody Harrelson is also great fun to watch as Katniss & Peeta's boozy adviser Haymitch (Haymitch??? Yeah you get the idea.) as a previous winner of the Games, so too Stanley Tucci playing smile-for-the-camera emcee Caesar.
Owing a heavy debt to Napoleon Dynamite, this quirky indie follows… MoreOwing a heavy debt to Napoleon Dynamite, this quirky indie follows closely in that film's smalltown footsteps, right down to the skinny, nerdy, puffhaired oddball male lead. When he learns his favorite porn star is starring at a strip club in Indiana, he road trips in his inherited weinermobile to sell the vintage auto and catch her show. Kim Cattrall is excellent in a standout performance as the former '80s sex idol now in her late 40s on a downward slide, and unafraid to show the inevitable effect time has on beauty. Brian Dennehy is equally good in a supporting role as the boy's crusty father, and Keith David ingratiates as a wizened artist/collector of Americana. A happy-ever-after ending doesn't quite fit with the rest of the offbeat storytelling, but the trip has enough detours worth taking.
Milla is foxy cool as icewater-veined Alice in this second Resident… MoreMilla is foxy cool as icewater-veined Alice in this second Resident Evil, battling the hordes in Raccoon City not as interesting a setting as the Hive but still gives a few very undemanding shoot-em-up thrills. The humanoid creature from the Genesis Project looks formidably scary.