Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Hunger Games Review

As someone who has read the entire series of Suzanne Collin's books "The Hunger Games", I had only two things on my mind for the film adaptation. 1) Is it good?(simple question but better than nothing) And 2) Will it be faithful? Well let's find out.

In what used to be America is the world of Panem. 74 Years ago, there was a rebellion against the capitol of Panem and their 13 Districts. District 13 had fallen, and the Hunger Games was born to remind the citizens of their failed rebellion. Each year, 12 Males and 12 females of each District would be chosen to fight to the death in the games. During the 74th annual Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen bravely volunteers for her sister after she is chosen. With her fellow tribute Peeta Mellark, survival is their only option in a game where only one can win.

Now to get this off of my chest, the timeworn plot. You know, a repressive world in which state enforces brutal control(usually by offering children to fight to the death), is nothing new. So the story is not original, in fact, titles that come to mind are The Most Dangerous Game,Nineteen Eighty-Four, Lord of the Flies, Rollerball, Logan’s Run, The Running Man and Battle Royale. Although in all fairness, those stories(including Battle Royale, for those who are denial of that fact) can remind those who know the Greek Mythology of Theseus. 

I thought this movie was great. It's not too heavily violent like the books, but it finds its perfect balanced tone on the deaths of the children. I knew the moment that the book would turn into a movie, it would be PG-13 and not R. It should have been pretty obvious since it's Hollywood trying to make cash on another series.

Now I believe this to be a brave film. It's coming right after Harry Potter has ended, and the arrival of the final Twilight film. Even though we know many other fantasy films has tried to cash in on the Potter fandom, they failed. But now that Potter is gone(ending that franchise spectacularly I might add), we needed a new movie. And because of the overhype, and the film itself, we have a winner!

The performances in this film are strong, from most of the cast. Jennifer Lawrence is now at the top of her game(Winter's Bone proved it back in 2010) while playing Katniss Everdeen. From a fans perspective, I wouldn't have chosen anyone else to play her. Josh Hutcherson has more than enough charisma to play Peeta, and that was a character that needed a lot of charm. Liam Hemsworth(who I'm pretty sure only had less than 15 minutes of screen time) did a fine performance in a character who's build up is done and will now see a more blossomed character in the next film. Lenny Kravitz as Cinna, this guy can act, a lot of musicians can't act, so it's fresh to see some actual talent. Elizabeth Banks, under all that make up, you can't tell who she is, and her performance is actually one of the highlights of the film, seeing as how she is a very ironic character(she orders politeness in a barbaric game). Wes Bentley(who lately has been in a ton of really REALLY bad movies) does a good job as Seneca Crane. Alexander Ludwig and Issabelle Fuhrman are actual bad asses, they can turn in good performances and not feel like a plot device. Donald Sutherland is great as the mean spirited president of panem, he's not an underdog(as he would say in the film). If there was an Oscar for scene stealer of the year, it would have gone to Stanley Tucci as Ceaser Flickerman, this man will make you feel and laugh in seconds. I don't really like Woody Harleson as Haymitch, he was much more of a drunk in the book, but he's just too soft for this role, even though he was another perfect casting choice!

I've stated so many times that Visual Effects are the reason why I love film, and I'm not going to lie, but I wasn't the biggest fan of the effects. It seemed too campy for my taste. An example would be the(SPOILER ALERT) mutant dogs, they were scary in the book and had this really cool twist with them. But the moment they appeared on film, they didn't feel like Ceaser the ape from Rise of the Apes, they felt more like 0's and 1's from computers.

The make-up design on the film worked so well, I predict an Oscar nom. It's supposed to be this really ugly city in the eyes of Katniss, and it succeeds in doing so. Also, that design for Peeta in the mud was just fantastic.

Tom Stern really knows how to give an atmosphere for this film, to be honest, it felt very much like Winter's Bone. I do have this to say, the camera moved just like Cloverfield. I think the reason for that is because of the films rating and the mix of violence that the book has.

Gary Ross is did a great job adapting the book into film. I'm guessing he's an actual fan of the books, so he really does try to bring some justice into this movie. He never drags the film, everything has its pace and moves on even though we all know making a book into a movie is really hard. 

If you're still sad over the fact that Harry Potter is gone, see this movie, it might cheer you up.
If you hate Twilight, see it, the romance isn't really focused on at all in this movie.
If you bitch and whine about it being a rip off of Battle Royale, shut up, they both were inspired by the greek story of Theseus.

Overall, if you want great entertainment value with a side politics.

I GIVE IT 4/5 Stars.

Side note-
Just for fun, if I were in those games, most likely, I would run for my damn life. I'll probably die, but it's better than dying in the beginning of the games.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Project X Review

Remember Chronicle? That very surprising film about young kick ass super heros who document the effects of what their powers could do? Remember how great that film was? Remember how it literally almost saved the style of Cinéma vérité(which film has been missing these past few years)? Well I do. After seeing Project X, I can assure you, that hack of a movie almost ruined everything Chronicle has done to save a dying format.

The plot for the movie is basically simple. Costa(Oliver Cooper) and J.B.(Jonathan Daniel Brown) set a secret party for their fellow Best friend Thomas(Thomas Mann), who is aware of the party. All of this is being filmed by Dax(Dax Flame), who lives alone and doesn't drink. The trio are only having this party as a way to enter the social center of High School. What starts out as a relatively small party becomes a successful party for the trio, which later on ends up being a ground zero fight between S.W.A.T. , drunken teenagers, and a pissed off drug dealer. Will they survive the greatest night of their young lives?

I'm just going to go ahead and say that I hated everyone in this movie. Costa is not only an offensive character, but he is the most despicable character in film since Jar Jar Binks in Phantom Menace. J.B. is literally the bastard child of Jonah Hill, he has no charisma, and your glad he broke his thumb. Thomas, who is supposed to be the films hero, is hard to even care about. He not only is supposed to carry the film, but we're trying to care for every action and consequence he is put through, and he fails at trying to get the audience to do that. Dax actually becomes the only character you actually give a damn about. Since he's the guy who is holding the camera, you're actually wondering what he is thinking about during all the chaos. He is only given a maximum of about 6 or 7 lines and he should have been the main archetype of the film. No girl in this movie is actually interesting. They are either presented as meat, or..... yeah, just meat.

This is marketed as a Todd Phillips(Old School, The Hangover) film. It's not, he's just producing it so that audiences can say "yeah! This is gonna be like The Hangover!". While I'm pretty sure a lot of young adolescents were having hangovers in jail after that enormous party, it really should not have any comparisons to Phillips other films. This is a film that is written by Matt Drake and Michael Bacall(Scott Pilgrim), and I am disappointed. Bacall, who we know can write a great comedic film because of Scott Pilgrim, writes a fairly lazy, uninteresting, and cliched story. Nima Nourizadeh is the films first time director, and he is bad. There is just so much of this movie that he could have changed for the better instead of just making this movie for horny adolescents. All in all, give credit to editor Jeff Groth who I'm pretty sure had spent hours just to try and make a coherent story out this this insult to my generation.

Speaking of my generation, what the hell? Is this really how we're viewed? If The Social Network taught us anything, it was that my generation is darker and smarter than most people presume we are. But Project X somehow manages to make complete horny idiots out of my generation. I can't say that I have attended this sort of party in my life span, which I'm glad I haven't. But if I were to compare this out of something I have witnessed, it would be Prom. Prom night was supposed to be the social event where we were to take a break from all the hard work we accomplished. But from what I saw, it was just a night of dry humping and bad music. And while I enjoyed my Prom night, I was sort of disturbed by what my generation could do. And that same thought is what went through my head during this film, but without any pleasure.

If you ask most people, they will tell you that they are tired of the "Found Footage" genre, or as I prefer to call it Cinéma vérite. They history of Cinéma vérite was that it was used to document events of real life, one of the more famous examples would be "An American Family" which followed The Loud Family for 12 episodes. It was a breakthrough in Film and Television. More recent examples, like Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity, and The Blair Witch Project, have shown that audiences really do like the ambiguous style, but to an extent. These days, because of our phones and the computers, we can see all of this on the internet, some more raw than others. This film tries to be what all the other examples have set out to be, but fails because it is too busy exploiting teens.

Overall, this is a very insulting movie to the new generation, and is devoid of anything actually worthy of comedy.

I give it 1.5/5 Stars