Category Archives: movie

Hunger Games- a movie review

After months, I finally was able to see the movie and I am so excited to report, I liked it.  Loved it!  I wrote about the entire Hunger Games trilogy here and I really enjoyed the books.  They were an easy read and kept me hooked.  Now, finally, after having seen the movie, I am very glad I had read all the books before doing so.  There were many scenes during the movie that I thought, “wait… that shouldn’t be ’til Book 2 or Book 3 even.”  So, I am actually happy I know what is coming next and what the premise of the book is.  While the movie did a good job of giving you background, premise, and filling you in on many gaps that otherwise would have existed, I honestly think that if I had watched it without reading the book, I would have been appalled more than I was and frankly, a bit confused.

It was tough to see some of the scenes because when I read, I could imagine it the way I wanted to but seeing it portrayed on the big screen brought a harsh reality to what I had read- Panem really treated their Districts and its residents like crap!  Seeing it all come to life on the big screen hit it home with me.  I will not spoil it for you but there are some major differences in the book and movie and of course, to fit it all into 2.5 hours, they had to make some cuts and as always, nothing compares to reading the book.  But, overall, the movie is a well-done adaptation with a few glimpses and more foreshadowing of what is to come in movies #2 and #3 than the book did.  Read my book review, read the books, and then head out to see Hunger Games, or get it on DVD (which is where it is headed in a couple of weeks).   Happy Hunger Games! And remember, the odds are really never in your favor.

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Hunger Games Trilogy: A Book Review & Commentary

Copyright Suzanne Collins, Scholastic Books- all rights reserved

Warning, this is not a movie review but a book review of all three books.  I have not seen the movie yet so I am not yet repulsed by how different it is from the book.  But, I do plan to see it someday.   I also hear a rumor that the guy who played Peeta in the first Hunger Games movie may not re-appear in movies 2 and 3.  In any case, I finally finished reading all three books in the series.  It was not at all what I expected when I first started.  It was an easy read because the books are designed for teens or tweens but a warning for younger kids is that there are some disturbing concepts in this trilogy- alcoholism, cannibalism, death and despair, and killing others out of a forced desperation- a real-life survival, not just of people who live in the districts but the kids who are selected for The Hunger Games.

The background of the book is essential before you watch the movie.  People who do not know the background tend to not like the movie.  So, here is a brief background.  Out of the wars and all the issues that the world faced, a new world of sorts emerges- a country called Panem – it is in the region formerly known as North America.  As opposed to utopia, the type of future depicted by Panem is dystopian which is defined as: “a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, and overcrowding.” The Government of this country called the “Capitol” is a totalitarian form of government.  It is ruled by one dictator through a police state and is tyrannical and oppressive.  The country is divided into 13 districts.  However, as we are told in Book 1, District 13 rebelled and to quash this rebellion, the “Capitol” claims to have destroyed all of District 13.  This was a measure used so the rest of the Districts would not join the rebellion or “get any ideas”   While the Capitol has no resources of its own and essentially feeds, clothes, and shelters itself as a result of items produced in the districts, they still have control through brute force and a police state.  The districts grow crops, hunt, mine, provide clothing and supplies such as oil, and provide police force known as peacekeepers, and the Capitol repays them by teaching them a lesson to never rebel again.  The districts cannot keep their own crops or supplies,  and to get food and rations, they have the possibility (in each district) of sacrificing their children every year to something called the “reaping” which precede the HUNGER GAMES.  Most people live day to day, there is no waste, and there is no surplus except if you work for the Capitol.  As far as the Hunger Games, the rich and well-to-do fare well and their chances of not going are better than those are barely making ends meet.  In sum, the less you have, the more you give up, the less chance you have of ever escaping.  All of the lottery entries for the hunger games are based on how much food your family needs  and again, it is a game of life and survival in each district unless you are in the Capitol or part of the Government.  Each district is required to provide 2 kids between the ages of 12 and 18, a male and female.  The concept is really quite barbaric but allegedly is done to keep everyone in line.  Once in the arena, the children have no choice but to try to survive against one another and all the booby traps, mines and other things the Capitol itself throws into the mix.  The entire thing is televised all day and night, with each district’s members being forced to watch their own die.  Some people put wagers on who will survive and are into it while others are outraged and repulsed but cannot say or do anything about it.  It’s disgusting and makes you ill until you realize there is hope.  Yes, HOPE!

Social media has helped spawn rebellions in a few countries recently which were former dictatorships.  One word, one voice, one action can lead a country to revolt and revolutions can be brought overnight by the thoughts which are brewing for years, or even decades or centuries.  A simple act of defying the Capitol, or doing the right thing can spawn change forever.  The concept of always striving to be free is very prevalent in this series, and it’s not just about hope, freedom, and wanting more, it’s about love and sacrifice.  In the end, the story ends just like it begins -with hope and love. The trilogy keeps you hooked and while it may make you sick at times, that is the whole point. If you got sick at the theater or wanted to stop watching or thought you wasted your money, read the entire series first.  It may make it easier to watch — or, not.

But for me, it did get me thinking — think outside your own neighborhood to what happens in other countries still to this day.  Yes, outside your own backyard, there are still, to this day, tyrannical, oppressive governments and/or dictators who still treat their own people poorly.  Dictators who lie, steal and cheat or use their own people as human shields- or use their people as pawns in world politics.  The poverty level may be high in these countries and while most people live day to day, without wasting a drop, the government lives in a lavish manner without regard to its people.  Many of these governments believe there is a hierarchy, they believe in a concept of a class system and “survival of the fittest” and that the poor do not deserve to get more than fair share to survive daily.  Health conditions are very bad, and black markets flourish so people can survive and help each other through an underground system.  The Government, if they catch these people will publicly hang, flog, maim, kill, or stone them  for deeds that go against its rules and regulations.  There are no constitutional rights nor trials, other than public ones convicting them without any due process.  Yes,there is a good possibility of why we do not like these books or this movie… because it’s true.  It could be happening right now to children, to women, to men, to soldiers.  And there is nothing you can do about it.  The survival game?  Seems very reality-TV-like – people made to watch these gruesome activities in large squares, some of them their own children and if they do not show up to watch, the guards kill the families?  It is retribution from the tyrannical government saying, “we are in control and we will take your children and sacrifice them- so stay in line.”

Is it sadistic and sick?  Yes, but that is what a totalitarian dystopia is.  And now begins my commentary.  I know this may sound extreme considering the books are fiction but even fictional countries like Panem are not formed overnight.  You can just look at certain issues in our society today and how things are handled and see some similarities.  For example, the issues I think of today which Panem reminded me of are an increasingly growing class system, a call to end all social programs of assistance, a “survival of the fittest” attitude among many in our country, and people not wanting to pay for things like education, food programs, and health care, while condoning tax breaks for those who make the most, and beefing up our defense.  But the Hunger Games are so barbaric – that can never happen right? Why yes, it is barbaric, but then we are the same people who enjoy our reality TV while we push our government to be less, for lack of a better of word, “socialistic.”  There are those who could argue on the other side too – too much government is what created Panem to begin with – its involvement in the districts, the brute police force, control, and taking from the districts (akin to States).  I suppose it’s finding that balance in society between both sides which is key. In any case, decide for yourself and again, I digress but honestly, all three books in the series are a good, quick read and I definitely recommend doing that before you head out and watch even the first movie.   And as you think too much into the book like perhaps I did, “may the odds be ever in your favor.”

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Friends with Kids- a movie review

copyright imdb-courtesy of imdb

We saw the movie, Friends with Kids on Saturday, a rare date afternoon, and it was a cute 107-minute movie.  The movie poster kinda gives it away:  PICK TWO and the choices are: Love, Happiness, and Kids.  Ha!  It’s a cute movie and well-done depicting the lives of married couples, friends, and couples with kids and finally, friends who want to remain friends having kids.

The movie has a lot of things that I think anyone with kids can relate to – it is not just for married couples or couples in a relationship. It’s about single parenting too and the challenges in general that life, marriage, love, and kids can bring no matter what your status.   I cannot give up too much here so you can go see the movie but all I know is, hubby and I related to a lot of the scenes and how life changes after kids no matter what you think will happen.  The thought-provoking conversation at a dinner among friends was a bit too much for us.  I think there are some things in a marriage that should be reserved for discussion between the couple and not to be shared with a group of dinner guests but, that one scene aside, I really liked the movie. It takes all kinds to raise kids and yes, even the guy or gal who thinks everything will stay the same in their relationship.  Granted, that may spell disaster for a relationship but alas, with the first-time marriage divorce rate approaching 51% in America, I think that the character who plays that guy is somewhat accurate.  In any case, for hubby and I- we talked about kids have strengthened our marriage.  It is a conversation-provoking movie so, be prepared.

And in the end, of course, it is hard to be parents and no matter how you do it – with someone, without, or just as friends, parenting is challenging and yet, the most rewarding job you can have as well.  It can strain your marriage and strengthen it at the same time, or destroy that relationship but again, it all depends on the circumstances and the people involved.  All in all, it is a cute date movie which will make you laugh out loud, nod in agreement, shake your head in disgust, cry, and make you go home and hug your kiddos too!

Have you seen it?  Let me know your thoughts and no spoilers please.  Thanks!

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The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011) – Movie Review

movie poster photo courtesy of imdb.com

Waiting for what felt like forever since we finished the reading the entire Stieg Larsson trilogy, we finally got to see the American version of the movie, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo at Landmark theatres, Olde Town Wadsworth yesterday.  And it was definitely worth the wait.

The movie was based on the first of the Larsson trilogy novels and true to the book, the movie follows the book almost exactly with a few deviations to condense it.  But even condensed, the movie still ran two hours and 38 minutes.  If you do not remember the book because you read it sometime ago, don’t worry, it will come back to you and if you never read a single one of the trilogy books, fret not- you will love it too but if you haven’t read the book, you should mentally prepare yourself for about two or three extremely graphic scenes including a few involving violence towards women.   From what I noticed, these scenes are when a lot of the faint of heart audience members used the restrooms or left to refresh their drinks and popcorn.  In any case, discomfort of these scenes aside, (which if you read the books you would understand the history from Larsson of Swedish society) you will definitely enjoy this American version of the Larsson trilogy and if you saw the Swedish versions, you will also notice the differences between the two.  All in all, a definite watch and as always, I would recommend reading the books first if you can swing it.  The movie has scored well among critics and is an 8.3 out of 10, and 70% on critic meters and a “must go” as well.  Additionally, if you can catch a matinee over the weekend or a morning discount show, that may be the way to go!

Happy New Year and Happy Movie Watching too!

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The Help- A Movie Review & Book Review Revisited

This past weekend, I saw the movie, The Help which was based on the best-selling novel by Kathryn Stockett.  I finished reading the book in May & loved it.  The book review is posted here and I’d like to re-visit it before I talk about the movie and how fabulous that was as well.

The Help was a gripping book – at times, I could not sleep after reading it.  I was hooked and what was neat about the book is how the author wrote it from the perspective of the three protagonists- the main characters of the book. She not only shifted from accent to accent when she did this, she kept the reader focused on each of their lives and she did it quite gracefully.  You were able to get to know everyone in this town quite intimately and felt like you knew them. The book, of course was amazing to read and I would highly recommend reading it even if you watched the movie or the type of person who just watches movies in favor of reading the book.  While the movie was excellent (I give it five stars) and gripping in its own right, the story derives its basis from the book and the book will let your imagination run wild in ways the movie did not.

Of course, considering the book was 451 pages long, the movie was made quite well and did not miss a beat.  The premise of the book is the same and the movie captures it perfectly– the 60s, the dawn of the Civil Rights movement, and the South- specifically, Jackson, Mississippi, and the point of the view of the help- the hired maids, nannies, and help that enriched so many homes but yet never received the respect they seemingly deserved.   This is a heart and gut-wrenching movie and book about the struggles the help faced and what they put up with to keep their jobs, their homes, their families in-tact, and all the while living in silence.  They accepted separate but equal, accepted being treated like fourth and fifth class citizens, lived in fear, and accepted their fate.

There is a line in the movie which sums it up the best because no one seemed to care about the stories of these men and women.  In fact, even the police at the time took it at word when a white man or woman reported a robbery or pointed the finger at a black woman or man. No one listened, no one cared but when these women were able to speak, when they were able to write the truth, when they were able to share their stories, they felt, despite their physical and societal status… Free!

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