THE HUNGER GAMES (2012) Director: Gary Ross Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks Rating: PG-13 for violent things happening to attractive young people.
In 2008 the novel The Hunger Games was published, and the whole world read it.
Except me. In my defense, I was very busy that year.
The Hunger Games book was so popular that two sequels were published in 2009 and 2010; Catching Fire and The Hunger Games 3 – Dream Warriors, respectively.
I did not read those books either.
Look, I never learned how to read, okay? Now you know my secret shame! Happy?
So with everyone enjoying the heck out of The Hunger Games novels, it was only natural that the Hollywood people came along and did what they do best: turn a beloved book series into a huge blockbuster movie franchise because profit is good and reading is for lame-o poindexters!
In the distant future, the nation of Panem stands where the United States and Canada used to be. It’s not explained what happened to America, I’m guessing it was one of those darn doomsday things those prepper guys on Nat Geo always talk about. Which reminds me – I need to pick up another drum of freeze dried wheat.
Anyway, the twelve districts that make up Panem are under the thumb of a totalitarian government which forces each district to randomly choose two kids (one boy and one girl, aged 12-18) to participate in the annual Hunger Games contest, a hugely popular televised event which has the pageantry of The Miss America Pageant, the jungle setting of Survivor, and the rules of Lord Of The Flies.
In dirt poor District 12, hot girl Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) spends her days hunting wild game in the woods and flirting with her hunky friend Gale (played by hunky man Liam Helmsworth) and her nights trying to figure out how to keep from starving. When her little sister Primrose is chosen to participate in the Hunger Games, Katniss volunteers to take her place because Primrose is 12 and Katniss is the best sister ever.
Katniss and the male “tribute” Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) are whisked away to the Capitol of Panem, a gleaming Oz like city where the foppish citizens dress like Elton John did in the 70’s. They meet the other contestants, many of whom have been training all of their lives to fight in the Hunger Games arena, and like contemporary “reality stars” were born with that special chromosome that makes them ten times more obnoxious than normal human beings.
Like the other tributes, Katniss and Peeta are set up in a kick-ass penthouse, given lots of food to eat, assigned a wardrobe designer (Lenny Kravitz, who needs to stick to music) and a mentor to instruct them on the intricacies of the game. Unfortunately, their mentor Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) is a gigantic drunk who is still bitter from the time he killed everyone to win the Hunger Games when he was a kid. But as training continues, drunken Haymitch warms up to the young hot girl and the boy with a name that makes me think of falafel.
With all the future world watching, the fight begins as the tributes are dropped off in a massive forest that has hidden cameras everywhere to catch all of the drama. The “game” in the movie plays out like the reality shows we see today; battles are waged, alliances are formed, and annoying hosts comment on every stupid detail. But unlike current reality shows, the Hunger Games has no preening guidos, no annoying kids in tiaras, no two stepping C-list celebrities, and no yelling chefs or cupcake wars!
Just murder. Lots and lots of murder.
The Hunger Games has plenty of thrills as Katniss struggles to come out on top against the highly trained and bloodthirsty tributes and a game where there are no rules, no immunity challenges, and no stupid rose ceremony at the end.
Actually, I like the rose ceremony. It’s sweet.
I’m not going to give away the ending of the movie, but I could because you’ve probably read the books and seen the movie like everyone else on the planet so you already know how it ends. And you probably know what happens in the next one too.
Heck, you probably know more about The Hunger Games world than I do. So you had better not tell me anything about what happens in the next book, okay?
Hey! No spoilers!
LALALALALALALALALALA! Not listening!
Seriously, what happens in the next one? Are Katniss and Gale destined to be together?
NAZIS AT THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (2012) Director: Joseph L. Lawson Starring: Jake Busey, Dominique Swain, Josh Allen, Christopher Karl Johnson Rating: NR, but there’s brief nudity, bad language, some gore, and Nazi guys doing that “Heil Hitler” thing.
If you’re a regular reader of DVD Critics Corner (and you have my deepest sympathies), you have probably figured out by now it takes a certain kind of movie to make it to the pages of this blog. Believe it or not, every movie I consider for review must meet a particular set of criteria to be deemed what I call “blog worthy.”
Here are some of the things I look for:
– Does the film have gratuitous amounts of violence which includes any or all of the following: gun play, sword play, close quarter hand to hand combat, kung fu fighting, and of course an inordinate amount of kicking?
– Will this movie feature space aliens, other worldly monsters, scary zombies, cool robots, or at the very least Ron Perlman?
– Are there plenty of explosions which destroy property and/or motor vehicles?
– Is there a complete lack of Katherine Heigl?
– Does the film have anything truly unique to offer, besides some nudity by a hot supporting character?
I am happy to report the direct-to-DVD spectacular Nazis at the Center of the Earth has many of the things on my meticulously crafted list and more. Much, much more. How much more? I’ll get back to you on that.
On the continent of Antarctica, a team of young attractive scientists are busy doing important genetic research that can only be done in a lab at the coldest place on the planet. When a couple of their people go missing while collecting genes out in the snow, the other scientists head out to rescue them and stumble upon a lost continent hidden deep beneath the ice that for some reason is warm enough for the female cast members to strip down to their tank tops.
Before the scientists can marvel at their amazing discovery and remove more clothing, they are captured by an army of Nazi soldiers who have been hiding in the center of the earth since the end of World War II, practicing their goosestepping and prepping a massive invasion of the modern world!
Unfortunately the Nazis were so busy building an underground city and a giant nazi spaceship (seriously) with laser weapons, they forgot to bring women with them to the center of the earth to keep repopulating their army. Now the ancient soldiers are starting to fall apart and turn into mad flesh eating zombies because that’s what people do when they get old.
The scientists are forced by the mad Nazi Doctor Josef Mengele (Christopher Karl Johnson) to help keep his army alive and kicking for the grand invasion, and to help him revive an “old friend” who has been waiting a long time for his big comeback.
And it is when Dr. Mengele reveals the culmination of his decades of experiments that Nazis at the Center of the Earth gave me the “more” I was looking for. Boys and girls, I give you:
Yes, Robot Hitler.
If there is only one thing you remember from watching Nazis at the Center of the Earth – aside from how much Jake Busey looks like his batshit crazy Dad – it’s Robot Hitler.
Will the Reich rise again? Can the sniveling scientists thwart the Nazi’s invasion plans?
It doesn’t really matter. Why? Robot Hitler.
Nazis at the Center of the Earth was produced by The Asylum, a studio famous for their low budget direct-to-DVD films that rip off popular movies, and like every other Asylum flick, the acting is bad, the script is terrible, and the special effects are awful.
But their robot was Hitler!
WRATH OF THE TITANS (2012) Director: Jonathan Liebesman Starring: Sam Worthington, Rosamund Pike, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes Rating: PG-13 for swords clashing and Titans wrathing.
Wrath of the Titans is swords and sandals epic which is a sequel to the 2010 film Clash of the Titans, which also had lots of swords and sandals.
Wrath has more swords than Clash, but Clash had beautiful sandals. I’m talking real high quality ones too – not the cheapo kinds you buy at Wallgreens in the seasonal items section next to the pool toys, I’m talking the fine quality sandals you’d find at Kohl’s, or dare I say it – Payless. Thems some fine sandals!
If you didn’t see Clash of the Titans, here’s what you missed:
Perseus (Sam Worthington) the half-man half-god undertakes a mighty quest to stop the evil God of the underworld Hades (Ralph Fiennes) before he enacts terrible vengeance against the people of ancient Greece, and king of the gods Zeus (Liam Neeson) utters the best catchphrase of 2010:
Picking up ten years after the first film, Wrath of the Titans finds Perseus living the quiet life as a fisherman with his young son Helius. Zeus shows up and asks his son to help him out with some God business, but Perseus wants none of that as he’s still mourning the death of his wife Io, who passed away during the opening credits because the actress who played her in the previous movie was unavailable for the sequel.
The Gods are losing their powers and the Underworld prison of Tartarus is crumbling. The evil Titans imprisoned there will escape and make a big mess if Zeus doesn’t stop them. Zeus seeks help from his brother Hades, but since Hades is still god of dick moves, he and Zeus’ other half god son Ares (Edgar Ramirez) imprison Zeus so they can use his power to revive Kronos, the father of the gods who is basically a gigantic walking volcano who sweats lava and really hates his kids.
When Perseus learns Dad is in big trouble he seeks out his old pal Queen Andromeda to help him find a way to set things right. Perseus rescued Andromeda from the Kraken in the previous movie but since she has a bigger part in the sequel, she’s played by better known actress Rosamund Pike. Perseus and Andromeda hook up with Poseidon’s half god son Agenor (Toby Kebbell) who knows a guy who knows a way to Tartarus where Zeus is being held.
Perseus and crew fight a veritable who’s who of Greek mythology to rescue Zeus from Hades. There’s a gang of giant cyclops guys, a butt ugly Minotaur, and some angry warrior demons who look like conjoined Orcs on HGH. As Andromeda and her army take on Kronos and his minions, Perseus goes mano y mano with Ares, who is really pissed off because Dad gave his half brother a flying pony, a cool Australian accent, and a starring role in the Avatar franchise while all he got was a really girly name.
In summation, despite some CG goodies and a few decent battle scenes, Wrath of the Titans is your basic by-the-book sequel that fails to surpass or even equal the original movie.
I wonder what they could have done to make the movie better?
Okay, I’ll say it. They should have brought back the Kraken.
Sure, the Kraken crumbled into the sea at the climax of the last movie, but who cares? It’s a sequel for crying out loud! Maybe the Kraken was just pretending to be dead like Michael Meyers at the end of every Halloween sequel! How about reviving him with a lightening bolt a la Jason Vorhees in Friday the 13th Part VI! Or have him return as the long lost twin brother of the Kraken out for revenge!
Once again, nobody listens to me.