REVIEW: PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES

CAST

Johnny Depp (Into The Woods)
Penelope Cruz (Grimsby)
Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech)
Ian McShane (Hercules)
Kevin McNally (Valkyrie)
Sam Clafin (The Quiet Ones)
Astrid Bergès-Frisbey (I Origins)
Keith Richards (The Simpsons)
Stephen Graham (Gangs of New York)
Richard Griffiths (Harry Potter)
Judi Dench (Skyfall)
Gemma Ward (The Great Gatsby)
Luke Roberts (Reign)

After a failed attempt to rescue his first mate, Joshamee Gibbs in London, Captain Jack Sparrow is brought before King George II. The king wants Jack to guide an expedition to the Fountain of Youth before King Ferdinand and the Spanish Navy can locate it. Jack’s old nemesis, Captain Hector Barbossa, now a privateer in service to the British Navy after losing his leg and ship, the Black Pearl, which he says was sunk, is heading the expedition. Jack refuses the offer and escapes. He meets up with his father, Captain Teague, who warns Jack about the Fountain’s rituals. Jack learns someone is impersonating him to recruit a crew to find the Fountain. The impostor is Angelica, Jack’s former lover, and the daughter of the ruthless pirate Blackbeard, who practices voodoo magic and wields the mythical “Sword of Triton” that controls his ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge. While Jack is shanghaied aboard Blackbeard’s ship, Gibbs escapes execution by memorizing and destroying Jack’s map showing the Fountain’s location, forcing Barbossa to take him along.

Meanwhile, after a failed mutiny aboard the Queen Anne’s Revenge, Jack is forced to guide the crew to the Fountain. Blackbeard seeks the Fountain’s power to circumvent his predestined fatal encounter with a “one-legged man”, who happened to be Barbossa. Jack must find two silver chalices aboard Juan Ponce de León’s missing flagship, the Santiago. The Fountain’s water must simultaneously be drunk by two people from the chalices. Drinking from one chalice containing a mermaid’s tear will extend life; the second person dies, their remaining years of life transferred to the other drinker. Jack also discovers that the Black Pearl was captured and shrunk before being added to Blackbeard’s collection of other shrunken ships in bottles.

The Queen Anne’s Revenge heads for Whitecap Bay to find and harvest mermaid tears. A mermaid named Syrena is caught, but Philip Swift, a captive missionary, falls in love with her. Reaching Ponce de León’s ship on an uncharted island, Angelica and Blackbeard coerce Jack into retrieving both chalices. Jack locates the grounded, decaying vessel, only to find Barbossa there. Both claim that the Spanish have taken the chalices, after it was nowhere to be found on the vessel.

Jack and Barbossa team up to sneak into the Spanish camp and steal the chalices. Barbossa reveals he only wants revenge against Blackbeard for attacking the Black Pearl, and his leg being amputated. Jack and Barbossa escape with the chalices. Meanwhile, Syrena, reciprocating Philip’s love, is tricked into shedding a tear. Blackbeard collects it, leaving her to die while Philip is forced to go with them. Jack returns with the chalices and bargains with Blackbeard for Angelica’s safety, Jack’s confiscated magical compass, and Gibbs’ release. In return, Jack vows to give Blackbeard the chalices and lead him to the Fountain; Blackbeard agrees, and Gibbs is set free with the compass.

At the Fountain, Blackbeard’s crew are confronted by Barbossa and his men and they battle while Barbossa and Blackbeard fight. The Spanish suddenly arrive, intending to destroy the Fountain, believing its power an abomination against God. When Barbossa stabs Blackbeard with a poisoned sword, Angelica pulls it out but is cut and poisoned. Barbossa obtains Blackbeard’s magic sword and gains control of the Queen Anne’s Revenge and her crew. Philip is mortally wounded, but he returns to free Syrena. She retrieves the missing chalices and gives them to Jack, telling him not to waste her tear. Syrena goes back to the dying Philip. She says she can save him if he asks her to. When he asks for her forgiveness, she takes him underwater.skeletyi-v-shkafuWith Blackbeard and Angelica both nearing death, Jack wants Angelica to drink from the chalice containing the tear. Instead, Blackbeard drinks it, asking his daughter to sacrifice herself. Angelica agrees and drinks from the second chalice. Anticipating that the self-serving Blackbeard would sacrifice his daughter, Jack lied about which chalice contained the tear to save Angelica’s life and Blackbeard’s soul. Angelica’s wounds are healed as the Fountain fatally consumes Blackbeard’s body. Although Angelica claimed she loves Jack, he distrusts her intentions and strands her on a cay. Now wielding Blackbeard’s magical sword, Barbossa captains the Queen Anne’s Revenge and returns to piracy.  Jack finds Gibbs, who had used the compass to locate the Revenge. He reclaimed the shrunken Black Pearl and the other conquered ships in bottles, carrying them in a gunny sack. The two leave, hoping to revert the Black Pearl to its original size. In a post-credits scene, a voodoo doll of Jack crafted by Blackbeard washes ashore and is found by grinning Angelica.On Stranger Tides is not a perfect film, but as an installment to a decent enough franchise it is a more than worthy one. I’m pretty sure if you’re looking for a good time going into it, you will have fun.

Advertisements

REVIEW: THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR

 

CAST

Chris Hemsworth (Thor)
Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Jessica Chastain (The Martian)
Emily Blunt (Looper)
Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz)
Rob Brydon (Cinderella)
Sheridan Smith (Cilla)
Alexandra Roach (The Iron Lady)
Sam Claflin (The Quiet Ones)
Sophie Cookson (Kingsman)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Liam Neeson (Batman Begins)

Long before her death, the evil sorceress, Queen Ravenna, (Charlize Theron) learns that her younger sister Freya (Emily Blunt) is not only engaged in an illicit affair with a noblemen Andrew (Colin Morgan), but is also carrying his child. Sometime after Freya gives birth to a baby girl, Freya discovers that Andrew has murdered their child and, and in a grief-fueled rage, Freya kills him with her long-dormant ice powers.

Freya abandons the kingdom and build herself a new kingdom in the north. She orders children to be abducted so as to train them to be fearsome huntsmen to conquer for her, and to harden their hearts so to spare them the pain of losing someone they love. Despite the training, two of her best huntsmen Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain), grow up only to fall in love with each other, secretly marry and plan to escape together. However Freya discovers their secrets. She confronts them and creates a massive ice wall to separate them before forcing Eric to watch Sara be killed by her fellow huntsmen. Eric then was cast out and left to die, only to somehow survive.

Seven years later, and after Ravenna’s death, Queen Snow White falls ill after hearing Ravenna’s Magic Mirror calling her. Because of its dark magic, she ordered it to be taken to the Sanctuary, the magical place that sheltered Snow White during the events leading to Ravenna’s death, so that the mirror’s magic can be forever contained there. Snow White’s husband, William, informs Eric that the soldiers tasked with carrying the Mirror went missing while en route to the Sanctuary. Eric is aware that Freya has been secretly observing their conversation through a mask that projects her consciousness in the form of a magically animated Snowy owl, and he destroys it. Knowing the magic of the mirror can make Freya even stronger, Eric agrees to investigate, but reluctantly allows Snow White’s dwarf ally Nion (Nick Frost) and his half-brother Gryff (Rob Brydon) to come along.

While en route to the last known location of the soldiers, the trio are attacked by a number of Freya’s huntsmen, but are rescued by Sara. Sara reveals that she had been imprisoned by Freya the entire time, only to escape recently. Sara believes she saw Eric running away rather than fighting to get to her, and feels betrayed. Eric tries to convince her that it was a vision conjured by Freya, since he himself saw Sara being murdered. He told Sara he never stopped loving her, however Sara is not convinced. Eventually Sara agrees to work with Eric and the dwarves only to thwart Freya.

Sometime later, the quartet is ensnared in a trap laid out by female dwarves Bromwyn (Sheridan Smith) and Doreena (Alexandra Roach). They convince the female dwarves to help find the Mirror, and the female dwarves lead them to the goblins, whom the female dwarves suspected of taking the mirror. The party fight off the goblins to get to the Mirror, and Eric sacrifices himself to buy time for the party to escape with the mirror. Sara mourns his apparent death, only to see Eric somehow survived. Eric reveals that he had never taken off a medallion Sara gave him as a token of her love.

With the Mirror, the party is about to reach the Sanctuary, only to be ambushed by Freya and her huntsmen. Freya reveals Sara is loyal to Freya all along, and Sara has been using them to find the Mirror. In the ensuing chaos, Nion and Doreena are turned into ice statues, and Sara fires an arrow into Eric’s chest by Freya’s order. Freya departs with the Magic Mirror, but she is unaware that Sara intentionally shot the arrow at the medallion she gave Eric, thus saving him and revealing Sara’s true feelings.

Back in her palace up north, Freya approaches the mirror and asks who is the fairest of them all. The mirror replies by forming a golden liquid, eventually transforming into Ravenna. Ravenna reveals that her spirit is trapped and becomes one with the mirror after Snow White vanquished her, but she is now freed by Freya. Ravenna proceeds to usurp Freya’s rule by preparing Freya’s huntsmen to exact revenge on Snow White’s kingdom, without consulting Freya.

Meanwhile, Eric has infiltrated the ice palace with help of Gryff and Bromwyn. He attempts to assassinate Freya, only to be stopped by Ravenna. When Freya realizes that Sara hadn’t actually killed Eric, she reluctantly sentences them both to death because of Ravenna’s manipulation. However, Eric is able to convince a few huntsmen to rebel, claiming the love of brethren. Ravenna begins to kill the huntsmen. Freya, realizing that she loves her huntsmen, protects them with an ice wall and separating them from the sisters. As Eric, Sara and the rebelling huntsmen climb over the wall to fight Ravenna and Freya, the two sisters argue over the icy kingdom. Freya discovers that Ravenna ultimately caused the death of Freya’s child, so Freya finally turns against her sister. Freya is no match for Ravenna and is stabbed, but with her remaining strength Freya freezes the magic mirror. Eric shatters the mirror, thus destroying Ravenna. As Freya dies from her wounds, she smiles at the sight of a vision of her old loving self, and gladly witnessing Eric and Sara together.

With Freya’s death, all those who had been imprisoned by Freya’s magic are now free, including Nion and Doreena. Meanwhile, a mysterious golden bird flies overhead, hinting that Ravenna’s spirit may still live.

It’s a film involving magic, dwarves, Goblins, an ice kingdom and sisterly rivalry! I found the story to be reasonably engaging, and the action sequences to be exciting. The visual effects are  quite amazing (especially when the Freya character unleashes her icy powers). While it’s certainly not a sophisticated story, it is good fun – and ought to be judged in those terms (as a visual spectacle and action fantasy film).

 

REVIEW: SNOW WHITE & THE HUNTSMAN

 

CAST

Kristen Stewart (Twilight)
Chris Hemsworth (Thor)
Charlize Theron (Hancock)
Sam Clafin (The Quiet Ones)
Sam Spruell (The Hurt Locker)
Ian McShane (Hercules)
Bob Hoskins (Hollywoodland)
Ray Winstone (The Departed)
Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz)
Eddie Marsan (Sherlock Holmes)
Toby Jones (The Hunger Games)
Johnny Harris (Atonement)
Vincent Regan (300)
Lily Cole (The Moth Diaries)

While admiring a rose blooming in the winter, Queen Eleanor of the Kingdom of Tabor pricks her finger on one of its thorns. Three drops of blood fall onto the snow-covered ground, and she wishes for a daughter as white as the snow, with lips as red as the blood, hair as black as a raven’s wings and a heart as strong and defiant as the rose. Queen Eleanor gives birth to her daughter Snow White, but soon after falls ill and dies. After her death, Snow White’s father, King Magnus, and his army battle an invading Dark Army of demonic glass soldiers. Upon rescuing their prisoner Ravenna, he becomes enchanted with her beauty and marries her.

Ravenna, who is in fact a powerful sorceress and the Dark Army’s master, kills Magnus on their wedding night. On the night, Magnus, enchanted, throws Ravenna into the bed and proceeds to make love. Ravenna confesses there was a king much like Magnus that spoiled her. During foreplay, she declares she cannot be a weak queen and kills Magnus. Snow White’s childhood friend William and his father Duke Hammond escape the castle but are unable to rescue her, and she is captured by Ravenna’s brother Finn, and locked away in the north tower of the castle for many years.

Tabor is ruined under Queen Ravenna’s rule as she periodically drains the youth from the kingdom’s young women in order to maintain a spell cast over her as a child by her mother which allows her to keep her youthful beauty. When Snow White comes of age, Queen Ravenna learns from her Magic Mirror, in the form of a golden, reflective liquid shaped like a man, that her stepdaughter Snow White is destined to destroy her unless Queen Ravenna consumes the young girl’s heart, which will make her truly immortal. Queen Ravenna orders Finn to bring her Snow White’s heart, but she escapes into the Dark Forest, where Ravenna has no power. Queen Ravenna makes a bargain with Eric the Huntsman, a widower and drunkard, to capture Snow White, promising to bring his wife back to life in exchange. The Huntsman tracks down Snow White, but when Finn reveals that Queen Ravenna does not actually have the power to do what she promised, the Huntsman fights him and his men while Snow White runs away. When the Huntsman catches up with her, she promises him gold if he will escort her to Duke Hammond’s castle. Meanwhile, Finn gathers another band of men to find her, and Duke Hammond and his son William learn that she is alive. William leaves the castle on his own to find her, joining Finn’s band as a bowman.

The Huntsman and Snow White leave the Dark Forest, where she saves his life by charming a huge troll that attacks them. They make their way to a fishing village populated by women who have disfigured themselves to save their own lives, becoming useless to Queen Ravenna. While there, the Huntsman learns Snow White’s true identity, and initially leaves her in the care of the women. He soon returns when he sees the village being burned down by Finn’s men. Snow White and the Huntsman evade them and eventually meet a band of eight dwarves named Beith, Muir, Quert, Coll, Duir, Gort, Nion, and Gus. The blind Muir perceives that Snow White is the daughter of the former king, and the only person who can defeat Ravenna and end her reign.

As they travel through a fairy sanctuary, the group is attacked by Finn and his men. The Huntsman battles Finn and kills him, and William reveals himself and helps defeat Finn’s men. However, Gus is killed when he sacrifices himself to take an arrow meant for Snow White. William joins the group which continues the journey to Hammond’s castle.

Halfway to Duke Hammond’s castle, Queen Ravenna disguises herself as William and tempts Snow White into eating a poisoned apple, but is forced to flee when the Huntsman and William discover her. William kisses Snow White, whom he believes to be dead. She is taken to Hammond’s castle. As she lies in repose, the Huntsman professes his regret for not saving Snow White, who reminds him of his late wife, Sara, and he kisses her, breaking the spell. She awakens and walks into the courtyard, and rallies the Duke’s army to mount a siege against Queen Ravenna.

The dwarves infiltrate the castle through the sewers and open the gates, allowing the Duke’s army inside. Snow White confronts Queen Ravenna, but is overpowered. Queen Ravenna is about to kill Snow White and consume her heart, but Snow White uses a move the Huntsman taught her and seemingly kills Queen Ravenna, and Duke Hammond’s army is victorious. With Queen Ravenna defeated and dead, the kingdom once again enjoys peace and harmony as Snow White is crowned Queen and she and the Huntsman exchange looks before it cuts to chants of “Hail to the queen!”

This film is not going to win many awards, nor will it be a favorite of the year, but it is entirely a good movie. Stunning visual effects, many great landscape shots, good acting, great action, and a believable storyline. This is not the Disney film you are used to, but a much grittier and more mature take on the original tale.

 

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)

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)

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.
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

 

Untitled
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)
 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. 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.

31 DAYS OF HORROR REVIEW: THE QUIET ONES

CAST

Jared Harris (Pompeii)
Sam Claflin (Snow White and The Huntsman)
Erin Richards (Gotham)
Rory Fleck Byrne (Bodies)
Olivia Cooke (Bates Motel)

Having hit the international jackpot with “The Woman in Black,” the revived Hammer Films label follows up with a title that lacks that haunted-house pic’s familiarity of source material, highly accessible premise and equivalently marketable star. Instead, “The Quiet Ones” presents rising actor Sam Claflin as an average guy participating in an ethically dubious scientific experiment into psychic disturbance. The 1970s setting offers a retro feel that should strike appealing chords for fans of old-school horror.May 1974, Oxford. Local lad Brian McNeil (Claflin), who works in the university’s audiovisual unit, is projecting archival research material to accompany a lecture delivered by paranormal psychology expert Joseph Coupland (Jared Harris). Would the young man be willing to film the professor’s potentially groundbreaking work with a profoundly disturbed woman named Jane Harper. The treatment seems less than academically rigorous — for some reason, Jane is subjected to music hits such as Slade’s “Cum on Feel the Noize” at deafening volumes — but an intrigued Brian agrees.

After getting shut down by a nervous university establishment, Coupland’s pet project is happily relocated to more photogenic accommodations in a sprawling country estate. There, the professor, the cameraman and two romantically entangled students — Krissi (Erin Richards) and Harry (Rory Fleck-Byrne) — hunker down with traumatized Jane in a bid to monitor and extract her “negative brain energy.” “Cure one patient, we cure mankind,” declares a messianic Coupland.

Exactly how the university employees and students are able to abruptly abandon their jobs and studies in the middle of the summer term — or where, for that matter, Brian’s footage (which is in fact shot digitally on the Arri Alexa) is being developed and printed — is left to the viewer’s imagination. Instead, attention is pulled toward the highly arresting Jane and her malignant alter ego, Evey, who resides in a child’s plastic doll. B

An easy diagnosis for Jane would be demonic possession, especially when devilish symbols start appearing on skin, and the temperature of Krissi’s bath water is raised to the boiling point, even after she and Harry have returned to the ostensible safety of campus. Really, just how far can Jane’s negative telekinetic energy go? But Coupland resists any supernatural explanations, stubbornly clinging to his own scientific hypothesis right up until the hectic climax.The presence of Brian’s camera gives director John Pogue (“Quarantine 2: Terminal”) plenty of opportunity to throw in found-footage verite as well as jittery handheld sequences, and few will worry too much about the film’s lax standards with regard to its self-filmed conceit. The opening credits make use of that oft-abused expression “inspired by actual events,” and indeed, the story here is based on an actual case in which Toronto researchers attempted to harvest their own emotional energy. The big leap from that particular scientific investigation to the freaky occurrences depicted here needn’t trouble us unduly, but the fact remains that Dr. A.R.G. Owen’s real-life “Philip Experiment” doesn’t sound interesting enough to give Lionsgate and Hammer much of an additional marketing hook equivalent to, say, the paranormal investigators whose work inspired “The Conjuring.”