REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED – SEASON 1

Main Cast

Kevin Conroy (Justice League Doom)
George Newbern (Law & Order: SVU)
Susan Eisenberg (Lego aquaman)
Phil LaMarr (Futurama)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Maria Canals (Batman: The Dark Knight Returns)

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Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Kin Shriner (Manhunter)
George Eads (CSI)
Eric Robert (The Finder)
Dana Delany (Tombstone)
Mike Farrell (Patch Adams)
Shelley Fabares (Coach)
Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games)
Christopher McDonald (Happy Gilmore)
Dakota Fanning (War of The Worlds)
Olivia d’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Sheryl Lee Ralph (Fam)
Fred Savage (The Princess Diaries)
Jason Hervey (Back To The Future)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Michael York (Logan’s Run)
Patrick Bauchau (Panic Room)
Rachel York (One Fine Day)
Jack Carter (McCloud)
Jeffrey Combs (Re-Annimator)
Robert Foxworth (Transformers)
Charles Napier (The Silence of The Lambs)
Sam McMurray (Raising Arizona)
Cree Summer (Voltron)
Tom Everett Scott (Because I Said So)
Billy West (Futurama)
Lori Loughlin (Full House)
Jeremy Piven (Old School)
Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
John C. McGinley (Scrubs)
Oded Fehr (V)
Scott Rummell (Six)
Tim Matheson (The West Wing)
Grey Griffin (The Book of Life)
CCH Pounder (Avatar)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Michael Beach (Aquaman)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Peter MacNicol (Veep)
Adam Baldwin (Chuck)
Nestor Carbonell (Bates Motel)
Mindy Sterling (Austin Powers)
Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina: TTW)
Dennis Farina (Get Shorty)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Virginia Madsen (Better Watch Out)
Ioan Gruffudd (Ringer)
Farrah Forke (Lois & Clark)
Michael Dorn (Star Trek: TNG)
Dick Miller (Gremlins)
Michael Jai White (Arrow)
Armin Shimerman (Buffy: TVS)
Juliet Landau (Ed Wood)
Alan Rachins (Showgirls)
Robert Englund (2001 Maniacs)
Wayne Knight (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Jason Bateman (Office Christmas Party)
Susan Sullivan (Castle)
Michael T. Weiss (The Pretender)
Amy Acker (Angel)
Glenn Shadix (Beetlejuice)
Steve Schirripa (Must Love Dogs)
Jerry O’Connell (Sliders)
Lisa Edelstein (House)
Nathan Fillion (Serenity)
Elizabeth Peña (The Incredibles)
Hector Elizondo (The Princess Diaries)
Robert Forster (Jackie Brown)
Corey Burton (Critters)
Hynden Walch (The Batman)
Lauren Tom (Bad Santa)

MV5BMTk4NTc5Mzg3Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTc5ODM2MjE@._V1_Fantasy now runs your life? Comic books become your vice? And your best friends still have their virginities? Then look no farther, friends, because this collection of episodes is so good you don’t need friends, significant others, or a single reason to emerge from your Geekdrome. But you know what the best part is? It’s not just for geeks – Justice League Unlimited stands tall as the best collection of American action/adventure animation you’re likely to find. While there is, of course, a certain geek charge some may get out of seeing characters like Powergirl and Green Arrow in action (not to mention an episode featuring Nathan Fillion voicing Vigilante and Gina Torres voicing Vixen – come on, how cool is that?), these episodes will entertain because of good characters, good humor, and good storytelling, even if you don’t know your Booster Golds from your Blue Beetles.MV5BMTA3OTAzMDYwMjdeQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU4MDMzMDkzNjIx._V1_While the first two seasons of Justice League nicely expanded upon the world first established in the early ’90s with Batman: The Animated Series, it wasn’t until this, the show’s third season (or first, depending on how you look at it) that the format and structure was perfected for the genre. It was an interesting experiment having the previous seasons’ episodes run for one-hour, but with JLU the format is scaled back to stand-alone half-hour stories and, ironically, it fits like a bat-glove. It’s strange, but these shorter episodes actually manage to pack in more than the double-length ones. A lot more. And what a roster of characters to fill a show with! You’ll see everyone from The Atom to Elongated Man. Because this is a full-blown, all-star take on these characters, each character can shine their brightest. When you get Superman, you get the best of Superman. Wonder Woman? The best of Wonder Woman. B’wana Beast? Uh… well, I guess this is the best he’s ever been.MV5BMjIwOTMxMzk2MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTU5ODM2MjE@._V1_The surplus of great characters is fun, but what really sells the show are the stories. Or, more specifically, story. No doubt borrowing a page from the work of Joss Whedon – showrunner Bruce Timm admits in a commentary that Whedon was a big influence – these episodes highlight a large and complex season-spanning plot that actually has meaning in today’s world. This is certainly the most mature and thoughtful storytelling you’re likely to get from a cartoon of this type. What elevates the show from great to brilliant is its ability to tell stories that are exciting and also manage to propel the larger narrative forward. For example, Dark Heart – penned by famous comic book scribe Warren Ellis – manages to mix a great science fiction plot (a self-replicating AI) with humor (Wonder Woman, needing both hands to fight, rests The Atom in a very interesting holding place) and its plot still manages to play a part later on down the road in the season’s climax.MV5BMjAwMTU4NDI0NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzIwOTM2MjE@._V1_The writing is the best the show has ever seen, no doubt a result of staff writer Dwayne McDuffie coming into his own; his versatility with the characters is fantastic. Comic book writers Warren Ellis and J.M. DeMatteis join in on the fun, and new series director Joaquim Dos Santos infuses the episodes with a dynamic energy that allows the show to compete with the best of today’s cutting-edge, anime-inspired programming. It’s like the entire DC animated universe has been supercharged in the best way possible.MV5BMTk3NjM3NzI3Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjQwOTM2MjE@._V1_This collection contains two seasons, and both season finales are just fantastic. The Once and Future Thing is an exciting time romp (with a great Western segment) and Divided We Fall is a showstopper of epic proportions. Either finale would make for a better DVD movie than any of what has been released thus far. Then there’s Epilogue – just brilliant. It manages to tie in the entire DC animated universe – including films Mask of the Phantasm and Return of the Joker! – and still say something meaningful about a very important character. The episode isn’t just great animation, it’s great television.MV5BMTk1MDgzMTYzN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTUwOTM2MjE@._V1_There really is nothing bad to say about these episodes. The new rock-inspired opening credits do ring a bit too much of cheesy ’80s electronica, but you get used to it, and, after a while, it fits. Of course, the fact remains that if you aren’t into cartoons in the first place you probably won’t be willing to hop on the bandwagon no matter how cool a series is. But if you consider animation to be a legitimate and respectable medium, then this is the pinnacle of the form.  While there are bigger and more influential cartoon shows out there – namely, comedies like The Simpsons – Justice League Unlimited is still one of the best American animated programs you’ll find. With this show the genre has been perfected – it’s fun, exciting, and thoughtful. In other words, this is exactly what superheroes should be.

REVIEW: EPIC

EPIC 3D

Starring

Amanda Seyfried (Chloe)
Colin Farrell (Total Recall)
Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games)
Christoph Waltz (Big Eyes)
Aziz Ansari (Funny People)
Chris O’Dowd (St. Vincent)
Jason Sudeikis (Hall Pass)
Steven Tyler (Be Cool)
Beyoncé Knowles (Dreamgirls)
Blake Anderson (Bad Neighbours)
Judah Friedlander (Cabin Fever 2)
Thomas F. Wilson (Back To The Future)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Jeff Bennett (Enchanted)

Buffo (Pitbull) is a wheeler and dealer tough-guy toad who plays all the angles: he profits no matter which side wins or loses.17 year old Mary Katherine, or M.K., moves in with her eccentric scientist father Professor Bomba, who has been searching for tiny humanoid soldiers called Leafmen. They protect the forest that Bomba lives near from wicked creatures called Boggans and their malevolent leader Mandrake. An independent young soldier named Nod decides to quit, much to the ire of the no-nonsense Leafmen leader Ronin. The queen of the forest, Queen Tara, must choose an heir to her throne and goes out to a field of leaf pods, guarded by a laid-back slug named Mub and a wannabe Leafman snail named Grub. Immediately after she chooses a pod, the Boggans attack. Tara flees the area with the pod, and though her bodyguards do their best to protect her, they are soon overwhelmed by the sheer number of Boggans. Eventually, Ronin arrives for her and the pair fly off on his hummingbird mount. They are then attacked by Mandrake and his son Dagda. Dagda is killed by Ronin, but the former shoots Tara beforehand.Meanwhile, M.K. decides to leave after having an argument with Bomba about his research. Before she can leave, Bomba’s dog Ozzy runs into the woods. While looking for Ozzy, M.K. sees Tara falling. Dying, Tara gives her the pod and uses her magic to shrink her. She tells M.K. to take the pod to Nim Galuu, a glowworm wizard who is a con-artist, before she dies, and M.K. joins Ronin and the Leafmen, along with Mub and Grub. Ronin discovers that Nod has entered a race against other creatures and bugs on birds. Nod goes back on a deal with a short-tempered toad named Bufo to throw the race. Before Bufo and his two henchmen can feed Nod to a snake, Ronin intervenes and orders them to leave. A reluctant Nod joins him, M.K., Mub, and Grub after hearing about Queen Tara’s death, which Bufo overhears.Amanda Seyfried and Aziz Ansari in Epic (2013)Ronin, Nod, M.K., Mub, and Grub eventually track down Nim Galuu. He then leads them down to the scroll library, where M.K. discovers Tara’s brief message before shrinking her, and a message that will get her back to normal size. When Ronin leaves, Nod takes M.K. on a deer ride and they begin to fall in love. Meanwhile, Mandrake has had the Boggans bring Bufo to him, finding out the location of the pod. Mandrake goes to Nim Galuu’s place to steal the pod, which, if it blooms in darkness, will help Mandrake destroy the forest. He takes the pod and kidnaps Mub and Grub. Ronin scolds Nod for not being there to protect the pod. To get into Boggan territory undiscovered, M.K., Nod, and Ronin set out to Bomba’s house to get some disguises, where M.K. learns that the Leafmen have deliberately been leading Bomba off their trail. Bomba sees that he has visitors and captures M.K., fainting when he sees her. M.K. marks the location of Moonhaven on a map Bomba has made of the forest before rejoining Nod and Ronin.Colin Farrell, Beyoncé, Steven Tyler, Christoph Waltz, Amanda Seyfried, Josh Hutcherson, Chris O'Dowd, Pitbull, and Aziz Ansari in Epic (2013)When they reach the Boggan land Ronin distracts the Boggans while M.K. and Nod rescue Mub, Grub, and the pod. Mandrake discovers them and orders the Boggans to stop them. M.K., Nod, Mub, and Grub escape alive, but Ronin sacrifices himself to ensure their escape. Before the full moon can sprout the pod at Moonhaven, Mandrake’s bats block the light, causing the pod to begin sprouting in darkness. The Leafmen set out to fight the Boggans; M.K. tries to get help from her father by visiting his various cameras he had set in the forest. However, upon regaining consciousness, Bomba believes that he didn’t really see M.K. and that he has been insane all these years, and shuts down all his cameras. He changes his mind when he sees the red push-pin that M.K. had put on his map.Beyoncé in Epic (2013)Bomba is overjoyed to see that he has been right and he follows M.K. to Moonhaven. M.K. uses Bomba’s iPod to make bat sounds, luring Mandrake’s bats away. Meanwhile, Mub and Nim Galuu try to stop Mandrake from reaching the pod, but are unsuccessful. Just then, Ronin appears, bearing scars and bruises from the Boggans. Mandrake manages to outdo him, but is defended by Nod, who finally realizes the importance of teamwork. Before Mandrake can obtain his victory, the pod blooms in moonlight, defeating the Boggans, and sealing Mandrake into the burl of a nearby tree. The chosen heir is the flower child who helped save Tara earlier in the film. Grub becomes a Leafman, Nod and Ronin reconcile, and Nod and M.K. kiss before M.K. is returned to her original size. After reuniting with Bomba and becoming his assistant, the human family still keeps regular contact with their small friends as they continue the research of their world. Animation movies are all about the feel. Epic is a movie where the feel while watching the movie is brilliant.The level of detail that has gone into each frame in creating this world is mind boggling. The result is an aesthetically pleasing experience that deserves applause.

REVIEW: THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 2

CAST

Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
Josh Hutcherson (The Forger)
Liam Hemsworth (Knowing)
Woody Harrelson (Zombieland)
Elizabeth Banks (The Lego Movie)
Donald Sutherland (The Italian Job)
Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt)
Julianne Moore (Freedomland)
Willow Shields (beyond The Blackboard)
Sam Claflin (Snow White and The Huntsman)
Mahershala Ali (Alphas)
Jena Malone (Donnie Darko)
Jeffrey Wright (Source Code)
Paula Malcomson (Caprica)
Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones)
Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones)
Elden Henson (Daredevil)
Michelle Forbes (Powers)
Gwendoline Christie (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Robert Knepper (Heroes)
April Grace (Lost)
Sarita Choudhury (Jessica Jones)

Katniss Everdeen is recovering after being attacked by Peeta Mellark, who has been brainwashed by the Capitol. The rebels attack and disable the Capitol’s weapons arsenal in District 2. Katniss tries to rally the loyalists against the Capitol, but is shot and injured in the confrontation. Despite Katniss’ desire to kill President Snow personally, Alma Coin refuses to allow her into battle. At Finnick and Annie’s wedding, Johanna Mason suggests Katniss sneak aboard a supply ship leaving for the Capitol, where Commander Paylor is planning an invasion. Unable to bring her back, Coin has her assigned to the “Star Squad”, led by Boggs and includes Gale, Finnick, Cressida, Messalla, Castor, Pollux, Jackson, the Leeg twins, Mitchell, and Homes; they will follow in relative safety behind the actual invasion of the Capitol providing video of their incursion for propaganda purposes. Boggs carries a holographic map (the “Holo”) to help them evade known booby trapped “pods” which line the streets of the Capitol. Coin also sends Peeta to join the squad, even though he has not fully recovered from the Capitol’s conditioning.

As they venture deeper into the Capitol, Boggs triggers a pod which sets off a land mine and mortally wounds him, and transfers command of the Holo to Katniss before dying. The squad triggers another pod, which releases a flood of lethal black tar. Peeta momentarily succumbs to his conditioning and attacks Katniss, pushing Mitchell into the tar and killing him. The group takes shelter in an abandoned building, where Jackson, the second-in-command, attempts to commandeer the Holo, until Katniss convinces them she is under secret orders from Coin to kill Snow. Katniss and most of the group escape just before a squad of Peacekeepers arrive and destroy the building, killing the Leeg twins. The Capitol broadcasts a message announcing Katniss’s death, which is interrupted by Coin, who delivers an impassioned eulogy for her, to rally the rebels.

The team descends into the Capitol’s sewers to avoid further pods, but they are attacked by a horde of genetically engineered creatures called “mutts”. Jackson, Castor, and Homes are killed as the squad flees through the sewers. Finnick is overwhelmed as he fights off the swarm to allow the team to escape, forcing Katniss to set the Holo’s self-destruct, killing him and the remaining mutts. The surviving team members reach the surface but are chased by Peacekeepers, and Messalla is killed by a pod that melts and disintegrates him. The team takes refuge in a shop, where Tigris, a former Hunger Games stylist and rebel sympathizer, hides them in her basement.

As rebel forces gain ground, Snow invites fleeing Capitol citizens into his mansion for protection. Katniss and Gale join the crowd, posing as refugees to gain access to Snow. Rebels arrive and attack, killing many in the crossfire. In the chaos, Katniss pushes forward to Snow’s mansion, where Peacekeepers are herding Capitol children toward the closed gates. A hovercraft flies overhead, and drops small parcels by parachute into the pen of children. The parcels explode, killing them. A team of rebel medics attempt to help the injured, among whom is Katniss’s sister Prim. A second wave of bombs detonate, killing Prim and knocking Katniss unconscious. Upon recovering, Katniss learns the Capitol has been conquered, and Snow captured. When Katniss confronts Snow, he claims that Coin orchestrated the bombing outside his mansion to turn his soldiers against him. Katniss realizes that the incident resembles a trap that Gale had developed earlier. When Gale is unable to assure Katniss that the bombs were not of his design, Katniss cuts all ties with him. Coin invites the remaining Hunger Games victors to vote on a proposal to have another Hunger Games using the children of the Capitol, as a symbolic gesture to satisfy the districts. Katniss swings the vote in favor, in exchange for the right to execute Snow personally.

At the execution, Katniss shoots and kills Coin instead of Snow. The rebels take Katniss into custody, while Snow is tortured and killed by the angry mob. Katniss is eventually pardoned for her crime and returns to District 12, where she is joined by Peeta, who has recovered from his conditioning. Commander Paylor is elected the new President of Panem, and Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch bond over their shared trauma. Years later, Katniss and Peeta play with their two children, as Katniss contemplates the nightmares of her past, and somberly reflects that “there are much worse games to play.”

The special effects are amazing, and the film gripped me throughout. There are some chilling and sad moments and with some twists along the way. Music from previous films is used to powerful effect. Jennifer Lawrence puts in an incredible performance as Katniss, and there are other strong performances from the cast. I was sad to see this end series, but feel everyone involved can be incredibly proud of what has been achieved. An outstanding and thought provoking finale.

REVIEW: THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 1

CAST
Jennifer Lawrence (Behind Closed Doors)
Josh Hutcherson (Zathrua)
Liam Hemsworth (Triangle)
Elizbath Banks (Zack & Miri)
Donald Sutherland (The Italian Job 2003)
Woody Harrelson (Zombieland)
Willow Shields (Beyond The Blackboard)
Paula Malcomson (Caprica)
Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones)
Phillip Seymour Hoffman (The Ides of March)
Jeffrey Wright (Ali)
Sam Claflin (The Quiet Ones)
Jena Malone (Donnie Darko)
Julianne Moore (Hannibal)
Mahershala Ali (Predators)
Robert Knepper (Cult)
Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones)
Elden Henson (Daredevil)
Sarita Choudhury (Jessica Jones)

After being rescued from the destroyed arena in the 75th Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen, along with fellow Victors Beetee and Finnick Odair, are taken to District 13, an independent district isolated from the rest of Panem that has been spearheading the rebellion, where she is reunited with her mother and sister Prim. While recuperating, she is introduced to President Alma Coin, the rebel leader, and is told that her actions in the arena sparked riots and strikes against the Capitol. Coin asks her if she will become the “Mockingjay”—the symbol of the rebellion—as part of their “hearts and minds” strategy. Katniss flatly declines, angrily reminding her that they left Peeta Mellark, her portrayed lover and fellow District 12 tribute, behind in the arena. At the suggestion of Plutarch Heavensbee, the former Gamemaker, she is taken to see the ruins of District 12, which was completely leveled by a Capitol bombing campaign (with the exception of the houses in the Victor’s Village). After seeing that Peeta is being used by Capitol state television to quell the rebellion, Katniss reluctantly changes her mind and agrees to become Coin’s Mockingjay, on the condition that Peeta and the other victors will be rescued and pardoned at the earliest opportunity, and that her sister, Prim, will be allowed to keep her cat.
After Haymitch notes that Katniss thrives on spontaneity, she is introduced to her film team (led by Capitol escapee Cressida), is dressed up in a specially-designed outfit, and given Effie Trinket as a stylist and close friend Gale as a bodyguard. They go out to District 8 to visit a hospital, but as the visit concludes, a Capitol bombing squadron arrives and bombs the hospital, killing everyone inside. In her rage, Katniss gives a rousing speech to the camera, which is broadcast when Beetee hijacks the Capitol’s news feed. After it is broadcast, strikers in District 7 kill an entire team of Peacekeepers with hidden land mines.
After seeing a weakened Peeta on a TV propo (propaganda shots) the team then go back to District 12, where Gale tells the story of its destruction, and Katniss is filmed singing “The Hanging Tree”. Soon after, hundreds of protestors in District 5, singing the same anthem, launch a suicidal human wave attack against a hydroelectric dam that is the Capitol’s primary source of electricity. The attack succeeds, forcing the Capitol to revert to backup power generators and weakening their ability to broadcast their propaganda.
That night, Katniss watches Peeta being interviewed by Caesar Flickerman, the Games’ former presenter, when, in an apparent defiance of his captors, Peeta suddenly shouts a warning that the Capitol is about to attack District 13. Coin orders a mass evacuation into the underground shelters. While Prim is nearly locked out when she goes back to get her cat, everyone manages to get inside safely, and the facility survives the attack unharmed. Upon emerging, Katniss discovers that the area is littered with white roses, realizes that President Snow has sent them to taunt her, and presumes that he is about to kill Peeta. As Peeta’s warning gave the District an additional eight minutes evacuation time, Coin dispatches an elite special forces team, which includes Gale, to rescue him, along with Johanna Mason, and Annie Cresta, the remaining Victors, from their prison in the Capitol’s Tribute center. The rescue is successful. However, when Katniss goes to greet Peeta, he unexpectedly attacks and strangles her into unconsciousness, before being knocked unconscious himself by Boggs.
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Katniss wakes up in the medical facility, and is informed that Peeta has been “hijacked” — a form of physical/mental torture in which he is brainwashed into wanting to kill Katniss by associating memories of her with the psychological terror created by tracker jacker venom — explaining why the Capitol allowed Gale’s team to escape. Peeta is strapped to a bed and placed in a solitary confinement, while a serum is being developed to undo the effects of the hijacking. Meanwhile, Coin announces the successful rescue of the Victors, and that their next objective is the Capitol’s principal military stronghold in the ravines on District 2.
Excellent performances by actors and a very dramatic, dark mood rather.
An awesome film and a great build-up towards the grandiose finale .

REVIEW: THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE

 

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CAST
Jennifer Lawrence (Behind Closed Doors)
Josh Hutcherson (Zathrua)
Liam Hemsworth (Triangle)
Elizbath Banks (Zack & Miri)
Donald Sutherland (The Italian Job 2003)
Woody Harrelson (Zombieland)
Willow Shields (Beyond The Blackboard)
Paula Malcomson (Caprica)
Toby Jones (Your Highness)
Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones)
Phillip Seymour Hoffman (The Ides of March)
Alan Ritchson (Smallville)
Jeffrey Wright (Ali)
Amanda Plummer (Drunks)
Sam Claflin (The Quiet Ones)
Jena Malone (Donnie Darko)
Lenny Kravitz (The Butler)
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 After winning the 74th Hunger Games in the previous novel, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark return home to District 12, the poorest sector in the country of Panem. But on the day that Katniss and Peeta are to start a “Victory Tour” of the country, President Snow visits unexpectedly and tells Katniss that he is angry with her for breaking the rules at the end of the last Hunger Games, which permitted both Peeta and Katniss to win. Snow tells Katniss that when she defied the Capitol, she inspired rebellion in the districts.
The first stop on the Victory Tour is District 11, the home of Katniss’ deceased friend and ally in the Hunger Games, Rue. During the ceremony, Katniss delivers a speech thanking the people of District 11 for their participants in the Games. When she finishes, an old man whistles the tune that Rue used in the arena to tell Katniss that she was safe. The song acts as a signal and everyone salutes Katniss, using the same gesture that she used to say farewell to Rue. To the horror of Katniss, the old man and two others are executed. Katniss and Peeta travel to the rest of the twelve districts and the Capitol. Hoping to placate the growing rebellion and settle the dispute between Katniss and President Snow, Peeta proposes to Katniss during an interview. Despite this, Katniss learns that their attempt to avert revolt in the districts has failed.
Shortly after returning to District 12, Katniss discovers on the mayor’s television that District 8 has had an uprising, and she fears that what she has done to placate the crowds is not enough as there may be uprisings in other districts as well. She then meets two runaways from District 8, Bonnie and Twill. They explain their theory which contradicts what the other districts have been led to believe: District 13 was not completely wiped out by the Capitol, and that its residents survive in underground shelters.Later, it is announced that, for the 75th Hunger Games, twenty-four victors from previous years will be forced to compete once again. This is the third occurrence of the “Quarter Quell”: an event that occurs every 25th year of the Games and allows the Capitol to introduce a twist. Knowing that she and Peeta will both be competing in the Games a second time, Katniss decides that she will devote herself to ensuring that Peeta becomes the Quarter Quell’s victor and convinces her mentor to help her. Likewise, Peeta is devoted to protecting her, but both Katniss and her mentor are determined that only Peeta returns home safely.
During the Games, set in a jungle with a saltwater lake, Katniss and Peeta join up with two other previous victors: Finnick Odair, a 24-year-old man who survived the Games at the age of 14, and Mags, Finnick’s 80-year-old mentor, both from District 4. The party encounters poisonous fog in which Peeta comes into contact with the gas and cannot walk. Mags sacrifices herself in order to save Peeta and dies in the poisonous fog. After Mags’s death, Katniss, Peeta and Finnick join forces with Johanna Mason, a sarcastic and often cruel victor from District 7, and Beetee and Wiress, an older couple from District 3 who are said to be “exceptionally smart”. Wiress soon proves her genius by revealing to Katniss that the arena is arranged like a clock, with all of the arena’s disasters occurring on a timed chart. After Wiress is killed in a battle with the Careers (tributes from the first three districts who train all their lives for the Games and are usually the winners), Katniss learns of Beetee’s plan to harness lightning in order to electrocute Brutus and Enobaria, the two remaining Careers Tributes from District 2.
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In the final chapters, Katniss instead directs the lightning at the force field that contains the arena, thereby destroying the arena and resulting in her temporary paralysis. When Katniss wakes up, she is being transported to District 13, joined by Finnick, Beetee, and her mentor, Haymitch Abernathy. She learns that Peeta, Enobaria, and Johanna have been captured by the Capitol, and is informed that there had been a plan among half of the contestants to break out of the arena— Beetee had been attempting to destroy the force field in the same way that she did. The book ends when Katniss’ best friend, Gale, comes to visit her and informs her that, though he got her family out in time, District 12 has been destroyed.
Incredible, memorable film, well worth seeing even if you haven’t the read the books.

REVIEW: THE HUNGER GAMES

CAST
Jennifer Lawrence (Serena)
Josh Hutcherson (Zathrua)
Liam Hemsworth (Triangle)
Elizbath Banks (Zack & Miri)
Donald Sutherland (The Italian Job 2003)
Woody Harrelson (Zombieland)
Wes Bentley (Ghost Rider)
Willow Shields (Beyond The Blackboard)
Paula Malcomson (Caprica)
Toby Jones (Your Highness)
Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones)
Leven Rambin (Terminator: TSSC)
Lenny Kravitz (The Butler)
Amandla Stenberg (The Darkest Minds)
Jack Quaid (The Boys)
Isabelle Fuhrman (Orphan)
Alexander Ludwig (Vikings)
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As punishment for a past rebellion, each the twelve districts of Panem are forced by the victorious Capitol to annually select by lot two tributes, one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18, to fight to the death in the Hunger Games. In District 12, Katniss Everdeen volunteers when her younger sister Primrose is initially chosen. She and the male tribute, Peeta Mellark, are escorted to the Capitol by chaperone Effie Trinket and their mentor Haymitch Abernathy, a past District 12 victor and alcoholic. Haymitch impresses on them the importance of gaining sponsors, as they can provide gifts of food and supplies during the Games. During part of a series of televised interviews, Peeta publicly expresses his love for Katniss, which she initially takes as an attempt to earn sponsor favor, but later learns his love is genuine. While training, Katniss observes the Careers, Marvel, Glimmer, Cato, and Clove, tributes from Districts 1 and 2 who have been training for the Games from a young age.
At the start of the Games, Katniss ignores Haymitch’s advice and grabs supplies from the ground around the Cornucopia, the structure where the contestants start, and narrowly avoids being killed; about a quarter of the tributes are killed in the initial melee, and only eleven survive the first day. Katniss tries to stay as far away from the other competitors as possible, but Head Gamemaker Seneca Crane triggers a forest fire to drive her back towards the others. She runs into the Careers, with whom Peeta has seemingly allied, and flees up a tree. Peeta advises the others to wait her out.
She notices Rue, District 11’s young female tribute, hiding in an adjacent tree. Rue silently draws her attention to a nest of poisonous tracker jackers. Katniss drops it onto the sleeping Careers, killing Glimmer and forcing the others to flee, though she herself is stung and becomes disoriented from the venom. Peeta yells at her to run away. Rue helps Katniss recover from the poison; they become friends. Katniss devises a plan to destroy the cache of supplies that the Careers have been hoarding. After Katniss succeeds, Marvel finds them and kills Rue before Katniss can shoot Marvel with her bow. Katniss comforts Rue; after the girl dies, the grieving Katniss places flowers around her body. The people of District 11 watch and then riot, leading President Snow to warn Crane that these Games are not turning out well.
Haymitch persuades Crane to change the rules to allow two winners if they are from the same district, suggesting that this will quiet the unrest. When this change is announced, Katniss searches for Peeta, finding him wounded after fleeing from the Careers. After she moves him to safety, they hear an announcement that what each survivor needs the most will be provided at the Cornucopia. Despite Peeta’s strong opposition, Katniss leaves to get medicine for him. Clove attacks and pins her down; she then boasts about her part in Rue’s death. Katniss is saved when Thresh, District 11’s male tribute, kills Clove. He spares Katniss’s life — once — for Rue’s sake. The medicine heals Peeta.
Thresh is killed by wild beasts unleashed by Crane; Katniss and Peeta race to the roof of the Cornucopia, just ahead of the animals. There they find Cato. After an intense fight, Peeta manages to throw Cato to the ground, where the beasts attack him. Katniss then ends Cato’s agony by shooting him with an arrow. Katniss and Peeta think they have won, but Crane cancels the rule change: there can be only one victor. Katniss then convinces Peeta to eat poisonous Nightlock with her. Just before they do, they are hastily named co-winners of the 74th Hunger Games.
Afterward, Haymitch warns Katniss that she has made many enemies by her acts of defiance. Snow has Crane locked in a room with Nightlock. As Katniss and Peeta return to District 12, Snow ponders the situation. Katniss encourages Peeta to forget what happened between them in the Games, devastating him.
Jennifer, with her honesty and rebellious attitude has become the fan favorite and our favorite because she is the only contestant that we know. She lacks the killer instinct…until she must. Alliances form and everyone wants to get the fan favorite aka Rambette Jennifer Lawrence, who did an excellent job to give girls a heroine being both a compassionate woman and a huntress. Like all reality TV shows, when the drama starts to fade the program directors add an element to push it in the direction that they want. An excellent film.

REVIEW: BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA (2007)

 

CAST

Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games)
AnnaSophia Robb (The Reaping)
Zooey Deschanel (New Girl)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Bailee Madison (Brothers)
Kate Butler (30 Days of Night)
Emma Fenton (Filthy Rich)
Latham Gaines (Power Rangers Dino Thudner)
James Gaylyn (Power Rangers RPM)
Ian Harcourt (Power Rangers Megaforce)

Jesse “Jess” Aarons (Josh Hutcherson) is a twelve-year-old aspiring artist living with his financially struggling family in Lark Creek. He rides the bus to school with his little sister May Belle (Bailee Madison), where he avoids the school bully Janice Avery (Lauren Clinton). In class, Jess is teased by classmates Scott Hoager (Cameron Wakefield) and Gary Fulcher (Elliot Lawless), and meets new student Leslie Burke (AnnaSophia Robb). At recess, Jess enters a running event, for which he had been training at home. Leslie also enters and manages to beat all the boys, much to Jess’ irritation. On the way home, Jess and Leslie learn that they are next-door neighbors.Later in the evening, Jess becomes frustrated when he finds that May Belle has drawn in his notebook, but his strict father (Robert Patrick) sides with her. He later watches them gardening together, disappointed that his father does not spend time with him. The next day at school, Leslie compliments Jess’ drawing ability after seeing his notebook, and they soon become friends. After school, they venture into the woods and swing across a creek on a rope. Jess and Leslie find an abandoned tree house on the other side, and invent a new world, which they call Terabithia. The fantasy world, which is a reflection on their lives, comes to life through their eyes as they explore the surroundings. For the next few days, Jess and Leslie spend their free time in the tree house getting to know each other.Leslie gives Jess an art kit on his birthday, much to his delight. Jess becomes angry with his father’s attitude towards him, and refuses the existence of Terabithia the next day at school. Afterwards, Jess apologizes to Leslie by giving her a puppy, whom she names Prince Terrien. Once in Terabithia, they fight with various creatures, including a troll resembling Janice. At school, Leslie becomes frustrated by Janice’s fee for entering the toilet. Jess and Leslie play a prank on Janice, and she becomes the laughing stock of everyone on the bus. Once Leslie’s parents finish their book, she and Jess help paint their house. Jess is impressed by her parents happiness, and smiles as he watches their family. At school, Leslie discovers that Janice gets hit by her father, and they become friends. Jess tells Leslie that his father is always mad at him. Jess and Leslie take P.T. to Terabithia, where they fight off several creatures resembling students at their school. They decide to go home, and Jess smiles as Leslie runs away.The next morning, Ms. Edmunds (Zooey Deschanel), Jess’ music teacher, calls to invite him on a one-on-one field trip to an art museum. Jess tries to ask his mother’s permission; however, she is half-asleep and he takes her mumbling as approval. Jess doesn’t ask Leslie to accompany him, and merely looks at her house as they drive by. When he returns home, Jess finds that his father and mother are worried sick because they didn’t know where he was. His father tells him that Leslie had died that morning while trying to swing across the rain-swollen creek.The following day, Jesse and his parents visit the Burke family home to pay their respects. Leslie’s father, Bill Burke (Latham Gaines), tells Jess that she loved him, and thanks him for being a very good friend to her, since she had trouble making friends at her old school. Jess feels overwhelming guilt for Leslie’s death, but his father consoles him to keep their friendship alive for her sake. Jess decides to re-imagine Terabithia and builds a bridge across the river to welcome a new ruler. He invites his sister, May Belle to enter Terabithia; she is delighted because she was previously denied any opportunity to enter. She and Jess bring back Terabithia in even greater splendor, with Jess as king and his sister as princess.This intelligent family flick is a bitter-sweet tale of friendship and first love, with distinct echoes of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. It deals with issues like family loyalty, bullying, tragic loss, chasing one’s dreams and believing in yourself. The child actors give brilliant and very moving performances, and somewhat exceptionally for a film of this nature, an unexpected and tear-jerking death features very prominently. All in all, this is a marvellous fantasy film, but the very sweet moments are tinged with a palpable sense of tragedy too.