Review: Dunkirk (2017)

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“Men my age dictate this war. Why should we be allowed to send our children to fight it?”
– Mr Dawson

SYNOPSIS: Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II. – via IMDB

So I went to see this in IMAX when it came out (I know, taking my sweet time to churn out reviews, but we are only just starting to settle in). First IMAX in years, and the first experience ever for my husband, and it was well worth it. I have been waiting for this for quite some time, because Nolan in a cinematic master who can do no wrong in my eyes. I was so excited to see his take o a war movie, and I was rewarded, greatly so.

Dunkirk is visually stunning. Every scene is masterfully crafted, and looks amazing. The fact that more practical effects were used over CGI again shows that practical is the way to go. It gives a sense of realism. I also appreciated how young the soldiers were, because it accurately depicts that they were essentially kids, trapped on a beach waiting for help, a doomed hope by all accounts. The movie does not mess around in terms of making you feel the plight of these men, and it is a heavy ordeal, one you are wholly and totally sucked into visually and with some phenomenal scoring. The performances all round were impressive, and even Styles brought the goods to the table, something I was so suspect about after his casting was announced.

The movie has three divisions, beach, sea, air, and they all take place at different times, ultimately coming together to tie the story up, and I think that was crafted and handled very well. Tom Hardy again demonstrates that he can out-act the best of them with just his eyes, and Jack Lowden was excellent as Collins, his scene of being stuck in a sinking jet something that is haunting and gets under the skin, something that lingers. Cillian Murphy has one extremely damaged character, and your heart just breaks for him, no matter what happens. Branagh is stoic and crushed, and you feel for them.

I felt that the movie was a little distant though, and the coldness worked for it in places, and worked against it in others. The only real characters that brought some form of heart, something for you to attach to, was Mr Dawson, Peter, and George. Like really, that was sad. Not that the plight of the soldiers, trapped like helpless rats, was not bad. That gets to you, and is hopeless and claustrophobic. It is heavy, and it is scary, and the minimal dialogue runs home the bleak situation, and Hans Zimmer again delivers a most perfect score. It really takes the movie experience to a whole new level. It’s all painful, and it sticks, but all these stories don’t have any real backing. Now this works to show you that these guys could be anyone, absolutely anyone, but because you don’t ever really attach to them, invest in them, they are just desperate men trying to get home, and that is where there is also a drawback.

While Dunkirk was masterfully crafted, visually stunning, contained solid performances and had an absolutely brilliant score, I do feel that it was just a bit flat in the sense that you don’t connect with it like you would hope. It is well worth a watch, and as I said, masterfully crafted and definitely something worth tripping out to the cinema for.

September Blind Spot Review: Insomnia (2002)

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insomnia 2002 poster

“A good cop can’t sleep because he’s missing a piece of the puzzle, and a bad cop can’t sleep because his conscience won’t let him.”
– Ellie

SYNOPSIS: Two Los Angeles homicide detectives are dispatched to a northern town where the sun doesn’t set to investigate the methodical murder of a local teen. – via IMDB

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GRADE 8.5Wow. This movie was excellent, and just my cup of tea. I was drawn in from the moment the film opened, and just got sucked down the rabbit hole even further as the movie progressed. I want to start with how breathtakingly beautiful this movie is to look at. Wally Pfister delivers all the goods here again. Alaska was a gorgeous setting, and the film ran that point home at every available opportunity. As for Pacino? It’s films like this that showcase his talents, and he was fantastic here. Robin Williams, too, was so brilliant in these weird, creepy roles. Sometimes going against what you are known for is just the answer. The way the sound and images were used in this film to depict Dormer’s insomnia was so smart, and lent credence to all that was happening. Insomnia is also not your run of the mill thriller, as it has quite a lot of character development and background to chew on, too, which makes for an incredibly engaging watch. The plot development and progression was spot on and enjoyable, what with the story woven so expertly. It doesn’t pretend to break the mould or anything like that, and it doesn’t. There are no serious surprises, but that is not an issue. Instead you focus on the characters more so than just the case. This is a movie that looks and sounds great, and simply captivates you. The interactions between Dormer and Finch are enthralling, and the cast worked really well. I cannot believe it took me so long to get to this movie, because it is typically Nolan – brilliant, smart, engaging, and worth every second of your time.

If you haven’t seen this, don’t watch the trailer. Seriously, what a spoiler. I am so glad I didn’t watch it before the movie. My advice? Go in blind.

Rapid Review: Interstellar (2014)

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interstellar poster

“We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars, now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt.”
– Cooper

SYNOPSIS: In the near future Earth has been devastated by drought and famine, causing a scarcity in food and extreme changes in climate. When humanity is facing extinction, a mysterious rip in the space-time continuum is discovered, giving mankind the opportunity to widen their lifespan. A group of explorers must travel beyond our solar system in search of a planet that can sustain life. The crew of the Endurance are required to think bigger and go further than any human in history as they embark on an interstellar voyage, into the unknown. Coop, the pilot of the Endurance, must decide between seeing his children again and the future of the human race.- via IMDB

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GRADE 8.5This has, undoubtedly, been my most anticipated movie of 2014. I have talked my other half’s ear off about how I cannot wait for it, so naturally I had to go the minute it pitched up here. I was not going to waste a second of my time waiting to get to it seeing how Gone Girl aired for only thirteen days in my useless cinema. If I missed this, someone was going to burn. So, what with all my excitement and anticipation, how did it stack up? I must say that I was extremely impressed. Visually it was absolutely gorgeous, though I didn’t expect anything less on that front. A solid cast carried this story for us, and I thought the performances were great all round. Initially I was not over the moon to see Anne Hathaway in such a large role for it, but she managed to not irritate me to the end. I was thrilled to see Matt Damon, I do so thoroughly enjoy the man, and McConaughey was fantastic as the lead, Cooper. The casting of the actors to play the children (Mackenzie Foy and Timothée Chalamet) was wonderful, and I was especially pleased to see Jessica Chastain and Casey Affleck play their grown counterparts. They fit the bill and were realistic and believable. I know that some people have complained about the dialogue being clunky, and also silly at times with explanations (such as explaining to an astronaut about a black hole in space), but I did not find this to be the case. I enjoyed most of their conversations (though at times it did get a little convoluted), and I was grateful for the explanations sprinkled throughout the movie, and the way it was done. It did not feel like Nolan was treating the cinema-goers like idiots, but rather just ensuring we were all on the same page, and I appreciated that. Naturally Hans Zimmer created a fantastic score to accompany the film, building up tension and emotion in all the right places, and coming in as nothing short of complementary. Interstellar manages to recreate some exceptionally sad emotional scenes, many of them stemming from the tapes that the astronauts are receiving from home in space. There was some humour in this film, which was lovely, but was certainly focused more on the dramatic aspect. I thought the multi-purpose robots were extremely cool, and I felt for Cooper, trying to be the best dad that he could. John Lithgow, as always, plays a wonderful fatherly/grandfatherly figure, and I always like seeing him, no matter how small his part. I do feel that Michael Caine could have been used more, but I understand that there were a lot of characters and time constraints. Interstellar is a long movie, but it is certainly a wonderful journey, even with the flaws that it has – as much as I have sung the praises, there are things that fall a little short of the mark, but were definitely not enough to cripple and ruin this movie for me. Interstellar was well worth the wait, in my opinion, and is a really good movie overall – most importantly, it is an experience. Christopher Nolan has, once again, delivered another stunning film, though this will certainly not be in a high running for taking over and outranking some of his other works.

Review: Memento (2000)

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memento-poster

“I have to believe in a world outside my own mind. I have to believe that my actions still have meaning, even if I can’t remember them. I have to believe that when my eyes are closed, the world’s still there. Do I believe the world’s still there?”
– Leonard Shelby

Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) has a problem. He has anterograde amnesia. He cannot create new short term memories, which serves to be an issue seeing as he is on an important mission. He is researching something, he is working something out, something big and important, and is being helped along by his friend (as far as he knows) named Teddy (Joe Pantoliano). Leonard’s condition is due to an attack he and his wife suffered, and that he was unsuccessful in preventing – his home was broken into and his wife (Jorja Fox) was raped and murdered by a man he believes to be called John G.

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“You don’t want the truth. You make up your own truth.” – Teddy

Teddy is helping Leonard track down John G, to exact justice for the atrocities that his wife suffered. Leonard has a system to keep on top of things. Notes are jotted down, his body is tattooed with clues and facts he knows to be vital to the case. He has Polaroid photographs of all the people around him as well as notes to himself about them as well as where he stays and what not. The most important story he tells himself to remind him about what is wrong with him is the story of Sammy Jankis (Stephen Tobolowsky), a man who suffered from the same type of amnesia, and a claim that Leonard was supposed to look into when he was still an insurance investigator. Leonard was unsure as to whether Sammy’s condition was true or not, though his wife (Harriet Sansom Harris) tested the theory and had her husband overdose her on her insulin.

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“Memory can change the shape of a room; it can change the color of a car. And memories can be distorted. They’re just an interpretation, they’re not a record, and they’re irrelevant if you have the facts.” – Leonard Shelby

Another woman assisting Leonard in his vengeance plan is Natalie (Carrie-Anne Moss), who will help him out of pity because she, too, lost someone. She also happens to be his lover, though he does not always remember this. Leonard is staying at a motel, and every day he has reminders for himself as well as little bits of a mission he is working on. Teddy is assisting Leonard as much as he can, retracing Leonard’s footsteps as well as helping to work through the case files that were originally involved with the attach on Leonard and his wife. Something is not right, but Leonard cannot put his finger on it, and is likely to forget it when he does if he does not document it.

Leonard believes that Teddy is the one that raped and murdered his wife, and is set on killing the man for what he did. His investigation and notes lead him to suspect this. Teddy’s real name is John Edward Gammell, and his car’s licence plate matches up with the one that Leonard knows to belong to John G. But is Teddy truly guilty? Why is Natalie so intent on helping Leonard out? Can they ever have a regular relationship due to his condition? Is Leonard’s condition a physical one or a mental one? Will he be able to overcome it? What exactly happened with his wife in the attack, however long ago that was?

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“But even if you get revenge you’re not gonna remember it. You’re not even going to know that it happened.” – Natalie

GRADE 9I really enjoyed this movie. Once again, Christopher Nolan demonstrates his prowess with another solid film that progresses in such a way that you are hooked but never lost, though forever asking questions. Memento also had a really unique way of presenting the story, and it was fresh and new, unlike most films. The performances from the cast were great, and Guy Pearce shone in his role of Leonard, giving the character far more credibility than you could think. There was some humour throughout the film, but it was not overbearing or anything to take away from the subject of the film. A lot of it stems from Leonard’s condition, and how it can put him in a lot of danger, but also let a lot of people take advantage of him. The way the story was told was completely compelling, and doesn’t have a single boring moment to it. The score worked for it, too, and it was just overall a really good film that was highly enjoyable. A fine film to find yourself watching, kitted out with a fantastic cast and an exceptionally interesting plot, Memento offers a unique presentation that will keep you on your toes for the duration of it.

Breaking Emotions: Hate and Love

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Here is the final part of the Breaking Emotions blogathon that Mettel Ray has put together. I had a lot of fun with this project, and I think it was an absolutely stunning idea, and I jumped on board late maybe, but fervently. This was something I wanted to be a part of, and sadly it has now drawn to a close. The final two emotions to tackle were love and hate. One half of me was really on board with this, then the other half was hate, and there are a lot of things that I can get up in arms about, but not precisely sure which ones I would put in this post, so I have chosen three at random.

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Django Unchained (2012)
As much as I loved this film and as much as I could laugh in it, there was a massive array of scenes that plain and simple just highlighted the injustices and inequalities of the past, the cruelty that human beings were made to suffer at one another’s hands. And this is a great film, do not misunderstand me. I watched it again just recently and had a ball for the most part. But there were some scenes, and I think the two most memorable ones were the Mandingo fights and the scene with the dogs. I am going to concentrate on the scene with the slave, the despicable Calvin Candie and the vicious dogs and rednecks waiting. A Mandingo fighter/slave ran away – the slave just couldn’t do it anymore, he didn’t have it in him anymore to fight and win or die at the hands of another man. Calvin Candie pretends to be having a normal conversation with the man, but is in actual fact mocking him and getting to his point. Dr King Schultz attempts to even out the situation by buying the slave, and Django has to put his foot down, and progresses to tell Calvin Candie he can do with his slave whatever he pleases. This entails Candie setting some incredibly violent dogs on the slave, who is then torn limb from limb while Django looks on, and Dr King Schultz cannot bear witness to the brutality. The scene is sick and twisted and pretty rough seeing as one human being decided to teach another one a lesson so harshly for something as small as running away, of wanting to be free. It just highlighted the slaveholder’s attitude towards a life he had no value for. I think it really gets to me because I love history a lot, and I have never understood how someone could take control of another person like that, as though they have no say and no feelings. This scene just captured the inequalities and the cruelty.

American Mary (2012)
This was one of those films that was just a true work of art, in my honest opinion. I enjoyed so much about it, and thought it was simply amazing to watch. But then there was that thing that just made me boil over with anger, seething. When Mary goes to the party of her one teachers, Dr Grant, whom she respects, but is subsequently drugged, raped and has it all filmed by him, my stomach literally started churning. What a bloody douchebag! I get mad as a snake every time that I see that scene, and cannot help but feel a surge of justice whenever you see that sorry slab of meat again. What a loser.

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Sleepers (1996)
When a group of four friends get sent to Wilkinson Home for Boys, there are so many things that go wrong for them there that simply makes my blood boil. However, seeing as I already have a scene in a similar vein with American Mary, I am going to go with the cafeteria scene. A fight breaks out between the friends and the hardened kids at Wilkinson’s, warden/protector of the kids, Sean Nokes, takes it upon himself to break up the fight and humiliate the boys. At first they think he is there to rescue them, but it soon transpires that they are there purely for his entertainment. He orders them to get down on their hands and knees and eat the food that was so gracelessly spilled and messed on the floor – after all, he is not denying them their lunch!

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Drive (2011)
The kiss that Driver and Irene share in the elevator. It is so gorgeous and perfect because not once does it happen in the movie, but it is ever building up to the moment when it will surely happen, and when it does it is sincerely rewarding. The lighting is perfect, the way Driver leans into Irene, the way time seems to stand still… it is all captured. It is amazing and takes my breath away. More often that not a kiss shared in a movie is almost perfunctory, just filled in there, or it happens due to expectations or just the way the moment needs to progress, but seldom does it hold the magic it is supposed to. For me it really was a thing of true beauty and it gets me each and every single time.

American History X (1998)
I know this is going to come out sounding all wrong, but I just need to explain it. I loved the scene where Derek Vinyard was placed under arrest. The camera, the black and white, the way he dropped to his knees with his hands behind his head… it all displayed his hate and bitterness clearly. His eyes burned with resentment and pride and his body language spoke of that anger and hate, too. It was one of the best depictions of managing to convey the pure hatred that was encapsulated, and Norton manages to bring that all across to the viewer – the sheer derangement of his character. It was by no means an inspiring scene or a “good on you man” scene or anything like that, it is just that I love the way Tony Kaye managed to get it so right.

american history x

Catch Me If You Can (2002)
This movie just had one of those great scenes in it that you just cannot help giggling at and later full out roar with laughter and one that I absolutely love watching. Frank Abagnale Jr has made a huge success of conning people into believing him to be things that he is not. One of these things is a doctor. He has watched plenty of movies and television series and observed them and read about them and is sure that he can pose as some doctor at a hospital and manages to get the job. However, one day a badly injured boy comes in and naturally his underlings rush to get his opinion, and Frank is overwhelmed by the scene that he comes upon. He actually has no idea how to handle the situation and no real expertise at all besides “do you concur?”, common among doctors. Trying desperately to keep his gag reflex under control, he rushes through whatever the other two doctors opinions are, desperately coughing out the infamous “do you concur?” line, making it sound like he has rendered a diagnosis and a way to continue care, as well as that he agrees with the doctors. Their shocked expressions that he would value their opinions and his desperation make the scene absolutely wonderful to watch.

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Review: Man of Steel (2013)

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MAN OF STEEL POSTER

“I have journeyed across an ocean of stars to reach here. Your world has sheltered one of my citizens. He will look like you, but he is not one of you.”
– General Zod

The planet Krypton is falling apart, its inhabitants having exhausted its core and killing it all off. Scientist Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and his wife, Lara (Ayelet Zurer) have birthed the first natural birth the planet has seen in centuries. Kal-El is seen as the planet’s hope, and Jor-El is intent on convincing the Kryptonian council that the codex need to be sent out to preserve the Kryptonian race. However, General Zod (Michael Shannon) has staged a coup to extinguish all the bloodlines he feels are responsible for their planet’s demise. His faithful followers are caught and sentenced, though Jor-El has fallen, and Kal-El has been sent to Earth with the codex.

MAN OF STEEL GENERAL ZOD

“No matter how violent, every action I take is for the greater good of my people.” – General Zod

Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) is a young man running from his destiny – from his life. He has spent his entire life hiding who he is at the behest of his father, Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner), not believing that the world is ready from him. He and Martha (Diane Lane) found Clark as a baby and adopted him. Jonathan taught Clark how to control his superhuman powers he has gained on Earth, and tells him where he is really from. Clark’s insistence on helping people with his powers has caused that he needs to run – people cannot know who he is. While on the run, reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams) discovers Clark, who is on a mission to find out more about his people and where he is truly from. Clark meets his biological father, Jor-El, and learns of Krypton’s destruction and how he is the last hope. Lois is intent on spreading the story on alien life after Clark saves her life, but her boss and editor at the Daily Planet, Perry White (Laurence Fishburn), refuses to publish it. Lois will not let it go but changes her mind after tracking Martha and Clark down, and hearing the reason for his secrecy.

MAN OF STEEL SUPERMAN

Discovering the truth about your origins can be empowering

However, Zod and his followers have escaped the Phantom Zone, and track Clark down on Earth. They inform Earth that they are housing a fugitive, and insist that they turn him over or their planet will be eradicated. Clark is torn between turning himself in (knowing that he cannot trust Zod) and trusting the humans on Earth to do the right thing. Clark chooses to trust the people, and hands himself over to the United States military. They are both threatened and in awe of the powerful being. Zod’s second in command, Faora-Ul (Antje Traue), takes Lois as well as Clark to her general. Zod insists that Clark join them, and when Clark turns him down he is agitated. All hell breaks loose.

MAN OF STEEL

“My father believed that if the world found out who I really was, they’d reject me… out of fear.” – Clark Kent

Will Clark be able to neutralize General Zod and protect the inhabitants or Earth? Though he knows nothing of the codex, will he be able to keep it from the superhuman beings and maintain his identity? Will he be able to fight off the last remaining members of his extinct race?

MAN OF STEEL

Man of Steel merits a 7/10. I thought about this for a while, but I think that the score is fair and deserving. Yep, I know I am late to the Superman party, but we got it late. Michael Shannon was an absolute joy to watch as the hardcore General Zod, and the Kryptonians had such phenomenal costumes. They just looked brutal. The opening sequence of Krypton and its demise was so well rendered, and it was breathtaking to watch. Russell Crowe was a great good Jor-EL, and Kevin Costner impressed me as Jonathan Kent. Diane Lane was also lovely as his mother. Hans Zimmer again delivered a stunning score, and Man of Steel was visually stunning to look at, though I see why people say that there was an overload of CGI. The destruction was just a tiny bit much for me, but in a way I guess foreign life coming to Earth did not mean they were going to give a toot about damage totals. Henry Cavill is simply a great Clark Kent and Superman, so kudos for that. He was really compelling to watch, charming and the complete embodiment of what Clark Kent should be. I do feel though that there were so many intense action scenes to mask that there was not as deep and in depth a story as you would expect, but the action and fighting keeps you from getting too close to that. The revamping of the Superman outfit was truly fantastical, and long overdue. That cape just thrilled me (yes, again me and the cape). The kids that were chosen to play Clark over the years were so cool as they really looked like they could have been Cavill at a younger age. Amy Adams was well cast, but sometimes I think she is too cute for the role of someone so gritty, though she made it work here. What I appreciated about this film was that it had a darker tone, though there was still some humour. I like some humour in this type of thing, but I feel it is far better with a bit more brooding, which they nailed here. It gives it a sense of realism, not total cheese. Overall, one of the best DC comic book films in many years, and it was epic, though not as wonderful and wow as I would have hoped – I was holding out for my new Dark Knight. Christopher Nolan set a whole new bar for the genre with his Dark Knight trilogy.

Recently impressive films

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This time I have compiled a list of movies that have impressed me as of late, unlike the previous list of disappointments from last week. These are not reviews, just what I felt about the films.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

I did not just add The Dark Knight Rises to this list because I vastly enjoyed the last two installments offered by Christopher Nolan into a monstrosity of a film conglomerate, but because he again brought so much to the table with this installment, and I was not disappointed. I did not fear as so many did to be let down, as Nolan is truly an awe-inspiring director. Again, he had the villain/hero ratio down perfectly. As much as you want Batman to succeed, so you want to see what Bane has up his sleeve, and what shall become of Gotham should a hero not rise?

I was completely blown away with the manner in which Tom Hardy brought Bane to life on screen for the world to see. I have to give him immense credit for how, although the majority of his face is obscured for the duration of the movie, you felt every emotion he had to offer. I also appreciate how Christopher Nolan gave Bane existence that was closer to what it should have been (albeit not his entirely correct back story), but he was no longer Ivy’s bitch.

The overall story was immensely engrossing, and entertaining. A stellar cast that works so tightly and seamlessly you get drawn in altogether. I thoroughly enjoyed having the Scarecrow featured in this film as judge, jury and executioner, but I saw that a lot of the audience that did not know the Batman story or the past movie characters too well, totally missed this little gem.

I feel that this was a tremendous way to close what I feel was one of the best film trilogies since The Lord of the Rings. It was excellent. It drew all the subplots together, concluded Bruce Wayne’s story so well, and gave the audience what it wanted. I personally felt no bitterness about the finale of this three part story, I only felt slightly saddened that this was the end. I mean, this is how you bring a superhero to life, after all. This was the most successful rendition I have ever seen of bringing a comic to screen. Christian Bale is Batman, there is no denying that, but I am glad the Christopher Nolan had the good sense to end it on his own terms, instead of it dragging out and having it fall apart at the seams.

50/50 (2011)

Then there was 50/50. I really feel this movie should have gotten far more acclaim than it actually did.

50/50 is a story about a young man (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) of 27 being diagnosed with an extremely rare cancer, with a survival chance of only 50%. The movie takes us through the understanding of the life of a cancer patient, the friendships that are developed, the effect that cancer has on friends and families as well as how the process of cancer works. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. I could laugh, get angry, get sad, get hopeful, feel despondency, and so I highly recommend this movie to be watched.

The humour was excellent, looking at dealing with things in life in a different manner, how people react to certain social events and how people sometimes use the most flawed reasoning. The film greatly balanced the humour and more somber side of the movie, having the mix perfectly right. You never get the feeling of mockery, scorn or ridicule off of this movie, and it is that that makes it work. It is heartfelt, and warming. This is not what I anticipated when I got ready for this movie, at all. I was slightly worried I would take offence of something like cancer being made fun of. That was definitely not the case.

The Hunger Games (2012)

Then.. The Hunger Games. I have mentioned in a previous blog that I was astounded that they conveyed a first person narrative so effectively to screen. The cast was strong and solid, and I think having Suzanne Collins on board for the screenplay must have made an insanely large positive contribution to the film.

I enjoyed how you could follow the story, and get wrapped up in it. The betrayal, anger and suffering of the people was brought predominantly well to the screen, and it was mesmerizing to watch. The cast was amazing, slipping into the roles ever so easily. I still find Katniss difficult to identify with at the best of times for varying reasons (not so much from this movie as from the books, however). Do not chalk this up as a children’s film and move on, as it really is so much more that that. It bears the story of hope and rising up against a regime of unfairness and oppression, and is truly worth the watch.

I am holding out for Catching Fire, which is due next year. I am sure that if they can keep the next two movies in the same line as The Hunger Games, they will have a remarkable trilogy. So let us hope for the best and see where this goes. 🙂

Are there any films that you can recommend that I see?