As we come to the end of The Hunger Games franchise, it feels a little strange to think that it only started out in 2012. Having efficiently cranked out an instalment each year for the past four years, it will go down as one of the swiftest (and successful) quadrilogies of all time. Whether it will go down as one of the best will likely be discussed in the coming months, but director Francis Lawrence can take pride in having concluded the series on a strong note. If Mockingjay: Part 1 was the calm, then Mockingjay: Part 2 is the angry, depressing, but no less compelling storm.
Picking up four years after the Battle of Chicago in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Age of Extinction sees amateur robotics inventor Cade Yaeger (Mark Wahlberg) discovering Optimus Prime (voiced superbly once more by Peter Cullen) while searching for junk to refurbish. The gravely wounded Autobot commander has been in hiding from a covert black ops team led by Harold Attlinger (Kelsey Grammer), who has teamed up with Cybertronian bounty hunter Lockdown (voiced by Mark Ryan) in a bid to destroy all shape-shifting robots. Meanwhile, tech tycoon and billionaire inventor Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci) is busy reverse-engineering his own Transformers with a view to having an army of robots under human control.
Expanding on the socio-political themes inherent in Suzanne Collins’ novel in addition to being a terrifically entertaining blockbuster, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire proves that this franchise is still at the top of the food chain when it comes to young adult films. As book-to-film adaptations go, it’s damn near perfect.
A year after surviving the 74th annual Hunger Games, an emotionally-damaged Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is back in the impoverished District 12 living in ‘Victor’s Village’ along with her family and co-winner Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson). While embarking on their mandatory victor’s tour, the dissent that Katniss’ act of defiance has inspired among the various districts becomes more and more vociferous. With rebellion on the horizon, President Snow (Donald Sutherland) hatches a plan with new gamekeeper Plutarch Heavensbee (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) that sends Katniss and other victors back into the arena once more.
Whilst teen franchises such as The Hunger Games and Twilight have only a year’s intermission between instalments, fans of Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief – which made $226 million worldwide – have been patiently waiting for three. Directed by Thor Freudenthal, the next cinematic chapter of Rick Riordan’s popular book series gets its UK release this week. Despite the film’s problems, there are enough fun moments to ensure it will satisfy its target audience.
Read the rest of this review at Flicks and the City here.
My thoughts on this week’s big UK release, Bryan Singer’s Jack the Giant Slayer, can be read on What Culture here.
Formerly titled Jack the Giant Killer (but presumably changed as so not to offend the Giant League of America, or some other similar pressure group), the new trailer for Bryan Singer’s fantasy flick Jack the Giant Slayer (2013) has emerged this week with a new name and a new release date. Initially scheduled to hit cinemas this summer, the film’s year-long delay means that this is the first footage we’ve laid eyes on for a good while. In a year where Avengers Assemble, The Dark Knight Rises and Bond #23 Skyfall have dominated global cinema box offices, the studio’s decision may well prove to pay dividends for all involved – assuming that the finished article is up-to-scratch (so rarely the case with projects confined to production hell).
Watch the trailer for Jack the Giant Slayer at CineVue here.
Turning books into films is no easy task. This is especially true of The Hunger Games, the popular Suzanne Collins novel which has sold millions of copies worldwide. As a consequence, there is a loyal fan base itching to see their favourite book accurately brought to life. Whilst an almost unabridged book-to-film transfer is arguably the right way to go sometimes, The Hunger Games boasts some unique opportunities to add and indeed improve on the source material. It is this delicate balance which director Gary Ross has for the most part managed to strike.