Godzilla 2014 Written Review

Transcript:

Godzilla is the new film by Gareth Edwards. I am not a person familiar with Godzilla. For the longest time, the only one I saw was the Emmerich version, which kinda sucks, but in an entertaining way. 98 is great snark bait with friends. It wasn’t until this year that I saw Godzilla vs Biollante in order to get the feel of a proper Godzilla movie. It also helped that I had my friend Christian, who many of you know as the voice of Zandos from Project 13’ and a great Spider-Man cosplayer, to hype me up with his fanboyness.

I liked this Godzilla film enough. You can tell that Edwards is very passionate about this source material, in contrast to the soulless Emmerich movie. The acting for the most part is good, especially from Ken Watanabe and Bryan Cranston. Visually, the film is extremely impressive and stylistic. The human characters feel very bland, which made a lot of the scenes cutting back to them very distracting after a while. The only exception was Cranston’s character. There was a lot of nice dark comedy too. Do not come into this film expecting a Pacific Rim style action film, though with the way it was advertised, it looked more like a horror film with a Kaiju anyway.

I give it a recommendation, it’s not amazing, but I like it and it’s a film you should see in the theater because of the stunning visuals and moreso, the sound. From here on, this review will have spoilers, but no major ones: Everything about the trailers is a lie. A lot of scenes in the trailers don’t even appear in the movie. Bryan Cranston is advertised as the lead, but instead it’s Kick-Ass, who does okay. Godzilla is sold as the sole villain that causes the destruction when it’s in fact 2 monsters that look like they were designed by Blizzard, call MUTOs. In fact, many shots in the trailer are altered to not have the MUTOs at all, most notably, the shot at the end of the trailer where Godzilla roars while the doors close, that actual shot in the movie, Godzilla is fighting a MUTO.

This film does show some restraint. Not every fight between the kaijus are shown. It lacks the CGI excess that other comparable summer blockbusters like Man of Steel have. We get an idea and the aftermath, but it’s not until the final act that we actually see Godzilla take on the creatures, making the climactic battle very satisfying. The movie’s star, Godzilla, who only appears for a few minutes, is incredibly awesome in this film. His design was remade to be built like a bear, and he fights like one too. They gave him a more realistic build for his massive size, with very large feet. What the film also has is a massive sense of scale, you see Godzilla and the MUTOs towering over skyscrapers, and you really feel how small the people are compared to these godlike monsters. Every single Kaiju aspect of the film is perfect.

Now, the faults of the film really come down to the human characters and writing. Bryan Cranston’s character loses his wife in the first scene, so you get his attachment to the situation at hand. He has a complete character and brought his A-Game to this role. The downside is that he’s gone after the first act, leaving the story in the much less capable hands of Aaron Johnson, who plays his son. This character is just really bland, the only way we connect to him is that he has a son and wife that are in danger from the 2 MUTOs as well. The plot with how our main character keeps running into the monsters is super contrived to the point of weeping hilarity, like, there’s no way that he’d keep running into this thing, and also no way he’d be at the exact place where his skills are needed at all these points. His wife is just around to be his wife, she doesn’t do anything. Ken Watanabe is there to explain Godzilla to the audience, and to have faith in his ability to kick ass. He would’ve made a better lead, but it’s fine.

The human element to the story ironically doesn’t come from any of the major characters. It’s most effective when we see it from the view of a random character we never stick with, but the movie makes us feel how terrifying a 350 ft tall 80,000 ton behemoth would be. Godzilla coming to land causes a tsunami for crying out loud. It also helps that people have very realistic reactions, for example, there’s a scene where Elizabeth Olsen as our hero’s wife sees Godzilla fight the MUTO on the news, and her look a perfect mix of confusion and terror. There were no comic relief characters unlike 98. It works in order to stir up the dread that these monsters have. If the characters aren’t afraid of the giant monsters that are immune to bullets, why should we be? Also, there’s a fantastic scene where one of the MUTOs is passing through Vegas, while people are gambling. We see a TV cut to a live feed of the creature rampaging, and then all lights go out because the creature has EMP. No one saw the live feed, and they’re annoyed until the building breaks open. These dark comedy scenes make up the laughs of this film, and they work because they don’t diminish the monsters.

So overall, despite the faults, Godzilla 2014 is a good watch that I would recommend to anyone who finds giant monsters cool.

 

Captain America the Winter Soldier Written Review

Audio Transcript of This Review:

Captain America 2 is the most recent addition to the growing Marvel Cinematic Universe, the sequel to Captain America, the First Avenger. To give quick thoughts on that film, Chris Evans gave a fantastic performance, but overall, the film was weaker by the final act, which might’ve been the design of the Red Skull, who looks comical no matter how good an actor you get to play him, like Hugo Weaving, and unfortunately, the effort that went into setting up Avengers was a detriment to the film.

Now, for those of you unfamiliar with this idea, the first sequel has the highest potential to be the best movie, you don’t have to establish the characters again, so all your cool ideas that would take an entire movie can come out, but by the time of the second sequel, people are a lot more likely to be sick of the characters. Examples of the good first sequel are The Dark Knight, The Empire Strikes Back, and The Godfather II. This movie serves as a dramatic turn for everything these movies have built up, like, Iron Man 3 is nothing compared to what happens in this film. This review will not have any major spoilers, because I like it.

The main plot is Captain America has to struggle with 21st century war politics, and Nick Fury reveals a plan by SHIELD to use 3 Helicarriers like the one from Avengers to annihilate supposed “terrorists” from across the globe before they do anything. By the way, can you figure out the carriers are gonna be hijacked?

Captain America has to deal with a new thing he has a hard time understanding, a shadowy group has infiltrated SHIELD and are destroying America from the inside, and their head enforcer is this guy named the Winter Soldier, an agent with a metal arm who completely kicks everyone’s ass except Captain America. This is in Stark…. contrast to First Avenger where he just fought Nazis, and Avengers, when he fought the evil blue dudes. This adds a lot of subtlety to this world, and more depth to the character of Captain America. It’s actually cool to stick this guy into a spy film.

One reason I find these films have a lot of dramatic potential is that Captain America is not invincible, he can conceivably die from being shot, like Batman, which is a reason I like the more human superheroes over their much more invulnerable allies, like Superman or Iron Man. I know this is an action movie, and random dudes aren’t going to leave the hero with any gun wounds, but it’s just nice to know that bullets would not bounce off of him. Also, like Batman, this movie has the guy who played Lau from the Dark Knight, he’s in a minor role and has like 6 lines, but he’s there.

The action in this film is still the great spectacle it has always been, but this one feels more dramatic because it is Captain America this time, and this film actually does have more memorable action scenes than the first Captain America movie and Iron Man 3, like a scene where Cap fights like 10 dudes in an elevator, and the climactic battle scene where Cap and his buddy Falcon go to storm the hijacked helicarriers. It’s also nice that there is some restraint when it came to the CG, and there seems to be a lot more practical effects in this.

Chris Evans is still great in this film; I am surprised he still turns in a very charming but also dramatic performance. Scarlett Johansson also gets to be the female lead in this, but she’s not a love interest (at least to the Cap), which is kind of refreshing to see. She’s really good in this film too, because she’s less about being fanservicey and has more character. Anthony Mackie plays Falcon, a pararescue guy with a cool jet pack, and the secondary hero of this film, he’s pretty cool and helpful, and he has improbable dodging skills in the climax. Nick Fury gets more focus in this film, actually doing some stuff, and Robert Redford is in this movie too, though he doesn’t do too much except monologue about the modern age.

And then there’s the Winter Soldier, damn did they make him scary in this film. He makes Black Widow pretty terrified with his presence, which is quite a feat given she was fighting alien monsters in her last film appearance. The scenes with him are the most frantic and tense of this entire film series. It doesn’t help that his theme song is this horrible screeching noise, like he’s Freddy Kruger or something. I mean, if they called Iron Man to help, Winter Soldier would’ve been down in like a minute, but yeah. The only person missing is Hawkeye, which is odd, because SHIELD is a big focus of the film.

I can also appreciate the dark tone of this film, it doesn’t feel excessive, like Iron Man 3, which went a bit overboard with the brutality, this film just has the heroes facing increasingly menacing threats to show their growth and heroism when the villains are defeated. Oh, wait, is that a spoiler? So, overall, this film lives up to its hype, give it a watch.

Muppets 2011 and Muppets Most Wanted Review

Audio Transcript of This Review:


I am a new guy when it comes to Muppets, but as a major part of American Pop Culture, and following the glowing reviews, I went to go check out The Muppets 2011, and then about 2 hours after, Muppets Most Wanted.

As a guy whose only knowledge of the Muppets is Kermit, Miss Piggy, the bear that says Wocka Wocka, the Not-Swedish Chef, and Michael Caine as Scrooge, I am not someone familiar with the characters.

2011 was the Muppet’s big cinematic comeback. It managed to be really Meta with how its plot was. There were only 4 human stars, Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Rashida Jones, and Chris Cooper. They’re playing the protagonist’s brother, his fiancé, a studio executive, and an evil oilbaron respectively. It follows the story of Walter, a big fan of the Muppets who eventually has Kermit get them back together for one final show in order to stop Muppet Studios from being torn down.

The first movie is very good, and plays very much on the audience’s feelings. It’s got enough heart in it that it works. There’s a sweet story about believing in yourself and holding onto friendships, and it’s a very funny and heartwarming film. It’s everything you want in a children’s film, and it’s better than anyone would’ve expected. I didn’t need to know all the names of the characters to understand that the Muppets feel irrelevant in this day and age, but they’re gonna give it their all. The Muppets 2011 is just a project with a ton of love put into trying to let everyone have fun. It didn’t lock out people like me, and it left some heart scars.

Also, there were many celebrity cameos because the Muppets are so beloved, most prominently, Jack Black, Emily Blunt, and NPH.

Also, there are the songs, because the series is known for the singing. The first movie’s highlight piece is Man or Muppet, featuring Jason Segel opposite Walter in a touching piece.

Now, the second film likes to parody the Sequel idea. The first movie was more focused on how the Muppets were irrelevant, and they can’t do something nearly that touching again, because when Muppets 2011 came out, there wasn’t a Muppets Movie released in theaters for like 12 years. This movie goes out of its way to make fun of the fact that it’s a sequel, and just try to have fun. The first song in the movie is about how Sequels are never as good as the original.

This movie got me with the trailers, which made it look like a blast, and this is the reason I watched both the films on the same day. Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, and Tina Fey are our stars here, and I enjoyed their chemistry with their Muppet opposites more than the humans in the first one.

The first movie struggled with including too much Jason Segel in a movie that was unbalanced in deciding if Walter or Kermit is the protagonist. This movie makes up its mind in focusing more on the eponymous Muppets.

This story is about the Muppets going on world tour, while Constantine, the world’s most dangerous frog, escapes from a Gulag that’s being run by Tina Fey. The Muppets go on tour with their new Manager, Dominic Badguy, who is not dangerous or villainous in any way, shape or form. The other subplot is Ty Burrell as an Interpol agent working with a Muppet, who I researched has the name of “Sam” working to track down the criminals.

This is a funny film, with lots of silly gags that don’t do anything provocative. There’s a lot less fourth wall breaking, and the cameos seem more numerous this time around, with Christoph Waltz, Chloe Grace Moretz as a delivery girl, Tom Hiddleston as an escape artist inmate, and Usher as an Usher.

This film’s core is built around 4 main character interactions. Constantine and Dominic’s relationship is one of my favorite parts of this film, where the evil frog is a total prick, and Dominic is the one doing all the heavy lifting. Tina Fey and Kermit also play off each other well too, with a surprise that Fey is a huge Kermit fan. Then Sam and Ty Burrell discover they have more in common than they think while they search for the criminals. Finally, Miss Piggy and Kermit have more relationship focus in this one, and that makes the final act of the story.

This time, the human performers enjoy themselves, knowing what type of film they’re in, because the focus on the first film was to be nice and sweet, this one is to be entertaining. That’s not to dilute the film’s message of cherishing your friends however.

As for the highlight song of this movie, it’s the duet Constantine has with Ricky Gervais about how evil they are, and how Ricky will always be number 2.
So, in conclusion, both these films are great, lighthearted watches that are worth the time. Go give them a look, if you’re a fan or not, you should get some enjoyment out of them.

 

Non-Stop Written Review

Non-Stop is a film in the new genre of Liamsploitation, Low to mid budget action films starring Liam Neeson. This film is awesome. Don’t mistake it as a Taken copy just because Taken essentially created the Liamsploitation Genre when before he was typecast as a mentor type, and before that, known for Schindler’s List. He makes this film very enjoyable, but that’s obvious. Even when he appears in bad film, like The Phantom Menace, he does well and improves the film.

Yes, Neeson made this film better.

So, that leaves us with the main question of this film’s quality, would it still be enjoyable if not for Liam Neeson? I think it still would. The way this film is shot and written is in a manner that’s very exciting. The plot is Liam Neeson’s character, William Marks, a retired and depressed Federal Air Marshal, gets on a plane that gets threats from a terrorist, who tries to frame him for a hijacking as well as extort 150 million dollars. Other characters are Jen (Julianne Moore), who sits next to Marks on the plane, Nancy (Michelle Dockery), the main flight attendant, Zack (Nate Parker), a prick, Fahim Nasir (Omar Metwally), our obligatory suspicious Middle Easterner than is gonna turn out completely innocent because if not the movie company is screwing itself hard, and Jack Hammond (Anson Mount), the other Air Marshal on the plane.

This film is good, it takes it time to build up its conflict, some people are going to find it boring, but I didn’t maybe because I don’t watch enough films. The only name in the film besides Neeson himself was Julianne Moore; so naturally, I was suspicious of everyone in the movie, thus the mystery element worked for me. The twists the story takes, though a little bit wacky, are actually quite good. The film isn’t nearly as action packed as you’d expect because a lot more of the suspense is in the mystery and the audience being in the same mind as Marks.

This is not really a film I’d watch again, except maybe the climax, which is very good. The twists and turns of the story is what keeps it exciting. Maybe if you want to see how the culprit acts before being exposed, you can rewatch it. The action scenes are entertaining, lots of Liam Neeson fighting people, and near the end, Liam Neeson in weird gravity situations on a plane shooting people. Like in the poster of the film.

Minor Spoiler: This great shot only happens near the end

So, another minor spoiler, there’s not much time spent of the plane crashing, it’s mostly just buildup and paranoia, so, like Snakes On A Plane, but not at all, except that it takes place on a plane. This film is just a fun time all around. It’s good for Action Junkies who can stand PG-13 films that are censored kind of strangely, and people who like Liam Neeson. Don’t come in hoping for it to be “Taken to a Plane”. It’s not. It’s its own thing, and it should be enjoyed as such.

 

 

 

“They might tell you you’re on a non-stop flight. Well, I don’t think I care for that. No, I insist that my flight stop! Preferably at an airport! It’s those sudden, unscheduled cornfield and housing development stops that seem to interrupt the flow of my day.”

The Wolf of Wall Street Written Review

Martin Scorsese. One of the greatest filmmakers of all time. Almost everyone agrees. The man makes great movies that are assembled with passion and care, and he forces his actors to give some great performances.

This is your god!

Compared to his best films like Goodfellas and Taxi Driver, this one is not that good, but don’t get this wrong. This is a good film. It’s 3 hours long, and doesn’t feel that length at all (well, until about the ~140 minute mark, where the pace slows considerably).

The Wolf of Wall Street is the biographical account of the rise and fall of Jordan Belfort (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), a New York based stockbroker that commits large amounts of security fraud under his company, Stratton Oakmont. He is inspired by Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey), who on the first day at Wall Street, tells Jordan to do lots of blow and hookers to keep himself at max productivity. On the way, he works with his key co-conspirators: Donnie (played by Jonah Hill) and his old friends who all dealt Mary Jane.

The film is a character piece that centers around Jordan Belfort, and his status as a rich bastard. The film’s genre is primarily a dark comedy, with elements of drama thrown in there. There is a lot of comedy coming from the incredibly dark statements the characters make. For example, there is a scene where a bunch of the male characters see a gorgeous woman, and one comments that “I’d let her give me AIDS”. A hilarious and shocking quote. This film has an insane amount of mature content in the form of nudity. This is the hardest nudity based R-rating I’ve seen in a long time. Lots of naked ladies, a few naked guys, and a ton of sex scenes (by the way, if anyone wants to see a little gag where Leo gets it from a dominatrix, this movie grants your wish). The movie is incredibly profane as well, recently topping this list (not including the documentary). Apparently, according to Belfort, everyone on Wall Street swears like a sailor, it’s funny how the cast delivers these.

The acting in this film is solid. Leonardo Dicaprio is playing a cocaine and Quaalude addicted stockbroker, and thus gets plenty of opportunity to do what he loves doing most, overacting and being angry! He’s very good at that, and this movie makes good use of their Leo. Jonah Hill plays his far less charming and semi-competent partner well enough. Matthew McConaughey gets 4th billing, but he has about 5 minutes of screentime. He’s amazingly memorable however. A lot of his performance seems ad-libbed and is fittingly over-the-top, which properly mirrors the behavior that Jordan develops in order to motivate his employees like his boss motivated him.

“Trollololol, I’m in the film for 5 minutes.”

There has been some criticism towards the overly decadent lifestyle portrayed and how it’s glorified. This really shouldn’t be an issue, because the film makes it clear that Jordan is pretty much a horrible person, and he only holds the audience sympathies by being very charismatic. The lifestyle is not glorified at all, because in the film, the lifestyle contributes heavily to the destruction of his personal life. (The lesson here is that cheating is bad for you)

This kind of stuff is not advised!

The film also has a nice narrative that never poorly uses the internal monologue. When Jordan wants to narrate, he simply talks directly to the camera, and this is done in the lighthearted parts of the story (so, this basically stops about the point where the FBI get on his ass), and when the movie reaches it’s dramatic points, Jordan’s thoughts become internalized.

This film has the “Scorsese feel” to it. For one, the structure feels similar to Goodfellas, though this one is a dark comedy for much longer than Goodfellas, and doesn’t get nearly as dramatic, it still has that feel. Things get darker when the criminal gets closer and closer to getting caught. Even some of the plot elements are the same, like the idea of not ratting out your friends and stuff.

Really, the main draw of this film is how damn funny it is (if you’re in the right mood that is). If I didn’t lose my voice when I was in the theater, I would’ve laughed so much. Without spoiling, some of the best gags involve Popeye, Jame Bond Villains, and cousins. Go to it, enjoy yourself. It’s a brisk film for it’s length.

Her Written Review

This review contains no spoilers, cause this film is just that worth it.

For once, I saw a film before it’s wide release, “Her”, Spike Jonze’s new film about Theo, a bright but lonely man who falls in love with his operating system, Samantha.

It’s every bit as artsy and smug as it sounds… and I love this movie. It’s superior to what I expected, because even though I was excited to see a film with this premise, I expected it to be fairly self-indulgent like Wild Things, but despite the fact that this film is far more independent than Where the Wild Things Are, Jonze is actually restrained here. He told his story in a way that more people could understand it. Unlike Refn and his latest ego trip.

The camerawork is excellent, with lots of beautiful shots, like city exteriors, the inside of beautiful buildings, and the beach. Jonze clearly has a gift for the visual, and he, as he often does, shows it off to great effect.

A lot of shots like this.

 

The actors are excellent as well. Joaquin Phoenix give a performance that might deserve some kind of award nomination. He sold everything that Spike Jonze was trying to get across, when the character was sad about his life and lack of company, you saw him sad, when the character was happy with Samantha, you felt his joy. When he was enjoying video games, the movie and acting made sure it was as if you were in the room with him. This role and performance is so immersive that it can make people forget the other roles he played, like in Gladiator.

Kind of lame, but I couldn't resist.

I couldn’t resist.

The other performance that is great is Scarlett Johansson as Samantha, the Intelligent Operating System Theo falls in love with. Honestly, I was initially kind of resistant to the idea of a celebrity voice actress like every wide released animated film does, but honestly, Scarlett is amazing in this role. She emotes without having to be seen by the audience, and it’s stunningly effective and selling Theo’s descent into that “socially accepted insanity” that is love. Her likeability is the key to enjoying the film, since the film really wants the audience to connect with Theo, and I find that Scarlett pulled it off. Hey, Scarlett, I think you have the option of taking the Mark Hamill route and become a prestigious voice actress as well as a physical one.

Every other performance was decent, but none of them were really important enough to the story to have that big an impact except Amy Adams (who plays Theo’s supportive friend), and she does well, but is overshadowed by Phoenix and Johansson. The story is about those two, and the film makes sure that part of the struggle. In fact, when others are introduced between their love for each other, that is where the strain comes from, you know, like a real modern relationship.

The film also is a dramedy, part comedy, part drama. This film makes a deliberate effort to not have mood whiplash as well. The funny parts are good, not particularly witty, but they are really funny (albeit, some are kind of dark). The dramatic parts are dramatic. These two things need to be separated, unless you’re leaning more towards comedy, like Kick-Ass 1, and how Mark Strong’s character brought so much tone whiplash that his presence in the film was funny. This film lets us have funny moments, and lets us have dramatic moments, and they do feel like parts of the same film. There is a comic relief video game character that thankfully stays absent from the scenes where Theo and Samantha are having issues. This really isn’t supposed to be a big deal, but many films try to mesh the comic relief with the drama far too much (hello Pirates films). Life and relationships have ups and downs, and this film captures that. I guess one can complain that the comedy’s wittiness level doesn’t match the “deep” (read: pretentious) looks and figurative talks the characters have about love and the idea of loving an AI.

The pacing is interesting as well. When Theo is happy, the pace is fast and easy, when Theo is sad, the pace slows down to a crawl. It reflects that when a person is with someone they love, time flies. Everything becomes simple, and when things get complicated, its hard to get through them. It’s very interesting, and the film’s 2 hour runtime feels like it adds up to a little over 2 hours, but with a pace that keeps on changing.

I realize this film is very Oscar bait-y. I realize that this film is pretty arthouse. I realize that it has that awesome Arcade Fire soundtrack to appeal to hipster crowds, but despite these little things that can get on my nerves, it can’t make me overlook that this is a film with a lot of love put into it by everyone. I can see the passion for cinema and the soul put into this, and I appreciate at. It doesn’t feel like Spike Jonze only motivation was to win awards.

“I’m totally not trying to snag Oscars here.” Also, why does Scarlett get last credit? She was the deuteragonist.

Honestly, this film shares quite a bit with another film I saw recently, “(500) Days of Summer”. Both are about modern relationships, and aims to portray the thought processes of people in love very realistically (They’re also indie films that are hella hipstery, but whatever). Both moved me to near the point of tears (yeah, I’m a pansy, I know), but Her was the more emotional, smarter, sweeter, and more beautiful of the films.

I haven’t seen American Hustle, The Wolf of Wall Street, or many other films this year, but right now, I think Her is one of my favorite films of the year. When it comes to a theater near you (or if it already is), go watch it.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Written Review

This review contains spoilers to the first Hunger Games film, and by extension book.

Spoiler alert! Katniss and Peeta survived the Hunger Games by threatening to eat poisonous berries!

Catching Fire is the 2nd entry into the Hunger Games trilogy (or Quadrilogy, if we’re going by the movies). Katniss and Peeta survived the Hunger Games where children killed each other for the amusement of the people by pretending they were in love. President Snowman decided that when the two defied the rules, they became a threat to the security of the empire’s power.

Catching Fire properly continues the story of the Hunger Games without rehashing the story, like many sequels do. It actually goes beyond the kids killing kids and makes it a battle, with Katniss as a symbol of hope against the dystopian empire.

This film’s quality is an improvement about the first one. Since most of the characters have been established, it allows the audience to fall right into the story. One of my largest issues with the first film was the slow pacing. This film is far more brisk. The acting is strong too. Jennifer Lawrence, as expected, does a good job, and is proving herself to be a promising up and coming star. Unfortunately, Liam Hemsworth is also in this film, and his delivery is kind of bland, and unfortunately, he starts to introduce a love triangle into the series, which is not cool with me. Enemy at the Gates and the First season of Korra were almost ruined for me by that dreadful concept.

Woody Harrelson, as with every film he’s in, is fun to watch, The rest of the cast does great as well, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, and the guy who plays Cinna are especially good. The two main villains of this film, President Snow and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, portrayed by Donald Sutherland and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, both are far more threatening than the Heavy in the first film, managing to pretty dastardly in their line deliveries and evil plans. Though one issue with the film is that the empire is depicted as so cartoonishly evil, it’s hilarious. The best part is where a stormtrooper commander was whipping Gale (Hemsworth), and he spoke in a voice you’d associate with the Kurgan from Highlander or a cartoon villain.

“So, sir, who shall we slaughter today?”

Though if there is something to complain about, there is some dialogue that just feels so unnatural. For example, the first time Katniss meets Phillip Seymour Hoffman at a Gatsby party hosted by President Snowman, they have an exchange, where PSH tells Katniss he became the new guy running the Hunger Games, and when she asked why, he responded with “Ambition”. That line bugged me because that’s not how one describes themselves, that’s how someone else describes them.

Anyway, the cinematography is good too, with lots of nice pretty, yet living in and gritty sets. The Hunger Games section of the story is also much better than the first one, more dramatic, with improved characters whose deaths mean more than in the first story.  Notably, there is a lot less shaky cam as well, which was an issue with the first film, since by design, it’s supposed an R rating just based on content. However, studios need it to be PG-13, so when there is a brutal action scene, the cameraman gets Parkinson’s. There’s less of that here. It’s much more clear what’s going on in action scenes now.

This would be really cool in a video game or a game show.

The reality TV satire aspect, which was always one of my favorite parts of the first film, is even more prominent here, with Katniss being a superstar who has to pretend she’s in love with Peeta. It really is a nice look at how an empire would use celebrities to distract their population from real issues, and how stupid the people are for letting that be such a big thing on their lives. There’s also other symbolism in this film, like about rich people, and birds.

This represents… something.

I do not wish to give away the one twist the ending has, but it’s a pleasant surprise (unless you’re a person who has read the books, in which case, you will not be surprised at all). This is overall an enjoyable film. Perhaps not exactly for me, but I find it pretty good, and an improvement over the first.

Also, this film has CGI Mandrills and malevolent poison gas. They are the true masterminds of the series. Beware.