The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Review

28 11 2013

catching-fire-movie-poster

Katniss and Peeta Bread return for round two of The Friend Zone Games in Catching Fire, and to be honest, hopes weren’t high for me going into the theater. Maybe it was the minimal story told in the first film (yeah I can be a book snob).Maybe it was the movie’s ultra-photoshopped posters that made it look like some sort of shallow teen drama on The CW. For whatever reason, the odds weren’t favorable (sorry, my one and only pun here). But sometimes, it’s good to have your expectations surprised with a genuinely enjoyable journey through Panem.

Donald Sutherland President Snow

Right before his big song solo.

That’s right! This time there’s at least an extra half hour of content to add a little background and character development- and it shows. As far as the actual writing and plot of the movie, I feel like this time they actually managed to capture the essence of the novel. Overall the story moves at a more relaxed speed that gives us more of a chance to get into the world. A highlight for me was all the new characters that are introduced, probably because the actors and actresses are a perfect fit. Even characters I didn’t really care for in the book (looking at you Finnick) were entertaining. Johanna (Jena Malone) and Beetee (Jeffrey Wright) in particular were my favorites and added a bit of flavor to whatever scene they appeared in.

Nuts and Volts

Beetee: Making science cool.


The returning cast also improved and seem to be more comfortable in their roles. Somehow, Caesar’s character and Effie’s costumes are even more outrageous. It’s always fun to watch actors who are obviously enjoying their role, and Stanley Tucci as Caesar could not be having a better time apparently. He stole each of his scenes with his over-the-top shallow gleefulness. Effie comes across as more likable now that she actually wants to help our District 12 tributes (but of course is pitifully helpless). She’s sort of become a likable version of Lady Gaga.

Enjoying his role way too much.

Enjoying his role way too much.

Woody Harrelson also deserves a special shout out as being incredibly likable as Haymitch. Of course, Jennifer Lawrence proves again that she’s the right choice for this lead and more than just another young face for Hollywood. Her facial expressions when Katniss finds out about District 12 at the end conveyed more emotions than Kristen Stewart’s entire acting career.

Alcoholic role model.

Alcoholic role model.

Finally, the special effects are generally good, with even the fire costumes looking a little more polished. The fog and the mutt monkeys were particularly well-done, and may or may not have given me nightmares. As usual, James Newton Howard’s soundtrack is indispensable to setting the tone and emotion of the tale.

peeta and katniss parade flames

AAUUUGHH IT BURNS

Altogether, I really enjoyed this movie, although I’m a little concerned about how the studio decided to split the third book (by far my least favorite) into two films. I understand they want to make more profit, but this is still young adult literature- how much can they drag it out? Heck, at least Harry Potter’s last book was the size of a dictionary. Catching Fire may prove to be this trilogy’s Empire Strike Back (that means the best entry for you sheltered movie fans). But hey- maybe the writers will use a little artistic license to, I don’t know, change the disappointing ending of the third book (readers, you know what I’m talking about). Until then, at least we have two good movies to enjoy.

hunger-games-meme-queen-elizabeth

Advertisements




“The Devil’s Share”- Person of Interest Review (Episode 10)

27 11 2013

POI banner

This week Person of Interest came back with a vengeance, as it dealt with the fallout from (SPOILER ALERT) Detective Carter’s (Taraji P. Henson) death last episode. Each of the four remaining team members (I’m not counting Root as one yet) starred in their own flashback segments, showing their different ways to deal with grief. I enjoyed the Fusco (Kevin Chapman) and Shaw (Sarah Shahi) moments the most, since they really dug into what makes each character tick (not to mention Shaw being a doctor, what?). And then we saw how each member planned to avenge Carter- or more specifically what they planned to do with (ex) Officer Simmons (Robert John Burke). (Hint: half of them wanted him to have a very violent end).

“The Devil’s Share” was not a typical POI episode in any sense, but then, this has been a standout story arc- we had several important characters die, including the first death out of the original four. HR, who has been a main antagonist since the pilot episode, has once and for all been toppled, and this had been building up for the entire season at the very least. So maybe a typical “number” episode would have felt out of place, even inappropriate given the enormity of the previous events.

Fusco and Reese (Jim Caviezel) stole the episode with their very different expressions of loss and choices that ultimately paid tribute to her character and what she accomplished. I do admit I always thought it would be Reese who took down Simmons in a fight, but honestly Fusco had just as much right after all the torture Simmons had put him through. A close second place goes to Root (Amy Acker) and her gleeful moments connected to The Machine. What is her deal? Whose side is she on? It should be interesting to see where her relationship with both The Machine and the numbers crew goes, but we’ll have to wait till next year to find out. All in all, this hour (and story arc) proved that Person of Interest can stand on equal footing with other serialized television when it chooses to go that route.

Someone wasn’t careful with that bowl of tomato soup.

Points of Interest

1. Root and Fusco in the back seat was hilarious, as was the multi-knee shootout. At least Bear likes her now, right?

2. Speaking of Root, there’s no way she’s going to be that handy each episode. They can’t have an omniscient guide every mission.

3. Reese had quite the Batman moment in the safe house, didn’t he? Hiding in the dark and blinding them like a boss.

4. It’s going to be weird the next few Carter-less episodes. She’s definitely going to leave a void, at least for a while.

5. Elias’ moment at the end perfectly summed up why I love his character- his comment about him liking Carter was humorous, but then he dived into a chilling monologue about why people like her had to be decent, while he (and Simmons) didn’t have to be. “I’m just going to watch” was a great line.

Final Score:

POI four half bear





“The Crossing” – (How could they kill her?!) Person of Interest Review (Season 3, Episode 9)

20 11 2013

POI banner

Wow. This was unquestionably the most significant episode of the entire series. (SPOILER ALERT) Carter is dead. It’s been an hour and I still can’t believe it. Despite all the theories and speculation, I still couldn’t process it. Was this good writing, or the fastest way to kill Person of Interest’s ratings?

“The Crossing” was a solid episode. Well-written, suspenseful, stressful, and placing every character in peril to keep us guessing. We picked up right after the ending of last episode (Endgame) with Reese and Carter taking HR boss Quinn to the FBI, since that’s the only place that isn’t crawling with HR. Meanwhile, Fusco gets captured by Officer Simmons and tortured until he gives up the safe box location. It looked like Fusco really was going to die several times, especially after Shaw had to choose to save his son rather than him. But then Reese dodges the last bullet, Quinn is taken into custody, HR is finished, and Carter is given detective status again. And then she’s shot by Simmons. Last five minutes of the freakin’ episode.

I can’t say I didn’t see the signs. There were so many allusions to the show’s pilot episode, where we first met Carter (Taraji P. Henson) and Reese (Jim Caviezel). Reese fighting thugs in a subway. Line for line replay of their first meeting when Carter “interrogates” Reese again. The revelation that it was meeting Carter that kept Reese from shooting himself that night. And then there was the odd focus on Carter’s past last episode, and showing how her ex-husband was now able to take care of her son when needed.

What was really a kick in the gut though, was when Reese told his feelings for her, in what maybe was his most vulnerable scene  ever. For some reason, when they kissed, I had this bad feeling that the writers were about to tear our heart out and throw it against the wall. Then, we had her tell Reese his weapon was in custody, and I started to panic (the dark alley behind them didn’t help either, eh?). Next thing you know, we’re watching one of the best characters on the show pass away. That’s rough. I hope it was her choice to leave and not the writers.

A lot of people are going to be upset and would rather the show end here rather than go on without such a (until now) critical and strong character. Her character evolved from a somewhat two-dimensional antagonist (leading the hunt for the Man in the Suit), to reluctant ally to an outstanding character with layers of depth and real potential. Taraji Henson really outdid herself this season, and will be missed for her enormous contribution to this show.

Reese and Carter RIP The crossing

WHY?

Points of Interest:

1. Brutal kill scene with Fusco, huh? I have a feeling that’s nothing compared to what Reese is about to unleash on those responsible. It looks like Root (Amy Acker) and Shaw (Sarah Shahi) will be out for revenge as well.

2. I loved this episode, right until the kick in the gut ending. Henson was outstanding.

3. Online search and social media stats for POI are currently exploding. I would say 75% of the posts on Twitter are pissed-off    viewers. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to the show’s numbers not just next episode (the winter finale), but also when the        second half of this season starts back next year.

4. I’m not one of those people who likes their TV characters to die. We’ve lost one of the Original Four. That’s a lot of chemistry to replace.

5. I see this going one of two ways: either this show will be recognized for its outstanding writing and continue to evolve into something even more gripping, or this will lead to a downward spiral and upset the fan base beyond repair. For what it’s worth, this was a heck of a memorable TV experience. I’d love to hear your thoughts as well.

Final Score:

POI five bear





“Endgame” – Person of Interest Review (Season 3, Episode 8)

13 11 2013

POI banner

I knew this was a great episode the moment I realized I had been holding my breath for a whole scene. “Endgame” was a big episode, diving fully into serialized territory the entire time. Yes the POI numbers were included- all 38 of them, and then we even doubled that halfway through, but this whole time was spent on Carter’s (Taraji P. Henson) final attempt to take down HR, once and for all. We saw just how far she’s willing to go, basically starting a war between HR and their former allies, the Russians, all behind Finch’s and Reese’s back. For me it felt more like a 24 episode when that show was at the top of its game (which was most of the time). Jon got a great Reese moment, Elias showed he still knows how to handle competition, and we even got some interesting back story about Carter and her ex. And to top it all off, they ended the episode with Carter and Reese fleeing HR with boss Alonzo Quinn (Clarke Peters) in their custody. Personally I did not see this much progress being made in just Part 1 of this 3-episode story arc, but there’s a lot of fallout from Carter’s actions that will play out- including deadly threats against the team .

And that’s the reason all the fans are now taking stress medication- those diabolical previews are now promising that “A Hero Will Fall” and someone will make “the Ultimate Sacrifice.” Any other show I would laugh at the over-dramatization they’re using to pull in views, but gosh, I don’t want to see any of the main characters (especially the original four) bite the dust. And that’s why the scene at the end with Carter nearly getting shot down by the HR boss was so intense- it could be anybody, as I’ve already speculated. But now Reese’s face has been captured in an image, so he’s also a potential casualty (although a very weak candidate). At this point I really don’t know what’s going to happen, although at this point it’s hard to see them getting away with not killing off someone after all this buildup. This is Person of Interest reminding us why it’s still one of the best shows on the big networks.

Kevin Chapman POI Endgame

Pictured: Two characters I’m not ready to see go.

Point of Interest:

1. Okay, I would have been seriously angry if Carter had really gone into it alone. I mean, you have Finch (who’s a tech genius), Reese (who’s Batman), and Shaw (who’s crazy) at your disposal, and you don’t use them?! At least she came to her senses before the end.

2. It seemed a little odd that they had that short conversation between Finch and Reese about getting Bear a doggy bullet vest, didn’t it? Are they building towards something later?

3. I’m pretty sure the Russian boss isn’t going to make it (or his brother). They’ll probably be part of the collateral damage of Carter’s crusade.

4. Best line may have been from Shaw- “So after we save the bad Russians from the bad cops, what do we do with them then?”

5. If they kill off Fusco (Kevin Chapman), we’re going to have some problems. However, I’m thinking maybe Shaw is in danger more now. Why? Because she hasn’t been shown as a potential in any of the previews, and POI likes to mislead. But we’ll have to wait for the next episode, eh?

Final Rating:

POI four half bear





Person of Interest’s End Game- Will This Be The End of Fusco?

7 11 2013

Person-of-Interest-wallpaper

Holy cow, Person of Interest ! For those that missed it, last episode’s ending contained a preview for a three-episode story arc with the ominous promise, “A Hero Will Fall,” set to the brooding song “Heron Blue.” Watch it. It’s dark- especially for this series. But, as Double Rainbow Man would ask, “what does it MEAN?!”

I’ve broken down all the possibilities I can think of below. Although Fusco seems to be in the most trouble, we may lose a different character instead. Let’s speculate, shall we?

Option 1: Lionel Fusco

Why they may kill him off-

Oh, boy. Will they kill off Fusco? He’s been around since the series pilot and has undergone quite a transformation from dirty HR cop to a lovable, genuinely good guy. And that’s just it- he’s almost been used only for comic relief and short scenes (boo!). He hasn’t been in any sort of arc lately, and his character’s become static. But!

Why they may not kill him off-

He’s a fan favorite. Every comment section on any fan site always bemoans the fact that he hasn’t been around as much this season (and even last season’s finale). Also, he has a purpose in the show. At the New York Comic Con, Kevin Chapman said this about his character:

“I think that’s one of the things that makes the show so interesting is that if you line each of the cast members up shoulder to shoulder there, are no two cast members alike,” Chapman said. “Everyone brings their own dynamic to the thing. What I think Fusco does is he gives it a sense of gravity. It grounds the entire piece. Just for the simple fact that you have this CIA operative, this billionaire – you don’t know how much money he has — you have this cop who has this military background but you’re not quite sure what her military background is. These are all characters that could very easily take flight into a place of disbelief. You see these characters and you see them unfold and then you see this schlep of a cop and you go, I see that. This looks real so the rest of it looks real and it brings the piece down and gives it a keep it to a place of levelness.”

Would they take this ambassador to the audience away? Also, he almost seems too obvious- since when has Person of Interest spoiled everything, or had not twists in the story? Why would they show him in the teaser so explicitly?

Option 2: Joss Carter

Why they may kill her-

Lately Taraji P. Henson‘s character has been driven by one thing only: taking down HR. With her knowing who the boss is now, it doesn’t seem like they can last much longer. So, would the writers decide that the most dramatic way to end the HR dirty cop saga would be to have Carter go out with them? After all, with Sarah Shahi and Amy Acker joining the show, there’s still plenty of female leads.

Why they may not kill her-

Because that would be insane! She’s part of the original four, has had incredible scenes lately, and don’t forget she’s had the longest evolution as a character- she hunted Reese for half a season. She’s got great chemistry with Reese as well, and honestly, I don’t know how they could fill the space that she would leave.

Option 3: Root

Why they may kill her-

Okay, I love Amy Acker, but a lot of people don’t. For some reason they just don’t enjoy an attractive sociopath running around the show (is that weird?). She’s also a new series regular, so the original four would remain intact. What if her delusion causes her to throw herself away?

Why they may not kill her-

She has had nothing to do with HR’s plot line at all, and the story arc is obviously about them. Not to mention, she doesn’t really match the “hero” description.

Option 4: Shaw

Why they may kill her-

Whoa, here we go! There’s a lot of hate out there for Shaw. A large amount of the more vocal POI fans dislike how she takes the spotlight away from Reese. By definition of her “disorder,” she doesn’t really have that much of a personality, at least not as much as the others, who experience normal emotions (except Root). She also is someone that the audience hasn’t invested too much emotion in either- she’s only been around about 10 episodes. Also, I could very much see her sacrificing herself to save Fusco from his peril.

Why they may not kill her-

They’ve gone to a lot of trouble to set her up as a character, and I’m not sure they’re finished yet, or how her death could advance anything (except maybe sending Reese on a warpath).  There’s also claims of fans seeing her present on recent filming sessions.

Option 5: Nobody Dies!

That’s right, what if it’s all hype and nobody is whacked? “A Hero Falls” could technically mean other things, such as going too far to the dark side, like Jack Bauer in the final season of 24. What if Reese or Carter goes too far trying to rescue Fusco or taking down HR? What if “A Hero Falls” just means Fusco tripping over Bear? If everyone makes it through alive, would you be ecstatic, or think it was a cop out? Personally, I wouldn’t be hurt if this proves to be a publicity stunt- just keep Fusco man around, please.





“The Perfect Mark”- Person of Interest Review (Episode 7)

6 11 2013

POI banner

Well, leave it to Person of Interest to (SPOILER ALERT) kill off a character at the very end. Poor Laskey, we were just starting to like you. Terney (Al Sapienza) it was your time, you big jerk, but at least you redeemed yourself at the end. “The Perfect Mark” was pretty much a standard, solid POI episode with a hypnotherapist as this week’s number. The trouble is, he’s also a con man who steals from his patients, one of whom happens to be a money launderer for HR, so guess who’s the potential victim? We got to see HR out in full force, looking for the guy who swindled them out of only 4.4 million dollars.

The twist at the end is Laskey actually became likable at the end. Oh, and right before Terney finds him and Carter looking at HR photos. And just like that, Laskey’s shot and Carter takes out Terney, and he actually reveals who the big boss of HR is before bleeding out. I’d say it’s a safe bet HR will be the spotlight of the next story arc. Also, Root’s (Amy Acker) being creepy again- even in her current imprisoned situation in the library. Honestly, I’m really interested in what’s in store for her character- she’s definitely beyond her initial position in the show’s rogues gallery.  The Machine has changed her- but is it for the better or worse? I mean, so far, no killing this season (which is good, right?), but now she’s sporting a total god complex towards The Machine (which is creepy, yes). Time will tell, eh?

 

episode 7 reese fusco POI

Men in the Suits.

 

Points of Interest:

1. Nice touch with the con artist getting conned by his girlfriend. Irony is a poor master (Zing!).

2.  Elias still waits in the shadows…but at least he’s got really good wine.

3.  Fusco appears again! But what about the preview for next episodes…

4.  Anyone remember last season? I feel like last season we would have already had several rerun days- about time they hung up that tomfoolery.

5. What in the WORLD is happening in the next few episodes? I swear, if Fusco gets killed off, we’re going to have some issues. Good gosh, a three episode arc sounds intense.

Final Score:

POI four half bear