Ant-Man

After Marvel’s release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, you can forgive a lot of movie fans that looked at Ant-Man, the movie to kick off Phase Three, as a film that’s easily forgettable or one to be cautious about. Much in the same way as last summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy, the movie turns out to be a surprisingly good one, with Marvel churning out yet another solid, action-packed movie.

You can forgive some fans misconceptions; a film that has been stuck in development for years, to then have its original director and writer walk away from it weeks before production. Not to mention the very idea of a movie about a man who can become the size of an ant making many simply go ‘huh?’

The charming story of Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a thief who after serving time in jail is simply seeking to become a decent guy to live up to his daughter Cassie’s vision of him, soon finds himself becoming a protégé of sorts to Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lily) as they attempt to break into their own company in order to stop some of their technology getting into the hands of evil genius Darren Cross (Corey Stoll).

The script is very much structured to introduce filmgoers to this universe, but thanks to where it is placed in the Marvel Canon, it’s allowed to spread its wings, with namedrops of the Avengers, the base we saw at the end of Ultron, and the appearance of The Falcon (Anthony Mackie). This in turn, pushes the movie up so it doesn’t just feel like a Phase One movie. Rudd, Douglas and Lily have a great chemistry and on-screen presence together, but its Michael Peña’s Louis that steals the show; literally every scene he is in has audiences eating out the palm of his hand.

Whilst the character of Scott Lang doesn’t completely capture our hearts like Pratt’s Star Lord in Guardians, it goes as far as it needs for the film to be a success. By the end of the film, moviegoers are looking for the next appearance of Ant-Man, and with the two credit scenes (stay right to the end folks), it very much looks like we won’t be waiting long.

A film that’s proof that you don’t need to be the biggest hero on the block to be a success, and also proof that whatever Marvel touches, will never let you down.

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Showgirls (1995)

  

Recently most of the main cast of Saved by the Bell reunited on Tonight with Jimmy Fallon. They made a joke saying that Jimmy Fallon going on a date with Nicole Kidman (something that oblivious to Fallon at the time actually happened) is just as absurd as Jessie becoming a stripper. The joke went down hilariously well, due to the fact that Elizabeth Berkley indeed played a stripper soon after SBTB. Who’d have thought that the girl who played straight up, book smart Jessie would go on to star in 1995’s Showgirls?

Elizabeth Berkley is sassy, strong, sensual, sexy, and a million miles from Saved by the Bell. A girl with a past she’s running from, she tries to make it as dancer in Las Vegas and ends up making her way up from strip joint to star. It kinda reminds me of Black Swan in some respect; girls very much bitching and back-stabbing to claw their way to the top and a whole lot of mind games. 

The film doesn’t hold back in its level of nudity -Berkley delivers a performance which is human, real and quite raw, and a lot of the time she hasn’t got a whole lot of clothes on. If this movie was released in cinemas today, you’d get a lot of backlash and probably some serious editing. There’s every taboo going, particularly for that time period -there’s violence, rape, quite vivid sex scenes/lap dances and a heavy lesbian overtone. The film was not received well at the time and is still known for being an awful film. However I quite enjoyed it for what it was; a film that clearly was out of the box, especially for that time period. The chereogrsohy in the movie is slick and Berkley shows she can dance well. But she also shows she can act; from fake innocence to anger to despair, she plays a girl who’s trapped in a world that’s shady and immoral, but she at least is following her own moral path leading her on to one city at a time 

 Cristal Connors: There’s always someone younger and hungrier coming down the stairs after you. 


Fast and the Furious 7

  

Usually a 7th installment of a franchise is what you expect; not as good as earlier movies, to the point where it’s time to call it a day. However Fast and the Furious 7 certainly doesn’t fall into that category. Ever since Fast Five the franchise has had a new lease of life, the car sequences becoming more elaborate, and the levels of adrenaline reaching top peak. 

Fast 7’s central theme is of family, and you can see it in more than just one way. The plot opens with the arrival of the film’s bad guy -Jason Statham, playing the big bad brother of Fast 6’s Owen Shaw. He’s out for revenge on Dom (Vin Diesel) and the gang and the death of Han which we saw in the end credits of the previous scene is the start of a game of cat and mouse which takes in Abu Dhabi all the way to the streets of LA, where the series all started. 

This franchise never tries to pull the wool over its audiences’ eyes in the sense it doesn’t try to be something it’s not. It knows that it’s not the most intelligent movie ever or that it’s going to win worldwide awards, but it knows that it can deliver on those adrenaline, action and wow moments. Everything from cars parachuting out of a plane to a car jumping from buildings, this is the biggest the films have been and it’s brilliant. 

Dom and Letty’s (Michelle Rodriguez) relationship is developing within the film, despite all of their history, Letty’s memory loss is driving a wedge between the pair. Diesel and Rodriguez have a great chemistry together and it’s a welcome break to the action to have a love story admist the story. 

Of course the real heart of this story and the notion of family is bittersweet with the tragic loss of Paul Walker who plays Brian O’Conner in the movies back in Novermber 2013. The film was completed with the help of Walker’s brothers and CGI and through the cast’s interviews you can tell the cast were a real family and that the on screen emotions are real. The movie deals with Walker’s death well and in a tasteful way and it genuinely moves the audience when ‘See You Again’ by Wiz Khalifa plays and a montage of Walker’s time in the franchise plays. The screening I was in broke into applause at the end of the film, a true mark of respect. 

Fast and the Furious 7 is an adrenaline fuelled ride, full of fantastic stunts, great action and full of heart and emotion. For Fast fans, it certainly doesn’t disappoint and offers a true send-off for a much loved character and an actor who was truly loved. As Dom states in the film ‘he doesn’t have friends, he has family’, and that’s truly the message of this film. 

Letty: Did you bring the cavalry?

Hobbs: Woman, I am the cavalry

Disney’s Frozen

Annnnnnnnnnndddddddddd we’re back! After a short hiatus, hopefully it’ll be back to business as usual over at OBOB HQ! I still have a small backlog of posts to write up and add, even though they aren’t up to date on relevancy, please humour me in giving them a read! 

  

Onto the first post then! Disney’s Frozen truly captured the imagination and heart of countless children and families when it arrived into cinemas December 2013. This was the first Disney film that seemed to tick every box and since then, they’ve reaped the rewards in terms of sales on merchandise. And the fact that anywhere you go, someone will know the lyrics to ‘Let it Go’ .

Frozen is the story of princesses Ana and Elsa (voiced by Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel respectively) who are orphaned after their parents die after their boat capsizes. Although when they were younger the sisters were inseparable, Elsa is able to shoot ice and snow out of her hands and after an accident in which young Ana had a lucky escape, Elsa shuts herself off from the world. When she’s ready to be Queen, a winter storm is caused by Elsa’s nervousness and its up to Ana to reach through to her. 

Every bit of the fog of this film just flows together; the voice cast are great, each putting their own spin on their characters. The score and the music are both brilliantly catchy, you’ll find yourself wanting to listen to the soundtrack again and again. Even though some adults watching the film may recognise the same old Disney traits, the end twist of what true love represents is a lovely moments that can warm most hearts.

This really is a joy of a film, and I’m not doing it justice. There isn’t one sole reason that countless children want to be just like Queen Elsa, or why they demand the dolls, the pyjama’s and the colouring books; it simply is a collection of pieces that fit together to create magic. 

Olaf: Some people are worth melting for. 

McBusted Tourplay

IMG_0110.JPG Back in April, one of my good friends asked if I wanted to go see McBusted with her last minute -she’d found seats and couldn’t resist going again (she went on to see them 3 time more.) It took me all about 10 seconds for me to say yes. I’m 23 years old, and while I haven’t been a huge fan of McFly, I was still a fan, and the added factor of having Matt Willis and James Bourne join the band from Busted, who I loved when I was in my early teens convinced me that it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. The seats turned out to be extremely good ones; we were only 5 rows from the front and I had one of the best times at a gig. The guys were energetic, fun and put on a brilliant show which left me with a huge smile on my face. When same said friend asked me over the weekend if I wanted to come see the tour film with her, I again couldn’t resist relieving the whole experience again. The movie revisited all the same songs I loved on the evening, offering footage from O2 Arena in London and also their show in the summer at Hyde Park, whilst also providing some candid backstage footage and interviews with all the band. Whilst watching the film, surrounded by dare I say, a lot of people/girls that were younger than me, I suddenly had those same emotions and feelings that I did on that night back in April -an overwhelming feeling of being happy. These 6 guys are incredibly infectious to watch -they may all be in their early 30’s with many in committed relationships or married, but their behaviour is a lot like children. They run round a brilliant set, jump, and sing their way through the McFly and Busted back catalogue, singing fan favourites such as “Year 3000”, “Crashed the Wedding”, “Five Colours in her Hair”, and “Obviously”. They looked like they were having a blast when I saw them live, and this film proved that -I lost count of the amount of times each of them said how blessed they felt to be given this opportunity, and how much fun they were having. This was particularly shown by the Busted boys, who thought they would never get the chance to sing these songs again after the band split up back in 2005. While the show didn’t show much of each members personal life, the film was very much about the band, and truly showed how well they all connect and get on. The chemistry shone on screen and it really plastered a smile on my face to watch their interactions and band rituals, particularly the clap. This involved all the band standing in a semi-circle before going on, following one members lead and clapping once so that it makes one sound. Each take they used in the film, the boys got it in one. For anyone that was or is a fan of McFly, Busted or McBusted, then this is a film for you. Even if you didn’t get to see the tour, you can experience the excitement and the fun that they created every night on-screen, and if you were lucky enough to see it, like me, then relieve it all over again. I promise it’s worth it.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Who is the Monster and who is the Man?

With this question, our movie starts and with this Disney delivered a beautiful and quite frankly under-appreciated film with a classic moral undertone of don’t judge a book by its cover/appearances aren’t everything. As part of the late 90’s Disney films, it often gets forgotten but for me it’s personally one of my favourite Disney films. Set in Paris, it tells the story of Quasimodo, a very untypical hero, who over the course of the film goes on a journey of self discovery and self confidence, showing the fullness of his heart and kindness.

Throughout his life, Quasimodo has been hidden in the depths of the Bell tower of Notre Dame due to his hunchback appearance poisoned with words by the villain of the piece, and Quasi’s master and guardian Frollo, a religious man and prosecutor. It isn’t until he one day is convinced by his stone gargoyle friends  to go out into the streets of Paris and attend a festival that he meets other people, including a gypsy named Esmeralda (played by Demi Moore).

This is perhaps one of the darkest Disney film, dealing with issues such as persecution, loneliness, being an outsider in society and how that disadvantage you and exploring how religion can be twisted. Frollo remains as one of the most ruthless Disney villains created in my opinion, allowing his lust and obsession with Esmeralda to completely consume him. When you watch it at an older age, you realise just how unsettling and perverted it is.

It’s a film that’s unconventional in terms of a typical Disney story set up; a hunchback certainly isn’t a typical hero, but here Quasimodo is a true Disney hero, showing that appearances aren’t everything and leaving the audience in no doubt that he is certainly the man out of him and Frollo. It’s also a case of the hero doesn’t end get the girl at the end of the movie (although Phoebus is indeed a hero, he isn’t the ‘true hero’). Even though this doesn’t happen, Quasi learns a true life lesson and that he finally has people around him that are friends and not just stone gargoyles (which may or may not be real).

The true triumph of this film however is its music. Alan Menken who pens most, if not all the Disney films from the last 20 years of so teams up with Stephen Schwartz who has created hit musicals such as Wicked and Godspell and together they create a beautifully stunning score and lyrics. My particular highlight is the use of the choir which simply gives me goosebumps every time.

If you’ve never seen this Disney classic, I urge you to find a copy – it’s available on US Netflix and out on DVD – it’s such an under-rated movie and personally one of my favourites.

Esmerelda: You saw what he did out there, letting the crowd torture that poor boy. I thought if one person could stand up to him then – (Sighs) What do they have against people who are different anyway?

14 Film to Look Out for in 2014

2014 is a bit of a sandwhich year for films, there are plenty of blockbusters but a lot of people are looking at 2015 as being a big year for film. That being said there’s still plenty to look forward to this year. So a bit delayed but here is my list of films to look out for in 2014! (Please note that I’m not counting films that have already come out in January and February)

I’ve added links to trailers for the films that already have them.

 

X Men: Days of Future Past

As soon as the entire cast of Days of Future Past appeared on the stage at Comic Con last year, the movie got kicked into high-gear. Reuniting the old cast of the X-Men franchise in the early 00’s with the cast of X-Men: First Class, its sure to make the dreams of geeks everywhere come true.

Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier

The First Avenger is back and firmly in the 21st century and writers have promised that after this movie finishes, the scene will be firmly set for Avengers 2. As well as Chris Evans putting on the suit again as Steve Rogers, Samuel l. Jackson is back as Nick Fury and Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow.

Maleficient

Delayed from last year, Angelina Jolie steps into the role of Sleeping Beauty’s villain to give another take on the classic fairytale. The first trailer has already hit, and it looks visually beautiful

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Andrew Garfield puts on the red and blue suit once more to fight crime, and it looks like the stakes are even higher in this film as he faces off against Jamie Foxx’s villain Electro. It seems that by the end of this film though, Peter Parkers life won’t be the same as its being promised to set up the next film set for release in 2016. One of my most anticipated movies of this year – just looks insane

Guardians of the Galaxy

Marvel’s big gamble in its Phase 2 plan was bringing out this film as it’s certainly not a widely known for its characters. However its assembled a crack team of actors, led by Chris Pratt and the trailer has taken a risk in showing off it’s witty script.

Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

The first part of the last book in the Hunger Games series comes to cinemas at the end of this year and its gaining more and more momentum, especially due to the recent success of Catching Fire. Filming continues back to back with Mockingjay Part 2, and you can expect the film to reach high levels of anticipation come

The Hobbit: There and Back Again

The final part of Hobbit trilogy and the prequels to Lord of the Rings; it’ll be a sad state of affairs to think we won’t be visiting Jackson’s Middle Earth again. As the last film ended on a cliff-hanger with Smaug flying off to wreak havoc, there’s no telling what Jackson has in store.

Divergent

The latest Young Adult novel series to do the rounds is the Divergent series by Veronica Roth; the film looks set to rival The Hunger Games franchise and if it is a success at the box office, you can bet a franchise will be made out of the book series.

Transformers: Age of Extinction

Michael Bay returns to the directing chair of the Transformers franchise but assembles a brand new cast being led by Mark Wahlberg who’s promised a great film.

Vampire Academy

Another Young Adult book series that’s getting the movie treatment, this revolves around a young girl who is half human/half vampire charged with keeping the peace and helping to protect the Moroi from the more violent bloodthirsty vampires the Strigoi. This film already looks good, and is set to appease the Twilight fans most of all with its vampire sex appeal angle.

Godzilla

A Godzilla reboot? A few raised eyebrows were certainly the first reaction by many. But throw in names like Bryan Cranston and a trailer that looks brilliant and the confused eyebrows are turning into expressions of delight.

Jupiter Ascending

Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis star in this sci-fi adventure from the men that brought us The Matrix trilogy. It does have similarties with that trilogy, but still holds its own, and set for a summer release, it looks set to be a box office success.

Intersellar

Christopher Nolan’s next film after finishing up on the Batman trilogy and he’s reuniting with Anne Hathaway and bringing Oscar winning actor Matthew McConaughey and Jessica Chastain along. It’s so far shrouded in much mystery, but then that’s what fans expect from Nolan.

Transcendence

And finally we have Nolan’s right hand man Wally Pfister’s directorial debut. As the director of photography for many of Nolan’s previous projects, he’s fully stepping behind the lens in this film starring Johnny Depp about a terminally ill scientist that downloads a computer into his mind.

 

Old Charles (to Young Charles) You’re afraid. I remember.

Top 10 Films of 2013

Another year has gone by, and what a year of movies it was. A lot of franchise movies and big blockbuster hits in the summer, but also some niches films that really shone. Here’s my top 10 picks of the movies of 2013.

10. Fast and the Furious 6

The latest instalment of the Fast and the Furious franchise is my number 10 pick; it’s fast-paced, action-packed, but is also personal and family orientated with the reintroduction of Michelle Rodriguez’s character. The ending left the movie series in a fantastic place, still riding high at box offices, and bringing in Jason Statham as the next villain. However, due to the tragic and untimely death of Paul Walker fans have to wait a little longer for Fast 7 and this will remain Walker’s last completed movie for the franchise.

9. Prisoners

Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal star in this crime drama which sees the kidnapping of two children on a Thanksgiving weekend. This is a brilliant psychological drama in which Jackman’s character Keller Dover takes matters into his own hands kidnapping and torturing a man whom he believes is involved in the kidnappings. The film presents a man who blurs the lines of what is right and what is wrong, and the audience is forced to question the moral correctness of what is happening. A tense and gripping drama.

8. Much Ado About Nothing

So during post production of Marvel’s big comic book movie collaboration Avengers Assemble, what does Joss Whedon do? Oh he shoots a black and white movie in his own home helped by his alumni cast members from his shows. After a year, it finally made it to selected theatres and it was such a treat – Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof as Beatrice and Benedict were a great match for each other, and it was lovely to see that chemistry resurrect itself from the days of Angel. The black and white look of the film gives the film an edge and just makes it all the more beautiful. Long may the genius of Joss Whedon live.

7. Frozen

The only animated movie on this list, it sneaked in with its December release, but this was such a joyous and fun-filled Disney film I couldn’t leave it off. It centres around two sisters, who have been living mostly separate lives despite living and growing up together. Elsa (Idina Menzel) has magical powers and through her parents well-meant but certainly wrong advice she locks herself away from her younger sister Anna. When Elsa unleashes a winter on her kingdom, it is up to her sister to save her. It’s a truly delightful film, with a brilliant soundtrack including the stand out ‘Let It Go’ sung by Menzel and a twist that will certainly shock you (heck it did for me!)

6. Thor 2: The Dark World

Marvel’s second film in its Phase 2 plan, the sequel for its Asgardian God Thor reunites Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins and Marvel’s secret weapon Tom Hiddleston in a film that is certainly better than its first outing. The brotherly banter between Thor and Loki is one of the high points of the film, with Hemsworth and Hiddleston’s chemistry shining through.

5. Gravity

The Oscar nominated film took the box office by storm at the back end of last year. This 90 minute thrill ride was both visually beautiful and thematically, exploring the notions of life, death and also rebirth. It fully deserves the attention its getting and is so worth a watch.

4. Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug

The middle film in the Hobbit trilogy helmed again by Peter Jackson is action-packed, adventurous and flows a lot better than the first outing. I was never bored during this film, something that I felt at times during the first Hobbit film. Martin Freeman again flourishes as Bilbo, and with the addition of Evangeline Lily, Luke Evans and the return of Orlando Bloom as Legolas the film takes off and becomes a blockbuster of a movie.

3. Star Trek: Into Darkness

The much awaited sequel to JJ Abrams rebooted Star Trek found its way into cinemas last May and what a treat it ended up being – like many things Abrams does it was shrouded in secrecy, but that didn’t stop fans speculating about villain Benedict Cumberbatch’s role in the movie (if you want to find out whether he is in fact Khan, go check out the movie). It was an adrenaline ride and definitely one of the early hits of the summer.

2. Iron Man 3

The third (and possibly final) stand alone Iron Man film probably saved the best until last, with more laughs, but also more humanity and anguish for Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark who spends much of this film still dealing with the aftermath of the battle of New York from Avengers Assemble. Iron Man 3 kicked off Marvel’s Phase 2 campaign and was a banker in terms of money, but a risk with Shane Black stepping in to direct. However, it took off like a rocket, and the ending felt like a nice closed chapter point for the character.

1. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

After looking at everything I’d seen that had came out in 2013, the second instalment of The Hunger Games, clinched everything; it was a blockbuster movie that had blockbuster performances, a fantastic pace, and a disquieting theme.  When I walked out the cinema I wanted to turn around and watch it all again (which I did a week later). Even though it does verge on the over-running borders, the action and the tension is ramped up through every scene and all the elements come together to make this my number 1 film of last year.

 

Peeta: You have to live. For them.

Katniss: What about you?

Peeta: Nobody needs me.

Katniss: I do. I need you.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Jennifer Lawrence has had an incredible couple of years; after landing the lead role in The Hunger Games franchise as Catniss Everdeen, she led the film to serious box office success. She then went on to join the X-Men franchise as a young Mystique and starred in Silver Linings Playbook, a movie that would change her life and see her become one of the youngest actresses to win a Best Actress Oscar. J-Law as she’s now affectionately known is one of Hollywood’s hottest young stars (and a brilliant role-model) and she returns to the role of Catniss in this next instalment Catching Fire which sees Catniss having to deal with the choices she made in the previous Games.

The film opens with Catniss back in District 12, she and her family may have moved into a better life in the victory village, however life in 12 is still hard and wearisome, and she hasn’t forgotten her roots, hunting with love interest no.1 Gale (Liam Hemsworth). As her and love interest no.2 Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) are due to go on a tour of the Districts, it’s apparent that the two of them are not on good terms, Peeta finding her deceit about her feelings toward him difficult to take. As the trip gets underway though, the two come to an understanding and start to re-bond over their shared experience. Lawrence has an easy chemistry with both men, but it’s her scenes with Hutcherson that I love the most; it’s easy to see that Katniss is trying to kid herself that she doesn’t have feelings for Peeta, but at the same time they both convey the care and love they feel for one another.

The stakes are much higher in this film, particularly politically for Katniss as she faces pressure from President Snow (played brilliantly by Donald Sutherland) to keep a rising rebellion forming in some of the districts. Katniss and Peeta are forced to put on a show during their trip, and continue to act out a lie. When they think it’s over Snow announces that the next Games will feature those that have already won past games, in an effort to try and eliminate the threat of Katniss. Katniss and Peeta must then forget everything they learnt in the last games as they must align themselves with other tributes in order to stay alive and survive the games.

Jennifer Lawrence carries this movie effortlessly, with beautiful poise and elegance at times but she’s also not afraid to show Katniss’ vulnerability. It does beg the question how would these movies have fared with another actress in the leading role but thankfully this never has to be questioned with Lawrence. The PTSD that Katniss is clearly suffering from after the games is highlighted by Lawrence in certain moments, particularly the way she reacts to finding out she will have to face the Games once more. With Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth, the franchise has three young actors with a brilliant chemistry and unity, making it the success that it has become.

Of course the other supporting cast members also have a role to play and there’s certainly a few standout performances; Woody Harrelson returns once again as Hamich in a role I adore him in. He’s hardened by what he has seen and knows how to play the game, coming across as direct; he really does care about his two new charges, particularly Katniss. There’s almost a fatherly bond he develops with the two, but he never doubts them, simply telling them both to ‘stay alive’. Elizabeth Banks plays Effie with a lot more emotional charge during this film as the character too has bonded mores so with these two tributes; behind the affluent costumes, hair and make-up that Banks has to contend with, there is a heartbreaking performance. Donald Sutherland is also able to develop Snow much more so in this film as he’s further portrayed as the patriarch of all people, but underneath is a dark side, fuelled by his need for power and dominance. Of the new cast, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman is brilliant as the new games maker Plutarch Heavensbee, who all along has a secret agenda to help Katniss become the leader of a rebellion that Snow has feared all along. Two of the new tributes also stand out in the forms of Sam Claflin as Finnick and Jena Malone as Johanna, each aligning themselves with our lovers from District 12. Claflin brings a sense of distrust to his character, the audience never completely sure to believe that he wants to help but also bringing his sheer loyalty to the surface with his connection to a fellow tribute as he refuses to leave her. Malone takes whatever she is given and completely runs with it, with her character becoming an instant standout.

The franchise has perhaps performed so well in the box office and gained critical success not only because of the acting bones behind it but also due to its subject matter; the concept of a Battle Royale style future where children are forced to kill one another in a reality show concept is quite a grim subject matter. The filmmakers don’t water the concept down as well to reach younger audiences as several moments in the film are hard to watch. When a man is taken from the crowd and shot in front of hundreds of horrified faces; when Gale is whipped viciously in the centre of a square and when Stanley Tucci’s Caesar announces that after tonight all but one competitor will never be seen again (an albeit harsh fact), but then breaks into hysterical laughter, a grin and applause is a complete juxtaposition. It can perhaps all be summed up when Katniss glances at her younger sibling, taking charge of Gales wounds after he has been beaten by the Capitol’s version of the police – she realises she has had to grow up extremely quickly because of the life they live in.

As well as the overall theme of the movie, the action sequences of the games are just as intense as the last movie; it’s not so much about the hiding in these games but about the obstacles that are put in their way. Deathly fog, killer monkeys, blood rain are just the tip of these games and they offer an intense, adrenaline ride for the second half of the movie. New director Francis Lawrence picks up the reigns of the franchise and gives us a movie to remember which flows brilliantly thanks to its well-gauged pacing, which could have easily felt dragged thanks to its impressive running time. As the movie closes, the larger scale plan emerges with the simple phrase ‘Remember who the real enemy is’. That lasting image of Lawrence’s face morphing into a steely determination summons the final instalment Mockingjay which follows the pattern of many film franchises and is splitting the book into two films. What’s clear is that The Hunger Games train isn’t de-railing any time soon, and with Jennifer Lawrence at the helm, it is in safe hands.

Hamich: This trip doesn’t end when you get back home, you never get off this train. (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire)

Awards Season 2014

So it was the Golden Globes this past weekend thus starting the official run of Awards Season – quite possibly my favourite time of year. Although there have already been several film critics’ awards, the Globes marks the start of the heavyweight ceremonies, leading up the King of them all – the Oscars. Most years I’ve paid attention during awards season but last year I got quite involved in the run up and this year I’ve made it my mission to watch many of them, so look out for my reviews of them in the next few months. So here is my rundown of what films to watch out for over the next few months and why.

American Hustle

David O’Russell reunites Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence from last year’s triumph Silver Linings Playbook and Christian Bale and Amy Adams from The Fighter and creates a fantastic ensemble drama with some stellar powerhouse performances which could see each of the four names above being nominated in the respective acting categories. The film performed really well at the Globes last night, with 3 acting wins and the best picture in a comedy/musical. O’Russell will probably get directing nominations and I could see it getting make-up and hair noms for its fantastic 70’s do’s.

12 Years a Slave

The true story of a man who is sold into slavery in America has been gaining momentum since the summer, and going into awards season is the frontrunner for Best Film. Chiwetel Ejiofo is also looking like a strong contender for Best Actor (for keen geeks, recognise him from Serenity?), and director Steve McQueen is looking good for a best director nomination.

Dallas Buyers Club

 

Matthew McConaughey further cements his place in serious acting roles with his turn as an AIDS sufferer in the movie, where he famously dropped a tonne of wait for the role – I’m sure he’ll pop up for acting nominations, but faces stiff competition. We can also expect Jared Leto to be in the running for Best Supporting Actor.

Frozen

This animated movie is certain for a nod for Best Original Song and Best Animated movie – it’s a magical movie and beautifully made.

 

Blue is the Warmest Colour

After it gained huge success at the Cannes Film Festival, surely this is one of the frontrunners for Best Foreign Film?

August Osage County

This ensemble cast is led by powerhouses Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep and deals with a dysfunctional family unit. It’s an outsider in terms of the frontrunners, but it looks like a great movie!

Philomena

 

This heart-warming true story could see a fair few acting nominations for Judi Dench who gives a stellar performance.

Her

 

Spike Jones’ film is gaining in its popularity and could see it being nominated for best film but also for Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as a man who falls in love with a computerised voice.

Inside Llewyn Davies

 

A film about a young country singer is the dark horse in this year’s awards films; with the film coming from the pot of the Coen brothers, anything is possible. Best Director(s), Best Screenplay are all possible nominations.

Blue Jasmine

 

Woody Allen’s latest film has a banker in its books in the form of Cate Blanchett – she’s an awards machine and is a shoe-in for the Best Actress title. Allen could get Best Director nominations as well as Sally Hawkins receiving Best Supporting Actress nods.

All is Lost

 

This tense drama involved Robert Redford lost at sea, contending with dangerous conditions (basically a slightly different version of Gravity). However, critics are calling this film one of Redford’s finest performances, so don’t be surprised if he receives nominations through the series.

Gravity

This Alfonso Cuarón film was a non-stop tense and magical ride when I saw it a few months ago, and Cuarón’s win at last night’s Globes cements him as one of the favourites to take home the Best Director prizes. Sandra Bullock could also pick up Best Actress nominations.

The Wolf of Wall Street

Martin Scorsese’s latest film about a stock broker who over-drinks, uses drugs, creates debauchery and generally throws money away in a relentless morally corrupt story. Scorsese will probably see plenty of Director nominations, whilst DiCaprio could be the dark horse for Best Actor, particularly after picking up the award at last night’s Globes. Could this finally be his year?

 

The Oscar nominations are announced on Thursday, and until the ceremony on March 2nd, I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled on the awards season with keen interest.

 

“I don’t know if anybody’s ever ready for another awards season. It’s kind of like Christmas.” (James McAvoy)