Spotlight On…Recent Viewings

Posted by David On April 7, 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Due to time constraints, I may not always have the time for a full review of movies or TV shows that I’ve seen recently. So I decided to post them in my Spotlight On… format. Spotlight On…Recent Viewings wont have the same theme style as my other Spotlight On… posts do, they will simply be the last 6 movies or TV shows I saw and wanted to review, and wont be covered on the Podcast. So they could be the latest cinema releases, or a blast from the past!

The Hunger Games

Released: 2012

Directed by: Gary Ross

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Liam Hemsworth

Plot: In a post-apocalyptic future, the nation of Panem is a wealthy capital surrounded by 12 impoverished districts. As punishment for a past rebellion against the government, the Capitol initiated the Hunger Games—a televised annual event in which one boy and one girl from each of the 12 districts are selected via lottery as “tributes” and required to fight to the death in an arena until there is one remaining victor. When Katniss Everdeen hears her younger sister’s name called as the female tribute for their district, she volunteers to take her place in order to save her from having to participate. Joined by her district’s male tribute Peeta, Katnisss travels to the Capitol to train for the Hunger Games, expressing resentment for both the Capitol and its populace for forcing her and her fellow tributes to fight to the death for their own amusement

For: Great performances, especially from Lawrence as Katniss, but also from Harrelson, Kravitz and Tucci. Despite being an obvious rip off of Battle Royale, the story was interesting enough to keep me interested, especially Katniss’ arc. Some great sequences, including the chariots, Katniss’ hallucinations & the fire storm, and the use of handy cam didn’t overstay its welcome.

Against: Doesn’t take advantage of its premise. A dystopian country that has embraced the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur & decadence of Ancient Rome and implemented their own tribute system/Colosseum battle should be a lot more thought provoking than it is. The action scenes were cool but I would have liked a little more introspection.

Favourite Scene: Katniss shoots the apple and earns her 11, and the death of Rue

Rating: 3.5 Lukes

John Carter

Released: 2012

Directed by: Andrew Stanton

Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton, Mark Strong, Willem Dafoe, Dominic West

Plot: Former Confederate cavalryman John Carter is transported to Mars, where, after myriad adventures, he marries a princess and saves the planet from the evil machinations of the Therns.

For: Great effects, especially the Tharks. Quite fun. Lynn Collins is feisty. It’s clear that the majority of people that gave this a bad review have never read the source material – yes the concept and science are ridiculous, but what do you expect from something written in 1912! A decapitation in a Disney movie :). At the time of writing this Wrath of the Titans has made 33m, while this is at 2m. This proves there is no God.

Against: Not enough action. Kitsch is terrible but tries hard. Terrible advertising campaign. Shouldn’t have been made by Disney.

Favourite Scene: Carter tries to avoid being conscripted back into the army / Carter saves Dejah from falling to her death

Rating: 3.5 Lukes

Last Action Hero

Released: 1993

Directed by: John McTiernan

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Austin O’Brien, Charles Dance

Plot: Lonely misfit Danny uses films to escape the real world. After receiving a magic cinema ticket from his only friend Nick, the owner of a run down cinema, Danny is accidentally transported to the fictional universe of Jack Slater, a tough LAPD detective and Danny’s hero. But when a villain from the fictional universe travels back to reality to cause trouble Danny and Slater must go after him.

For: A lot of fun / Great concept / Arnold at the peak of his game / Always good to see Charles Dance

Against: This film is nowhere near as bad as people make out it is. Sure the acting is atrocious and Danny is one of the most obnoxiously annoying screen kids ever, but the this film makes up for it with over the top action fun. Of course their are crap bits – Jimmy ‘The Fart’s funeral is painfully not funny, the death of Slater’s son is too dark and doesn’t match the tone of the rest of the film, the cartoon cat detective is a little too far fetched (even for this).

Favourite Scene: Benedict is actually shocked by the reality of life in the ‘real’ universe.

Rating: 2.5 Lukes

The Sitter

Released: 2011

Directed by: David Gordan Green

Starring: Jonah Hill, Sam Rockwell

Plot: Man-child slacker Noah agrees to babysit some kids so that his mum can go have some well deserved fun on a date. The 3 kids he is watching are all messed up in various ways, and they all get into various shenanigans when Noah decides to take them all into the city. I’m not bothering too much with this plot description because nothing happens that you haven’t seen before and believe it or not, what I wrote is basically all there is to this movie.

For: Nothing. Normally I would say ‘Always good to see Sam Rockwell’, but I am actually going to ignore that this great actor is even in this piece of crap.

Against: Everything. Where do I begin? The ‘plot’ is basically Adventures in Babysitting meets <insert crap 90’s gross out comedy here>, and is almost as bad as Green’s earlier travesty Your Highness. I actually had to watch this in 2 sittings. On the first go I got about 20 mins in and thought ‘Why am I wasting my time with this rubbish?’. But then thought that it wasn’t fair to review it if I haven’t seen it all so suffered through the rest of it’s mercifully short running time. Avoid this film.

Favourite Scene: None

Rating: 0 Lukes

Total Recall

Released: 1990

Directed by: Paul Verhoeven

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Ironside, Sharon Stone, Ronny Cox, Rachel Ticotin

Plot: Construction worker Doug Quaid, has always wanted to go to Mars and even dreams that he has been there. But his wife keeps talking him out of it. So he decides to visit Rekall, where he can have the memory of a trip to Mars implanted into his brain. But something goes wrong with the implant and the question becomes – is Doug either a victim of a failed memory implant procedure or a undercover freedom fighter from Mars relocated to Earth? He attempts to restore order and reverse the corrupt influence of commercial powers, all while faced with the possibility that none of these events are real and pursuing them could damage his brain.

For: One of the best Sci-Fi action movies ever made. An interesting story, ultra violence, Michael Ironside, Schwarzenegger at the top of his game & a 3 breasted prostitute. How can you go wrong?

Against: The visual effects that occurs when someone is exposed to the Martian atmosphere is a bit ridiculous & some of the freaks are a bit too freaky.

Favourite Scene: Every scene with Benny / Every scene with Ironside / Quaid is attacked in the alley by his supposed friends / 2 weeks!

Rating: 4.5 Lukes

The Awakening

Released: 2011

Directed by: Nick Murphy

Starring: Rebecca Hall, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton

Plot: Florence is a published author on supernatural hoaxes who works with the police to expose charlatans and debunk supernatural phenomenon, and secretly mourns the loss of her lover in WW1. She is invited to investigate the death of a boy at a boarding school and its possible supernatural cause. While there she solves the case, but also discovers a dark secret of her own past.

For: Atmospheric and great performances from all involved. Up until the end it is quite engaging and Hall is a joy to watch.

Against: Follows all of the usual ghost story cliches – the eye in the peephole, the figure just out of sight, etc but still manages to remain engaging. I didn’t like the ending. Without giving too much away, in the end it turns out that the supernatural world is indeed real, but I would have preferred it to all have been fake and that Florence was right all along.

Favourite Scene: The seance / both peephole scenes

Rating: 3 Lukes

I hope you enjoyed my latest Spotlight On… I watch a lot of films so expect another Spotlight On…Recent Viewings soon 🙂

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