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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

DIRECTOR: Francis Lawrence

CAST: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Sam Claflin, Jeffrey Wright, Jena Malone, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Toby Jones, Amanda Plummer

REVIEW:

Unlike inferior book-t0-screen cousins like the Twilight series, The Hunger Games, adapted from the popular book series by Suzanne Collins, proves that “young adult” does not have to be synonymous with vapid.  Halfway through the planned onscreen four-part saga, Catching Fire deepens and expands on themes in the first installment and takes it in darker directions.  Like The Empire Strikes Back, this is an example of a sequel that surpasses the original. Continue reading

Elysium (2013)

elysiumDIRECTOR: Neill Blomkamp

CAST: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Diego Luna, Wagner Moura, William Fichtner, Faran Tahir

REVIEW:

Elysium is a tense, engaging sci-fi action thriller with an intriguing premise that’s good for almost two hours of entertaining escapism, but it’s also a film that wets the appetite while leaving us wanting more. Continue reading

The Hunger Games (2012)

DIRECTOR: Gary Ross

CAST:

Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Wes Bentley, Lenny Kravitz, Donald Sutherland, Toby Jones

REVIEW:

The first onscreen installment of the popular book trilogy, The Hunger Games deserves to be viewed and judged on its own merits, not by misleading media comparisons to the Twilight series, which has more to do with trying to drum up the same mania for the new franchise than real similarities between the films.  While both are adaptations of popular book series considered young adult fiction, The Hunger Games is more grown-up and respectable, and has more serious things to say. Continue reading

The Matrix (1999)

DIRECTOR: Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski

CAST:

Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Joe Pantoliano, Gloria Foster

REVIEW:

Entries in the sci-fi genre have a tendency to fall into one of two pitfalls: either they are dry, intellectual ruminations, or use intriguing premises as mere perfunctory launching pads for generic whizz-bang action and special effects. Continue reading

Strange Days (1995)

DIRECTOR: Kathryn Bigelow

CAST:

Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett, Juliette Lewis, Tom Sizemore, Michael Wincott, Vincent D’Onofrio, William Fichtner, Brigitte Bako, Josef Sommer, Glenn Plummer

REVIEW:

A murder-mystery with the backdrop of a vivid and fascinating slightly futuristic sci-fi visionary thriller, Strange Days is entirely worthy of anything with James Cameron’s name attached, and director Kathryn Bigelow (Cameron’s ex-wife) is entirely up to the task of helming Cameron’s story. Strange Days is the whole package: thinking man’s entertainment while appealing equally to the brain and the visceral. Continue reading

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