The Hunger Games: Catching Fire / Thor: The Dark World

120px-Film-stripA night for sequels, it seems. Annoyingly, we had to journey between cinemas as the latter was only on in evil 3D at our nearest picture house.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

“Remember who the real enemy is.”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Winners of the last Hunger Games get pulled into the new ones

See it if you like: the first film and the books

Not one I was keen on seeing as I thought the books were a little dull, and the first film – which I’ve seen bits of here and there – looked equally weak. My preconceptions were borne out by a movie that stayed close to the source material. In some cases this would be a good thing, but it’s not when you’re not a fan of the original.

It moved along nicely enough, but I found the whole thing a little mawkish and several of the characters annoyed me more than anything else. A new director couldn’t save it and the ludicrously over-the-top makeup and clothing worn by the Capital citizens really just looks stupid. By all means show off the difference between the have and have-nots, but there’s a line and this goes way past it.

Obviously there will be a sequel, but at least that’ll be the end of it. If you want to find out more about the film them watch the trailer. It covers virtually every major piece of plot and line of dialogue up until the contestants enter the arena just over halfway through.

Thor: The Dark World

“There is nothing more reassuring than knowing that the world is crazier than you are.”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Some bad guys are after some bad stuff that the Asgardians are looking after so they can rule the universe

See if it you like: Big, silly superhero films

Another film I wasn’t that fussed about as a) I’m not a big Thor fan and b) I didn’t think the first film was very good. Short version – this is better than the last one.

Thing is, it’s not that much better. It’s less overblown, faster-paced and more quotable. There are more moments of humour and the effects are, undoubtedly, superb. But it just didn’t grab me the way the Iron Man series did. In fairness, I was exhausted by the time we sat down to see this showing which won’t have helped, but I just felt it ran too long.

There’s not a bad story there and it really sets itself up for a sequel (avoiding spoilers prevents me from saying why), but that’s no surprise. As ever, there are a couple of extra bits in the credits – both mid-way and right at the very end.

Chris Hemsworth has his top off a couple of times and I think that was enough to make my Mrs happy.

Beyond that, Thor 2 doesn’t really do anything to set itself out amongst the current glut of superhero films. it’s not bad, but it’s just not super.

Gravity

120px-Film-stripA sneaky daytime showing this week. My aunt volunteered to look after the little one while the other two were at school. I have Tuesdays off, and I’d heard good things, so we booked a couple of tickets for an IMAX screening of…

Gravity

“I hate space!”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: A routine shuttle mission goes all to hell…

See it if you like: sitting on the edge of your seat and not blinking for ninety minutes

Let’s just add a review-in-a-nutshell to this: See. This. Film.

Slightly expanded: If possibly, See. This. Film. In. IMAX. 3D.

If Hollywood died tomorrow and left Gravity as its legacy, then the industry would be fondly remembered. It’s so good, that I have – after many years – finally forgiven Sandra Bullock for The Net. A film I have derided for nigh on two decades. Sandra, seriously, you can now hold your head high.

With a cast of – to all intents and purposes – two, Gravity proves that you don’t need an all-star ensemble cast to sell a film. In fact, the last time I remember seeing a film with a cast so small it was The Disappearance of Alice Creed. Coincidentally, or maybe not, that film was also staggeringly good (you can see my review here).

Absolutely honestly, with my hand on my heart, I don’t think I so much as blinked (except to “avoid” on chunk of debris that looked like it would hit me in the face) after the first five minutes of the film. Around fifteen minutes in, my wife held my hand and we didn’t let go of each other until the credits rolled.

As ever, I don’t want to tell you too much about the plot for fear of giving anything away. Suffice to say, it’s a drama set in space against the background of a serious accident which leaves a shuttle crew stranded up there. Only it’s way better than that. Way better. Think how good you reckon that could be and then multiply that tenfold. At least.

George Clooney is excellent opposite Bullock, but the real star is director Alfonso Cuarón. With the aid of digital technology and a lot of new techniques, he’s made the visuals so realistic that it moves the film from “impressive” to “jaw-droppingly stunning” in every aspect. I don’t really buy DVDs any more, but this is very much likely to sway me purely as I’d expect some very interesting “Making of” features. In fact, it’s good enough to possibly convince me to finally get a Blu-Ray player.

In case I’ve not convinced you – see this film. If you see one film a week, month or year… this is the one. And stump up for IMAX 3D if you can. I know I go on about how 3D’s rubbish. This doesn’t hold for good IMAX 3D as it makes use of the size of the screen to fill your field of vision, plus the image quality helps.

I’d still not touch it in 3D at a regular cinema, but the extra we paid for IMAX was worth every penny. Twice over.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2

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Very quick review here as I’m buried in other stuff:

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2

“Where did he get a brown pencil from?”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: the food from the first film is taking over the Island – can Flint (Bill Hader) and co save their home?

See it if you like: great animation, funny stories and incredibly bad puns

Went with Little Mister (5) and Little Miss (12) for this one. All three of us enjoyed it, which is a good thing. Every bit as good as the first and follows on very closely from it. However, it’s not just the same film over again. The humour is subtly different and the jokes far worse. In a groan-inducing way.

Most of the verbal humour is based on puns, something I grew up with and which kids these days don’t seem to get. I put it down to a lack of reading, but hey. Every little helps. However, there are a couple of slightly more off-colour lines which really make you giggle – such as the one quoted above. It’s near the start of the film and brushed over so quickly that you could miss it.

The voice cast is great, the animation is superb, the characters are wonderful, the story is engaging… simply put, this is a very, very enjoyable film for all the family. The action doesn’t let up and it’s bright – this will keep the younger ones happy. Older kids will appreciate the story and jokes. Adults will lose themselves in the sharp dialogue and clever animation.

Great film. See it.