Tagged: The Hunger Games

Box Office Democracy: “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1”

I understand that we can’t put the genie back in the bottle on these two part movies. Harry Potter might have actually needed to make two movies for The Deathly Hallows but Twilight certainly didn’t and what Peter Jackson is doing to The Hobbit will hopefully go down as one of the greatest crimes in cinema. Now we have things like splitting an Avengers movie in to two parts, which is insane when you consider that it’s not an adapted work at all. It used to be important to tell a complete story when making a movie and now audiences don’t care and it’s certainly more profitable to do one big shoot and then get multiple admissions for it. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 does not have enough story for a two hour movie and the character arc is less about real change and more about restating what we’ve seen before. This weak skeleton holds back a movie franchise that continues on an upward trend in quality in direction, acting, casting, and pretty much every other aspect of filmmaking that isn’t shameless profit grabbing.


Box Office Democracy: “Divergent”

Divergent is a rather cynical reminder that Hollywood is all about making money and never taking any chances.  Twilight blows up and everyone scours for Young Adult books with supernatural elements and love triangles.  That search eventually leads to The Hunger Games which makes a ton of money leading to another wave of searches for YA books about dystopian futures and that is how we got to Divergent.  If this movie makes enough money expect a round of films where everyone refers to groups of people with needless SAT words.  I think that’s the takeaway here.

In the Divergent world all life exists in a post-apocalyptic Chicago where everyone exists in one of five factions Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Erudite, or Dauntless.  Everyone is tested for their appropriate faction but that is rendered moot as you are allowed to pick your faction when you reach some late teen age that somehow makes it so our main character Beatrice chooses on the same day as her older brother. Beatrice is a Divergent, someone who tests equally well for more than one faction.  This makes her dangerous somehow.  People will try and kill her if they discover this information.

This might seem like a lot of basic exposition and the film struggles mightily with it.  Establishing the previous paragraph and showing Beatrice (later just Tris) training for acceptance into the Dauntless faction takes the overwhelming majority of the film.  The actual story with real consequences and stakes doesn’t start until awfully close to the two-hour mark of the film.  This is a trilogy and I understand the need to lay groundwork for future movies (especially when they come pre-greenlit) but it really feels like they sold this movie out for excessive exposition and one too many training montages.

I also strongly feel that good science fiction needs a clear philosophical bent and I’m just not sure what that is in Divergent.  It might be about accepting people who are different, it might be about the importance of family, or it could be as simple as condemning people who want to throw violent coups.  It could be that this will also be clearer as the series goes on but I knew after one film that The Hunger Games would be about rebelling against an oppressive government.  Divergent just leaves me confused and disinterested.

The bad guy for most of the middle third of the movie, Eric, looks so much like hip-hop artist Macklemore that it’s honestly distracting.  It’s a choice I can’t understand unless this movie is intended as a propaganda piece to turn the young girls of America against Macklemore.  I would fully support that agenda and would be prepared to change this entire review into a rave if that agenda came out.  If anyone at Summit Entertainment or Lionsgate would like to comment on these please send a note through official ComicMix channels.

Jen Krueger: Apparently I’m Kermit

Krueger Art 140128Of the myriad of characters that exist in Westeros, apparently I’m most similar to Tyrion Lannister. When it comes to the cast at Hogwarts, I could stand in for Hermione. And in a galaxy far, far away, I’m interchangeable with R2-D2. All of these results were drawn from online quizzes, but I probably didn’t have to tell you that. Your Facebook feed is likely as full as mine of results to the same (or similar) questionnaires.

The first memory I have of a “where would you fit in the world of (insert pop culture reference here)” quiz is one featuring the Hogwarts Sorting Hat placing the user in one of the school’s four houses. I recall seeing it online shortly after Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone became a huge hit in theaters, and my reaction to it was, How cute, I bet little kids will get a kick out of doing that. Today though, this bite-size pop culture personalization is a daily occurrence amongst my adult friends. With so much of ourselves represented in social media, it’s natural to want our interests in entertainment reflected there, but lately I’ve been wondering why that expression now comes so commonly in this quiz form.

I’m sure some of the draw is in the unique style of fan service these quizzes offer. They encourage geeking out by breaking down shows and movies in a way only fans would understand, and do so in an interactive and personalized manner. Obviously anyone could take a quiz to learn which companion they’d be if they found themselves in the TARDIS, but only a Doctor Who fan would appreciate the difference between being told they’re a Donna or an Amy. This active invitation to the user to move beyond simply thinking about the property’s world and into thinking of themselves as part of the property’s world is hard to replicate in other things aimed at fans. And since fancying yourself similar to a character you love is obviously going to be flattering, it’s no surprise the bulk of these questionnaires are aimed at telling people which character they’re most like.

So the impetus to take the quizzes makes sense. But why post the results on Facebook? Sure, sharing our favorite entertainment with friends is nothing new, but proclaiming I love the BBC’s Sherlock is very different from posting that I got Sherlock Holmes in a “Which Sherlock Character Are You?” quiz. The former reveals one of my pop culture touchstones, but the latter takes things a step further by letting me define a bit of myself with that specific touchstone acting as a yardstick. And silly as it might be, I have to admit it’s actually possible to tell things about people based on their results.

This week, a questionnaire telling the user what Muppet they would be was particularly popular amongst my friends. Looking at which Henson creation everyone got, I saw a correlation between the traits of their designated Muppet and the traits those friends prize in real life.

Is this a shallow way to think about people? Yes. But, weirdly, it works, at least to a certain extent. It also explains something I hadn’t ever understood before: people answering the questions in a way they think will yield a particular result, or re-taking a quiz until they get their desired answer. If we put enough stock in the results to be pleased when aligned with a favorite character, and we find other people’s results to the same quiz to be generally accurate, then I suppose it stands to reason that receiving a result comparing ourselves to characters we don’t like would be undesirable.

At the end of the day though, the lifespan of the results of these quizzes is the same as that of the quizzes themselves: extremely short. Accurate or not, today’s Downton Abbey questionnaire will be replaced by one about The Hunger Games tomorrow, and both will be forgotten by next week. But maybe this actually contributes to the popularity of these quizzes in a way; they’re quick bursts of fandom made no less fun for their brevity. If movies and TV act as pop culture meals, then these questionnaires are pop culture amuse-bouches. And they fulfill that role well.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to see if I can get someone other than Lady Edith on this Downton quiz.





Martha Thomases: The Twelve Flicks of Christmas

Thomases Art 131220When I had to go to work in an office everyday, I would try to save up my vacation days so I could take off the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Ostensibly, I did this because my kid had no school and needed daytime attention.

But, really, I did it because I wanted to go to the movies.

The holiday season usually sees a flood of new releases, either to amuse those home-bound kids or to qualify for the Academy Awards. A lot of the Oscar-bait is scheduled for nation-wide release when the awards will actually be presented, and they just open in a few theaters to get by the rules. Since a lot of Academy members live in New York, we luck out.

There are altogether too many Jews in my borough for me to indulge the traditional Reform observance of Christmas (Chinese food and a movie), but I hope to celebrate the end of the year with my people (by which I mean, movie geeks).

Here’s what I’m anticipating most.

Inside Llewyn Davis Not since Bruce Springsteen teamed up with Pete Seeger has a project seemed so much like it was designed specifically for me. The Coen Brothers explore the Greenwich Village folk scene in the early 1960s. I expect it to be my neighborhood, my music, my sense of humor and my reasons for moving here. And then I expect to be sad because none of this is cool anymore.

American Hustle I’m not a huge David O. Russell fan, but I like a movie with a lot of cute guys in it, even when they have bad hair, bad clothes and bodies fattened for art. However …

Out of the Furnace, which isn’t supposed to be as good, is also on my list because it’s Christian Bale being his cute self, along with a set of very very masculine, serious co-stars. Come to Mama, boys.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire I’m late to this. It’s been out for a month, and I still haven’t gone. Loved the books (although I thought the last one had a weak ending), loved the previous movies, love the clothes and love Jennifer Lawrence and Elizabeth Banks. I wish the two would remake Thelma & Louise.

Saving Mr. Banks My husband and I were both huge fans of Walt Disney (politics aside) and Mary Poppins. John liked to opine that without Mary Poppins there would be no Star Wars. I read the Travers books to my son, and they are big fun, so I see no reason not to sob like a baby through this entire film.

Frozen See above about Disney. We would often observe that, unlike so many filmmakers who went for a kids’ audience, Disney (as a studio) tended to have much better scripts. This looks like it follows in the path of what I think of as the Broadway musical animated movies (Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin) and that’s a good thing.The Wolf of Wall Street Martin Scorsese is one of my all-time favorites. In this film, he seems to be treating Wall Street traders as if they are gangsters involved in organized crime. Sounds right to me.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues How much did you love the first one? Not as much as I did. When I go to SDCC, I try to walk around the park near the water, looking for roving bands of news teams.

Kill Your Darlings The first famous author I ever met was Allen Ginsberg. He had given a poetry reading at a nearby university, and came to our commune for dinner. Since I was just a girl, he ignored me just about completely. Still, I’m eager to see him portrayed by Daniel Radcliffe, because it’s about as far from Harry Potter as one can get.

Her  I really like Spike Jonze movies. Because of him, sometimes I wander around muttering, “Malkovich Malkovich Malcovich.” So I’m curious to see what his future is like.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Sadly, this will now seem like an elegy. A friend of mine who has to go to film festivals as part of her job saw this a few times back in the spring and said it was always fantastic. And it has Idris Elba. Yowza.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty I have no intellectual defense for wanting to see this. I like Ben Stiller. Sue me.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

SUNDAY: John Ostrander


Dennis O’Neil’s Tales From Texas

oneil-art-131205-150x193-1413425One of those, you know, jangly weeks: we arrived in Austin wearing the winter garb appropriate for Newark, where we began the journey, and stepped from the airline terminal into 70 degrees and regretted our bag full of long sleeves. Looked like it was going to be a sweaty few days, maybe, but not to worry: the temperature dropped thirty degrees overnight and by daylight, my cold weather jacket was appropriate and when we again moved into the outdoors we got our first bite of winter. No big problem: our destination, the Austin convention center, was just across a narrow street.

The convention was what conventions are, these days, with maybe more television actors than comics folk. We did manage to raise a few bucks for The Hero Initiative, always a good reason to go someplace, but the chill kept us close to the hotel and so we didn’t see much of Austin which, I’m told and still believe, is a righteous city. Maybe next time.

I didn’t speak to any of the celebs, either, though some of them have done work I enjoy. Never do chat with the thespians, even though I’ve been sharing con programs with their ilk for decades. Probably never will. (Maybe not next time.)

I’m the anti-fan I won’t approach VIPs, even when I could jury rig a reason to. Mari and I were sitting in a bakery during our first visit to what is now our home town and, I’ll be darned, who walks in but Alec Baldwin and his then-wife, Kim Basinger, and another woman, a nanny, I’d guess, holding a baby whose last name undoubtedly was Baldwin. They sat nearby. Now – small world – our son had recently spoken with Alec during a visit to Hollywood about a project they might have shared, though they didn’t, and so we had a great conversational opener, and Mari looked like she’d use it. But not grumpy me. I shook my head no and pretty soon we left.

Another instance: Larry Hama and I were playing video games in a California hotel and in comes TV’s Kojak, Telly Savalas. He stands between us, kibitzing for about five minutes, being ignored by the comic book guys from New York.. He leaves. Who could blame him? (Who the hell did we think we were?)

Why does my nose rise into the air when I encounter the renowned? The answer does me no particular credit. What it comes down to is, I’m afraid that they’ll be jerks and I won’t like them, or, worse, it will be obvious that they don’t like me, and this emotional frisson will get between me and the venerable person’s work. I won’t be able to enjoy it and that could be regrettable.

The weather in Austin continued to be iffy and for a while, there seemed to be a possibility that we’d be snowed in. The flight was late taking off and we were cramped for hours – were the new airline seats designed by Torquemada? – and I was thinking Oh just, please, let me get to my cozy home. We got here and found the house cold. The heating system had failed and we were a pair of icy oldsters. But a savior drove in from Orangeburg past midnight and got the heating machine working and I later thought What a great job this guy has…driving alone through the night making people warm…

Well, between the jangly week’s beginning and a major holiday a few days later, and some mild sore-throat/cough/sniffle action, we didn’t see the new Hunger Games movie. If I were into idolatry, I might adore the film’s star, the splendid Jennifer Lawrence. As long as I didn’t have to meet her.

THURSDAY AFTERNOON: Yep, More From The Tweaks!

FRIDAY MORNING: Martha Thomases



The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Tweeks Special

The-Tributes-of-the-75th-Hunger-Games-catching-fire-movie-35052815-2498-916 Because last weekend was jammed packed with awesomeness for The Tweeks, we’ve got an extra installment this week! On Friday November 22nd, Maddy and Anya caught an Imax screening of the blockbuster The Hunger Games: Catching Fire on opening day. They even wore costumes to the theater! Here’s their review, brimming with the fever pitch excitement and enthusiasm for the event tweens the world over have been waiting for!


Watch now! Then go see the movie for yourself (if you haven’t yet!)

Ender’s Game Timeline Readies you for Tomorrow’s Opening

Enders_InfographicNovember will be a very busy month for Lionsgate as they launch the highly anticipated adaptation of the controversial Orson Scott Card’s novel Ender’s Game. A few weeks later they top that with the release of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the second chapter in the adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ stunning trilogy. On th eoff-chance tomorrow’s moviegoers are uncertain what the film is all about, the studio sent out the timeline you see here.

Additionally, they announced  an interesting new app for the film. Here’s the formal release:

Salt Lake City, Utah, October 29, 2013 – Sandboxr, a 3D print and software development company from Utah, announced today its 3D print creation app for Summit Entertainment’s ENDER’S GAME.  Sandboxr’s 3D print creation app has been in development for the past two years, and through the ENDER’S GAME-licensed version, fans will be able to create and bring home exclusive replica battleships from the film generated by cutting-edge three-dimensional printing technology.  Fans will be able to check out the ENDER’S GAME 3D printing experience at Sandboxr.com before Thursday’s release of the movie in theatres and IMAX October 31 at 8pm. Summit Entertainment is a LIONSGATE® (NYSE: LGF) company.

Nancy Kirkpatrick, Summit’s President of Worldwide Marketing, said, “This is the first 3D experience of this type to coincide with a major cinematic movie release, and Summit is excited to work with Sandboxr to offer this amazing experience and great new technology to our ENDER’S GAME fans.”

At Sandboxr.com, fans of ENDER’S GAME will be able to enjoy an interactive product experience that extends their engagement with the film and that they can access from their computer. Fans can choose from a selection of CG images from the movie studio file archives and bring home their own ENDER’S GAME 3D printed spacecraft and accessories.

“With an experience as sophisticated as Sandboxr’s, the challenge is to make it easy to use by the average guy or girl.  3D experiences are typically exclusive to tech savvy makers and designers.   However, we’ve worked hard to make a 3D printing experience that is accessible in a meaningful way to everyone. Bringing 3D design and print technology into the hands of the ENDER’S GAME fans is a thrilling opportunity for us at Sandboxr,” says Berkley Frei, Sandboxr CEO.

To experience the app for yourself log onto sandboxr.com and follow the links to ENDER’S GAME.

The Tweeks review “Lenore: The Cute Little Dead Girl”

Lenore: The Cute Little Dead Girl
How distinctly we remember, on the day before November;
With the gaily costumed children wanting candy at the door.
Eagerly we wished the morrow;—vainly we had sought to borrow
From our comics breaks from sorrow—and we found the book Lenore.
Now the rare and radiant maidens called the Tweeks review Lenore
            Posted here for evermore.
The Tweeks Get Ready for The Hunger Games of Halloween

The Tweeks Get Ready for The Hunger Games of Halloween

This week the Tweeks give us a sneak peek of their Halloween costumes as Anya shows how she made her Katniss Everdeen costume.

As for Maddy’s costume, it’s a surprise you’ll have to watch til the end to see what she feels is scarier than clown zombies…