Friday, November 22, 2013

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Whether that monkey's yelling in anger or yawning in absolute boredom, when it comes to this movie, either way he ain't wrong. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is absolutely awful. It's stupid as hell, completely and entirely pointless, and good god is it in dire need of a freaking editor. Seriously, what genius thought that a three hour long Hunger Games movie was a good idea? By the time the actual "games" began, I had long since checked out of this piece of trash.

I ain't even lying, if I hadn't seen this thing with friends, I most assuredly would have walked out, because by the time the "games" portion of the movie started, I was just antsy in my seat waiting for this overly long thing to finally, finally end. I seriously did not give a crap at all about the story or a single one of these crappy characters, and I couldn't have possibly cared less how this god awful thing was gonna end, so long as it was finally just freaking over and done with already. Watching this movie in the theater is an endurance test that's almost like undergoing an entirely different sort of terrorizing group exercise as those participating in the Hunger Games themselves.

As for the plot here, hell, did you see the first movie? Well guess what, you already saw this one, only minus about a good hour or so of pointless, stupid nonsense that stretches this thing to its absolute thinnest. The pre-games stuff just dragged on and on for forever and a day, taking as long as humanly possible to get to the damn point. And the whole while, it never once came close to being nearly as interesting as this portion was in the first movie. It was just a complete retread, minus the intrigue, and needlessly expanded upon with a whole lotta nothing.

But it didn't just add a bunch of pointless shit, it even brought back the pointless shit from the first movie that we didn't see. Or, rather, couldn't, that being the god damn action scenes. I swear, I've said it before, but if an action scene is shot in a way in which you can't even tell what the hell is transpiring on screen, then that scene is entirely pointless! And that describes literally every action scene in this god forsaken thing. You can't see shit the whole movie! Hell, at one point, Peeta commented how he wasn't sure if someone had tried to jump out and sacrifice themselves to save him. And you know what, how the hell could he be sure? How the hell could anyone be sure? Because, after all, we couldn't SEE anything!

But not only is this movie needlessly longer than the first, but it's also infinitely more stupid. The Hunger Games themselves was just a series of traps setting off, whether it's skin eating mist (which basically just leaves poorly applied makeup marks that easily washes off in water, bad acting optional (seriously, stop over-doing it, Jennifer Lawrence)) or randomly rampaging monkeys. Hell, that baboon scene reminded me of a similar scene in After Earth, and it actually left me wishing I was watching that freaking movie instead. And at no point did I ever feel like our main characters were ever in any actual danger through all of this nonsense. Gone was the aspect of hunt or be hunted, it was like watching a really shitty and unfun version of The Cabin in the Woods, where everything transpiring was a result of the guys behind the games just interfering with the environment, only for our cast to survive in the most convenient of manners each and every time.

If there's one positive I can say about this movie, it's that a handful of the new characters are at least slightly interesting at times. One chick who is adamantly against the games and makes it known loudly and proudly probably steals this movie with her outlandish antics, and that wacky talk show host guy makes some enjoyably over the top facial expressions that I got a bit of a kick out of at times. But as for the rest of this thing, hell, I've seen freaking Terrence Malick movies that have done a better job keeping my interest throughout (and as those of you who've followed me for a while should well know by now, I am not a Malick fan at all.)

This movie was awful, so awful I was left shaking in anger by the end of it. It's not just a worse movie than the first one, and hell, I actually liked the first movie. The first movie's a freaking godsend in comparison. But this? Catching Fire not only makes the exact same mistakes that that one made, but it adds on a whole laundry list of new ones on top of that. I couldn't have possibly cared less about the ongoing plot or the fate of any of these characters, and amongst all of the groan inducing idiocy at hand, I was never once given a reason to give a crap about any of it in the first place. Without question, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is the worst movie I've seen this year so far.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Thor: Episode II - The Dark World

So I found that I quite enjoyed this latest Star Wars prequel. Thor is finally reunited with his beloved Natalie Portman, reprising her role as Padme, only for her to come into contact with a dark presence that attracts a phantom menace from Asgard's history. And so, in order to fight off this attack of the elves, Thor is forced to turn to the dark side himself and form an alliance with his brother, Loki, as they seek revenge of the gods in their efforts to restore peace within their galaxy far, far away.

But seriously, this movie may borrow a bit from some other properties here and there, including more than a handful of Star Wars tributes that really gave off a vibrant vibe similar to that of the prequel trilogy (which I personally was a fan of, by the way), but it all comes together to form a highly entertaining and much more cohesive continuation of the Thor saga. Unlike the first entry in this series, you can tell that this one's going to be a much more solid outing right from the outset just by the mere coherency of the opening action sequences.

Where the first one was very much a mixed bag that felt like a disjointed comedy with some tacked on action scenes tossed in, this one's solid all around. For one thing, the settings actually look and feel like real worlds, unlike the small scale movie sets that the scenery in the first movie more resembled. And while I most enjoyed the focus on Earth in the first one, I think the opposite might actually be true in this instance, as I really found myself truly able to ground myself in Thor's world this time around, which just felt so much more alive.

And as lively as the world was, it was made that much more so by the liveliness of the whole cast. Chris Hemsworth really has found his grounding as the God of Thunder, and a lot of the supporting cast is given quite a bit more to work with this time around, including Idris Elba and Kat Dennings, who both particularly run with their extended material and shine brightly. But really, we all know who the real star is here.

That's right, it's Loki, bitches. And Tom Hiddleston steals this whole damn movie from start to finish. He's just as charming as ever, more akin to his portrayal in The Avengers than the first Thor, though he certainly undergoes quite an interesting development that ultimately leads to him teaming back up with Thor. In fact, that's always been the great thing about this character is just how intriguing he continues to be. He's by far the deepest and most complex character in the entirety of The Avengers, and I don't think that anyone else could pull it off quite like Tom Hiddleston does. But yeah, anytime Loki appears on screen is definitely when the movie shines brightest, with a particular Avengers cameo bringing the biggest laughs in a movie that's full of 'em.

But even though the film is fun, unlike some other recent films that have failed on their promise to take a darker approach (Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness), this one definitely delivers on that note. This movie gets damn dark. And these darker moments actually pack quite a punch along with them. In fact, for a brief period of time, things got so dark that I actually felt some of the comedic moments following it felt out of place as a result (a feeling that subsided as the movie went along, mind you). But yeah, this movie may be funny, but it ain't no joke, and the fact that they managed to balance these aspects out so well is what I loved so much about this movie.

I gotta say that I'm really digging the hell out of these phase 2 Avengers movies significantly more than the first phase so far, and that definitely continues with this movie. And part of what I love about these movies is their willingness to break the mold and try out new creative avenues, and that was certainly the case with this movie's climactic final battle, which played out like the most epic game of Portal ever. Yeah, it may feel a bit familiar to some other certain properties at times, but it only borrows the best of those other worlds and brings them all together to form a mighty fine movie.