Movie Review: The Hunger Games

Let’s get one thing clear from the start. I haven’t read the books (yet). I know, shoot me.Point is, I might have missed some things that were in the book, but not the movie. Secondly, this review will purely focus on the quality of the film and not about how it compares to the novels.

The Hunger Games is a movie based on the novels by by Suzanne Collins. It was first published on September 14, 2008. ‘The Hunger Games‘ is the first novel in The Hunger Games trilogy, followed by Catching Fire, published on September 1, 2009, and Mockingjay, published on August 24, 2010.

Now, time for a little back story (don’t worry, I won’t spoil … much!). In a not too distant future (you can tell because they all have weird names *wink*), several years after a great war we meet Katniss Everdeen, a teenager with a knack for shooting arrows through the eyes of squirrels. Times hard and things are bad. Food is hard to come by (hence the squirrels). To commemorate the great war, the people of ‘The Capital’ hold an annual competition dubbed ‘The Hunger Games’ with the slogan  “And may the odds be ever in your favor”. Every year, each of the 12 districts send 2 teenagers to compete in the Hunger Games.  They get elected through a lottery, and their names are not entered voluntarily. These 24 teenagers will fight to the death until 1 victor remains who brings eternal glory to his or her district.

Naturally, Katniss Everdeen’s sister, Prim, gets chosen upon which Katniss herself volunteers to go in her sister’s place. She and the boy from district 12 go to the capital to compete. I’ll leave the rest of the story for you to discover, it’s fairly predictable anyhow.

So, what did I think of the movie? Well, it was quite good actually though I was sceptical at first. At times, I found it a bit predictable but that wasn’t a major concern and did not blemish my movie experience. The setting, decor and style of the movie are more than satisfying and manage to display the striking difference between poor (Fallout 3 style) and the decadent capital very well.

The costumes could have sprouted from Tim Burton’s mind and the overall feel of the movie sits just right.

Suffice to say, director Gary Ross did an amazing job (which is reflected by the box office revenues). Jennifer Lawrence (X-men: First Class) plays Katniss Everdeen, and does so quite well. Josh Hutcherson‘s performance, however, isn’t as good in my opinion and pales a little next to Jennifer Lawrence’s. Furthermore, we see Wes Bentley (Ghost Rider, American Beauty); an actor most people seem to have forgotten about – unjustified in my opinion. Woody Harrelson (The People VS. Larry Flynt) brings the humourous undertone to the movie to lighten the atmosphere a bit (he plays his signature half-mad drunkard).

Conclusion: The Hunger Games is a very good and enjoyable movie that has the right feel and good acting overall. It doesn’t shy away from showing from the often harsh, graphic and slightly perverse decisions made in the story all in the name of good television. Go watch it if you haven’t yet, it’s worth your money.

Niels Van Hellemont

Cowboys & Aliens

“Cowboys & Aliens’: the combination sounds strange but titillating – a bit like Budweiser & tequila, Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, or LSD and ketamine.

But the mix is disappointing: instead of being immersed into an exciting fusion of two classic genres you will simply see clichés being doubled.

In the first half director Jon Favreau (“Iron Man”) manages to squeeze at least a little bit of fun out of the grape; the title music seems to have been written by Ennio Morricone’s clone, the saloon doors flap just like in the old days, Daniel Craig listens to the clicking of his pistol while squeezing his eyes like Eli Wallach did in The Good, the Bad and The Ugly “, Keith Carradine – always great to see him again – plays the sheriff and our blast from the past Harrison Ford who gets to hoist his 68 years old bones in a saddle once again,  plays a rock-hard former army colonel who’s main occupation is terrorizing a little – scraped off by the prairie winds – town.

All very successful:  one would almost wish that the aliens had just stayed away because we have to admit that I grew fond of the wonderful and immersive Far West atmosphere. But no, just when it all seems perfect those darnful aliens start to drop from the sky and with the next blink of your eyes you’ll see Craig and Ford running, like as if being chased by the IRS from one explosion to the next cactus.

When the last scene faded away and the credits started rolling we realized that “Cowboys & Aliens” symptomatic produces all the mishap of what a clever American journalist labeled the “buy now / write later syndrome”: producer Scott Mitchell Rosenberg sold the concept to the film studios before even one scene had been shot, then an army of screenwriters was instructed to – without much success –  invent a decent story.

On the bright side (yes there’s one) it’s a good thing that “Cowboys & Aliens” never became the big success they were hoping for in the US or otherwise in no time we would have gotten a shipload of spin-offs over us. Imagine: Knights & Aliens’ or ‘Dwarfs & Aliens “or” Cowboys & Dwarfs’ . The horror!

Watch the trailer below and feel free to comment.

/wi11em

New Video Game & Box Office Releases Week 39 (25 Septembre – 2 Octobre)

Hey there guys. Below you’ll find the new video game releases from 26 September to 2 Octobre. As an extra from now on, I’ll list the new box office releases for this week as well.

Please note that this list is always subject to change and as such is not an absolute reference.

Continue reading “New Video Game & Box Office Releases Week 39 (25 Septembre – 2 Octobre)”

Review – Walk The Line

Today I’ll be reviewing Walk The Line, a movie about the life of Johnny Cash (and by extension June Carter). The movie was released in 2005 but I only recently watched it. Let’s get started shall we?

To a lot of people Johnny Cash is a legend, especially in the United States. He was commonly known as ‘The Man in Black’ and he sang and played for people who had no one else; the man who reinvented himself when he started performing in prisons with June Carter, who was the love of his life. Less know, however, is the life of Johnny Cash before then when he made his first steps to becoming a famous musician, his ongoing battle with an addiction to pep pills and his complex relationship with June Carter. Walk The Line depicts those years, from his youth to his famous performance in Folsom prison. The movie primarily focuses on his romantic relationship with June.

Johnny Cash is born during the Depression in the 30’s in the poor south of the United States of America. His older brother dies when Johnny is about 10 years old, which was a devastating blow to the already struggling family. At the age of 18 Johnny enlists in the military, after which he gets married with Vivian while he tries to make a living as a door-to-door salesman. In the meantime he works on developing his skills as a country musician. He auditions at Sun Records and eventually gets offered a contract. He proceeds to record a couple of hits in the same studio where Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley recorded their songs. Together with the famous musicians of the day, he travels across the country to perform in various theatres. During one of those tours he comes into contact with pills, a substance with which he will struggle until the end of the 60’s.

During one of their tours he meets June Carter, also a singer. On stage, a connection forms between the two but both of them are married to someone else. As a result of this, Johnny gets hooked more and more on drugs and he derails completely when he hears that June is marrying someone else. In the meantime, his own marriage collapses and he ends up being depressed (both musically and emotionally). With the help of June he manages to overcome his problems and he re-invents himself as a musician.

In order to portray the famous couple, Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon prepared themselves for over a years. This was because director Mangold insisted that the wild, energetic spirit of Cash’s music couldn’t be caught on camera by playbacking. Both Joaquin and Reese had to learn how to play their respective instruments and sing. The goal was not to portray the original voices, but to give their own twist to the music. As a result, Phoenix’s voice comes pretty close to Cash’s which helps in portraying the man in black. The hairstyles and costumes are really thought through as well. Phoenix manages to nail Cash’s attitude, body language and personality quite well. Reese Witherspoon performs equally well and demonstrates that she can handle more than those dime in a dozen romantic comedies.

The relationship between John and June is portrayed nicely in a couple of hearth-warming and heartbreaking scenes. The personal problems of Johnny Cash get portrayed adequately and the start of his musical career receives enough attention.

Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash

In many aspects, this movie resembles ‘Ray’, that other musical American biography movie. Hardcore Johnny Cash fans will probably wince at some of the details, such as when certain songs are sung. However Walk The Line is a really good film and I would definitely recommend it to anyone (except the people who like movies like ‘The Expendables’, they can piss off). Furthermore, this movie managed to spike my interest in Johnny Cash and his music which is most certainly a positive event.

The only sad thing is that Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash both passed away in 2003 and thus never saw this work about their life.

/Niels

Pop Culture Collectibles

Hey there guys. Sorry for the lack of posts lately, but I haven’t really been up to it, and as you might’ve noticed I’m running this website by myself again. Today however, I wanted to share something I’m into and it’s also related to movies, comics, anime and video games. So all-in-all, still pretty much on-topic.

Ever since I was a kid I had a thing for merchandise and memorabilia from various things, be it movies, games, comics, tv shows. I’m somewhat of a collector, I started many collections but gave up in the end because I didn’t care for it anymore. Something that has always stuck with me though, was ‘collecting’ replica’s and memorabilia from my favourite movie or video game.

I bought several Mario Karts figurines, some of those WoW collector’s figures, X-files actionfigures, Green Lantern action figures. Hell, I even bought the Killzone 3 Helghast Edition for the little action figure and the helghast helm replica. Furthermore, I recently ordered a Back To The Future DeLorean replica and a Harry Potter wand replica. /geek

Below are some photos of the stuff I have lying around here. I hope you enjoy this pretty short post, and please leave your comment in the comment section below.

/Gamecultist

Review – Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2

So I went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 last night. For once, sitting in those sticky movie theatre seats didn’t bother me and just about everyone in the theatre was being eerily quiet. No sounds at all but the occasional sniff. Find out why below!Snape in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 Poster

After 10 years and 8 movies the Harry Potter saga is ending. Finally we get to see the climax, confrontation and conclusion that all of us fans have been waiting on. The seventh book is split up into 2 movies. The first one, which appeared in theatres last year, consisted mostly of a build up to a climax that never came. Part 2 is build entirely around this climax. I watched the movie in regular 2D, but I heard the 3D version isn’t very impressive as it wasn’t filmed for 3D.  So by all means go see it in 2D, it’ll give you the best experience still

At the start of this last part Harry, Hermoine and Ron are still looking for the remaining horcruxes, items in which parts of Voldemorts soul are stored so that he can live on even if his body is destroyed. The young hero destroyed a couple of horcruxes before and have only a few left to go. Next to that, they’re looking for the Deathly Hallows (magical items that combined, make one master of Death). Voldemort took the Elder Wand, Harry has the Invisibility Cloak and the Resurrection Stone (although he doesn’t know that for a while). And finally, there’s also a looming confrontation between Harry and Voldemort because the prophecy foretold that one has to kill the other.

Even though the last book was split up in 2 movies, this last part still needs to handle a large part of the plot. As a consequence the movie almost buckles under the weight of flashbacks and scenes that explain what’s been going on. On the other hand, these intervals make for good periods of ‘rest’ between the many action scenes. Where the first part was made up mostly out of building the story and developing characters, we now feel like we’re in the middle of Saving Private Ryan, and that’s totally fine! 

The grim-looking colours match the atmosphere and feel of the movie and the story as a whole. Only Hermoine’s clothes and the Weasley’s hair bring some colour to the movie. It’s certainly a pallet that matches the apocalyptic and desperate tone of the movie. This atmosphere is strengthened by the decor and mostly after the big attack on Hogwarts: wounded are being taken cared of in the Great Hall, dead are being covered up and there’s definitely an atmosphere of defeat hanging around.

Between all the violence and impressive looking action sequences, the small scenes that the supporting actors play in are the most entertaining. Professor McGonagall who gladly prepares the defense of Hogwarts, Molly Weasley kicking the shit out of Bellatrix Lestrange and Neville Longbottom who takes on the role of a hero. I do think however that Neville’s story and fight during the year at Hogwarts could’ve been portrayed better than just a slight reference to his wounds.  Compared to these, some of the scenes the main actors play are leaning very close to clichés but I didn’t find it bothersome at all. The epilogue is something that could’ve been better though, although it’s not abysmal at all.

The best part of the whole movie is Snape’s story and why he did what he did. It got quite emotional and it shows what a great actor Alan Rickman is, I could hear plenty of crying in the theatre. Alan Rickman is without a doubt the star of this movie

Conclusion, this is a fitting end to a movie franchise that many of us grew up with. While some scenes take certain liberties and change facts that are in the books it’s still a really good movie. The part before Hogwarts might seem a bit rushed, but you’ll quickly forget about that once the fight breaks loose.

My advice to you is watch part 1 and part 2 directly after each other. I re-watched part 1 just before I went to the cinema and I was fine, but some of the people I was with had a little trouble understanding what happened previously and it does break down the experience a bit. In any case, this was well worth my money and I find it quite sad that it’s now over.

I did notice a distinct lack of ‘NYEAAAAHHH’ from Voldemort though, seems they cut it all out after hearing the reviews on the trailer maybe?

Let me know what you thought of the movie in the comment section below! I eagerly await your views on this movie or the entire franchise.

/Gamecultist

Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows Trailer

A couple of days ago, the trailer for the new Sherlock Holmes was released. Sherlock Holmes: A game of shadows will again feature Robert Downey Jr as Sherlock Holmes and Jude Law as his colleague Dr. Watson. Guy Ritchie is again directing the sequel. Judging from the trailer the story will revolve around Holmes’ arch-nemesis Professor James Moriarty.

Sherlock Holmes has always been the smartest man in the room…until now. There is a new criminal mastermind at large–Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris)–and not only is he Holmes’ intellectual equal, but his capacity for evil, coupled with a complete lack of conscience, may actually give him an advantage over the renowned detective. When the Crown Prince of Austria is found dead, the evidence, as construed by Inspector Lestrade (Eddie Marsan), points to suicide. But Sherlock Holmes deduces that the prince has been the victim of murder–a murder that is only one piece of a larger and much more portentous puzzle, designed by one Professor Moriarty. Mixing business with pleasure, Holmes tracks the clues to an underground gentlemen’s club, where he and his brother, Mycroft Holmes (Stephen Fry) are toasting Dr. Watson on his last night of bachelorhood. It is there that Holmes encounters Sim (Noomi Rapace), a Gypsy fortune teller, who sees more than she is telling and whose unwitting involvement in the prince’s murder makes her the killer’s next target. Holmes barely manages to save her life and, in return, she reluctantly agrees to help him. The investigation becomes ever more dangerous as it leads Holmes, Watson and Sim across the continent, from England to France to Germany and finally to Switzerland. But the cunning Moriarty is always one step ahead as he spins a web of death and destruction–all part of a greater plan that, if he succeeds, will change the course of history.

The film is schedule for release on 28 December 2011. See below for the trailer.

/Gamecultist