Thursday, November 21, 2013

Catching Fire and a Truckload of Money

   The buzz around the Hunger Games sequel is at an all time high. Sellout early showings and a massive fan base are quickly poising the film for one of the biggest openings of the year. The first film found new fans and of course those familiar with all of the novels. Catching fire picks up where the first movie leaves off. Katniss and Peeta are pretending to be in love while on their victory tour. They are given cue cards and told what to say. Fed, clothed, and treated like celebrities. The problems begin when Katniss becomes conscious of the problems in the districts. Rebellion is brewing and she has a hard time towing the line. President Snow resents her, the people love her, and all the while she is torn between Gale (Hemsworth) and Peeta.

   In order to eliminate Katniss the powers that be decide to bring previous winners back for the Quarter Quell. A tournament of champions so to speak. We meet a lot of new tributes. Each one with new traits and abilities. Peeta and Katniss train and attempt to make allies and keep their enemies to a minimum. Katniss is made more aware of the corruption that controls the people and is forced to compete in an even deadlier Hunger Games.

    The things you have come to expect are there. The costumes, the grit, and larger than life personalities. The new cast fits in well, with fan favorite Finnick being one of the stand outs. The movie can be confusing and at times tedious, but overall still fun to watch. It sets up Mocking Jay and gives you a better feel for the conflict of the characters. It will probably live up to expectations and Jennifer Lawrence deserves all of the praise she has come to receive. It won't be for everyone, but the Hunger Games Catching Fire left me hungry for more.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Thor The Dark Wolrd, but The Right Movie....

     Marvel has a winning record. They have made some mistakes. Two of their biggest properties are controlled by other studios. I am OK with what Sony is doing with Spider Man, but Fox just cannot get the X-Men universe right. Marvel has figured out what putting the rest of it's core characters under one umbrella. It has paid off, but raised expectations. Let's get this out of the way right now, Thor The Dark World delivers in many ways. It has short comings, but they don't doom the film.

   After the events in New York, Thor has been bringing law and order to the nine realms and prepares to ascend to the throne of Asgard. He broods over Jane, but with Hemidol (Idris Elba) keeps a distant watch over her. When she unwittingly discovers and awakens an ancient evil. Enter the Dark Elves and Malekith (Christopher Eccelson). They seek to destroy the nine realms during an event called the convergence. It's where all worlds perfectly align creating portals between them. Odin believed these elves to be long destroyed by his father, but after attacking Asgard he learns differently. Thor must then defy his father and align with his evil brother Loki (Tom Hiddelston) to save Jane (Natalie Portman) and the universe.

  Overall the story is simple. It is easy for even a novice to follow. I was impressed with the way the continue to handle the universe of Thor. It is not an easy world to bring to reality. Marvel has done a very good job at making it slightly more realistic. The supporting cast is good. Kat Dennings is their for comic relief and has an increased role. I was a little disappointed that Stellan Skarsgard's Dr Selvig was reduced to comic relief, but it somehow worked.

The first film did a fantastic job with the complicated father son dynamic between Thor and Odin. This film equally satisfies in that department. You can truly tell that Anthony Hopkins is having fun with the Odin character. He and Hemsworth have a good chemistry and it carries large portions of the film.

 Loki steals the show, again. You never truly know where his allegiances lie until the end. Tom Hiddelston plays a villain that you love to hate. Technically he is not the real threat in the film, but he is again a great villain. He is evil and comedic all at once and the story is definitely better with him in it.

 While I loved Loki,  I was not impressed with Malekith. I like villains that you fear. I was never impressed here, but I am not truly familiar with Thor's rogues gallery. He is not a great villain, but he is serviceable for the film. He works well with the story, but I found him slightly on the silly side as opposed to terrifying.

 Jamie Alexander is great as the warrior maiden Sif. She is given more to do this go around and that was the right move. If the film has a major flaw, it is with her. They tease a triangle with her and Jane Foster, but they never truly develop it. Still, this short coming isn't enough to derail the film.

 In the end , there are twists, set ups for other films, and a fantastic Avenger cameo. The movie brings Thor's world back to reality and if another adventure is lined up, it will be worth the ride. Action, comedy, and a little sadness. Thor the Dark World is a fun trip, but make sure you stay through the credits!