The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

After Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) emerge victorious (and both alive) from the 74th Annual Hunger Games, they return home for a short while before being enlisted to embark on a “Winner’s Tour” and are forced to travel to all the other districts to congratulate them on their fallen tributes from the Games. However, Katniss and Peeta’s defiance in the face of President Snow (Donald Sutherland) has attracted the attention and imaginations of a new wave of rebels, determined to bring down the morally corrupt government around them. This forces Snow to arrange for a twist to the games – and on the 75th year, all previous surviving winners are made to participate in the Games once more, including Katniss and Peeta.

This second installment was far better than the first. While Hunger Games set up the franchise, it didn’t paint a complete picture of the plights of the common people and their struggles. Catching Fire is much more intimate and lets us in on the futility of resistance but also on the hope these people embrace whenever it arises.

The acting by the two main characters was much more polished, and Katniss has gone from being a bit of an annoyance (Screaming, running out into the open because she can’t control her emotions) to actually being a kickass, strong female character. Likewise, Peeta hasn’t all of a sudden become a master combatant after one stint in the games as I’d expected him to do, but he does hold his own. Respectable abilities, but not unbelievable.

The movie is pretty long (two and a half hours….phew) but the director, Francis Lawrence, does such a great job of pacing the film that it doesn’t really feel as long while you’re watching, and by the end you’re going to want to see what happens next (though there seemed to be some ripped-off elements of The Matrix there).

One other notable addition to this film is that of Philip Seymour Hoffman – who usually turns any performance into gold. His role had a subtlety to it that I think you’d have to watch the film multiple times to get.

In closing, go see this film even if you didn’t really like the first film, The Hunger Games. This is really what the first film SHOULD have been. It does everything the first film did but does it better. It’s a little long, but worth it.

JOE Rating: ★★★★

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Red Dawn (2012)

Red Dawn (2012)

Original Theatrical Release: November 21, 2012
Director: Dan Bradley

What would happen if North Korea and Russia decided to join forces and with the aid of a new weapon that shuts down America’s power grid, invade the United States? In this movie that tries to answer this question, a group of teens mostly comprised of a local football team called The Wolverines decide to fight back with all they have against the invaders and try and take back their town. Led by the war-veteran Jed Eckert (Chris Hemsworth) and his younger brother Matt (Josh Peck) the teens must learn to adapt and work together if they are to come out of the conflict alive.

Having been a fan of the original Red Dawn movie from 1984, I was unsure if an update would be necessary or even entertaining. The original film was a Cold War scare movie, and the message has sort of faded with time, relegating the movie to B-Movie cheese status that is both harmless and fun to poke fun of with friends (plus it had Patrick Swayze in it).

This newer incarnation takes itself far too seriously, trying to evoke the same sort of scare tactics used in the 1984 version but failing at doing so by using iffy politics that probably wouldn’t exist in the real world, yet trying to sell us on the idea that it could really happen.

There were some parts that had my blood pumping, but overall it was a redneck’s wet dream rather than a good film. I’m sure if you like movies where the antagonists are screaming Asians who kill Americans calmly and then go about their business, then this will be right up your alley.

‘MURICA!!

JOE Review: ★★

Movie Trailer For Red Dawn