5 films worth looking forward to in 2013: Part 1 – Catching Fire

It has been 11 long days since my last post, but in all fairness I’m 18, I’m a male, and GTA 5 came out last week. Frankly It’s a miracle that I have managed to rip myself away from the screen long enough to write anything. WARNING THIS POST MAY INCLUDE SPOILERS!

There may only be just over 3 months left of the year, but that doesn’t mean that there is nothing left to look forward to on the big screen in 2013. Over the next few weeks I shall be listing 5 films that I cannot wait to role into my local cinema in the final months of this year, starting with The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.   File:The Hunger Games-Catching Fire Theatrical Poster.jpg

Following the success of the first film, Lionsgate bring us the highly anticipated sequel to the movie adaptation of Susan Collins popular novel series. As you might expect the same cast of stars return for Catching Fire, including Jennifer Lawrence, who plays the protagonist, Katniss Everdeen and fans everywhere will be dying to see another great performance from the admired young actress.

(If you don’t want to know any details for this film, I suggest you stop reading now)

Catching Fire follows up where the last film left off. Katniss Everdeen and fellow champion Peeta Mellarck (Played by Josh Hutcherson) return home to their families after narrowly escaping the 74th annual Hunger Games with their lives. The reunion is short lived however as with a warning from President Snow still fresh in her ears, Katniss must embark on a victory tour, parading through all of the districts without encouraging escalation for an already brewing rebellion. Then there is the Quarter quell to worry about, which is effectively the Hunger Games with a twist, and it brings with it some horrific news for both Katniss and Peeta. They are going back into the arena. If you thought the first games where a challenge for our heroes, wait until you see them thrown into a fight to the death with 22 former victors of past Hunger Games.

3 things to look forward to:

  1. The Arena: If you have read the books or even seen the trailer for Catching Fire you should understand the fans excitement at the incredible environment for the 75th Games
  2. The Peeta v.s Gale Saga: As katniss struggles through inner turmoil over where her heart truly lies, it should be very interesting to see how both Liam Hemsworth (Gale) and Josh Hutcherson (Peeta) portray their characters in their pursuit of District 12’s female champion.
  3. The New additions to the cast:  the addition of more characters means more actors and actresses to represent the loved and hated personas of the Catching Fire Novel. It should be great to see how the performances from the new additions to the franchise go down with the book fans and thier high expectations.

The Hunger Games may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you are a fan of the books or you found yourself entertained by Catching Fires predecessor, it would be hard not to look forward to this Blockbuster. (Releasing November 22nd)

(Image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Hunger_Games-Catching_Fire_Theatrical_Poster.jpg)

Rush: 9/10

Image

As a huge Formula One fan, who also takes great joy from watching films, you might think that Ron Howard has gone and made my perfect film with an adaptation of an epic formula one story on and off the circuit …… well you would be right. Rush is an adrenaline fueled emotional Roller coaster, that takes you on a journey of 1976’s formula one season, and the intense rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt. The portrayal of our two protagonists is performed by Chris Hemsworth (Hunt) and Daniel Bruhl (Lauda), and both do a fantastic job of presenting their characters qualities,  good and bad. Hunt is a young, attractive, charming and talented racing driver, whose every move is contrasted by the equally talented, hard working, dedicated but sadly void of happiness, Niki Lauda. These two opposites start their rivalry in a Formula 3 race at Brands Hatch, where they get a little too close for comfort, and the intense wheel to wheel action doesn’t stop from there on. The remodeled cars are a work of art, and the team that re-enacted some of the most iconic race sequences, from the season’s most paramount races, deserve huge credit as well. But, it’s not just the on track action that makes this film appeal. Off circuit love scandals, bending the rules, team mate squabbles, fighting between journalists and drivers and, to top it all off, some very powerful and moving clips of an injured Nikki Lauda defying all the odds (and his doctors) to return to racing after a horrific accident that should have kept him out of the sport for a considerably longer period than it did make this a must see movie. Rush tugs at the heart strings as well as awakening the racing fan in all of us. I believe the thing this film does best is the way it perfectly finds the line between realism and drama. There is enough here to satisfy the most critical film fans and the most dedicated Motorsport lovers. A few days ago I reviewed another formula one film ,that I love, called “Senna”, and although both are brilliant they cannot really be compared apart from in one key area. Ron Howard presents Lauda and Hunt as they were, rather than how some fans may want to remember them. Like Ayrton Senna, our 2 protagonists have their issues; be it a unrelenting sex, drugs and rock and roll lifestyle (James Hunt) or, an inability to connect with anyone around him (Niki Lauda). The realism and “tell it how it is” attitude of story telling used by both Howard and Kapadia in both of these movies makes you understand and respect the sport, and its drivers, more than ever. I loved them both!

Rush- Final Score: 9/10

A must see for all formula one and film fans, as Howard wonderfully does the 1976 season justice. Certainly a new personal favorite.

(Image from http://carwitter.com/2013/09/05/rush-film-review/)

Senna: 9/10

File:Senna.jpgWith the release of “Rush” just one  week away, bringing immense anticipation for the story of Lauda v.s Hunt  on the big screen,it seems appropriate to set the mood and review what is in my opinion the best formula one film of all time. “Senna” is a feature legnth documentary following the career of inspirational racing driver Ayrton Senna, through the risk, devastation and, most importantly, achievements of a hero, not just for formula one fans, but for anyone who wants to break through social barriers and achieve more than anyone else thought was possible. Directed by Asif Kapadia, Senna supplies entertainment for everyone from die hard petrol heads, to every day film fans. This movie takes place in a period in formula one history that was dangerous, Properly dangerous, and at times this is shown graphically, which really makes a huge impact on the audience. It’s not often that I talk about just one shot when reviewing films, but if you have already seen this documentary you will understand. The death of Martin Donnelly during the 1990 Spanish GP is shown with one shot of  his body, departed from his flipped car,  in what can be described as a very unnatural position. This particular shot may be difficult to stomach, but certainly makes you respect the do or die drivers in the days before million dollar photo shoots and formula one drivers sanitization. To add to this, even though chances are you already know what is tragically going to happen to Ayrton, nothing can prepare even the most thick skinned audience member for the impact of the San Marino GP at Imola in 1994. This film not only shows the impact of Ayrton Senna’s death on the formula one grid, but also on the nation, and world, he inspired. Even the most devoted Alain Prost fan would find it a huge challenge not to leave the film feeling anything other than respect and admiration for the Brazilian icon. Kapadia unquestionably deserves further credit for portraying Ayrton as he was, rather than how many people want to remember him. Sad as it is, Senna was not perfect ; His recklessness and will to win is shown accurately and works well, alongside his obvious talent and desire to help his country overcome poverty, with the creation of a strong charity which still exists today. Ayrton remains, to this day, one of sport’s greatest ever icons and I think the realism of this documentary only makes me respect him more. “Senna” is a masterpiece plain and simple. Ayrton faced many challenges and difficulties throughout his short Formula One career (In which he won 3 World Championship titles) and nothing makes you understand, and admire him more than this film.

Senna- Final Score: 9/10

If you are not a Formula One fan, then I would still say there is a lot on offer here if you want inspiration to aim high and achieve your dreams. If you are a Formula One fan, and you have not yet seen this film, then make it top of your priorities, because you won’t regret it.

(Image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Senna_(film))

Phonebooth: 8/10

Phone Booth movie.jpgTrying to think of an interesting film to review is difficult when it’s been so long since my last cinema outing (3 weeks). I decided to go with an old favorite of mine called Phonebooth. This 2003 psychological thriller stars Colin Farrell, Kiefer Sutherland, Katie Holmes, Radha Mitchell and Forest Whitaker, and is one film that has stuck with me from the first time I saw it, as a 11 year old. Even the more sceptical film fans would be forced to concede that shooting an entire feature length film in just one location and maintaining a huge amount of suspense in the process, earns this film and its director (Joel Schumacher) a huge amount of credit. Colin Farrel plays “Stu”, an attractive middle aged publicist whose every manipulative move has been observed by a dangerous sniper (played by Kiefer Sutherland).  The sniper takes justice into his own hands by making Stu confess his secrets to those he loves, or else lose all he holds dear. Farrell’s acting is superb throughout the film and Kiefer Sutherland’s voice acting is wonderfully chilling . For me though, what makes this film a personal classic, is the psychological edge and suspense that this film delivers in spades. Everyone has their secrets that they would rather not share with the world, and the portrayal of someone getting forced to confess every little lie , to leave nothing but “Flesh, Blood and Weakness” is a psychologically frightening idea which this film executes perfectly. Another thing this film does so well, is illustrate the fact that we may tell lies sometimes , to raise status and wealth, but by doing so we can lose track of who we are, and of how lucky we are to have as much as we do. I could not recommend Phonebooth enough, yes it’s a bit unrealistic at times, but in terms of psychological thrillers that make you think about what really matters, I haven’t come across anything better.

PhoneBooth- Final Score: 8/10

Suspense, excitement, great acting and even a nice little twist at the end. For all of its unrealistic moments I would say this film is a personal favorite.

(Image from:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phone_Booth_(film))  

Kick Ass 2: 7/10

Kick Ass 2 has received some mixed reviews since its release last month, and this is most likely down to the high expectation that the success of the first film brought to the table. It was Original and funny and as a result the sequel really did have a lot to live up too, and like most other fans I have admit that it falls a bit short. The narrative isn’t as unique and admittedly you don’t get the same impact from the characters, because you already know them so well from Kick Ass 2’s predecessor, however that doesn’t mean that it’s not brilliant. Kick Ass 2 still packs a punch, with non stop laughs, breathtaking action and characters you still really care about. Hit Girl (played by Chloe Moretz) is back and she’s nearly as awesome as ever, all be it with more cheesy one liners, and less “kick ass” fight scenes. Aaron Johnson expertly portrays Kick Ass (just as he did in the first film) as his character is faced with the difficulties of a tough love life and a burning desire to be part of a super hero league, whilst also trying to keep those closest to him safe. Jim Carrey is another big name that was added to the bill for this sequel; potentially dangerous as he is such a love him or hate him kind of guy. Luckily though, Carrey does a good job as Colonel Stars and Stripes, he is funny and makes the character his own. The show is stolen however by Christopher Mintz-Plasse who perfectly executes his role as Chris D’Amico, later to be known as super villan, “The MotherF**ker”, whos comedic failures completely make the film! To add to this, his issues are more than fixed for him by his own league of fierce super villains, which keeps his character threatening as well as hilarious. The film as a whole, is ideal for a laugh with your friends, and offers huge entertainment, even if it does fail to live up to a lot of ambitious expectations in terms of story and originality. Then again, I think it’s fair to say its impossible to make a squeal as original as an original, so maybe it would be ok to cut the film a little slack in that department.

Kick Ass 2- Final Score: 7/10

Although at times Kick Ass 2 lacks the spark that made the original such a hit, overall this is a great film, that most fans will love, as it gives more of the same action packed comedy we have come to expect from this franchise.

(Image from:http://www.geekofoz.com/2013/08/kick-ass-2-review.html)

Film Rant: Too Many Sequels

One of the things that has always annoyed me about the film industry is sequels; or at least unnecessary and forced sequels. The kind that are shoved into the cinemas to make money even if they don’t really belong. They exist only to make more money and to milk a franchise dry until there is nothing left. For a classic example look at some of the popular books that are stretched into one too many feature length films, in order to cash in that little bit more on die hard fans. For me “The Hobbit” is a good example to use for this point. Even 2 films would be pushing it, but for Peter Jackson to have the balls to make a relatively small Childrens book into 3 feature length movies really does take it too far. In fairness though it’s not just “The Hobbit”. “Harry Potter” and  “Twilight” are both examples of popular book series that I think should have one less film attached to their IMDb profiles. The Deathly Hallows most certainly did not need two films; the Goblet of Fire possibly did but the Deathly Hallows…. No, not for me anyway, and Breaking dawn; well the fact that twilight was ever put on the big screen was a travesty, but making two dragged out movies for the final book in the series filled with montages of the previous films just to fill in a running time is a classic case of an unnecessary money grabbing sequel. But then again with a combined profit of over $2 billion between them I don’t think the executives will find it too hard to sleep at night even if the franchises they are trying to portray are not done justice. It could be argued though that all of this harshness towards these films is unjustified; I mean the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is loved by most fans and (although it’s not saying much) Breaking Dawn Part 2 has the highest rating on “Rotten Tomatoes” out of all of the Twilight films. As far as I am concerned the worst culprit for this greed is most certainly the “Saw” franchise. I’m well aware that these horror films are not everyone’s cup of tea and some people will actively avoid them, and if you are one of those people then I ask you to just believe me when I say that the first 3 are brilliant. Strong story lines and dilemmas that really make you think, they are far from pointless blood and gore. The 4 cash ins that followed however, were the complete opposite! As the directors changed and the narrative got itself into more and more knots, any credibility the original 3 films had built up, proceeded to bleed out slowly and painfully, with the final blow being struck through a 3D final chapter that removed any remaining realism or structured narrative for ludicrously complicated traps, fire and pink blood.

Unfortunately though, the fact of the matter is that, as long as unnecessary sequels keep rolling in the cash, they will never stop rolling onto our big screens. 😦

(Image from:http://www.generation-nt.com/zoom-489611,913751-test-saw.html)