Please note: This review contains spoilers. That’s right, I’m going to ruin the whole movie for you. You can’t stop me. I’m mad with power!
Starring: Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Sheehan, Laurence Fishburne
Director: Morten Tyldum
Rating: PG-13 for partial space nudity and space hanky panky.
Plot: Two passengers on a luxurious, long range space ship emerge from hibernation decades early and learn they will die before everyone else wakes up. It’s a love story!
In the future, Earthlings will travel through space to colonize far off planets.
They say this will happen because future Earth will be overcrowded and polluted, but I believe it will be because Amazon.com will become so powerful it will eventually need other planets to conquer.
As Passengers opens, the interplanetary space ship Avalon is 30 years into its 120 year trip to a planet called Homestead II. Thousands of passengers and crew are in hibernation pods aboard the massive automated vessel with an interior that looks like a cross between an Apple store, a Carnival cruise ship, and The Mall of America.
A freak meteor storm causes the ship to malfunction, and for some reason a single hibernation pod pops open and out pops affable engineer Jim Preston (Chris Star Lord Pratt).
Jim learns quickly that the Avalon has not reached Homestead II, mostly because he’s the only person to show up at the “Welcome back from Hibernation” seminar at the conference center. Then Jim discovers some horrible truths: his hibernation pod can’t be reactivated, the ship won’t reach its destination for another 90 years which means he will die alone long before the others wake up, and only first class passengers get unlimited bacon in the automated cafeteria!
Without a volleyball to talk to, Jim befriends Arthur (Michael Sheehan) an android who tends bar at a swanky lounge located on the Avalon’s massive promenade.
As a fair man of the bottle I can appreciate Jim and Aurthur’s relationship. There have been times in my life when I was in despair, desperate for some beacon of hope, and a bartender was there to offer me comfort and understanding with a kind word, some sage advice, and a shiny wall of booze. Treasure your bartenders, kids. They are special people.
After a year of moping about the ship, Jim spots pretty Aurora Lane (uber movie star Jennifer Lawrence) fast asleep in her pod. He becomes smitten with the pretty Aurora, an accomplished journalist and writer who would have been way out of his league back on earth.
Desperate to talk to someone other than a robot bartender who doesn’t know a single dirty joke, Jim does something that back on earth would be classified as a “dick move.” He breaks Aurora’s pod and when she wakes up he tells her a ship malfunction did it.
Yeah, the trailer for Passengers didn’t mention that plot twist did it?
Affable Jim is kind of a monster for sentencing poor Aurora to a life sentence alone on the Avalon with him and then lying about it, isn’t he? I bet Aurora is so distraught about the thought of dying alone with the handsome engineer with the washboard abs she doesn’t fall madly in love with him!
Oh wait, she does. Well, he is Star Lord.
Unfortunately Jim and Aurora’s little romance (which involves doing it on every flat surface on the ship; thank God the Aurora is swarming with little Roomba droids that clean everything) is interrupted when Arthur breaks the robot bro code and tells Aurora Jim deliberately sabotaged her pod and lied about it. Needless to say Aurora has an Academy Award actress level conniption fit and breaks things off with Jim, who really hopes Aurora can look past the whole “I ruined your life and then lied about it” thing so they can get back to snuggling in the observation lounge.
Things get even worse when systems start failing all over the Avalon, putting our space lovers and the thousands of sleeping passengers in mortal peril. Can Jim and Aurora put aside their issues and save everyone? More importantly, can they save their relationship, or will they have to work out a joint custody agreement for Arthur?
If you can overlook the whole Jim did something really horrible to an innocent woman thing, Passengers is a pretty interesting movie and a unique love story.
I’ve seen worse movies about the give and take of complicated relationships between a man and a woman:
Before Sunrise. Ghost. Eraserhead. The Devil’s Rejects. The Human Centipede. My Best Friend’s Wedding….
THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE (2013)
Director: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Liam Hemsworth, Donald Sutherland
Plot: Katniss and Peeta are back for more wacky hijinks as they once again step into the arena of death in a dystopian future! It’s an all out laugh fest!
Rating: PG-13 for violence, near nudity and for flogging Gale, the handsome guy.
In case you didn’t know, DVD Critics Corner! has been around for a few years. I think it’s due to clean living, my lack of other hobbies, and the unbelievable fact that no one has told me to stop.
Anyhoo, when running a movie review blog during a sequel crazy era in movie history, it was only a matter of time before a sequel to a movie I’ve reviewed has arrived at the top of my DVD queue. That movie is The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the sequel to The Hunger Games and the second film in the four part Hunger Games movie saga; a saga not quite as epic as The Hobbit saga and not nearly as stupid as the Twilight saga, but a saga nonetheless.
Catching Fire picks up shortly after the events of the first film. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) have survived the 74th Hunger games, but they are far from safe. President Snow (a seething Donald Sutherland) fears the young winners have sparked a rebel movement among the people of Panem who for some reason are growing tired of an oppressive government that starves them and kills them for no reason. Kantiss and Peeta embark on a “victory tour” of the 12 districts, but they stray from their “we love the facist world we live in” script and a few riots are started, which doesn’t look good on Panem’s version of Entertainment Tonight.
Snow knows he must kill the two troublesome kids who are making him look bad without looking like the type of guy who kills troublesome kids who make him look bad. So when the 75th Hunger Games rolls around a short time later, he pulls the end all be all of dick moves by futzing with the rules: All tributes for the next Hunger Games will be chosen from previous winners, which means Katniss and Peeta are going back in the jungle for another chance at violent death, facing a bunch of former winners who are really happy they were plucked from their lives of luxury with the overdressed elite of Panem and forced to fight for their lives again.
To make things even worse, the new game designer Plutarch Heavensbee (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) has promised his best buddy President Snow that Katniss and Peeta will certainly die in his game arena, which is filled with killer monkeys, random flash floods, and a mysterious fog that not only cleans and exfoliates the skin, it eats it off completely. No more unsightly blemishes!
Katniss is severely worried that this time Snow has finally got her trapped in a no win situation, but her good ol’ buddy and District 12 mentor Hamish (Wood Harrelson) calmly advises her to make as many allies as she can with the other disgruntled tributes, promising her that things will work out in the end.
The game sequence in Catching Fire is as thrilling and suspenseful as the first movie, but it’s not as long because there are other things going on in Panem (like the growing underground revolution against Snow’s regime) and the movie was almost over when the game sequence begins. The games itself are just a side event that leads up to the important stuff: the final scenes where Katniss learns who her true allies are and what part she’s going to play in the next movie.
I’ll give you a hint: it rhymes with Shleader of the Shrevolution.
In conclusion, not only is The Hunger Games: Catching Firea sequel to The Hunger Games, it is a sequel to a movie I have written about in a previous entry in this blog. You’re welcome, Katniss, Peeta, and all your kooky revolutionary pals.
Now go play nice.
Click here for the DVD Critics Corner review of The Hunger Games
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?