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by Brandon Barb 03.30.2012
at 12:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Worth the Hype: A Look at 'The Hunger Games'

Don't compare the latest young adult book-to-film to 'Twilight'

When I go see a movie, it better be a great one — at least a good one so that I didn’t waste an evening. Being in my final year of college I don’t exactly have all the time I want to go out to the theater. There have been numerous movies that are already out on DVD that I missed out on seeing on the big screen, the most recent example being The Rum Diary.

There is another reason that I visit the theater maybe two or three times a year, and that is the price of tickets. My student status means what little money I have goes to more important needs. Going to see a movie should be an enjoyable event not a troublesome occasion that breaks your bank account. Tickets, dinner and movie snacks can get incredibly expensive which is why I’m glad there was still a little tax return money left when I went to see The Hunger Games. I know this is a little late in regards to the movie’s release, but better late than never.

Going into the movie I had not read any of the books. I know that is sacrilegious in some circles — even the English major in me was furious. But I am not here to talk about the book, even though I did subsequently pick it up, so that could happen in a few days.

With that being said, I didn’t have any preconceived notions of the story, characters or setting. In some cases that is the best way to be introduced to a series. With a clean slate, that allows little room for disappointment. The only thing that I was really disappointed about was the use of the shaky camera, mainly in the opening and final scenes in the arena. Apparently director Gary Ross felt that using shaky cam work would help give a better portrayal of Katniss Everdeen’s point of view and gave a sense of urgency to the movie. My only advice is that if you get motion sickness, be careful with this one.

At risk of sounding cheesy, everything else about the movie was great. Jennifer Lawrence did an excellent job of being the badass Katniss is. Woody Harrelson kept his string of great roles going; in some scenes he stole the light away from Lawrence and company — at least in my eyes. Maybe I’m just too big a fan of Zombieland.

There was one thing that went unnoticed though. Peeta, played by Union, Ky., native Josh Hutcherson, turned into a wimp in the arena. A big deal was made of how much weight he could throw around, even showing him picking up a spiked metal ball and hurling it across the room. I was expecting him to throw a heavy boulder at someone Braveheart-style. Instead, we were shown that he all he could do was camouflage himself to look like a rock. At least in the book he killed someone.

The only bad part of The Hunger Games was having to sit through a trailer for the final Twilight movie. That whole series is like watching pieces of wood trying to act. There have been comparisons of the two book/film series but there is one difference between them: The Hunger Games is actually good.

The Twilight books are horribly written ­— I wasn’t able to get more than 20 pages into the first one before I had to stop — the English major in me came out again, rejoicing like the Wicked Witch was dead. Then the Twilight movies completely destroyed every bit of vampire lore ever created. Vampires don’t sparkle and they can’t go out in the sun. I guess I don’t get the appeal of Twilight because I’m not a teenage girl. The choice of actors/actresses was strange as well, mainly because they give the same performance in each movie they are in. Check out Taylor Lautner’s terrible action movie Abduction for a piece of wood with abs’ best impression of acting. With that, I think I need to stop with the Twilight comments before it gets out of hand.

Though I picked up the Hunger Games book after I watched the movie, I can now say the filmmakers stayed true to the source material. There have been other movies with the same concept of a group of people fighting to death — The Running Man, Battle Royale and The Condemned are only a few. The story has been done before but it still manages to stay fresh. I’ve been going on and on, go see the movie for yourself or better yet read the book, it would only take a day or so to get through it.

 
 
by Jason Gargano 03.06.2009
at 11:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 

Friday Movie Roundup: Zoo Crews, Watchmen and Vampires

While I recognize and appreciate the undeniable creative juice expended in their creation, I admit to a blind spot when it comes to comic books (aka graphic novels to the genre’s serious devotees). I outgrew the form shortly after the death of Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew, which went out of print after a 20-issue run in the early 1980s. (Don’t ask how much I spent on a recent, eBay-procured mint copy of the first issue.)

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Which brings me to Watchmen, probably the most anticipated movie our young, quality-deprived year to date.

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by Jason Gargano 12.10.2010
at 01:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 

Friday Movie Roundup: 'The Tourist' Sucks Edition

We've got another thin week for new movie releases — unless you're excited about the latest Narnia film, which I'm not. Even the new Johnny Depp/Angelina Jolie thriller — which I was initially eager to check out despite the warning sign its studio raised by not screening it in advance for critics — is getting thoroughly trashed by those unlucky enough to have seen it. That leaves Wild Target, another film its distributor (the indie outfit Freestyle) didn't screen in advance, as the lone possible saving grace. No pressure.

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by Jason Gargano 01.06.2011
at 10:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 

The Mixed Messages of 'No Strings Attached'

I try to stay away from movie trailers as much as possible — either because they rarely give you an accurate idea of what a movie is truly about or because they reveal the entire thing in two minutes. (On the other hand, I suppose I'd rather spend a few minutes with something like Tron: Legacy or The Tourist than sit through two mind-numbing hours.)

An example of the first reason is on display in the difference between the theatrical trailer version of No Strings Attached (which is set to open wide Jan. 21) and its much racier red band version.

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by Jason Gargano 10.08.2008
at 03:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 

Dubya Gets Stoned

Oliver Stone has been out of sorts ever since he gave people an aneurysm with the over-the-top, frenetic football extravaganza Any Given Sunday (1999).

Now that I think about it, U-Turn (1997) blew, too. In fact, it’s been since the underrated (and under-seen) Nixon (1995) that Stone had me fully engaged.

Recent years have been especially tough on the onetime provocateur: World Trade Center (2006) seemed a naked attempt to prove he could make a standard studio picture after the unqualified disaster that was the bloated, thoroughly disjointed Alexander (2004). How far had Stone fallen? I didn’t even bother to catch World Trade Center or Alexander during their theatrical run — an unthinkable occurrence back when even his less successful films were at least intriguing in their mix of testosterone-laden spectacle, pungent dialogue and formal dexterity.

All that said, I can’t wait to see what Stone does with W., his take on the presidency of George W. Bush (as played by what looks to be an inspired Josh Brolin).

The movie opens Oct. 17

Here are a few trailers to tide you over.


 
 
by Jason Gargano 05.06.2011
at 01:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 

Friday Movie Roundup: Special-Effects Dude Edition

Versatile special-effects maestro Shane Mahan knows his summer blockbusters — he's worked with everyone from Steven Spielberg and James Cameron to Tim Burton and Jon Favreau.

"They are the best communicators, and I think they’re also the best visionaries,” Mahan says. 

Mahan is something of a visionary himself.

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by Jason Gargano 03.19.2010
at 11:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 

Friday Movie Roundup: The Most Dangerous Man in America

The post-awards/pre-summer movie season trudges on with a curious collection of releases in a variety of genres: we’ve got another romantic comedy starring Jennifer "I Do Movies to Get a Boyfriend" Aniston (The Bounty Hunter), a futuristic thriller (Repo Men), a family-friendly teen thing (The Wimpy Kid Diaries) and even a 3-D IMAX documentary (Hubble).

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by Jason Gargano 11.11.2011
at 03:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
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Friday Movie Roundup: Lighten Up, Leo, Edition

When willLeonardo DiCaprio lighten up? It doesn't look like it's going to happen anytime soon.

Asked recently if he would consider doing something besides the heavy dramatic lifting of recent years (see Gangs of New York, The Aviator, Blood Diamond, The Departed, Body of Lies, Revolutionary Road, Shutter Island, Inceptionand now J. Edgar), the 37-year-old actor responded with this to-the-point rebuttal: “Why would I want to do something I would consider a profound waste of time?"

Alright, then.

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by Staff 11.11.2011
at 03:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Join 'Take Shelter' Discussion Saturday Night

On Saturday night (Nov. 12) after the 7:30 p.m. screening of Take Shelter at the Esquire Theatre in Clifton, CityBeat contributing editor Steven Rosen will lead a discussion into the film's meaning — and what really occurs at the mysterious ending.

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by Jason Gargano 10.06.2011
at 11:02 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Clooney on 'Charlie Rose Show' Tonight

The Ides of March is nearly here. George Clooney's political thriller, partially shot here in Cincinnati, opens wide tomorrow, and the film's publicity blitz is now in full effect with TV spots flooding the airwaves (you know, the ones pimping Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers' typically overly exuberant blurbage) and Clooney himself doing a few selected interviews.

While CityBeat unfortunately didn't get one of those interviews (our bribe of complimentary CB T-shirts and a pass to the MidPoint Music Festival apparently weren't sufficient enough to sway his handlers; we instead talked to Ides actor Max Minghella), Clooney will appear on tonight's episode of The Charlie Rose Show on PBS to discuss the film. It's probably no surprise, then, to learn that Clooney's character in Ides — an articulate liberal Pennsylvania governor who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination — appears on Rose's show in the film.

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