Hunger Games

Hunger games
It’s Hungry Hungry Hippos the movie…or it could be based on a book or something.

Hunger games is here, based on a book that I’ve not read to be made in to film that I know little about but I’ve now seen so I know if it’s any good.

Hunger games is set somewhere in the future where since the uprising against the Capitol by the twelve districts, which the districts lost they must now offer a tribute of one male and one female aged between 12 and 18 to compete in a battle/survival to the death in an arena, I say survival because they also need to find food, water and shelter and some die through that rather than actual bludgeoning.

The cast are unknown to me for the most part (except for Jennifer Lawrence who was mystique in X-Men First Class) but with some well known support from Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland and Woody Harrelson, who I think is brilliant and probably the best thing about this film. The lead role of Katniss played by Jeniffer Lawrence is, by my verdict, stale and Victorian, the idea that pausing before you say everything builds suspense only works in certain situations (like if you’re The Driver in Drive) here it serves simply to make her look like she’s struggling to grasp the concept of what’s going on or indeed decipher the words that have been said; her attitude is pathetic and spineless given her situation, she wants to survive and get home but pussy foots around like eventually they’ll all just get along. Josh Hutcherson plays Peeta, the other guy from district 12 who is much more interesting than Katniss as his agenda is unclear at points and he’s capable of speech without severe mental strain, there is a recurring flash back with him in that is never fully explained as to why he is doing what he’s doing and the consequences that followed *plot hole*. Woody Harrelson is their trainer, he drinks heavily and is rather blunt which suits him, also his hair is beautiful and makes him look much younger but more importantly he is likeable, a quality which many characters are lacking.

The setting is fictional, the districts look poor and the city look grand (ok it is well designed), the future people in the city however look ridiculous, like if Lady Gaga and Tim Burton’s imagination had a baby that was allowed to dress itself at age 8. The district people just look like peasants which is ok.

Now to really have a go, the action is ridiculous. Every time there is violence going on the camera shake is awful, it’s like *fighting* *camera shake* * camera shake* *camera shake* * oh look someone died/is dying/is injured* lucky the camera man had a minor fit to keep the 12a rating intact, it is truly atrocious. Apparently you don’t need to read the books at all either for this to make sense but I didn’t and at the end of the film after the initial feel good vibe wears off it turns rather hollow, without knowing where it’s heading I’m not sure I’d see the sequel, certain glances, lack of back story and a lack of information, the worst for that being the hunger games itself with the technology able to conjure fireballs and holograms that aren’t really holograms since they can tear you to pieces, all produced from nothing and at no point is the geography of the arena mentioned or how it’s intelligently designed or how it’s evolved since the first hunger games, say from being a death pit worthy of Roman gladiators to the now very complex game where everyone’s attributes can aid them in surviving. Just zero explanation or back story other than it was born out of the uprising. Lastly the guy who seems to be of some importance and the love interest at the start, or so you would assume, is of no consequence, maybe it’ll tie off in the next film but then to know that and make this film make sense we would somehow have to look in to the future… or read the books.

My verdict as you may have guessed will not follow the trend of the shiny 4 and 5 star reviews this film has had. The biggest reason I am yet to mention this is that this film is dull, certainly the first half of it, just feels like you’re sat there waiting for the main event (the hunger games) to get going, it was really dragging and in a 2hr 20 minute film it’s all the more noticeable. So this film is not essential as it’s claimed to be nor is it all that great, it lacks realism in its characters and their behaviour. For this reason and the others that I’ve ranted about it gets 2 films which are meant to be great but were just really disappointing (at least I thought they were), so that’s 2 stars out of 5.

And if I haven’t put you off too much here’s the trailer:

Sorry for the lack of hyperlinks and humour in this review

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Contraband

Mark Wahlberg did not wear A hat!

Right before the film started I was just hoping he’d wear a hat. I mean what are the chances of not wearing a hat in a feature long film? But to my disappointment he didn’t wear one and he didn’t even look away from an explosion in slow motion. In fact, I’m pretty sure I recall there being absolutely no explosions (or at least one very stupid explosion). Right, that’s it! Who fucking kidnapped Michael Bay?! And where is he so I can give him a medal? A solid gold transformers medal that he has to buy himself … Obviously.

I don’t think many people were taking hits from the Bong Of Destiny when they thought of this films premise.

The story is as rehashed and underwhelming as you can get in the age of raping every good franchise from the 80’s. And this film isn’t even a remake. Not that I know of anyway, unless this was secretly supposed to be the first film of the 80’s video game Contra … and the characters from that game formed a band???

But If you do want to know the story from a film that has the least scariest drug lord in Giovanni Ribisi

“To protect his brother-in-law from a drug lord, a former smuggler heads to Panama to score millions of dollars in counterfeit bills.” – Imdb. This Synopsis was brought to you by Tripod Film’s CBA(can’t be arsed) umbrella corporation, excreting the shit out of films everyday. Whoa, back up … He has to leave for Panama to protect his brother-in-law and ultimately protect his family? Just kill the drug lord and his gang or at least stay home so you can kill them in self defence if they try anything. You’re Marky mark freakin’ Max payne, freakin’ Elliot Moore, freakin’ Bob lee swagger Wahlberg and … well … you should damn well bloody do something!

This Film is so mind numbingly average!

The Acting – Distinctly average.

The Script – Distinctly average.

The Direction – Distinctly average

The thought of this film re-done in 4D and having to smell wahlberg’s B.O. – Stinkingly distinct of averageness.

By the way I’m not sure where the 4D bit came from but if I do see some smell-o-vision film in the future sometime it best not be made up of James Cameron’s farts!

Small Points of the film that weren’t actually average

Well the cargo ships holding massive amounts of containers was beautifully captured by some excellent cinematography from the same guy that did Hurt Locker, Barry Ackroyd. It did have some moments that made me laugh even if it was supposed to be unintentional i.e making homoerotic comments about some guy eating you and then joking that a guy’s room is full of pussy because there are a load of cats in there. The one gunfight scene was well done and had some Heat style aspects put in but it would have been great if there were more consistency. Especially at the end as I felt like it needed some kinda full-blown slow motion blow shit up scene however it still was a tense enough ending so it didn’t bother me too much.

Basically I give the game Contra and it’s band

Sorry, The film Contraband gets 2.5 iconic hat wearers out of 5.

and the .5 goes to …

Safe House

Denzel Walks, Will Smith Walks … Mark Wahlberg is wearing A hat!

It’s been a while guys and apart from James Knowlands great John Carter review (which you should check out if you haven’t already) I’ve been ignoring the number 1 rule of the Internet … Watch porn, whoops, erm i mean post content on a regular basis. I do apologise for not putting pure brilliance out on a weekly basis but when you ‘re busy playing the best game of the year (Mass Effect 3) it’s hard to keep track of things. But I am erected, er, I mean, effected no more!

Ryan Reynolds!? and not Marky mark!? Damn, that’s a shame! He was so good in Max Payne. I just wanted to compliment him on his amazing acting. He’s in Contraband?… I’ve Seen Contraband!

Future review of a hat wearing/non hat wearing Contraband Mark Wahlberg will come in due time. But for now the review of Safe House, that’s still in the UK cinemas would you believe even though it came out on the 24th … of February,  will be dumped on your eyes as if it was green lantern’s feces.

South Africa. CIA. Tobin Frost. Matt Weston

Safe House involves a slightly overdone but in the end good story of an ex-CIA suspected terrorist, Tobin Frost(Washington), who gives himself up to save his hide from getting shot to pieces by stereotypical Arabic people with customised Modern warfare like guns. He’s then taken to Matt Weston(Reynolds) safe house for interrogation by the CIA. The extremely misjudged Asian/African people show up that probably just wanted to go on the rubber dinghy rapids and are forced, via the script, to kill all of the CIA agents apart from Frost and Weston who are only spared so that the story can progress. Once Weston has Frost on the move and in his “supposed” captivity he has the task of keeping himself alive, keeping frost alive and keeping his girlfriend safe.

Reynolds’ hot french Girlfriend: So Where the hell have you been?

Reynolds: I was with Denzel, we homoerotically wrestled each other, then he joked if I was gay and then nothing happened after that. I swear.Apart from laughing about Mark Wahlberg wearing a hat.

Both Laugh in a maniacal fashion.

Washington and Reynolds made this film theirs. The comradery between them was quite funny at times with friendly sarcastic retorts from the two making the scenes without them seem really dull. Denzel’s performance was man on fire esque giving cold tough stares directly towards the camera making you think this guys a bad ass, if you didn’t know already and were living under the sea with Aquaman. Reynolds however not being to the same standard as his turn in Buried, although I don’t think he ever will be, filled his likeable everyman character with a ticking emotional bomb that seemed to go off every time he was knee deep in shit … which is pretty much the whole film. He did do a good job though and it’s also thanks to the same fight choreographer from the film Taken, Olivier Schneider, you weren’t pulled out of the realism that most CIA attributed films don’t show. His Character is an inexperienced fighter and it shows in the way he’s bar room brawling. It takes along time for him to put someone down that already has the jump on him and the fight scenes become as realistic as Haywires was. Thank god this had an actual story compared to Haywire.

Criticisms

The film had tense action and scenes filled with much welcomed overkill from Denzel yet became predictable in it’s own pre set Hollywood twist(now a new cocktail .. Patent pending) that you could see a mile off even if Mark Strong wasn’t cast in this film. Excluding Reynolds and Washington the rest of the cast were dull and the dialogue was way too poor in the CIA headquarters scenes that If they’d said free ice-cream I still wouldn’t of …Wait there’s free Ice Cream! Where?

Anyway this movie although solely carried by the two main leads remains a good action thriller

I give Safe House 4 mark wahlbergs with hats on (4 stars out of 5)

P.S click the pictures for more Hyperlink goodies

Chronicle

“Dude, where’s my car?”

“You impaled it on top of that skyscraper’s antenna, remember?”

“Oh yeah … Sweet!

We like things that come in three’s at Tripodfilm. I mean, it does take three legs to make a tripod.

Now where the fuck are our powers!? So Three American high school kids get it and not us. I’m just saying we would do a much better job with these telekinesis mind fuck powers than they ever will. Oh well, I guess going to the cinema every week and getting half price tickets is the only power we are going to get.

I showcased inside-her.

Trivial boyish in-joke humour aside, Chronicle actually turned out to be a well thought out effort and not the stereotypical teen high school bromance flick that people thought it would be. The film centres around a socially awkward high school kid called Andrew who is bullied by his washed up alcoholic dad and by some of his classmates. Add to the fact that his mother is dying from cancer and it’s obvious to see there are some serious issues that he carries with him. Andrew isn’t your normal spoiled American kid. With his only “friend” being his cousin, matt, who seems to laugh at him behind his back, life isn’t looking good for him. Until he, Matt and Steve(matt’s friend that appears from nowhere) suddenly find a hole in a forest and get zapped by this alienthingymebob. Now they have superpowers! Wahey! Hilarity ensues. Especially if you haven’t seen the trailer a kaflobitybigillion amount of times.

So a bit like Hancock then?

Well they do have there fun moments and the comedy really suits the style of the film. The use of special effects became almost camouflaged from Tripodfilm’s scrutiny as scenes were funny enough for the CGI to go unnoticed. However given Andrew’s back-story you do start to understand that things can only get darker than what they already are. This is when the CGI effects pulled me out of the films flow and just seemed a little off putting at times. That said, it was the same with the Cloverfield found footage style as taking the feed from security cameras near the end was out of touch of the homemade indie cinematography at the heart of the film. To be honest the ending was just way too forced and way to in-keeping with the superhero action medium that’s hitting the silver screen at the moment(trying not to spoil this film is becoming a real bitch right now!).

Okay too deep for Hancock references … Cloverfield then?

The dialogue wasn’t the greatest at times. Just like Cloverfields flaming homeless subway guy it made some scenes a bit unforgettable when instead it should of  included more tension. Especially when they go investigate the alien meteorite hole. I mean, I could have sworn the dialogue went something like this:

“Hey Andrew, me and matt found something really interesting. I think we should take that camera and check it out.”

“What is it?”

“It’s this big hole that only the three of us should go down and check out cause no mysterious shit is going to happen. Even though it keeps making some weirdly ominous noise.”

“But shouldn’t we at least tell some more people about it first.”

“Nah, they weren’t in the trailer so they’re not allowed”

“Cool … ahhh look a flaming homeless guy!”

I’m going overboard with this as the dialogue was mostly reasonable and so was the acting. It’s not like I’m reviewing lines from Uwe Boll’s House of the dead. So a few scenes were too forced into continuing the story but all in all the actual story itself was really good and didn’t seem borrowed or influenced. It was about three teenagers who just so happens to have powers, hanging out and confronting there issues. And not a film just about the powers and what they are going to do with them. Most of it seemed faultless and the unexplained nature of the powers leaves you with unanswered questions at the end(namely is there going to be a sequel?). Sure you can reference it to Hancock, Cloverfield and maybe even Superman but it unexpectedly becomes a film in it’s own right and holds it’s own candle away from the most obvious of references.

Now if only I could do a review without referencing other films as my rating.

Chronicle gets Superman, Hancock, Cloverfield and some house of the dead zombie (4 stars out of 5).

That’s the rudest zombie I’ve ever seen. He’s dumb enough to direct Movies too.

Quick write the script for Gears of War and get this guy behind it … Nothing could go wrong.

I can see it now … Gears of war: Toast of the Dead … Chronicle.

The Grey

Live and die on this day

Looking at the die hard style tag-line and watching the action style trailer you’d be forgiven into thinking that this film is another Liam Neeson action flick. But that’s far from the truth. Instead it has more to do with death and the primal will to survive. It was a totally unexpected cinema experience and one I enjoyed a lot.

If you review this film, that will be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you.

But if you don’t…

*gulp* Liam Neeson plays Ottway, a man who earns his living by defending Alaskan oil workers from getting attacked by wolves. It becomes known to us that he had previously lost his wife and he is left contemplating suicide. After having a sort of epiphany moment he reluctantly gets on the plane back home only for the plane to crash, stranding him and 7 others in an extremely cold snowy desert. Not only are they freezing to death and are lacking food, they also find themselves against a pack of almost mythological wolves. Ottway chooses the impossible task of leading himself and the men to safety on what turns out to be a life altering journey(in both meanings of the words).

Wolves were quite scary in the first place …

Now they are twice the size and bite peoples face off!

AHHHHHH!

Of course they were mostly computer animated wolves but a lot of the CGI used was unseen and minimal as you focused more on the characters. I felt more terrified for them than at the wolves. That and adding breathtaking cinematography of the films Canadian countryside location really gave it a beautifully scary perspective that most films can’t give these days. Even some of the close ups on the actors was intensely captivating. Showing the long dark stare of someone in there final moments to a horrifyingly good effect. Therefore the cheesy filmmaking saying of “the eyes are the gateway to the soul” could never have been more appropriate with this film.

No solid criticisms or nit-picking? C’mon, this is TripodFilm!

The plane crash at the start did seem a little far-fetched especially as Ottway found himself pretty much unscathed yards away from the wreck. The obvious killing off of some lesser known actors was a little cheap and it lost that added dimension of a tense build up. They might as well have given them a red shirt. Plus the ending made the trailer look a little misleading and there is some initial disappointment with it. On that point though you’ve already been put through some thought-provoking cinema that the ending was powerfully poetic in it’s own way. It leaves you with unanswered questions that will have you thinking about it for a while at least until the deleted scenes are put on the DVD. The story itself also had some odd “what is the meaning of life?” undertones and issues with ottway’s faith that felt slightly out of place (I know, my nitpicking has sunk low but surely, reviews need some sort of devils advocate?).

The meaning of life = 42

Like I said this isn’t the run of the mill Neeson movie. Off the wall one-liners aside this was a physically demanding and emotional performance from Neeson. It’s also one I would like to see more of in his films just so he can get out of that stereotypical action star that films like Taken seem to trap him in(not that I have anything against Taken … Man that film was bad-ass). In fact everyone on set should be actually given an award for enduring such harsh temperatures while still having to deliver their lines or direct the film. It probably would be a good time now to mention Joe Carnahan directed this and that he also directed The A team but it’s not like I’m going to reference The A Team any time soon …

The Grey gets The A Team and some guy in a red shirt (4.5 stars out of 5).

Just a heads up If you’re thinking about seeing The Grey. There is a bit at the end of the credits.

Intruders

Clive got Owened by his nightmares!

Hold on, this isn’t Killer Elite or Shoot ‘Em Up or the five minutes of the Bourne Identity that everyone seems to remember. This is a Psychological thriller where people have bad dreams. According to IMDb it’s also a horror film but I don’t think it was scary enough. Even if that poster of Mr. Owenage(I’m taking it a bit too far now) horrifically shows him without any eyes or mouth.

Woah Dude, that whole no mouth thing happened to me on The Matrix!

Yes Keanu, We Know it’s nothing original. Also can you stop taking the red pills? You know going down the rabbit hole is just stoner speak for getting high.

Anyway the film is set between two stories: One of a Spanish kid who is constantly having nightmares about a monster, the other of a family in England whose daughter gets the same nightmares. The monster becomes known as Hollowface when the girl finds a chilling incomplete story of a faceless monster who one by one steals parts of innocent kids faces so that he himself has a face. She writes herself in the story thinking that it’s all make believe but little does she know that Hollowface has hid himself in her bedroom ready to pounce. Is he real or is he made up? Or is he in fact just Bruce Willis from unbreakable?

Hollowface in Unbreakable?

Willis in Intruders?

The Idea had potential but the film didn’t live up to expectations.

It just lacks a solid M.Night shyamalamadingdong(twist). The guesswork of how the two stories tie in is way too simple to work out because no effort of throwing you off the obvious was put into play.  The Actors however did do their job admirably and believably and even the two kids did a great job of putting the early Harry Potters to shame(well you don’t have to do much acting for that). Also there was a very good Pan’s Labyrinth designed scene at the end but that sort of creative set design should of been used to greater effect.

Given that it didn’t deliver on the tension of a horror film the journey throughout was still genuinely intriguing.

Intruders gets 2 M. Night shyamalans and a confused Mark Wahlberg in TheHappening.

(2.5 stars out of 5)

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Evil shall with evil be expelled

I was hyped for this film. Mainly because of the awesome trailer that shows flashes of the title while a really good Led Zepplin cover is being blasted at you over the top of it. But it was also because it was being directed by David Fincher. A director who can make an everyday task like typing on a keyboard for example and turn it into a tense involving scene that had the same thrills as if we were watching a car chase. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo however involves murder and explicit rape that would mire the film with controversy so that only someone with Fincher’s talent could bring it to the silver screen. It would of also have been brilliant apart from one small problem … It’s been done before.

A discredited investigative journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, is tasked to solve the murder of Harriet Vanger that took place 40 years ago on a remote Swedish island. On this Island he finds himself surrounded by the Vagner family all of whom have some shady secret or another and find themselves as suspects to the killing. Soon finding a dead end he enlists the help of a professional hacker, Lisbeth Salander played by the excellent Rooney Mara. She herself also hides her past and has been on the wrong end of horrible abuse from the authorities. It’s a good story that shows plenty of promise as a film adaptation but as it was the second adaptation to Stieg Larsson’s book it plainly wasn’t needed.

In fact the original was slightly better than Fincher’s version because it didn’t drag on at the end and didn’t include some distracting bond music video at the start. They are basically the same film though and there was a chance in this film to correct the flaws of the original but it annoyingly turned out to be the lesser version of the two. Hollywood must think that people aren’t clever enough to read subtitles so they have to remake all the good foreign language films and “Americanise” them. It’s just bullshit and is definitely not a reason to remake something. Plus the sexual violence in it was not needed for the story and only served to make me cringe throughout. Of course the reason for it being there is to help us understand Lisbeth a bit more but have you ever thought about cutting away before the more horrifying events take place. We can then assume she’s been raped instead of watching images that might distract you from the rest of the film and put it out of context. Then it takes a century … no a millennium (get it? Millenium trilogy! Suit yourselves then) for Lisbeth and Mikael to actually meet with each other. That’s the most important bit of the film and it takes place closer to the end making everything before there meeting seem irrelevant because it took so bloody long to happen. Besides that the crappy bond intro is also way out of context! And having Daniel Craig starring in a film doesn’t automatically make it acceptable as well. Especially when he doesn’t even bother to have a Swedish accent apparently because his character would seem more natural. Well 007 that might make you sound cool but it instantly makes everyone else sound like a total idiot and out of place. Or is that the other way around ….

Ok rant over as I may be starting to get confused.

Don’t get me wrong though this film was actually quite good believe it or not. What it did bring to the table that the original did not was stylish cinematography. The film looks great and makes you feel cold while you watch all the actors freeze to death in the white Swedish landscape. On that note the acting is also grade A and Rooney Mara’s performance, while simililar to that of Noomi Rapace’s, is unrecognisable from her past role as Mark Zuckerberg’s girlfriend in Fincher’s The Social Network. Daniel Craig still did a good job (even with his own “Sean Connery couldn’t be bothered so neither can I” accent) but he put on too much 007 cool and was not like the everyman that Blomkvist was supposed to be. The film itself is a tense ride throughout and you feel like you need to pay constant attention as the story fully engrosses you with the sadistic tales of the families history. As well as that the score by Trent Reznor is a hair-raising and shudder-some sound,  giving that ominous feel to prepare you for disturbing future events. It also put me off the song – Sail Away by Enya and if you’ve seen it you’ll know what I mean.

All being said I’ll give The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo 4 Connerys out of 5. Why Sean Connery? Why not? He’s awesome!

Here’s a part of the score just for you guys. Enjoy!