Some of you are not looking forward to this weekend. I know because I have interacted with you in the comments, on Facebook and the like. For others of us, we are expectant and hopeful. This is the week that we catch fire!
New This Weekend
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire — PG-13
While I found the book series was not without its flaws, I did enjoy them quite a bit. I could quibble stylistically with the books, but the story is sound. It was pretty decent cultural commentary. Where is our reality TV culture headed? Could it possibly come to this?
The first film was a good adaptation of the first book, though again, not without its own flaws (my review). But I’ve heard that director Francis Lawrence — in taking over the franchise from here out, has acknowledged the flaws and shortcomings of the first film, such as the much overused shaky cam, and promised that his directorial efforts will be quite different.
So, with a decent story driving the films, and director Francis Lawrence behind the camera, I’m hopeful that this film will be even better than the first film. I’ll soon find out, that’s for sure. I plan to see the film this weekend.
THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE begins as Katniss Everdeen has returned home safe after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark. Winning means that they must turn around and leave their family and close friends, embarking on a “Victor’s Tour” of the districts. Along the way Katniss senses that a rebellion is simmering, but the Capitol is still very much in control as President Snow prepares the 75th Annual Hunger Games (The Quarter Quell) - a competition that could change Panem forever.
2 hr 26 min
PG-13 | For intense sequences of violence and action, some frightening images, thematic elements, a suggestive situation and language.
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Woody Harrelson, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks
Director: Francis Lawrence
See or not: See
- The Hunger Games Catching Fire Clip - “Be A Distraction”
- ‘Catching Fire’ TV Spot Set to Christina Aguilera Song
- ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ Final Trailer
- ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ TV Spot
- ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ International Trailer
- ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ Theatrical Trailer
- ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ Teaser Trailer
The Book Thief - PG-13
This looks extremely good. There’s no doubt that the filmmakers certainly had their eyes on an Oscar in this film, and if the trailers are any indication I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t get very close. While this film can certainly be classified as a WWII film given the subject matter, this does not look like your ordinary fare. The basic premise: during WWII, a young girl is living with her foster parents outside Munich, and they must hide a Jewish refugee in their home. And another goody, it’s scored by none other than John Williams.
If it’s in your area this weekend I think this one is a no brainer (related: why is it so hard to figure out just how many theaters and what city these limited releases are showing in?).
In 1938, young orphan Liesel (Sophie Nélisse) arrives at the home of her new foster parents, Hans (Geoffrey Rush) and Rosa (Emily Watson). When Hans, a kindly housepainter, learns that Liesel cannot read, he teaches the child the wonders of the written language. Liesel grows to love books, even rescuing one from a Nazi bonfire. Though Liesel’s new family barely scrape by, their situation becomes even more precarious when they secretly shelter a Jewish boy whose father once saved Hans’ life.
2 hr 7 min
PG-13 | Some Violence and Intense Thematic Material
Cast: Sophie Nelisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Ben Schnetzer, Nico Liersch
Director: Brian Percival
See or not: See!
- ‘The Book Thief’ Trailer Starring Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson
- ‘The Book Thief’ International Trailer
Also In Theaters
Thor: The Dark World — PG-13
This was a pretty great film in my opinion. It was at least way better than the first Thor film which, frankly, wasn’t great. I thought this film corrected many of the failings of the first and had some great character development. I did have some minor issues with the film, but you can read all about those in my written review, or watch me talk about it on my new show ByteSized, or listen to over 1.5 hours of Me, Joe, Chad, and Mike Fissel yammering on about it (it was a lot of fun).
Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” continues the big-screen adventures of Thor, the Mighty Avenger, as he battles to save Earth and all the Nine Realms from a shadowy enemy that predates the universe itself. In the aftermath of Marvel’s “Thor” and “Marvel’s The Avengers,” Thor fights to restore order across the cosmos…but an ancient race led by the vengeful Malekith returns to plunge the universe back into darkness. Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all.
1 hr 51 min
PG-13 | some suggestive content and intense sci-fi action/violence
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba
Director: Alan Taylor
Genres: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
See or not: SEE!
- Thor: The Dark World - Review
- ByteSized Video Reviews #2: Thor: The Dark World
- The MovieByte Podcast #68: Thor Score and Seven
- ‘Thor 2’ Teaser
- ‘Thor: The Dark World’ U.K. Trailer
- ‘Thor: The Dark World’ Reshoots Will Give Us More Loki
- ‘Thor: The Dark World’ Featurette
- Here Comes Loki… I mean Thor — ‘Thor: The Dark World’ Extended TV Spot
- Joss Whedon Did Rewrites for ‘Thor: The Dark World’
- ‘Thor: The Dark World’ TV Spot
- New Clip: Thor Does Not Trust Loki
- Malekith Awakens in ‘Thor: The Dark World’ Clip
Ender’s Game — PG-13
While this film has some pacing problems, I did enjoy it quite a lot. I guess I made the “mistake” of reading the book first and that sort of ruins any film adaption thereafter I suppose. But the essentials of the plot from the book are in place here in the film, and seeing the elements of the book either as I had imagined them, or sometimes even better is always awesome. And Asa Butterfield knocks this one out of the park, as do Harrison Ford and Hailee Steinfeld.
I wrote a review which you might want to check out. We also talked about it on The MovieByte Podcast and you might want to check that out. I also did the inaugural episode of ByteSized on Ender’s Game. It’s short and sweet so definitely check that out.
In the near future, a hostile alien race has attacked Earth. If not for the legendary heroics of International Fleet Commander Mazer Rackham, all would have been lost. In preparation for the next attack, the highly esteemed Colonel Hyrum Graff and the International Military are training only the best young minds to find the future Mazer. Ender Wiggin, a shy but strategically brilliant young leader, is recruited to join the elite. Arriving at Battle School, Ender quickly and easily masters increasingly difficult challenges and simulations, distinguishing himself and winning respect amongst his peers. Ender is soon ordained by Graff as the military’s next great hope, resulting in his promotion to Command School. Once there, he’s trained by Mazer Rackham himself to lead his fellow soldiers into an epic battle that will determine the future of Earth and save the human race.
1 hr 54 min
PG-13 | thematic material, some violence and sci-fi action
Cast: Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley
Director: Gavin Hood
See or not: See!
- The MovieByte Podcast #67: Grew Up with Hannah Montana
- ByteSized Video Reviews #1: Ender’s Game
- Ender’s Game - Review
- ‘Ender’s Game’ Teaser Trailer
- Boycott of ‘Ender’s Game’ — Author’s Anti-Gay Stance
- Welcome to Battle School — ‘Ender’s Game’ Clip
- ‘Ender’s Game’ Trailer 2
- ‘Ender’s Game’ TV Spot — Glimpse More of Formic Invasion
- ‘Ender’s Game’ Clip: Lead the Dragon Army
- ‘Building Ender’s World’ - A Behind the Scenes Featurette
- ‘Ender’s Game’ Timeline
Gravity — PG-13
Wow, what an amazing film. There is barely any way I can do it justice here in just a couple short paragraphs. It was majestic, frightening, and intense, with great visual story telling, and a refreshingly short runtime — it was as long as it needed to be and no longer. Sandra Bullock pulled off the performance of a career here as well. She was nothing short of amazing.
In short this film is fantastic and you must see it! Be sure to check out my review of the film, and listen to Episode 64 of The MovieByte Podcast where Chad and I discuss the film. I also recently released a short video review of the film on ByteSized Video Reviews. Check it out!
Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a medical engineer on her first shuttle mission. Her commander is veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney), helming his last flight before retirement. Then, on a routine space walk, disaster strikes – the shuttle is destroyed, leaving Ryan and Matt stranded in deep space with no link to Earth and no hope of rescue. As their fear turns to panic, they realize that the only way home may be to venture further into space.
1 hr 31 min
PG-13 | Intense perilous sequences, some disturbing images and brief strong language
Cast: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris, Orto Ignatiussen
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Genres: Drama, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
See or not: SEE!
- ByteSized Video Reviews #3: Gravity
- Gravity - Review
- The MovieByte Podcast #64: Air Pressurized Place
- A New ‘Gravity’ Trailer
- Another intense clip for ‘Gravity’
- New Intense ‘Gravity’ Trailer is Intense’
- ‘Gravity’ Features High Intensity and Long Takes’
- ‘Gravity’ Teaser Trailer
12 Years a Slave — R
Finally! While the film is technically still in limited release it is finally showing in the Nashville area and I’m going to go ahead and mention it because it looks like a good one to see! The films about America’s dark period of slavery seem to be making the rounds these days, but this one does look like it has the potential to be good. There’s no denying that slavery happened and it was evil. And many of these stories can be compelling.
In the years before the Civil War, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South. Subjected to the cruelty of one malevolent owner (Michael Fassbender), he also found unexpected kindness from another, as he struggled continually to survive and maintain some of his dignity. Then in the 12th year of the disheartening ordeal, a chance meeting with an abolitionist from Canada changed Solomon’s life forever.
2 hr 14 min
R | violence/cruelty, some nudity and brief sexuality
Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Sarah Paulson, Paul Dano
Director: Steve McQueen
See or not: See
Captain Phillips — PG-13
Another great film to choose from. It’s nice to finally be getting out of that horrible slump the box office was in for a while. It’s really too bad that it had to go up against Gravity because it is a good film, but Gravity is indeed a little better, and seeming has more hype and staying power.
Chad and I talked about this on The MovieByte Podcast episode 65 so you’ll want to check that out.
Captain Phillips is a multi-layered examination of the 2009 hijacking of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama by a crew of Somali pirates. It is — through director Paul Greengrass’s distinctive lens — simultaneously a pulse-pounding thriller, and a complex portrait of the myriad effects of globalization. The film focuses on the relationship between the Alabama’s commanding officer, Captain Richard Phillips (two time Academy Award®-winner Tom Hanks), and the Somali pirate captain, Muse (Barkhad Abdi), who takes him hostage. Phillips and Muse are set on an unstoppable collision course when Muse and his crew target Phillips’ unarmed ship; in the ensuing standoff, 145 miles off the Somali coast, both men will find themselves at the mercy of forces beyond their control.
2 hr 13 min
PG-13 | sustained intense sequences of menace, some violence with bloody images, and for substance use
Cast: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Catherine Keener, Michael Chernus, Corey Johnson
Director: Paul Greengrass
Genres: Action/Adventure, Suspense/Thriller
See or not: See
- The MovieByte Podcast #65: Real Life Plot Holes
- ‘Captain Phillips’ Trailer - Starring Tom Hanks
- ‘Captain Phillips’ Trailer 2
- ‘Captain Phillips’ International Trailer
- Paul Greengrass’ ‘Captain Phillips’ is Tense In a Good Way
- New Trailers for ‘Captain Phillips’
- Three Clips from ‘Captain Phillips’
About Time — R
So this looks like an extremely cheesy, and yet fun and somewhat lovable film. Ultimately I think it will be too cheesy for me. And it’s a RomCom, which is always a mixed bag and RomComs are usually either pretty good, or really bad. I don’t plan to watch it, but if any of y’all see and and like it, do let me know.
When Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson) is 21, his father (Bill Nighy) tells him a secret: The men in their family can travel through time. Although he can’t change history, Tim resolves to improve his life by getting a girlfriend. He meets Mary (Rachel McAdams), falls in love and finally wins her heart via time-travel and a little cunning. However, as his unusual life progresses, Tim finds that his special ability can’t shield him and those he loves from the problems of ordinary life.
2 hr 4 min
R | Language and some sexual content
Cast: Tom Hughes, Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy, Tom Hollander, Lindsay Duncan, Margot Robbie, Lydia Wilson, Vanessa Kirby, Joshua McGuire, Richard Cordery, Will Merrick, Clemmie Dugdale
Director: Richard Curtis
Genres: Romantic Comedy, Sci-Fi Comedy, Comedy
See or not: Probably Not.