Catching Fire: The Hottest Movie of the Year!

hunger_games_catching_fire_motion_poster I watched The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Thursday night at 8pm.  I may be a bit of a superfan….because I wanted to be one of the first to see it.  However, I promised one of my friends that I wouldn’t blog about it until today, so that I wouldn’t ruin it for anyone.  Let it not be said that I’m a party pooper!  Now onto the review!

Catching Fire was amazing in every sense of the word.  It far surpassed its predecessor and managed to stay a little more true to the original books.  I’m not sure if it was a change in directors, or leads that were more used to each other, but this movie makes The Hunger Games seem like a B movie.  Jennifer Lawrence showed us more feeling and emotion as Katniss Everdeen, a young girl who has now become the symbol of revolution in Panem, a dystopian, post-apocalyptic USA.  She and Peeta, played by the ever-adorable Josh Hutcherson, must reunite to go on a Victory Tour of the 12 districts, where they witness the growing revolution first hand.  President Snow (played to perfection by seasoned veteran Donald Sutherland) has her number and suspects that she is not the love struck young woman she claims to be, and threatens to kill Gale and her family if she does not convince the masses.  Honestly, I don’t think the masses give a flying f**k what she feels for Peeta, they hate Snow and the Capitol regardless.  When Snow realizes that, and that he cannot control Katniss, he tries to off her by The Hunger Games: All Star Edition, otherwise known as the Quarter Quell.  Basically, when the Hunger Games were made, they instated a loophole where every 25 years some new rule is thrown in.  This time around it’s that the tributes must be selected from each district’s pool of victors.  Alas, Katniss and Peeta are back in the ring again.

The mix of action, political intrigue, drama, and surprising humor made this film hands down the best of the year.  It’s suspected to be a record-breaking hit at the Box Office, and with good reason.  Unlike the first movie, Catching Fire breathes fresh life into the trilogy, while still holding true to its source material.  My only complaint?  They play up the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale a bit too much.  Because we don’t have Katniss’s words floating across the page, we need some screenwriters that correctly portray how she’s feeling.  The woman has had feelings for Gale for years, but she refuses to acknowledge them.  However, she and Peeta started something in the Hunger Games.  It eventually became more than an act, and everyone realizes it except Katniss.  Until the Quarter Quell Games, where she finally realizes she might be in love with this kid.  J-Law tried to portray that, I think the writers were more focused on a Twilight-esque love triangle.  Vomit.

That said, I otherwise have no complaints.  Woody Harrelson (go Hoosier state!!!!) and Elizabeth Banks were amazing, as usual.  It was darling to see another side to Effie Trinket.  Liam Hemsworth was seldom seen, but he played his part well.  The amazing Stanley Tucci had me hunched over in my seat laughing my face off.  What a gem.  I really do not think this man gets enough credit—he morphs into whoever he’s playing and it is mind blowing!  The new faces were great, as well.  Jena Malone was spot on for Johanna Mason.  Her entrance scene in the elevator was golden (I don’t want to ruin it…so let me just say she bares a piece of herself that shocks all), and I will openly admit she’s one of my favorite characters in the books.  And then there’s the beautiful Sam Claflin as Finnick.  Sigh….I don’t get what all the fuss was about surrounding him playing the Capitol City’s darling boy.  He was FREAKING PERFECT.  Eat your hearts out, straight women and gay men of the world…..

This is one of the few movies I want to PAY to go see again.  And soon.  I laughed, I cried (a lot, I’ll admit), and I jumped in my seat.  There is something here for everyone, not just the 13-25 year old crowd that devoured the books.  Shall I give it a grade?  Don’t mind if I do.  It impressed the movie cynic critic enough to earn an  A+.

Can’t wait for Mockingjay 1 and 2!

Almost Human – Pilot

            I want to like the idea of a human and android duo fighting crime in 2048. It sits well with my tastes. But at the same time I have to ask myself: how invested am I willing to get in a show that doesn’t guarantee a big audience? Firefly aside, I have respect for FOX’s willingness to go out on a limb and give a show a chance to tell its story. Any other network I might wait until a few episodes worth of ratings are released but, here we go again, FOX, I’m trusting you!

         Almost Human starts out with a bang…well, multiple bangs…as in explosions. It’s an edge-of-your-seat way to throw us into this future gone wrong and it introduces us to our human main character, John Kennex, played by Karl Urban (I know him as Eomer (LOTR) and Bones (Star Trek)). He’s a detective that’s been in a coma for much of the last two years and is struggling to remember the details of an ambush that killed everyone on his team and lost him his leg. This episode finds him return to the force where we get to understand he isn’t a fan of the MXs—the most recent android partners the force requires; they’re logical and pragmatic, effective but not much more machine than human, which, we discover, isn’t always the best. When his new MX “falls” out of his car he is given and older model of android a DRN named Dorian. He is an android with a “bleeding heart.” He is capable of comparable human emotion and reasoning and, although John fights it, the two fit too well for them not to accept one another.

            The banter between our two main protagonists is great and tells us a lot about them separately. The title “Almost Human” is no-doubt meant to describe the broken—emotionally and physically broken—John and the android with human feelings. They’re both almost human. (Yes, I realize it’s the pilot and I might be jumping the gun on the whole characterization thing but bear with me.) I’m looking forward to seeing this two bond…and banter, I love banter.

            As far as the pilot shows, the big bad of the season (or series itself) is a group called the Syndicate. This is the group that ambushed John’s team and he is more than a little determined to find them. They, likewise, are determined to find something that the police are holding as evidence. More or less that’s all we know. Normally I like baddies that walk the line between good and bad, forcing you to consider perspective and the writer’s ability to manipulate. (I’m an English major, I can’t help it.) But a big organization of bad guys works for me, afterall, most corporations are evil, it’s not a stretch. Here’s the kicker, as he tries to remember what happened, John sees his ex-girlfriend as part of this group. Oops. As if he’s not messed up enough. I’m interested to see if this plot line works; those set ups are always iffy but so far I’m in.

            If you are/were a Fringe fan, I think this is going to be a show that walks a similar line. Maybe it’s JJ Abrams and JH Wyman’s connection to both or maybe it’s just the whole leap into the future thing or maybe it’s because the season preview did show some very Fringe-y death/attacks scenes. That makes me happy. Saying it could be like Fringe isn’t necessarily a good thing. Getting five seasons out of FOX was a battle so we will see. (Don’t forget that Abrams-backed Alcatraz and the widely advertised Terra Nova weren’t able to pull in enough viewers with their not-so-ordinary storylines.) As a general rule I try to make a decision around episode 4 or 5 so I will check back with you, dear readers, as we get farther in to this one. I’m not a big fan of the letter-grade system but I’m going to say I’d call this a high B. What were your thoughts? Did you catch episode two (aired/airs tonight 11/18 on FOX)? (NOTE: I tried to type as I watched but that didn’t happen so if you see errors in the details of the show –or in general–, please let me know.)

Movie to wait for: Maleficent (2014)

BY4EB00CcAAXwIf

Disney, which has become an even larger mega company with the purchase of LucasFilm and Marvel, seems to have an urge to reinvigorate the Disney Princess genre.  Cinderella premieres in 2015, and Maleficent will greet theaters this summer.  Not to mention, of course, the Once Upon a Time series and potential spin-offs.  I, for one, am thrilled.  As a 90s child, I grew up with Belle, Ariel, and Jasmine, as well as the classic princesses Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Cinderella.  I’m ecstatic to see these modern, live action, reincarnations. 

Maleficent (2014) stars Angelina Jolie in the titular role.  This time around, we see the story from the perspective of the “evil witch”.  What made her evil?  Why does she curse Aurora?  What the hell is up with those freaky horns?  I’m intrigued by the trailer, although I don’t love the choice to cast Elle Fanning as Aurora.  She still looks so young and in my mind Aurora is a little more mature.  But I love Elle, and she’s breathtakingly beautiful, so maybe she can make it work.  Jolie, on the other hand, seems born to play the role.  We know she can act, and I’m eager to see her play a villain (even if she’s technically the heroine of her own story here).  Visually, however, she IS Maleficent. 

Intrigued?  Check out the trailer here!

What do you think?  Worth a shot?

 

Behind the Bandwagon: Magic Mike

bwff40a8mdioquui5u6q0bdfew6

Watching Magic Mike has been a long time coming.  Obviously the trailer and promos caught my eye in the most delightful way, but the critic’s positive reviews were even more intriguing.  The film did not disappoint.  On the surface, the “Cock Rocking Kings of Tampa” are fantastic to look at and I could have almost had MORE of it.  Am I objectifying those sexy slices of male?  Yes.  Do I care?  Not really, that was pretty much the point.  The film goes deeper than undeniable sex appeal, though.  There is an actual story (gasp!).  Channing Tatum’s character, the titular Magic Mike, is a 30ish male stripper with big dreams.  He’s stuck in an easy job with a destructive lifestyle, and although he thinks he’s above the lifers around him (a salivating combination of Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, and Adam Rodriguez), he’s just as stuck and complacent.  That is, until he meets Adam (Alex Pettyfer, gorgeous per usual) and his older sister Brooke.  He mentors Adam, creating a monster, and has to answer to Brooke and her judgemental criticisms.  Naturally, he comes to the light and changes his ways and all (well, just he and Brooke) live happily ever after.  The end.

I liked the movie, don’t get me wrong, but I have some major issues.  One, whoever plays Brooke (I don’t care enough to check the Bible: IMDB) is a terrible actress and has no chemistry with Channing Tatum.  I didn’t feel it, and it was supposed to be a driving force with the film.  Two, why would her character, who so hates Mike’s lifestyle and has never shown any interest whatsoever, suddenly decide in the last two minutes that she wants to be with this newly reformed Mike?  Three, what’s with the fairly arbitrary and short-lived drug dealing subplot?  You could take that out and the movie is 100% unchanged. 

Obviously, many women (and men) can take this movie at its surface level and have a strip show on the big screen.  Lots of hot men and no substance.  When it does come to the substance, though, some aspects have gotten lost in translation.  I applaud the effort, however, and love the gender reversal.  We normally objectify women as a culture, and while no gender should be objectified, it’s nice to see the shoe on the foot.

Behind the Bandwagon: The Bling Ring

the-bling-ring-poster-full2__oPt

Sofia Coppola’s most recent film, The Bling Ring,  was released in theaters this past June.  Like many of Coppola’s films, it was met with mixed reviews.  While it was certainly not as captivating as The Virgin Suicides, I still very much liked it.  The movie is based on the Hollywood Hills heists that took place in 2008 and 2009.  The stark sets, close camera angles, and natural dialogue give the film a documentary feel that lends to the “based on a real story” premise.  Although the relatively unknown Katie Chang plays the ring leader of the group (a cold, calculating, and incredibly manipulative little brat), it is Emma Watson who steals the show.  Her character is so atypical of the Hermione we’ve come to know and love….and it’s great!  Nicki is a spoiled little slut who is so used to getting her way, it doesn’t even phase her to break into celebrities’ homes and rob them blind.  She wants it, she takes it.  They all do.  Over and over and over again.  The heists get bigger and the thieves brag louder.  That is, until they’re caught (largely due to their outrageous Facebook photos).

The movie is a commentary both on the youth of today and our nation’s fascination with celebrity.  The upcoming generation of teens are portrayed as spoiled and bratty, but who can blame them when they’re allowed to do as they please and are given very little supervision.  To add to that, they see their  role models on the cover of magazines partying, going to rehab constantly, and ending up in jail.  And the attention they get for it makes it all look incredibly glamorous.  It’s incredible to behold and The Bling Ring shows how it can end up going to extremes.

Best part of the movie: Paris Hilton has a cameo, and let the crew shoot in her house, which in real life was the one most often hit.  Come on, celebs, LOCK YOUR DOORS!  And seriously, invest in surveillance.

Interested?  Check out the trailer for more on the movie!

Behind the Bandwagon: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

MV5BMzIxOTQyODU1OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDQ4Mjg4Nw@@__V1__SX640_SY946_

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is hands down one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time.  I couldn’t even wait to read the book first, which is a big deal, trust me.  The only other times this has happened were with Stardust and The Princess Bride, and that was only because I didn’t realize they were based off books.

If you’ve watched many movies centered around teens, you will understand why it is so rare to come across one so rich with heart, wit, and insight.  I knew going in what the big twist was at the end, but I was still crying like a baby and feeling for poor Charlie.  But  I am getting ahead of myself.  Perks centers around an awkward, introverted freshman named Charlie, played by an absolutely adorable Logan Lerman.  He sits alone at lunch and doesn’t speak up in class, even though he knows all the answers.  Until a group of seniors change his life.  Sam (Emma Watson) is his first love, even though she is tortured and much more experienced girl who doesn’t feel like she deserves love.  Patrick is her outspoken gay step-brother, and Charlie’s new best friend.  They accept him into their circle of friends and teach him what high school is all about: finding yourself, making mistakes, and learning about life. 

If you haven’t seen it, you need to.  It is most definitely The Breakfast Club for our generation.  And the best part?  If you’re a 90s kid, get ready for some flashbacks—the film takes place in the 1990-1991 school year.

Behind the Bandwagon: 2013 Emmy Awards

2013-primetime-emmy-award-nominations-announced

I know, I know, the Emmy’s aired on Sunday night.  SOME of us, however, have jobs outside the Monday thru Friday 9-5 structure.  But thanks to the holy genius who invented DVR, I got to watch it a few days late.  However, the freaking show went over AGAIN and I missed the two biggest awards of the night.  But it is 2013, afterall, so I just looked that crap up online 🙂

My impressions: NPH as a host is pure gold (as opposed to the surely plated awards).  I loved all the tongue-in-cheek gay references thrown in throughout the show.  I LOVED the choreographers’ showpiece toward the end.  It honestly made my night, and made up for the completely pointless “Number in the Middle of the Show”.  Yes, Neil, my darling, I get that the point was to be pointless.  But you were AT the awards.  I watched it three days later and your stupid song and dance lost me the Best Comedy and Best Drama series.  So thanks.

When it comes to the awards themselves, I was ashamed to realize that apparently, according to the mysterious Academy, I do not watch the best shows on television.  I have never seen Breaking Bad, Nurse Jackie, or Veep.  Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s in-character acceptance speech was therefore lost on me.  Once I realized wtf, I was humored and impressed.  At first view, though, I was rocking the “huh?” face.  I was THRILLED, however, as well as brought to tears, when the lovely and talented Jim Parsons accepted his third consecutive win for lead actor in a comedy series.  What a gem.  I was also pleased (after trolling Google) to learn that Modern Family nabbed best comedy.  Well, duh.

So what were everyone else’s impressions?  Were you pleased with the results?  Enraged?  Completely indifferent?  I know I for one will have to check out Veep.  I’m too far behind for Breaking Bad, and Nurse Jackie just does not look that freaking interesting.  Isn’t it just Grey’s Anatomy with HBO issues instead of PG-13 ones?