Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Hunger Games (9/10) (Matt's Review)

Alyssa and I saw "The Hunger Games" opening night Friday night. I had read all three books and Alyssa hadn't read any of them (I use hadn't and not hasn't because she started and finished the first book this morning).
Inevitably, in reviewing a movie based on books that I've read, the tendency is to compare the movie to the books and nitpick the differences. I'm trying to keep that in mind and focus on the movie itself instead...I'm not sure how successful I'll be. Also, there will probably be some small spoilers for anyone who hasn't already read/seen the material.

As a movie, it was well paced, particularly for the amount of information they tried to squeeze into the nearly two and a half hours. The stark visual contrast between the opening scenes in dirty/dingy District 12 (light blues and greys and browns), compared to the spectacle of colorfully outrageous opulence in the Capitol and the lush forest greens in the games themselves helped demonstrate how vastly different the lives of those in the Districts can be. The shaky-camera action scenes could have been nausea-inducing, but considering the fact that they were trying not to linger on and relish the murder of children (a la Battle Royale) I think they did a decent job of conveying the danger without guaranteeing an "R" rating.

The actors all did a great job. Jennifer Lawrence was great as Katniss, Peeta wasn't given much to work with and Gale was barely even seen, but they both did decent jobs as well. In the books, I remembered Peeta's feelings for Katniss as being a bit more obvious in the lead up to the games even though she wasn't as trusting, in the movie the audience shares her uncertainty. The little girl that played Rue was great, Prim was fine in a limited role, and I really enjoyed seeing Trixie the whore (Paula Malcomson) from "Deadwood" as Katniss' mom.

Bottom line, it was great. Was it 100% faithful to the source material? No, but it attempted to convey most of the important themes in the book and was moderately successful. The mood was tense when it called for it, exotic when appropriate and the film always entertained. I highly recommend it for book lovers and noobs alike!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

John Carter (5/10)

I want you to imagine for a moment the first time you saw the new Star Wars movies. The ones with all the newfangled CGI, child actors, elementary school level script and Jar Jar Binks. Now, if you would, take that movie and remove all of the nostalgic Star Wars-ian mythology that you have grown so fond of. Still with me? The movie you have just created in your mind is also currently in theaters. It's called John Carter. JC (am I allowed to call it that?) isn't the worst movie I've ever seen, but it's not wonderful. Or great. Or good. In fact, going into the film I knew it wasn't going to be great but I was fascinated by the fact that Disney dropped over $250 million on the film. I also am a huge fan of JC's Taylor Kitsch because of his role as one of the lead characters (Tim Riggin) in one of my favorite shows of all time (Friday Night Lights), and was intrigued to see how he would transition to the big screen. I read that Disney has been developing the film since the early 1920's and that it was originally intended to be their first full-length animated feature (instead of Snow White). Fast forward 90 years and Disney sent Tim Riggins to space in 3D. To be fair, I did fall asleep at multiple points during them film and those instances could have been the ones filled will brilliant dialogue. I doubt it though. The movie had incredible effects, but it appears as though the script was an oversight. The actors weren't given a whole lot to work with in their CGI world, and as such the film suffered.
Look how happy I look. This was during the previews.