Posts Tagged ‘Jennifer Lawrence’


Serena (Susanne Bier, 2014)

March 29, 2015


Based on a bestselling novel by Ron Rash, Serena, as brought to the screen by director Susanne Bier and screenwriter Christopher Kyle, feels like a husk of an adaptation even to one completely unfamiliar with the source material. It’s the sort of film that, at least in the form prepped for theatrical release, makes one inclined to believe its makers have completely lost the ability to tell a story. And it’s not like that ever seems like a deliberate stylistic choice, with Bier actually focusing on some thematic flourish off on the sidelines. Serena is always focused on its plot. Its perpetually rushed, choppily told, borderline confusing plot…

Click for the full review for Sound On Sight


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I (Francis Lawrence, 2014)

November 19, 2014


In a previous review of the second instalment of The Hunger Games series, I expressed some dismay that Catching Fire didn’t really have a conclusion to speak of, with its cliffhanger ending reminding me less of The Empire Strikes Back and more of The Matrix Reloaded or Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. The argument I made was that what makes the Star Wars film still satisfying is that it has an actual sense of narrative progression and character achievement despite abandoning its players in the midst of doom and gloom. Going back and revisiting Catching Fire, I admit I may have been a little harsh as quite a bit of substantial material in terms of world-building and character development is crammed in there before the game-changing reveal. The same cannot be said, however, for Mockingjay – Part I, which, in its eking out of just one half of Suzanne Collins’ final Hunger Games novel, is much more deserving of that complaint and is by far the least satisfying film of the series to date…

Click for the full review for Sound On Sight


American Hustle (David O. Russell, 2013)

December 19, 2013


American Hustle is based on the Abscam sting operation of the late 70s and early 80s, but David O. Russell’s loose ensemble piece is more giddily concerned with the dysfunctional lives of key players involved in a scheme in which FBI agents posed as wealthy sheikhs to ensnare public officials, including an otherwise altruistic New Jersey mayor…

Click for the full review for The Skinny


The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Francis Lawrence, 2013)

November 22, 2013


With I Am Legend and Constantine in his filmography, two not entirely successful features but both ones with impressive sequences here and there, director Francis Lawrence would seem an adequate fit for a populist sci-fi or fantasy franchise instalment. Established fans of either Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games novels or Gary Ross’ first film adaptation can rest easy regarding Lawrence being given the keys to the remaining films in the series, à la David Yates with the Harry Potter franchise: Catching Fire is a very strong blockbuster, an improvement on its predecessor, and Lawrence’s most consistently effective effort to date…

Click for the full review for Sound on Sight


The Hunger Games (Gary Ross, 2012)

March 27, 2012

In the dystopian, totalitarian nation of Panem, a wealthy capital city rules over an impoverished nation of districts. As penance for a previous rebellion, every year sees each district forced to enter two adolescents to participate in The Hunger Games competition; the winner receives an extensive cash sum and a chance to live amongst the wealthy, but the event is a death match where only one can survive. Elements of the film’s narrative and allegorical concerns result in an amalgamation of the likes of The Most Dangerous Game, Lord of the Flies, The Running Man, The Truman Show, Series 7: The Contenders, and Battle Royale, but The Hunger Games successfully stands on its own as a gripping entity with an interesting world courtesy of Suzanne Collins’ source material, the first in a hugely popular series of novels.

Regarding that last work to which it may bear numerous superficial similarities, Kinji Fukasaku’s Battle Royale has one arguable strength over Gary Ross’ film in that it bears some more memorable, effective staging of its combatants’ fighting. That film, however, leans more towards dark comedy, and is otherwise an undernourished, un-engaging effort when it attempts dramatic potency that frequently falls flat. Hosting an unpleasant melodramatic tone, far too many one-dimensional characters that barely register prior to their demise, and clumsy, overt delivery of its social commentary, Battle Royale is unsatisfying in numerous ways, especially so in comparison to strengths of The Hunger Games that serve to counter that film’s flaws and limited execution. Firstly, Ross’ screenplay, co-written with Collins and Billy Ray, makes the wise choice to not try building the film around every contestant, preventing potential wallowing in inanity that Fukasaku’s effort is so frequently prone to. Present in nearly every sequence, Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss is the main focus here, in addition to fellow District 12 competitor Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). The character development of its select protagonists, which also include Woody Harrelson’s former Hunger Games victor Haymitch, and the emotional gratification related to their journey is one of the film’s notable highlights; Lawrence is especially great in her role, providing a little vulnerability but also an engaging, sombre determination…

Full review at Sound on Sight