As I mentioned in my review of The Hunger Games (2012), I told my friend that I would see The Hunger Games: Catching Fire with him, even though I was not very interested in either of the films. I’m not going to watch a sequel to a film without first watching the original, so I watched The Hunger Games at home before going out to the theatre. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed The Hunger Games, and this made me excited to see the sequel. I would certainly not recommend watching The Hunger Games: Catching Fire without first watching The Hunger Games. It is pretty much essential to watch the movies in order.
I would advise against reading the rest of this review if you have not yet seen The Hunger Games.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire picks up where the first film left off. Through an act of defiance, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) were the winners of the 74th annual Hunger Games. Their public defiance was enough for the government to want to make an example out of them by punishing them in hopes of preventing a revolution.
The film was directed by Francis Lawrence and the rest of the noteworthy cast includes Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Lenny Kravitz, Liam Hemsworth, Jeffrey Wright, Amanda Plummer, Jena Malone, and Toby Jones.
Like most sequels, I expected this movie to be a step down from the first film. My expectations were wrong once again. It’s a rare thing that a sequel is better than its predecessor, but this is exactly the case with The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. It’s as if the filmmakers ironed out all of the kinks from the first movie in order to make the sequel.
Everything that I liked and disliked about The Hunger Games was improved upon in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. It was another welcomed surprise. The acting was more passionate, the special effects were sharper, the story was more interesting, and the quality of the film as a whole was just plain better.
Fans of The Hunger Games will undoubtedly like The Hunger Games: Catching Fire even more. The film is a higher caliber and therefore delivers a stronger potency.
I rate this movie a 9 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Buy.
The Hunger Games (2012)
I’m not usually the type of guy to rush out and see a movie like The Hunger Games in theatres. I guess that is why I had not seen the film, until now. I probably would have put off seeing this movie even longer, but since a friend of mine wanted to see the The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) in theatres, I thought it best that I see the films in order.
People have raved about this movie, but it just wasn’t a must-see for me, even though, for the most part, it has a very solid cast. I don’t know if it is the PG-13 rating or what, but it just appeared to me like it would be a teenie-bopper film of sorts.
The movie takes place in the future where a society is split up into twelve districts. Once a year a lottery takes place in order to select a young man and a young woman from each of the twelve districts to take part in a televised battle to the death called The Hunger Games. The latest Hunger Games gets its first volunteer, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence). Katniss volunteers in order to protect her younger sister from almost certain death. Now, Katniss is facing the same odds.
The film was directed by Gary Ross and the rest of the noteworthy cast includes Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks, Josh Hutcherson, Wes Bentley, Lenny Kravitz, Liam Hemsworth, and Toby Jones.
I’m not sure that I buy into the concept of a society that would force a few of its residents to battle in a fight to the death. The idea was a little bit of a stretch. However, it did remind me a little bit of gladiators being forced to fight in an arena. It’s a backwards advanced warped society that would be a sick world to live in. Maybe I just hope that it could never get that bad, but given the world that we live in, maybe I’m just in denial. After all, if the holocaust can happen, maybe something like this could too. A movie like this that takes place in the future can get away with a concept like this one, because nobody knows what the future holds.
The film was a cross between The Most Dangerous Game (1932), Death Race (2008), and Gladiator (2000).
The Hunger Games was certainly better than I anticipated it would be. The big name actors in the movie all played their parts well. However, it was ultimately Jennifer Lawrence’s film. It was an intensely engaging, heartfelt movie with lots of cool visuals and a good soundtrack.
At times, the graphics were a bit overdone and almost too colorful. Some of the costumes were far out. The technology in the film seemed a little too advanced for a poor society. All of these things temporarily took away from the story along with a touch of lower quality acting from the lesser known supporting cast members.
Overall, The Hunger Games was a big surprise to me. It far exceeded my expectations and I wish I had given it a chance sooner, because I didn’t give it the credit that it deserves.
I rate this movie an 8 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Buy.
The Company you Keep (2012)
The Company you keep is based off of the novel with the same name written by Neil Gordon.
I was excited to see this movie because I often enjoy movies about investigative journalism, not to mention the cast is fully loaded with talent. Redford directs and stars alongside LaBeouf, Julie Christie, Susan Surandon, Stanley Tucci, Terrence Howard, Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper, Richard Jenkins, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Elliot, Stephen Root, Anna Kendrick, Brit Marling, and Jackie Evancho. Redford may be getting old, but he still has the star power to bring together a big A-list group of actors to make a movie.
The Weather Underground is an anti-war activist group that was around during the Vietnam War era. I had heard about this group before, but I went into the film knowing absolutely nothing about them. The movie explains what the group was all about, but given the fact that the story is based off of a novel, they sort of mix fact with fiction.
Like most films about investigative journalism, the story moves along at a slow to steady pace as the reporter tries to figure things out about the story that he is trying to tell. There is plenty of time for character development and the dialogue is well-written. Great actors tend to pop up out of the woodwork like weeds when these types of movies are made and The Company you Keep is no exception.
It was refreshing to see Robert Redford acting again. He hasn’t been in a movie since Lions for Lambs (2007). Although he has always been a tremendous actor, he really has aged. They tried to make him seem younger in the film by dying his hair and having him jogging in one scene. But, when all is said and done, the movie icon was too old for the part he was playing. This fact took a little bit away from the film.
The person that really stood out the most was Shia LaBeouf. He has strong screen presence, and when he is not doing a Transformers movie, his charisma can really take over a movie. The rest of the cast played their parts well but, LaBeouf was the glue that held the film together.
The Company you Keep was quality filmmaking with a few flaws. The flaws weren’t very noticeable until a little over halfway through the film. Redford did his best with the story that he had, but ultimately the movie was anticlimactic and it became predictable. The dialogue was great, the acting was superb, but there were few surprises along the way to make the movie stand out.
The film was worth seeing, if only to watch masters of the acting craft at work.
I rate this movie a 7 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Rent.
If you liked The Company You Keep, then you will probably enjoy the following films: