Friday, November 29, 2013

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - movie review

When I was reading the three Hunger Games books, I did not enjoy the middle (second) book. In fact I remember thinking, I don't know if I want to see the movie of this book.  Yet, there I was purchasing my ticket to catch The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie.  I was surprised.  I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. In fact, I do want to see it again, as the action scenes have so much in them, you cannot possibly see it all the first time.  I think my imagination was worse than what was shown in the movie.

Once again Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence and Peeta Mellark, played by Josh Hutcherson, go into the games.  This time though the odds are really stacked against them, once again, through to many twists of the plot, they are still surviving at the end. Once again great acting especially in the last scene by Jennifer Lawrence.

The supporting cast, which has some great actors, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Liam Hemsworth and Woody Harrelson. This movie held my attention from beginning to end.

This is a movie you can pick up without ever seeing the first movie, but it does help to know the story line. I loved the clothes, the images of the fire coming up around their clothing while in the chariot being presented in the arena.  And the fighting scenes, well I've already mentioned those.  I enjoyed the movie much more than the book. The book left me depressed (often the middle book is the 'dark one' only to be redeemed in the third - think Star Wars). 

Director Francis Lawrence did a great job I'm sure with the editing (which I feel breaks or makes a movie).  We now have to wait another year for the next installment, and another year after that for the final installment.  Thank goodness time go fast.  In the meantime, I will go see this movie at least once more.
4 1/2 out of 5. 

Delivery Man - movie review

After all the advertising, which seemed to go on months before this movie, Delivery Man, came out, I wasn't really sure I even wanted to see it. To my surprise I enjoyed it.  Vince Vaughn, who I often find over talks in his roles, was great in this role as the man who has unbeknown to him fathered over 500 children. In the movie you discover why he donated so much sperm.

It is touching, funny and a statement about relationships.  Father/son; Boyfriend/girlfriend and family. How when the 142 of them, who are contesting in course to find out who their father 'Starbuck' really is, he says, you have found each other.  Family....that is the hidden message behind this.

Vince Vaughn is good in this role, Chris Pratt as his friend creates some laughs and Cobie Smulders playing his pregnant girlfriend, all give their roles justice.  Writer/Director Ken Scott should be proud of this. A great combination of comedy with emotion of a serious subject.

Not much to really say except, for a movie which brought a tear to my eye, lots of laughs and a couple of hours well spent.  Go see it.
3 1/2 out of 5.

Monday, November 18, 2013

12 Years a Slave - movie review

Making the drive north to see 12 Years a Slave, I was sure of what I had heard I would be in for a 'treat' of a movie.  Well treat may not be the word, but my oh my, what a movie. The acting of Chiwetel Ejiofor, is definitely an Oscar winning performance, with everyone involved, and to mention a few Michael Fassbender (phenomenal performance as the slave owner you love to hate) and with Benedict Cumberbatch, (making another movie appearance this year) as a more benevolent slave owner.
This movie, with graphic demonstrations of the cruelty that went on in the south with some slave owners. It is a hard movie to watch at time, and I came away with the thought of "how can we do this to another human being", and as my friend pointed out "they did not think they were human". Thank goodness we are past that. But we still have on our planet inhumanity acts being done to another human.  My respect of one another was certainly brought to the fore. Time to realize no matter the color of a person's skin, or the religion he follows, he is still human.
This is a story of a black man, a wealthy black man, who was respected and had a 'position' in his community and how he was lured to Washington, D.C. and then kidnapped and for 12 years until a kindly builder, played by Brad Pitt, (who was also on the production side) let his family and friends in the North know of his plight and he was rescued.  Apparently many people found themselves with this fate. Never to be rescued, but to live their lives out in slavery, after being free men.
But Solomon was rescued and returned to his family, and although he learn from the transcript at the end, he tried to sue the people who kidnapped him and the person who beat him until he would admit he was a slave, only to met defeat, he did write a book 12 Years a Slave.
This movie is impactful on so many levels, with great acting and editing, which means great direction by Steve McQueen (oh by the way. The audience was so stunned, they did not move to leave as the credits rolled and when the name Steve McQueen came up a man behind me said 'he's dead'.  I think the whole audience had a response to the name Steve McQueen. He did a great job here, bringing out the 'dark side' of the actors so you believed them. 
This is a movie everyone needs to see to remind us of a part of world history where we did not respect one another.  It is bound to solicit an emotional response, especially with some scenes, so this movie is not for the faint of heart. Still worth seeing.
4 1/2 out of 5. 

About Time - movie review

Want to go see a lovely, soft movie with a great message. Slow paced, yet impactful About Time is the movie to see.  Tim, Domhnall Gleeson, learns at the age of 21 hat he can travel in time and change what has happened (how we wish).  As he experiments with the girl of his dream Rachel McAdams he learns the pifalls of interfering with time.
This is a delightful movie, with a delightful message of enjoy everyday fully. As is often said, 'be present' or 'be in the moment'. 
Although not a big budget movie, with Bill Nighy as Tim's Dad and Lydia Wilson as Kit Kat the sister, the support cast all play their parts well. 
Enjoy the gentle, easy movie and the wonderful lesson it states.
3 1/2 out of 5.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Thor: The Dark World - movie review

The other day I went to see Thor: The Dark World, and realized this is one movie I need to see in 3D so off I went to see it in 3D and I was not disappointed. All the shots that I thought would be great in 3D were, plus more.  I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, in fact I may have enjoyed it more than the first. Chris Hemsworth at this best, Natalie Portman doing her wonderful work and the absolutely wonderful Loki played by Tom Hiddleston.  Even the support cast of Stellan Skarsgard, as the mad scientist, Anthony Hopkins, as the Thor's father, Kat Dennings as the side kick and Christopher Eccleston as the bad guy Malekith.
In fact, everyone played their part great and I feel in love with Zachary Levi. (Loved him in Chuck too).
The story plot of a dark energy (wonderfully red) is unleased into Jane Foster (Portman). Thor comes to save the day with personal sacrifices along the way. Where would Thor be without Tom Hiddleston as the devious Loki. This story has some shifts and changes and its a 'ride'. 
In seeing this film two times within a few days of each other, I honestly could go see it again. The detail, the story line with its twists and turns, the magnificent sets as you visit other planets. 
Worth seeing, most definitely, entertainment with great acting, wonderful bodies and how friendship, love and even brotherly competition can unfold.  It has enough explosions, fighting and flying through the air for those who want to see that to be more than satisfied. Also has enough human relationship interactions for those who love that.
Oh yes, make sure you don't leave the theatre until the last credit is will not be disappointed. (Remember last credit - stay sitting)
41/2 out of 5.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Last Vegas - movie review

If you are over 50 I think you will enjoy this movie - Last Vegas. I most certainly did.  Robert DeNiro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline play four older buddies who have been friends since they were six and now have very different lives. They all go to Las Vegas for the wedding of Michael Douglas's character. I must say I enjoyed seeing Kevin Kline as I had not seen him recently and I've always been a fan!

The laughs come a lot. Mary Steenburgen plays the woman of the group, and I won't say the ending, but if you want to laugh, and relate to what they laughter is about then go see this funny movie.
My friend who came with me, said as we went in, I'm tired of seeing movies about older people and its not funny. At the end she said, "I enjoyed that". I did also. 

Everyone needs to laugh and the antics each one of these characters get into is great.  Dan Fogelman as the writer really needs applause, as this could have been ridiculous, as many of the movies my friend was talking about are. But it is not, it is very real, and has a great message. Live each day! 

I also have to mention the Director, Jon Turteltaub, who has directed some great movies which I have enjoyed, and he manages to bring out the characters so well.

The cast has been well casted, as even the support players did their roles proud, Romany Malco as the person who takes care of them at their Hotel (that's another story line) and Jerry Ferrara who plays the young person who fetches and carries (that's another story line). 

This movie is full of inner story lines (after all you have four men all with their own agendas) and each one is presented funny.

If you love to laugh, and don't mind laughing at the older spectrum of things, then this movie is a must.
3 1/2 out of 5.  (4 for laughs).

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Ender's Game - movie review

After reading Orson Scott Card's book Ender's Game and seeing the shorts for it over and over I was waiting in anticipation for this movie to come to the screen. Yesterday I went to see it in this first screening of the day. I was not disappointed. 
What surprised me was how close to the book it was - reminding me of Harry Potter movies who kept close to the book outline. A few things were changed and some of the threads left out made sense. Therefore my first recommendation is read the book, Ender's Game supposedly written for children, but truly I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The story of how children and tested and if pass, taken to 'battle school' and then onto 'command school'. These are children, who because of their fast abilities in thinking (via video games no less) are able to work together in order to overcome a race of 'insect' beings who came to earth and killed many people. Now Earth is taking the fight to them.
The story evolves around the main character, Ender Wiggin, played by Asa Butterfield, a wonderful young English actor, who was able to become Ender as he worked his way through the 'game'.  I found knowing the book helped fill in quite a bit, even though the movie definitely stood on its own.
Harrison Ford plays Colonel Graff, his mentor who is with him the whole way.  Hailee Steineld plays Petra, one of his fellow students as does Aramis Knight, who is cast as Bean.  Ben Kingsley shows up as the last war hero, as Ender's teacher, with a full Maori Moko, as a New Zealander, I was disappointed with the South African accent coming from a supposedly a New Zealander.  Guess they did not know the difference of accents. 
I always ask myself, is the movie worth seeing? The answer here is yes...especially if you have read the book. Also second thing I ask myself, what was the message, and here it is about war and annihilating a race of people, just because you don't speak the same language. The subtle under story is. Listen, find a way to communicate with the enemy, just because they don't speak your language does not mean they cannot communicate with you.  Also, is it worth destroying (in the movies these young children) just to create the end.  In other words, does the end justify the means.
Have a few hours to go and enjoy a 'different' movie, then go see this, its different in lots of ways.
4 out of 5.