Tag Archives: Set in future

Review of The Hunger Games (2012)

16 Apr

The Hunger Games (2012) is an action/drama/sci-fi film based on the novel of the same name by Suzanne Collins.

Directed by Gary Ross (Pleasantville (1998), Seabiscuit (2003)).

Written by Gary Ross (Big (1988), Dave (1993)), Billy Ray (The Shooter (1995), State of Play (2009)) and Suzanne Collins (Clarissa Explains It All (1991 TV), The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo (1996 TV)) .

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Stanley Tucci, Liam Hemsworth, Wes Bentley, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Lenny Kravitz and others.

So here is the movie, the marketing tried to tell us is going to be the next Twilight. And that is a fucking insult. Except for its target demographic, there’s nothing these two have in common. Twilight is a characterless romance with a gimmick and The Hunger Games is a cool action drama for young people. Another comparison that is often brought up is Battle Royale and some other similar films, but the survival reality TV wasn’t a new concept even when Battle Royale was made. Why didn’t we draw the line after The Running Man or even earlier Death Race 2000, in an age of constant idea recycling, this is not a serious offense.

And now even more than ever this satire of reality television makes sense. During the contest we get all the staples of modern reality TV, forced romances, very antagonistic characters, fake obstacles created by the producers, sleazy hosts and so on.

It’s also very stylistic movie and I think this could get an Oscar nomination for production design. It is abundant with weird anime inspired/Neo-Victorian outfits for the upper class members of the society and some early 20th century common plain clothes for the working class.

Jennifer Lawrence, who I think is one of the most promising new actresses, doesn’t disappoint here and is solid as Katniss, who volunteers for the game show, after her sister is chosen and thank god, because her sister was a total wimp, she would’ve been dead in 5 minutes. Most of the other contestants are either not given enough screen time to do much (would have loved to see more of Isabelle Fuhrman) or they are just ok.

The adult characters, however, are very fun to watch. Woody Harrelson, is a winner of the games, who now is a drunk mentor for the District 12 contestants and he’s just amazingly entertaining. Also here he looks like an older Josh Holloway. Elizabeth Banks I didn’t even recognize under a heavy layer of make-up that looks like taken straight off of Helena Bonham Carter in Alice In Wonderland. She also acts appropriately over-the-top. As does Stanley Tucci being the overacting host with blue hair, who really knows how to milk the contestants for the right emotions, both from them and audience. Seems like the director told all the adult main actors to turn their eccentricity up to eleven. Lenny Kravitz went the other way though and just put on some golden eye-liner. Donald Sutherland does what he does best, plays a cold bastard.

The main negative point was the way it was shot. At the start of the movie we get some very shaky handheld shots of static things and I didn’t suspect that it was getting me ready for some of the later way more extreme shaking. In order to get the PG-13 rating they decided to keep some of the violence in, but make it totally incoherent. Seriously, after a couple of minutes of seeing stuff that looked like it was shot handheld by Michael J. Fox trying to stand while wearing roller skates, where the wheels are replaced by rotating vibrators, I thought it’s going to be the first time I’ll get motion sickness from a movie.

Overall, a good movie, I liked it and could recommend basically to anyone.

Pictured: Jennifer Lawrence interviewed by Meryl Streep on the set of The Iron Lady.

Review of Jason X (2001)

22 Mar

Jason X (2001) is a slasher/sci-fi/thriller film and the 10th film in the Friday the 13th franchise.

Directed by James Isaac (The Horror Show (1989), Skinwalkers (2006)).

Written by Todd Farmer (Drive Angry (2011), Messengers 2: The Scarecrow (2009)).

Starring: Kane Hodder, Lisa Ryder, Lexa Doig, David Cronenberg, Barna Moritz, Todd Farmer and others.

So who had this brilliant idea? Where would Jason feel most out-of-place? In space! So there he goes. But let’s backtrack a bit.

We start with him being shackled in some military/science facility. It might sound not too far-fetched, but trust me, it doesn’t make any fucking sense. Have they seen any of the previous films? So there he is all fine, just standing there, with his now fuzzy hair and weird-looking hockey mask. Then he kills a bunch of people and is free, he has pulled a machete out of his ass and all, when he is frozen.

A couple of hundred years later he is found by some people and he wakes up in what looks like a bad SyFy channel movie. I thought just seeing Jason in the age of CGI is weird, but seeing him in the 25th century on a spaceship, is a bit too much.

There’s some nice kills, like smashing of a frozen face or an homage to the classic sleeping bag kill, but most of the time I was at a constant cringe state. Mostly due to the acting, the robot chick was just unbearable.

But despite it’s blatant stupidity and ridiculous concept, it is kind of fun and entertaining movie, if not in the traditional, then in the so-bad-it’s-good sense. I hate to admit I enjoyed something as awful as this, but I sort of did.

If I had to describe this in movie in comparison to another one, I’d say it is a brightly lit Alien with Jason as the monster, unlikable characters and no suspense. So basically it’s nothing like Alien. And if that is the benchmark of space horror, then you can see what’s the problem here. You rarely get a slasher flick in space, but if this is it, then it’s not a great loss.

The gore is decent at times, but it lacks any Friday the 13th feel to it, since the spaceship is like Star Trek sterile. There’s barely any nudity.

You sure can’t blame the filmmakers for not trying anything new, but you can blame them for trying the most idiotic new thing possible.

Apparently Jason isn’t so bullet resistant in the future, since they manage to shoot his extremities off. And a minute later we get a cyborg-Jason. Even in this movie, it seemed pretty damn ridiculous. He looks kind of cool, but at the same time totally fucking idiotic.

While a character is in danger, she says „this sucks on so many levels”, clever right? See how she got her little review of Jason X in the movie? That’s some meta-humor right there. Unless she’s just referring to the fact that she is being sucked into space.

The best part of the movie might be a little sequence of Jason walking into a simulation of 80’s in the woods. You feel some sweet nostalgia and then you get the rest of the stupid movie.

Overall, it is ridiculous and idiotic, looks cheap and has bad acting, but I’d recommend seeing it, just because I think this is something that you just have to see to believe it and you might have some fun as well.

Pictured: Even Jason feels nostalgia.

Review of The Running Man (1987)

27 Dec

The Running Man (1987) is a sci-fi/action/comedy film, which is very loosely based on the Stephen King’s novel of the same name.

Directed by Paul Michael Glaser (The Cutting Edge (1992), Kazaam (1996)), who is best known for portraying David Starsky in the hit TV series Starsky & Hutch.

Written by Steven E. de Souza (Street Fighter (1994), Die Hard (1988)), known for being the writer behind some of the biggest blockbusters starring various action stars.

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria Conchita Alonso, Yaphet Kotto, Jim Brown, Jesse Ventura, Mick Fleetwood and others.

And again I’m thrown into a dystopian version of future, the year 2019, as I wonder how come the future looks like 80’s so much. But before that we can enjoy a sequence where Arnold’s character is framed by government using some security footage taken from a conversation in a helicopter. For our enjoyment the footage is 35mm film quality, shot from multiple angles, from cameras which we don’t see from a directly opposite angle and so forth.

Then we see Arnold in prison rocking an awesome beard, which I wish he had left for the rest of the film, but sadly no.

Of course, he escapes and soon he meets Maria Conchita Alonso. This leads to me being exposed to some painful dialogue between two people with the most heavy accents they could’ve gotten. As usual I’m led to wondering why people never address his accent in his movies. It’s like “hey people, I know this is movie is about people fighting for their lives in awful outfits on public television, but what you really have to suspend your disbelief for is this huge guy always talking with an accent thicker than John Holmes’ penis.”

In comparison with the novel this can barely be called an adaptation, Schwarzenegger is the most inappropriate casting for Ben Richards. Somehow there’s more than one movie where there’s this ordinary guy that easily blends in and then they cast this 6-foot tall Austrian bodybuilder, because minor shit like characters don’t matter. Arnold did a bit more similar character to Ben Richards in Total Recall, but it’s still fucking Conan, wearing a jacket.

The movie attempts at the kind of social satire, that was popular and sort of worked in the 80’s, but it doesn’t come close to how well it was done in Robocop. There’s a Star Trek joke that actually works better now.

There’s a scene where some people watch a TV in a bar and I bet the extras weren’t told that they are reacting to a bunch of girls dancing, because I don’t think they would be so excited, cheering and yelling “yeah, go!” all the time.

Of course they decide to dress the leads into the most ridiculous looking spandex suits I’ve ever seen. And not all of the actors are as fit as Arnold, who tries to redeem his outfit by saying “I’ll be back” once again.

I’d like to see a remake of this, that would tone down the cheesiness and follow the novel closer by going for a tone more similar to that of Blade Runner perhaps.

Of course this doesn’t come close to Batman & Robin, but a pretty big portion of Arnold’s dialogue consists of just bad puns and one-liners. Then again, the same can be said about Arnold’s career as a whole. On the other hand who else can deliver a line like this “I live to see you eat that contract, but I hope you leave enough room for my fist because I’m going to ram it into your stomach and break your goddamn spine!”?

Overall it’s a really bad and over-the-top film, but if you’re anything like me and have a significant amount of appreciation for cheesy 80’s action movies I think you will enjoy it as well. Recommended for all the wrong reasons.

Pictured: What everyone will be wearing 8 years from now.

Review of Death Race 2000 (1975)

2 Oct

Death Race 2000 (1975) – is a sci-fi/action/dark comedy film,  based on the short story The Racer by Ib Melchior.

Directed by Paul Bartel (Eating Raoul (1982), Cannonball! (1976)), a moderately successful low-budget director.

Written by Robert Thom (Wild in the Streets (1968), Bloody Mama (1970)) and Charles B. Griffith (The Little Shop of Horrors (1960), The Wild Angels (1966)).

Starring: David Carradine, Sylvester Stallone, Simone Griffeth, Martin Kove, Mary Woronov, John Landis and others.

Essentially the movie is just about this racing event that takes place in a dystopian future (well, not now, because it is set in the year 2000) America, where it is just about the greatest form of entertainment there is and the society has degraded and have so little regard for human life that they watch an event, where contestants are awarded points if they run over people, the more vulnerable the target the better, so you should watch out for people in wheelchairs, they’re the bullseye.

This is basically The Running Man of the 70’s, so yeah, it’s over-the-top and cheesy, but in the good way. It has B-movie cult classic written all over it. It comments on the similar themes about entertainment, the game-show culture, the violence on TV, but it also attacks one specific group of people – the NASCAR fans. I think it’s no secret that a lot of people who watch it, really expect the cars to crash at some point, that has become in some ways  more interesting than the winner of the race, but it’s just human nature, even if we acknowledge it intellectually, there’s something emotionally that wants the thrill of it. It is questionable how surely the movie walks the line of satire without falling into condoning the characters.

Most fun was watching Sylvester Stallone playing a constantly spitting and screaming asshole. He overacts so ridiculously it becomes very entertaining. And then he also ass-rapes a construction worker with a huge sword mounted on his car. And he punches a woman and then strangles a woman and then has his ass handed to him by David Carradine, who despite his comical S&M gimp outfit is still pretty cool. It briefly features a young Martin Kove.

The movie’s low budget is rather apparent, the cars look really cheap and cheesy, there’s almost no attempt to make anything look even slightly futuristic or just not  70’s, TV reporters have microphones, that strongly resemble sex toys, not even slightly realistic matte paintings and so on, but that just adds to the reasons why people enjoy movies like this.

I must give credit to the racing scenes. Those Fast And Furious guys could learn a thing or two about car racing movies, because I was a lot more excited in this than in any of those movies, where Paul Walker refuses to act.

Overall, I found it quite enjoyable. Recommended for B-movie genre fans or if you want to see Sly’s early work as long as you don’t take it seriously, because the filmmakers clearly didn’t.

Sly will tommygun the shit out of you (if you don’t get sword-raped in the ass instead)