Movie Review: Catching Fire

President Snow: “You fought very hard in the Games, Miss Everdeen. But they were games. Would you like to be in a real war? Imagine thousands of your people, dead. Your loved ones, gone.”

Katniss Everdeen: “What do I need to do?”

 

hgmcfFirst of all, don’t worry, I won’t put any spoilers on here!

You might remember me reviewing the Hunger Games movie with a somewhat critical eye. I said how I thought the first film was nicely done, but just didn’t feel as exciting or cool as the book. For anyone who shared that concern—or any concern at all, really—fear not. The second Hunger Games movie sweeps in and blasts away any flaws in its predecessor.

Show of hands: who read the Harry Potter books, loved them, then saw the movies and loved them just as much? If you’re like me, you followed that pattern, and you noticed something: what makes the HP movies so great is that they don’t just adapt their source material line for line. They include most of it, but then give it a new feel, sort of.

For example, the sixth Harry Potter, my favorite one. In the book chapter one, we have a meeting between the ministers talking about the growing threat of Voldemort. In the movie, we have an awesome action sequence of a bridge being destroyed as Death Eaters sweep through London.

If you loved touches like that, buckle up. Catching Fire achieves the near-impossible goal of turning the source material into its own thing, while at the same time being a faithful adaption. Oh, if you see this movie and have any problems with how it was adapted, please blast me in the comments. Please. Even my most critical friends couldn’t find anything wrong with how this book was translated into a movie. Was a scene from the book cut here and there? Absolutely. Were new scenes added? Sure. But the feel is identical. No, it’s even better, because the movie is so energetic and fast-paced that you’re going at light speed for the whole ride.

You know how when you watch a really good scene in a movie and you’re just sitting there gripping the armrests, holding your breath to see what will happen? This whole movie is like that. It doesn’t let up.

What I’m trying to say is that this movie found what the first one was looking for. I personally was quite bored the first fifteen or so minutes of The Hunger Games. And even the rest was sorta…eh. Good adaption, but in the end, it felt too familiar. We’d seen it all before.

Forget that here. Oh, forget that here. I won’t spoil anything, but for anyone who knows the story: do you know how President Snow makes a big announcement about halfway through the book? Like, really big?

You’d think that would just show Katniss crying afterwards or something. But no, this movie goes all-out. We see Peeta falling to the floor, Haymitch throwing something at his TV, and Katniss breaking down her own door to run out into the woods and sob. All while an epic score plays and it shows a montage of Panem.

Think I spoiled it? That was just a taste, my friends; a single example of the tone this movie takes on. Every scene is better done than in the book. There’s quite a bit more humor, too (I laughed out loud at Johanna’s interview).

And of course, Jennifer Lawrence. She really is at the top of her game in this movie. Don’t get me wrong, she was great in the first one. But now she seems older, more mature, more like a hardened adult warrior who’s still vulnerable. They couldn’t have picked a better actress for the role.

I could spend pages breaking down all the awesome scenes and touches in the film, but I think I’m better off just telling you to go see it.

So, go see it. Now!

In Conclusion: This movie is spectacularly done and takes on its own tone while still being faithful to the book. If you loved the first movie or even if you didn’t, see this one now. It’s a whole new experience.

Rate: 9.5 out of 10.

And You Thought It Couldn’t Get Worse (Movie Review: The Sea of Monsters)

“I was brought in after they already had a draft of the script which, quite frankly, didn’t work. With the draft that was originally done, the only thing wrong with it was that it was TOO faithful to the book. So first and foremost, I had to think of a wholly different way of adapting the novel. ”

–  Screenwriter Marc Guggenheim

 

somposterDo you love terrible film adaptions? Then we have the perfect movie for you! The second installment in the Percy Jackson film series will not only lower your opinion of Hollywood’s ability to adapt novels, it’ll squash all hope you had left for the PJ film franchise as a whole!

But wait, there’s more!

This movie goes beyond traditional butchering of source material. What makes it really shine as an abysmal adaption is that it moves on to the other novels in the Percy Jackson book series, picking pieces from the rest of them so as to butcher their content as well.

Doesn’t it sound great?

I don’t mean to sound scathing here, but honestly, this movie sort of deserves it. However, in the interest of fairness, I’ll attempt an objective review of it as a whole.

So, we have the adaption of the second book in the Percy Jackson series, meant to be a sequel to the 2010 adaption, The Lighting Thief. In this, Camp Half-Blood is attacked, and Percy and his friends must set out to find the Golden Fleece, the only thing that can save their camp from…uh, more attack.

Also, Luke is trying to resurrect Kronos, who was never mentioned up until this point in the entire film series. Nor is it ever explained who Kronos actually is. But hey, no biggie.

I’ll start off by listing what I liked. There were exactly two parts of the movie I thoroughly enjoyed.

The first was the opening scene, which features Luke, Annabeth, Grover and Thalia running for Camp Half-Blood when they were kids. Unfortunately, this scene only lasts around a minute, but it was arguably the best minute of the film.

The second was when the trio meets Luke for the first time in the movie. I think Jake Abel, who portrays our favorite villain, really brings him to life and does the best he can with the lines he’s given. His speech to Annabeth, ending with “you disappoint me the most,” was solid.

However, the negatives aren’t to be ignored here.

Let’s see…here are a few good ones: Percy goes to Camp Half-Blood without any attacks; he doesn’t meet Tyson until he gets there and Chiron introduces them; Grover isn’t kidnapped by Polyphemus; Clarisse is included but not in any key part of the plot (she also looks around twenty-three); we still never see Ares; they never go to Circe’s island; and one of the worst, Annabeth and Percy don’t have any of the meaningful one-on-one conversations they have in the book.

Actually, they really don’t have any one-on-one conversations at all, actually. Wait, do they still like each other?

It takes about forty minutes for our friends to set out for the Sea of Monsters. They literally sail for probably twenty-five minutes, and they’re at the Cyclops’s lair. They escape with Grover and the Fleece…

Which Luke immediately takes and uses to resurrect Kronos.

No, I’m being serious. The coffin opens, and Kronos is reformed. Not in the way he is in, you know, the books, but rather as a giant monster-type thing who dies around two minutes later.

Kronos1111

Man, Hollywood, really scraping the bottom of the barrel, aren’t we?

Overall, this movie amused me, because I was sure going in that nothing could be worse than the adaption of The Lightning Thief, which I blogged about earlier. But sure enough, when the movie was over, I could say with total sincerity that they actually did a worse job with this one. For starters, none of the Olympians apart from Dionysus (who virtually has no role) appear. No Zeus, Hades or even Poseidon. I suppose that’s why the removed the word “Olympians” from the franchise title.

Come to think of it, did they keep anything from the first movie, other than the cast members?

chrn

Oh. Never mind.

Hey, at least Annabeth was blond, right?

In conclusion: pretty much everything in this movie is discount except for the CGI. The acting is unimpressive, the dialogue is discountable, and the plot is virtually nonexistent. Good job, team! Can’t wait for part three!

Rate: 2 out of 10.