Specrum Movie Reviews

Specrum Movie Reviews

Spectrum Movie Reviews

Douglas Husic/ Jason Pauli

Thor: The Dark World

            Thor makes his third appearance on the big screen in Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World. The film stars most stars of the first film such as Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Natalie Portman (Jane Austin) and introduces new villain Christopher Ecelston (Maliakith). The film takes place after the battle of New York in the Avengers. Loki has been locked away in an Asgardian prison and Thor is in the process of restoring peace to the nine realms. The film follows Thor as he does battle with the Ancient Night Elf Malakith, who seeks to cover all the nine realms in darkness as he tried ten thousand years before but was stopped by Thor’s grandfather. As far as accuracy to the comics go, it is almost a non-factor. Marvel films have never been one to follow the comics. While the names are all the same and the characters are well represented, the films take many liberties in telling their story. All that being said I loved this movie. The first Thor pales in comparison to The Dark World. All the actors, with the possible exception of Natalie Portman, bring their absolute A game. Tom Hiddleston steals the show in his third portrayal as the charming god of mischief. The film’s CGI (Computer Generated Images) are unforgettable, and the action is top notch. The film has more humor than all other Marvel films and it flows in seamlessly with some of the best comic book drama I have seen since the Dark Knight. The only flaws with the film lie with the villain. Marvel has not had a history of making incredible villains, with the obvious exception of Loki, and this film continues that pattern. The character of Malakith is weak and his time spent on screen is dismal. Natalie Portman also gives a lack luster performance as well. All in all I give this film 8.5 out of 10 for great acting, fantastic visuals, and an overall joyride of a movie.

12 Years a Slave

            When I first saw the trailer I smelled Oscar bait, but with the critics raving I decided to give the film the benefit of the doubt. Never in my life have I regretted a decision as much as I did after paying ten dollars to see Twelve Years A Slave. The film accurately follows the tale of Solomon Northup, a free African American who was kidnapped and sold into slavery for twelve years. The film stars actors such as Chiwetel Ejiofor (Solomon Northup), Benedict Cumberbatch (Ford), Michael Fastebender (Edwin Epps) and Brad Pitt (Bass). Directed by Steve McQueen, the film has gone on to win the Toronto International Film festival, which is often a major predictor of the Oscars. It seems I am the only person in the world who hates this film but I have my reasons, the first of which is the films pacing. I am all for slow paced movies, I am not about movies that have no pace. The film focuses on one day in Soloman’s life for forty five minutes then skips over nine years. It has next to no entertainment value, relying only on the shock values of Micheal Fastbender calling people the “n word.” Most big names in the film are there for no more than two minutes before disappearing completely, which was just used as a way to get some big names in the film for trailers and posters. The film also relies all of its drama on white guilt, rather than hardcore drama centered around the racial issue of the time. I give this 5 out of 10 due to some decent acting, a nice score, and some pretty landscape shots, but none of those can save this train wreck of a movie.

 

Hunger Games: Catching Fire

            Catching Fire is easily one of the most faithful book to movie adaptions to this day. The takes place in the alternate world of Panem, a dystopia in which the politicians of the capital keep the class based districts in line through the Hunger Games; a battle royale where two children from each district (one male, one female) fight to the death against their will. The games work as a way to satire the gratuitous violence and the reality TV show culture America has developed in the modern day. Our heroine is Katniss Everdeen (played by Jennifer Lawrence) a young woman who offers herself into the games in a selfless attempt to save her sister. The second movie takes place almost immediately after the events of the first, with Katniss and fellow tribute (competitor) Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) attempting to adjust to life outside the games. The tension is immediately felt between these characters due to their experiences in the first game and Katniss having feigned affection towards Peeta as a way to save both of their lives. Now the pressure is on to continue this fake relationship in front of the entire world as a way of quelling the oncoming rebellion against the capitol and the oppressive president Snow played by Donald Sutherland. In an attempt to remove the victors as icons that the citizens can rally behind the next edition of the hunger games is a special “All Stars” edition where victors return to battle it out, and Katniss is forced back into the games. Catching Fire is directed by Francis Lawrence replacing Gary Ross from the first film, and it very clearly shows the difference in directing technique between the two films. Fans who disliked the shaky cam of the first film will find it more effectively and sparingly used in this film, and the action sequences have much more of a payoff. But most of all, it is to Francis Lawrence’s credit that he was able to stay very true to the source material. As a reader, it was very enjoyable to see fan favorite characters like Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) and newcomer Finnick (Sam Claflin) come to life so picture perfect to the novel itself. The movie runs about just over two hours and the extra time is definitely welcome since everything the second book is beautifully showcased. Standout performances include Donald Sutherland who becomes the infamous President Snow, and to the main cast of Josh Hutcherson and Jennifer Lawrence who both reprise their roles and improve upon their performances from the first movie. The only performance that truly bothered by was Liam Hemsworth’s portrayal of Gale. Hemsworth was very flat and monotone. The character itself in both the novels and  in the movie, serves simply as a second male to create a love triangle for the heroine to be fought over. The writing of Gale’s scenes is very repetitive and leaves something to be desired. Although this could have been remedied with more Gale scenes from the novel that may have been deleted due to time constraints. Overall, Catching Fire is definitely a good change of pace from the first film that balances action, romance, and political satire beautifully and is well worth the price of admission for any Hunger Games fan (books or movies).

 

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