Friday, March 23, 2012

Random Tandem: mini-review of The Hunger Games

It seems like I have been waiting for this movie FOREVER! And now that it's come (and gone, because I saw it tonight) I'm kinda ambivalent. It's always a difficult thing to love a movie that has a favorite book as the source material. I do have to say, though, I think The Hunger Games will please most of its movie-going public-- but diehard fans may feel like me, that the movie lacked some of the intensity of the book and the characters in the movie didn't feel as fleshed out as I would have liked. The politics behind  the Hunger Games seemed like a middle-school book report version-- but I guess if it were more true to the books, it might have been too bleak.  At least the director didn't completely blunt the horror of children having to kill children.

As far as the visuals, I needed an antacid after watching the multitude of stomach-turning color combinations of the citizens of Capitol, hehehe. Overall, I think they got the look and feel of the story down. Special effects were not distracting (I particularly liked the wolfie mutts, though I don't think some of the peculiarities about them, that we know from the book, came across in the movie).

Overall, the acting was great. I knew Jennifer Lawrence would deliver. I totally expected Woody Harrelson to ruin Haymitch with overacting, but Harrelson seemed to hold back. Lenny Kravitz sort of sleep-walked through his role. I adore that little one who played Rue, Amandla Stenberg. Really didn't get much out of the performances of the other tributes-- they mostly seemed pretty one-dimensional villains (with Rue and Thresh being the exceptions).

Ok, this is running kind of long for a mini-review. Just one more, really superficial thing-- Donald Sutherland, as President Snow, is creepy. That man has always been creepy (Invasions of the Body Snatchers still scares me), but his ginormous ears are even creepier than I remember from many movies past. Thank Goddess he's extra furry in this one, because otherwise I would have been clutching the teenager seated next to me every time DS made an appearance.

It's bedtime. I'll probably have Hunger Games dreams tonight. I'm not complaining, though. I mostly enjoyed the movie, and I want to see how the sequels are handled. Dreams might be all I have to keep me company about the Panem world for a while-- unless I pick The Hunger Games trilogy up again. Good idea.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Random tandem: A mini-review of John Carter

I just got back from a free Austin screening of John Carter, the new Disney movie in wide release on March 9th. I really didn't see this coming! I loved this movie! It was everything I had hoped that Conan would be, but wasn't.

I saw John Carter in an IMAX theater in 3d-- which really added to the visual experience. The scenes weren't CGI-ed to death, which I really appreciate. The cast was appealing-- from the leads, Taylor Kitsch and Lynn Collins (glad they had chemistry), to the supporting cast of perennial favorites like Willem Dafoe, Thomas Haden Church and Samantha Morton. And lest we forget-- Mark Strong. I don't know what it is, but that man just goes straight to my panties, especially when he plays a villain (as he does here). There's plenty of action, and I was a little surprised at the amount of violence there is in this Disney flick, but none of the violence is unwarranted or too over the top. Oh, and I love the array of creatures-- and yeah, I know I don't have a say about that because I'm one of the few that hasn't totally hated on Jar-Jar Binks. I could totally see spending some discretionary income on action figures, here.

Ok, I only have a couple of film-lit classes under my belt (and believe me, that belt has expanded a great deal in the 12 years since I graduated), so I'm not equipped to discuss the technical aspects of the film's production. I am intrigued about the original story by Edgar Rice Burroughs. And let me stick my neck out-- I think John Carter has the potential to be the Star Wars of a new generation-- but I think the timing of the release doesn't lend itself to mega-block-buster status. I mean, this movie is going to be a winner for Disney, but I think it deserved a summer release, rather than one at the beginning of Spring Break. And, surprisingly, I have only seen one preview for the movie thus far, so it's almost like Disney is being cautiously optimistic in promoting the movie. Quite a change from the The Hunger Games hoopla (which I've unabashedly bought into).

I'm going to recommend John Carter to friends and fam and hope that John Carter has some further adventures coming to the big screen.

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