Based on a novel by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games (2012) came out under wide critical acclaim and getting big numbers at the box office, reasons that alone make any viewer - at least - be curious about the film. Way before that - even when I was completely oblivious to the fact that is was adapted from a book - I came across the first trailer and thought to myself: "this is going to suck". Why? Because I felt it was too much of a rip-off. The similarities between The Hunger Games storyline and Battle Royale were of gigantic proportions. Nonetheless, after everyone started to rave about the book and the movie adaptation, my expectations then shifted entirely.
So what can I say about The Hunger Games? Well, credit most be given to the author, who even after drawing lot of inspiration (#plagiarism) from the Japanese action masterpiece, was able to give it a nice, smart twist, approaching various themes and doing it so always leaving dots to connect.
One of the most interesting topics lies on Reality TV and what goes on the backstage/behind-the-scene. You get a overview of what needs to be done to set to turn the wheels of this big marketing machine that lives off ratings and consumption. I guess, most people have an idea of how the system works, but just prefer to close their eyes for the sake of entertainment. What ticks me off, is the fact that most people just act like what's taking place is completely genuine, without a hint of manipulation. The viewer easily believes that are witnessing "history" (corny, dull, cheesy history) in the making.
It's almost like watching Robert Redford's Quiz Show (1994) mixed with American Idol and - again - Battle Royale.
As for the talented cast, my biggest compliments go towards Jennifer Lawrence. It's not by chance that she is becoming one of Hollywood's most in demand actresses. She has great talent as Winter's Bone (2010) - her breakthrough performance - easily shows that.
It's not a movie that will leave you talking about it for a long time... but it sure is well crafted and quite entertaining... and it's good enough to keep you waiting for the next two sequels to see how the story will come to an end.
I don't understand why, after the first one was so bad, I had hope that the sequel would be any better. It sucks as much or even worse.
What a shame to see talented actors join the bandwagon in such mediocrity. There is no point in watching this movie... Trust me! Nothing to be taken out as positive. It's 1h30m of your life you will not get back!
"The more the merrier", that's what Sylvester Stallone seems to think by betting on The Expendables 2 (2012).
The fans agree!
Since the first Expendables (2010) came out, people knew right away that for a sequel to make sense they would need to bring in more actions stars. Fortunately for Sly, there's a lot to pick from and some of them are even looking to get some high profile roles to contrast with their "straight-to-dvd" projects.
So if you look at the original lineup that contains names such as Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgreen, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis... what other names come up to mind?
I'm sure Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris are probably in that wish-list of yours and so... there you have it! Both actors were included and the hype was once more created. Everyone who grew up with these actors wanted to see them act together and I like to believe even for non-action fans, the opportunity just seemed to good to pass on. What are the chances of you ever getting a similar project with so many cult icons?
I've got to say, even for me - a big action fan and admirer of most these actors for years - was too much. I had trouble watching the movie and reaching the end with a sense of satisfaction. I felt like it was cheesy, over the top, blunt and ludicrous... I wasn't believing most of what I was seeing. And yes, I'm aware that's not the point. They don't take themselves seriously and it's suppose to be an homage almost in the shape of a spoof - at least this is what I assume. However, it still resonate in my head as a waste of my time. I could have easily waited to watch this one at home... No need to spend money and hit the cinemas.
I spoke to a few people and most tend to disagree with my opinion. They loved The Expendables 2, some even more that its predecessor! The trick - they say - is to go with a large group of friends, kick back and enjoy the ride. From what I learned after watching it, I would also suggest people pretend they are seeing a comedy and just be comfortable to laugh of the many idiotic scenes that come up your way.
But let me just clear one thing... As much as it seems like I hated the movie, I didn't. Far from it... Felt it was an unnecessary sequel, providing very little to the previous one. I also believe that critics and audience have been boosting up what I think is a very overrated film. Nonetheless, there are some excellent scenes, especially those that involve Willis, Schwarzenegger and Stallone together. The quirky lines, the 80/90's references, the puns... It just makes you feel "blessed" for the opportunity of getting those guys on-screen.
Oh and the throw down between Sly and JCVD is a nice climax... Good to see that even when you reach 70 you can still kick some ass.
Right before I reached the final scenes of Hesher (2010), much to my dislike, I was convinced the movie was a big let down just because it didn't satisfy my level of expectations. These reached a high degree just by knowing Joseph Gordon-Levitt starred on it.
I have been a fan the 31 year old actor since he first came to prominence with 3rd Rock from the Sun - one of my favourite comedy shows - then going through his indie phase, followed by a more mainstream productions. The guy is brilliant in most things he does and being highly pleased with Hesher's trailer I was more than confident this would be one for my collection.
During most of the film I thought great deal of the action taking place was random, lacking credibility and sometimes even slightly predictable. As the storyline progressed, we were at a stage where it was clear for me, as a viewer, that I was suppose to expect the unexpected and the unusual - classic trademarks of any indie film that wishes to cause an impact and surprise their audience, specially if the approach is meant to be deep/inspirational.
I get that... but I believed it was a lot to take in, I mean, most of the time I was trying to make sense of everything that was happening.
Here and there, I felt really good about what I was watching and the final scenes really torn me apart, leading me to not know exactly where I stood regarding what I just saw.
The issue then becomes whether or not my early thoughts have been "manipulated" by some of the reading I did after I saw the film, however, I can honestly say something genuinely shifted with that last scene. Thought it was beautiful and, in a lot of ways, very poetic, offering great contrast to the chaos that gave pace to the entire Spencer Susser (director) project.
Regardless of all this, I came to conclude I was very entertained. Had a lot of trouble liking the main character, a complete crazy anarchist with - what I would believe is safe to say - serious issues. But in is own unbalanced way, Hesher presented himself with some dark and twisted humour that provided the movie with great scenes. Those moments made it much easier to like him... and as he acted like a spiritual guide in time of need, with his deranged and inappropriate metaphors containing hidden messages (life lessons), you actually see the kind of balance that something so dysfunctional can give you. Things aren't as black and white or right or wrong like people think. There are occasions where what makes that special click is something coming from where you less expected, from what you believe to be unconventional and even against your nature. That's sort of what we witness here... In this feature, a troubled Father and Son, still mourning over the loss of their Wife/Mother needed to be shaken and has the movie tagline says:
"Sometimes life gives you the finger and sometimes it gives you Hesher" - Promise this will make a lot more sense if you watch it.
Other highlights worthy of mention are Rainn Wilson, in a different role to what we are used to. Troubled and a numbly dark, the actor widely known for Dwight Schrute in the T.V show The Office, gives a surprising and refreshing performance, while Devin Brochu - as the kid going by the name of T.J - delivers a more intense and enraged version of his Dad, due to the constant aggressive handling by Hesher.
Natalie Portman (also a producer), with some very solid acting, portrays a young "nerdy" girl to which T.J becomes very fond - being both misfits something that connects them together - giving him a hint of sanity when it seemed like there was none... Well, except his lovable grandma performed by Piper Laurie in one of the best - and lighter - roles on Hesher.
Having said this - and after giving it some thought - I actually enjoyed myself even after stating how disappointed I was throughout the film. I think all I need was to come to terms with what actually was intended rather than worrying to much on how realistic it is or how crazy it might seem. In the end, I believe Hesher to be a modern yet strange and twisted, fairy tale.
I am Bruce Lee (2011) is a made for TV documentary about one of the most iconic symbols in popular culture.
Till this day Bruce Lee's legacy lives on, moving from generation to generation through his work but also his way of life.
A man of many trades, the Asian-American film star was not only an actor, but a screenwriter, producer, teacher and philosopher - among other things. With so many different backgrounds and skills, its only natural his influence reached all kinds of people, in different regions and cultures and in all kinds of ways. That's only part of what this documentary comes to show...
I would advise anyone (and I mean anyone) to watch this... You might take something useful out of it, even if at first glance you think Bruce Lee doesn't have nothing to add to your life (which highly doubt it).
I remember thinking to myself: what lead me to see this movie?. As I made my selection of the day, I took some time to try and recap the reasons behind my interest. And then, after watching it, it hit me. Probably the trailer. Minutes later, I checked if I had shared it before... and there it was.
My reaction: "It gave me goosebumps"... a clear sign that I was expecting something great.
One thing is for sure, I was definitely not expecting the final outcome...
Norman (2010) It's not an easy movie to handle. It's one of the most dark and twisted I've seen recently.
The film takes its name from the lead character, a 18 year old kid with a great sense of awareness and responsibility - to a certain extent - that lives with his terminal ill Dad. He has a cancer on his stomach and chooses not to do anything about it, much to his son's dismay. We soon find out that his Father still struggles with the loss of his wife, which creates the idea that he has given up on life with hopes of a after-life re-encounter (this is me giving space to my interpretation).
Obviously Norman doesn't realize this and truth be told, how can he? Regardless of your age, maturity, life experience and what not... it is very difficult to accept such an attitude, specially coming from a father. This - among with his Mother's passing - lead Norman to feel like a misfit over life's occurrences but also for his line of thinking.
As you can see, this is only part of the setup and it's already very disturbing.
You would assume you want to sympathize with the main character, but I felt it was really had... Trying to think about it clearly, I have to say Dan Bryd did a great role. Probably wouldn't get anyone better to play such a awkward and damaged boy, however, in this film Richard Jenkins is the one to praise the most. The guy is just phenomenal as an actor, providing most of Norman's best scenes.
Another key element is the soundtrack composed by Andrew Bird, which is beautiful and fits the entire narrative. Just makes it so much easier to watch...
They started off big and ended up even bigger! The London games opening and closing ceremony showed the world what Great Britain is all about, by showing – almost in a time-line fashion - many cultural references. It’s incredible how much influence GB had in our everyday life and even thought it felt like it was made by British for British, it was still amazing to watch.
Obviously what happened “in-between” did justice to the epic efforts of the host city. The athletes performances were outstanding as we saw many world-records getting beaten, personal bests as well…All this happening in great – and care free – surroundings. Transports were better than ever, safety was no issue and people just seemed to be in a very uplifting mood.
So now what? How will life unfold after the London games?
Things won’t seem so exciting… I can tell you that! But life moves on and we just need to make sure to take full advantage of the many commodities the games have brought the city of London. Now, the only thing we can do is enjoy the Paralympics and wait for the beginning of other sporting seasons to try and fill in the void space left by the greatest sporting show on Earth!
When it comes down to talking about Ted (2012) there’s one thing I can say without taking much risk of failing and that is: If you are a Family Guy fan, then you are likely to enjoy this movie.
It's quite obvious why I say this if you look at who the director of this feature is…
Seth MacFarlane, the creator of the animated show, is the man behind the project, bringing some friends from the show into his movie. Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild – along with Seth himself – took care of the script, while the likes of Mila Kunis, Alex Borstein and Patrick Warburton – known for lending their voices to some of the characters – get to show their acting skills.
But in the end, it all comes down to two characters.
John Bennett portrayed by Mark Wahlberg – in another great comedic effort – and his teddy bear, Ted, to whom Seth MacFarlane gives his voice to. The chemistry is good, but the recurrent gags – such as parody/spoof , comedy inspiration and influences, fantasy moments and flashbacks – are the elements that really make Ted greatly enjoyable. With it’s silly humor, great cameos and sometimes inappropriate lines, Ted is well deserving of the good reviews it has received so far, however, I believe that the iMDB score is slightly over the top. A solid 7 would do…
Nonetheless, great to watch, especially in the company of friends!