Tragedy Girls (2017)

Tragedy Girls
Director: Tyler MacIntyre
Writer: Chris Lee Hill, Tyler MacIntyre, Justin Olson
Cast: Brianna Hildebrand, Alexandra Shipp, Jack QuaidKevin DurandTimothy V. Murphy, Craig Robinson, Josh Hutcherson
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 1.11.2017
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Plot:
Sadie (Brianna Hildebrand) and McKayla (Alexandra Shipp) are best friends and do pretty much everything together. Most notably, they run an online channel together where they discuss true crime cases with which they’re both fascinated. Trying to gain popularity for themselves and their show, they try to catch a serial killer in the area. But when they do catch up with him, a simple capture seems not enough anymore.

Tragedy Girls is a very entertaining film, even if it doesn’t revolutionize the “twist on the slasher-movie” counter-genre that is now its own genre. I had fun all the way through.

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In Dubious Battle (2016)

In Dubious Battle
Director: James Franco
Writer: Matt Rager
Based on: John Steinbeck‘s novel of the same name
Cast: Nat Wolff, James Franco, Vincent D’OnofrioSelena GomezAhna O’ReillyAnaleigh TiptonJack KehlerScott HazeSam ShepardJoel Marsh GarlandJohn SavageRobert DuvallEd HarrisJosh HutchersonJulian De NiroBryan CranstonAshley GreeneKeegan AllenZach BraffAustin Stowell
Seen on: 24.4.2017

Plot:
Jim (Nat Wolff) just joined a political party who’s goal it is to empower workers. There he meets the charismatic and politically experienced Mac (James Franco) who takes him under his wing. Together they make their way to a fruit plantation where they hope to instigate a strike without the workers noticing that that’s what they came there to do. When they hear about a case where a plantation owner (Robert Duvall) reduced the workers’ pay from 3 to 1 Dollar, they know they have their in.

In Dubious Battle profits from Steinbeck’s strength as a writer and an absolutely stellar cast that makes the film worth seeing even though Franco directing Franco is not the best thing to ever happen.

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015)

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
Director: Francis Lawrence
Writer: Peter Craig, Danny Strong
Based on: Suzanne Collins’ novel (the second half)
Sequel to: The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald SutherlandPhilip Seymour HoffmanJulianne Moore, Stanley Tucci, Sam Claflin, Jena MaloneWillow ShieldsPaula Malcomson, Mahershala Ali, Jeffrey Wright, Natalie Dormer, Gwendoline Christie
Seen on: 22.11.2015

Plot [with Spoilers for everything up until this part]:
Still reeling from brainwashed Peeta’s (Josh Hutcherson) attack on her, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) has no chance of really gathering herself. Instead she shoots promo videos for the rebellion and their cause. As outright war with the Capitol becomes ever more likely, Katniss decides that she has to put an end to things and the only way it will end is if Katniss kills President Snow (Donald Sutherland).

My expectations were pretty low for this final installation in the series since the second half of the last book was the weakest part of the series by far and that was the only thing that was left to bring to the screen. But Mockingjay Part 2 turned out to be better than I expected.

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014)

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
Director: Francis Lawrence
Writer: Peter Craig, Danny Strong
Based on: Suzanne Collins’ novel (the first half at least)
Sequel to: The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald SutherlandPhilip Seymour HoffmanJulianne Moore, Stanley Tucci, Sam Claflin, Jena MaloneWillow ShieldsPaula Malcomson, Mahershala Ali, Jeffrey Wright, Natalie Dormer

Plot: [WITH SPOILERS FOR THE PREVIOUS BOOKS]
After the dramatic ending of the last Hunger Games, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) wakes up in the rebels’ headquarters in District 13. She discovers that Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) did not make it there – he was captured by President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and the Capitol. But with Katniss are Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and her family (Willow Shields, Paula Malcomson) – who made it out of District 12 right before it was completely obliterated – and a few other Hunger Game victors. While Katniss tries to make sense of the new world order around her, the rebels try to convince her that she should become the Mockingjay: the official symbol of the rebellion.

Mockingjay Part 1 was a very satisfying film, but it did leave me worried for Part 2, since there is not much left of the story that still worked for me in the book. But we’re not there yet, and this film, despite the occasional lengths, does very well.

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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Director: Francis Lawrence
Writer: Simon Beaufoy, Michael Arndt
Based on: Suzanne Collins’ novel
Sequel to: The Hunger Games
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald SutherlandPhilip Seymour Hoffman, Toby Jones, Lenny Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright, Amanda Plummer, Sam Claflin, Jena MaloneWillow ShieldsPaula Malcomson

Plot (with SPOILERS for the first one):
With the way the Hunger Games ended Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) has definitely upset the system. So before she, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and their entourage travel from district to district on their victory tour, Katniss gets a visit from President Snow (Donald Sutherland). He lets her know without a doubt that rebellion of any kind on her part will not be tolerated – and that she has to make this clear to the districts as well, where unrest is brewing. Since it’s not only Katniss’ life that he threatens, but also that of her family and friends, Katniss complies as well as she can. And then the rug is completely pulled from under her when she and Peeta are drawn back into the 75 year special edition of the Games.

Where the second book was slightly worse than the first book, I thought that the second film was even better than the first. It’s a fantastic sequel, great adaptation and a wonderful film.

catchingfire

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Re-Watch: The Hunger Games (2012)

The Hunger Games
Director: Gary Ross
Writer: Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins, Billy Ray
Based on: Suzanne Collins’ novel
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland, Wes Bentley, Toby Jones, Lenny Kravitz, Amandla Stenberg
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
The USA don’t exist anymore. In its place are 12 districts and the Capitol that has the districts under its thumb. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) lives in district 12, where at 16 she’s basically taking care of her mother (Paula Malcomson) and sister Prim (Willow Shields). Which means that she breaks the laws daily to go hunting with her best friend Gale (Liam Hemsworth). But Katniss’ life changes radically when the kids for the Hunger Games of that year are reaped. In the Hunger Games every year 24 kids, 2 more or less randomly chosen from each districts, are pitted against each other in a battle to the death until only one remains standing. And in this year 12-year-old Prim is chosen. In desperation Katniss volunteers to take Prim’s place. And so Katniss travels to the Capitol together with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) the baker’s son – to certain death for at least one of them.

Despite actually getting the story for the third time, I was completely into it again and it made me cry. Again.

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Epic (2013)

Epic
Director: Chris Wedge
Writer: Tom J. Astle, Matt Ember, James V. Hart, William Joyce, Daniel Shere
Based on: William Joyce‘s book The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs
Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Josh Hutcherson, Colin Farrell, Aziz AnsariChris O’Dowd, Christoph Waltz, Beyoncé Knowles, Pitbull, Jason Sudeikis, Judah Friedlander, Steven Tyler

Plot:
M.K.’s (Amanda Seyfried) mother just died so he moves back in with her father Bomba (Jason Sudeikis), a very confused professor who is convinced that there are tiny people living in the woods and taking care of it. A theory that got him laughed out of every scientific community. But then M.K. discovers that he was right and finds herself caught in the middle of a struggle between the Leafmen who let the things in the forest grow and the Boggans who let them rot.

Epic was funny, totally sweet and very entertaining. I was very pleasantly surprised by the entire thing.

Epic

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The Hunger Games (2012)

The Hunger Games
Director: Gary Ross
Writer: Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins, Billy Ray
Based on: Suzanne Collins’ novel
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland, Wes Bentley, Toby Jones, Lenny Kravitz, Amandla Stenberg

Plot:
The USA don’t exist anymore. In its place are 12 districts and the Capitol that has the districts under its thumb. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) lives in district 12, where at 16 she’s basically taking care of her mother (Paula Malcomson) and sister Prim (Willow Shields). Which means that she breaks the laws daily to go hunting with her best friend Gale (Liam Hemsworth). But Katniss’ life changes radically when the kids for the Hunger Games of that year are reaped. In the Hunger Games every year 24 kids, 2 more or less randomly chosen from each districts, are pitted against each other in a battle to the death until only one remains standing. And in this year 12-year-old Prim is chosen. In desperation Katniss volunteers to take Prim’s place. And so Katniss travels to the Capitol together with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) the baker’s son – to certain death for at least one of them.

The Hunger Games is a tense and excellent movie that could have been better if it had dared to be as grizzly and outlandish as the book. Instead they played it safe. It’s still a really good film but I can’ thelp but feel ever so slightly woeful for missed opportunities.

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The Kids Are All Right (2010)

The Kids Are All Right is the newest movie by Lisa Cholodenko, starring Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson.

Plot:
Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore) are a rather average couple: They love each other, but their relationship is spiked with a thousand small problems. They have two teenaged kids: bright Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and slacker Laser* (Josh Hutcherson), both conceived with sperm from the same sperm donor. Now Laser wants to meet his “father”. Joni plays along and together they find Paul (Mark Ruffalo), who quickly turns all their lives upside down.

The Kids Are All Right is nice, has a brilliant cast and some great moments. Unfortunately, it drags on a little too long. And then it just stops without really ending.

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Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant (2009)

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant is the movie adaptation of the first three books in the Saga of Darren Shan by Darren Shan. [I reviewed the first book here.] It was directed by Paul Weitz* and stars Chris Massoglia, Josh Hutcherson, Jessica Carlson, John C. Reilly, Salma Hayek, Ken Watanabe, Jane Krakowski and Willem Dafoe.

Plot:
Darren (Chris Massoglia) and Steve (Josh Hutcherson) are best friends. One day, they stumble upon a freak show. When Steve finds out that one of the performers – Mr. Crepsley (John C. Reilly) – is actually a vampire, he asks to be turned. Mr. Crepsley refuses. When through some twists and turns in the story, Darren becomes Mr. Crepsley’s assistant instead, it unhinges Steve completely and things are going to get really rough for Darren.

The movie was rather boring, I have to say. There was some ridiculousness and some enjoyable camp, but altogether, it was just… meh. Sad to see such a good supporting cast wasted.

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