Tag Archives: acting

Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

*Note: I am writing this under the impression that my readers have seen the first film/read the books

*Note: There are spoilers

Finally, a movie that lives up to its trailer.

Hold on, I’m still trying to process how unbelievably well done this film was.

Okay, I think we’re good.

I’m writing this as someone who’s read the Hunger Games trilogy and who thoroughly enjoyed the books. 

I cannot think of any other way to have done this flick with how it’s rated and how it’s trying to stay as close to the book’s storyline as possible.

The movie is 146 minutes long, or two hours and twenty-six minutes. And although I knew that time was passing merely because my body kept telling me to shift position, I was never once thinking that I was bored or wishing that the movie would just wrap up.

Jennifer Lawrence put on another fabulous acting display, pulling off Katniss even better in this movie than in the first one, and displaying her talent as an Oscar-winning actress. Josh Hutcherson put on another fine performance and Woody Harrelson was striking once more in the role of Haymitch. 

The director, Francis Lawrence, did an impeccable job with bringing to life the horrors of Suzanne Collins’ world. As I had been with the first film, my main concern going in was that it wouldn’t be dark enough to pull off what the books had done so well. 

But with what little he was able to do without an ‘R’ rating, Lawrence made unbelievable and Jennifer (Katniss) made perfection. Combining the scenes of suspense, sadness and horror with Jennifer’s flawlessly disturbing facial expressions, each scene was done correctly and so well that it instilled powerful feelings in the audience.

I’m not joking here. There were at least four girls around me (more girls, of course, came to see the movie) that jumped at almost every single jump-scare put in place by the director. They were good ones too; not always easy to see coming.

Then, perhaps only a moment later, the same girls were crying or covering their mouths when someone was killed.

There were three particular things that stood out to me in this film.

First was the sequence in which Katniss and Peeta (Hutcherson) are on their trip to the other districts and make their stop at District 11, the home of Rue. 

This entire scene was done so, so well. From the point at which Katniss takes the microphone to tell Rue’s family how sorry she is that she couldn’t save their daughter’s life, to the instant an old man in the crowd raises three fingers in salute to The Girl on Fire and is immediately taken and shot while a screaming Katniss is being yanked away, it is impossible not to feel some kind of emotion. 

That had to be the best scene from both of the films thus far, and you better believe I’ll be watching it on YouTube again when it finally appears there.

The second thing that stood out to me was the death of Cinna (Lenny Kravitz). 

When I read the books, this was the death that struck me the most out of everyone who dies. Even those who are killed in the third book. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it was because of how pure Cinna is and how he seems like the only normal person from the Capital. Perhaps it was the relationship he has with Katniss, and how much the two quietly rely on each other. Or perhaps it was because of how brilliantly and openly he defied the Capital while simultaneously giving Katniss and the rebels in the districts, hope.

But no matter what it was, when Cinna is beaten to death in front of Katniss while she’s locked in an elevator, I remember having to put the book down and just stare at Suzanne Collins’ name on the cover, wondering how in the world she managed to make me feel something for a character that was hardly vital to the overall plot. 

While Lawrence couldn’t make the death quite as brutal as the book’s, he was pretty damn close. And again, Jennifer’s performance made the scene as good as it possibly could get. I won’t be forgetting it anytime soon.

The final thing was another scene from the book that had caught me, and I had been wondering for a while how they would manage it in the movie (again, due to the rating system). 

The scene I am referring to is when the group finds themselves in the section of the arena with the Jabberjays that emit the screams of someone you love in pain. I wasn’t as impressed at first as I was with the other two scenes, but when both Katniss and Finnick (Sam Claflin) race to get out and realize they’re stuck with the birds for an hour, that’s where the feelings set in again. 

Peeta can only try and calm Katniss from the other side of a forcefield that’s separating them, and they stare into each other’s eyes, both of them helpless, as Katniss screams and claps her hands over her ears, her eyes pleading with Peeta, with anything, for help that simply cannot come. 

Shudder inducing. 

There was absolutely nothing I could find wrong with this film, or that I just didn’t like. I believe there is one tiny moment where a cut from Katniss’ face to herself again looks sort of strange, but it’s not a big deal and it doesn’t affect the film’s overall performance. 

This is the best book adaptation I’ve seen for a long while, and it’ll be tough to have the next movie be as great as this one was. The effect may not be the same if you haven’t read the books, but I implore you to check out this flick while you can. 

Trust me, the odds are in your favour in terms of you enjoying it.

Rating out of 100: 92

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Movie Review: Gravity

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Just like the title, this movie will suck you in and not let go

Alfonso Cuarón said he’s always wanted to do a movie about space. 

Well, did he ever do a movie about space.

I’m going to say, flat out, right now, that this is the best movie I’ve seen in a while. It’s visually breathtaking, mind numbingly expansive and edge of your seat intense. 

It boasts an extremely small cast for a movie nowadays, with a total of seven actors/actresses in all and only a mere three are actually seen.

This flick is all about the visual and it does it just as well as any other movie you’ve seen; yes, including Avatar. The effects are so difficult to describe as they are something that need to be seen to be fully appreciated, but when I say they are the best part of the entire thing, trust me, it’s true. 

And that’s impressive to say the least, because both Sandra Bullock as Dr. Ryan Stone and George Clooney as Matt Kowalski were brilliant. Cuarón had a lot of scenes that were single, drawn out shots; almost Kubrick-like. There is one scene where Stone is in a space shuttle, listening to a radio link to Earth, and the scene lasts a good couple minutes. Her speech and acting in general are displayed at full force in this long shot and for anyone who appreciates the highest level of acting, it’s fantastic.

Clooney too, while not in the film nearly as much as Bullock, pulled off a great performance as the confident and kind Kowalski. He made you completely believe in his character right from the get-go and somehow got the audience trapped in liking him well within the opening minutes.

The story was great, as always. No aliens. No other spaceships coming for them. Just one woman trying to survive the shards from a Russian satellite that come whizzing around Earth every 90 minutes. As expected, there are tons of trials Stone has to overcome and nearly everything that can go wrong does, bringing her to her breaking point a few times. But she preservers and shows the power human resolve can truly have.

One of the best parts of the film is how Cuarón made the entire thing so realistic. Not only were his visual effects done to a tee, but his sound effects were spectacular as well. So many movies have things exploding in space and such, with the normal sounds it would make if it occurred on Earth. 

Not in this movie.

Things are done right and there is zero sound in space; save for the music of the movie. Anything that happens in space is soundless. It’s strange too, when the characters touch a space station or try to hold onto something, because you hear a muffled sound come out of it and realize that it must be what they’re hearing inside of their spacesuits. 

It’s the first film in space where I’ve seen the sound done so well. 

Gravity will be at the Oscars, no doubt. I hope to see Bullock nominated as well because she was really that good; the peak of her acting abilities. If you’re considering see this film (I myself went and chose it over Runner Runner and Prisoners), do.

You won’t be disappointed.

Howe to Houston; take us home.

Rating out of 100: 93