Wednesday, December 11, 2013

THE STRUGGLE TO KEEP THE FLAME BURNING. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire review.

by Love Esios

"Sometimes, you just have to lower your expectations to avoid unnecessary disappointments." -- This quote was the first thing that came to my mind after watching the most anticipated movie of the year and the second installment of The Hunger Games trilogy --- The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Oh don't get me wrong... I love the book. I adore The Hunger Games trilogy. Most of what you've heard about the movie, if you haven't watched it yet, were true. The movie did its best to show a faithful motion picture of the book. I just felt that the movie didn't set me ablaze until the end.

Clearly, the story was fast-tracked and I completely understand why. But sometimes, choosing a short cut will just make you miss the most important details in the story. I just felt that some of the most important scenes in the movie were not thoroughly established such as The Victors (Katniss and Peeta) adjusting to their new life in the Victors' Village, the reconciliation and eventually developing attraction of Katniss to Peeta (which she's not completely aware of), the consequent confusion that will follow because she thought she also had feelings for Gale (which should be felt like a cockfight in her head), the feistiness and the intensity of the clock-inspired arena in the Quarter Quell and the brewing revolution in the less-fortunate districts in Panem ignited by the courageous "berry act" of Katniss in the first movie. And how are they going to show the resurgence of District 13 in the next film if they haven't even given the audience an idea that there was a District 13 and they're very much alive? Unless they are planning to write the screenplay in a different light which I think is not a good idea. (For those who don't have any idea what I'm talking about, especially about District 13, you can ask my friend Google for a summary of the book so that you'll understand). And to top it all, I was not very happy about the beach scene of Katniss and Peeta which is one of my favorite scenes in the book. I was like, "Okay, that's it?" right after.

Despite the apparent discontent I felt for not seeing (and feeling) the scenes I'm expecting in the movie, there were some highlights that I loved about the film. I adored the characterization of Finnick Odair (portrayed by Sam Claflin) and Johanna Mason (portrayed by Jena Malone) in the movie. They provided the much needed wit and spunk in the story. I just felt that the "sugar cube" scene of Finnick and Katniss should've been more sexy than wholesome. Hahaha! :D If my interpretation is right, Finnick was trying to play Katniss in the book to the point of seducing her with a sugar cube. I also have to give it to the brilliant performance of Donald Sutherland as the cruel and manipulative President Snow. I can feel the antagonistic and evil atmosphere in Panem every time I see him on screen.

The fans might strangle me for speaking my mind but I just felt that the movie was not given enough justice. Catching Fire is supposed to establish the background and the beginning of the revolution and the situation of the events that are going to happen in the next movie but it wasn't like that in the film. I'm now wondering how they're going to stitch the story of the next movie and inject District 13 since it's a significant element in Mockingjay.

Nevertheless, if this is any consolation, I have to say that The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is better and more alive than its predecessor. Maybe there wasn't just enough fuel to keep the fire burning. I'd give 7/10 espresso shots for this film.

Rambo meets Khal Drogo -- "Bullet To The Head" Movie Review

Sylvester Stallone as Jimmy Bobo
by: Uel Ceballos

I’m not so much into action film but I do love several of them. I just can’t help but be picky of the action films that I’m going to watch. Maybe because I grew up with action films that my father were so fond of watching and that along the way I got tired of the same old plots, the sight of the bad guys in black, the sexy leading ladies, and the deafening gun duels. Nevertheless I do still love and admire it all, especially if the story is unique, quiet unpredictable and full of surprising elements. Bullet to the Head however, is what you can call an old-fashioned action film but you know what, I really enjoyed watching it for several reasons: first, I grew up watching Sylvester Stallone and my respect for him as action star never change, and then second, Jason Momoa is one of the promising Hollywood actors nowadays and putting them together in one film is something that I’m really excited to see, and lastly, their acting prowess is worthily satisfying as always whether it’s an old school type of movie or a modern styled one.

Sung Kang as Detective Kwon
Bullet to the Head tells the story of the New Orlean hitman Jimmy Bobo (Sylvester Stallone) whose partner Louis Blanchard got killed after they have accomplished their target. Jimmy and his partner were hired to shoot a corrupt police Hans Greely but then right after doing so, they were targeted by another hitman Keegan (Jason Momoa). Jimmy met detective Kwon (Sung Kang) who was sent down from D.C to investigate on Greely’s death and eventually the two decided to work together after Kwon had found out the possible connections of Blanchard death to Greely’s. The following events led to the unraveling of political schemes wherein Jimmy estranged daughter Lisa (Sarah Shahi) was made a hostage to provoke Jimmy’s appearance.

With the familiar turn and twist of events, watching Bullet to the Head might felt like as if I’m watching again with my father back on those old days but this modern day movie with classic appeal is worth of admiration and sincere appraisal. I did still buy all the jokes, laughed at it and watched attentively to the fighting scenes – and it all benefit to my recall of other Stallone movies from the past which had really entertained me. Amusing it was that Stallone still got the knack for that thrilling combat routine in spite of his actual age – well once an action star will forever be an action star.

The film got a nice story, with Lisa evoking the softer side on his father’s personality. And Jimmy’s partnership with Kwon who was an Asian had quite bridged the gap between two different races and that’s a pretty good sight in the movie. Though other critics still got some negative things to comment about how interactions between Jimmy and Kwon went in the film, I’d still say that the writer knew better enough to make the movie appeared more appropriate according to its theme and line of story. I was particularly amused on that scene wherein Jimmy expressed his scornful reactions to that cellphone of Kwon where he was getting all the information that he required as a detective. It quite told the generation gap between the two characters, demonstrating how things were far different back in Jimmy/Sylvester’s time.

Jason Momoa as the head villain Keegan
Stallone surely did a great performance here with his effortless relic way which all fans are always looking for. And his signature mumbling of course – very Stallone, his film would never be completed without that mumbling that only he can does. Sung Kang also did well, exuding his very best to level with his co-actors’ overflowing energy for action routines. And Jason Momoa – though playing the worst and most disdainful antagonist character in the film had still carried it out effectively with all his charismas unstoppable from flowing! Stallone and Momoa’s axe battle in the end might seem off and absurd for the others, but it did entertain me and I couldn’t help seeing Rambo and Khal Drogo on a fighting pit!

For this one, fine movie that relived that classic Hollywood action film, I’ll drink on it with 8 Espresso Shots!