The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

video-undefined-214006B600000578-112_636x358

 

DIR: Francis Lawrence  WRI: Peter Craig, Danny Strong  PRO: Nina Jacobson, Jon Kilik • DOP: Jo Willems  ED: Alan Edward Bell, Mark Yoshikawa •  MUS: James Newton Howard  CAST: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 follows on from the previous two offerings and follows the now standard tease of splitting the final instalment of Suzanne Collins’ trilogy of novels into two separate movies. In Catching Fire, we witnessed Katniss’ disruption of the Quarter Qwell games and subsequent ‘rescue’. The film opens with Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) still in recovery after her ordeal, struggling to come to terms with those who were left behind.  We learn about the destruction The Capitol has waged on all of the Districts – most notably Katniss’ own District 12.

 

This instalment is essentially a set-up for the final film. Whilst there are some intense action sequences, this film is more concerned with character development as we see Katniss slowly come to terms with her new status as a figurehead for the rebellion. Meanwhile, Liam Hemsworth’s Gale has wasted no time in becoming an action hero which leaves him just enough spare time to still wonder if his unfortunate love triangle will ever be disbanded.

 

Readers of the trilogy will wonder why it was necessary to split the final book into two movies, and cinemagoers will undoubtedly feel the same. This movie is, in-essence, a 123-minute trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part Two as it spends a great deal of time getting us up to speed with our protagonists and accustomed to new characters whilst building toward the film’s only true reveal which is certain to have fans lining up to see the final instalment.

 

Katniss’ trademark fierceness is somewhat lost here – she becomes a Shadow-Katniss as she struggles with having left Peeta behind. I can’t really judge her considering a recent quiz assured me that I would last no more than a day in the Hunger Games, but it is disappointing to not see the full force of such a well-loved character.

 

Jennifer Lawrence might be the world’s sweetheart at the moment, but it is Josh Hutcherson’s performance as Peeta, who has been captured and taken to the Capitol, which takes precedence here. Despite only appearing briefly he is utterly changed and his character takes on a multitude of nuances, which will endear him to audiences. There is an over-reliance on bonding moments between characters that have already had two movies to become close.  Welcome changes from the books were the additional scenes featuring Effie Trinket who is so effortlessly portrayed by Elizabeth Banks.

 

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is certainly not the strongest of the franchise but sets up the finale perfectly and ends at a point which will have both fans and newcomers to the series crying out for more.

 Ciara O’Brien

 

12A (See IFCO for details)

122 minutes

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is released 21st November 2014

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 – Official Website

 

Share

Deliver Us from Evil

deliver-us-from-evil-gore-5

DIR: Scott Derrickson • WRI: Scott Derrickson, Paul Harris Boardman • PRO:Jerry Bruckheimer • DOP: Scott Kevan   ED: Jason Hellmann DES: Bob Shaw MUS: Christopher Young  CAST: Eric Bana, Édgar Ramírez, Olivia Munn, Sean Harris

Deliver Us from Evil opens with the usual “based on true events”  tagline, eliciting an almost audible groan from audiences who are now largely desensitised to these words. This film manages to distract us from this minor irritation as guns explode around us and for a moment we wonder if we have wandered into the wrong screen and are about to watch an army raid/crime thriller. Luckily, once the film eventually gets moving, we realise that we are exactly where we should be.

Our protagonist is Ralph Sarchie, played by Eric Bana. Sarchie is the a-typical weathered cop who doesn’t have time for his family, and is generally disenchanted with the seedy underbelly his job confronts him with on a nightly basis. The character is clearly archetypal but with a subtle twist in the form of his apparent ‘radar’ which alerts him to dangerous situations. Combined with an Iraq war storyline, it seems like an odd premise for horror.

The film almost immediately falls short in terms of direction as it seems somewhat unsure of what direction to take, often floating between classic horror, gore, gritty buddy cop caper and psychological horror. It is only when the main crux is uncovered that we can begin to enjoy it. Deliver Us from Evil is quite long for the average horror, and takes a while to find its point. Thankfully, a combination of  excellent bromantic chemistry and characters we somehow grow to love makes it work and the film becomes the kind of  horror that allows the audience to sit back and suspend their disbelief. Sometimes it is a relief to see a film which allows us to merely enjoy the ride, as strange as it may be.

Deliver Us from Evil is quite gory in places but personally, I feel that it is intentionally so. Rather than falling into torture-porn trappings, this film shows us just enough. It harnesses the true power of horror by confronting the audience with everything we naturally abject. We are brought alongside out protagonist, and whilst we are often one or two steps ahead of his investigation, we feel the same level of tension and horror. The only character who consistently knows more than the audience is the ‘priest’ Mendoza, played by Edgar Ramirez. In this case, our religious victor is more rockstar Jon Snow than the typical old priest/young priest we have grown to expect. His presence and general chemistry with Sarchie makes the inevitable exorcism scenes seem wonderfully cheesy rather than old hat.

Director Scott Derickson displays a masterful knack for creating tension and atmosphere but falls flat in pacing as the film takes too long to reach the point. Derickson at times confuses creating atmosphere with making the audience wait so long for an exorcism that they wonder whether or not it’s really warranted, but that might just be me adopting the old reliable “sure, it will be grand” ideology.

Deliver Us from Evil is by no means a perfect film,  or a perfect example of horror. It is rather formulaic, particularly for those who have seen Derickson’s previous offerings. Inexplicably though, I couldn’t help but love it. It is an enjoyable and tension-filled watch that may put you off hiring a painter in future.

 

Ciara O’Brien

16 (See IFCO for details)
118 mins

Deliver Us from Evil  is released on 20th August 2014

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TgHldrvLrA

Share

DVD Review: The Hobbit:The Desolation of Smaug

91z20-3xq0L._SL1500_

Ciara O’Brien gets her hands on the precious DVD of The Hobbit:The Desolation of Smaug.

The second instalment of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy; The Desolation of Smaug is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray in various editions. Here we will be discussing the standard DVD edition.

The story picks up where the previous left off, and we follow Bilbo Baggins on his infamous adventure to assist in the reclaiming of the dwarven homeland. Having found (or stolen, depending on who you ask) the infamous ring of power, Bilbo now seems more willing to embark on the adventure ahead of him, despite the mocking of his band of merry dwarves.

Unfortunately for the now semi-cheerful Bilbo (masterfully played by Martin Freeman), he manages to do the one thing he hoped not to. He wakes the beast. Smaug is the infamous dragon fans have been waiting for and Freeman’s BFF Benedict Cumberbatch does not disappoint, playing the beast with equal parts menace and humour. It is Smaug’s evident intelligence which makes him all the more fearsome and the scenes featuring both Bilbo and Smaug are some of the best that have come from the prequel franchise.

The Desolation of Smaug sees Jackson use more artistic licence to present moments that he feels his viewers will love, being a fan himself. Jackson just about manages to steer clear of over-simplifying the text here, but at points he does come close. Jackson respects his audience enough to know that they can tell the inherent differences necessary in working with the medium of film as opposed to book, but he also knows not to push his viewer too far. It is a delicate balancing act at which he has become adept.

Unfortunately for Orlando Bloom, the appearance of Legolas doesn’t quite inspire the joy and delight that Jackson might have expected, and this moment falls a bit flat. The issue is that Jackson doesn’t need to remind us of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, he merely needs to focus entirely on The Hobbit as a standalone text.

  • Format: PAL, Subtitled
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Italian
  • Region: Region 2
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 – 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: 7th April 2014
  • Run Time: 155 minutes

The standard DVD edition is something of a disappointment for fans as it is very light on special features, having only the second part of the New Zealand: Home of Middle Earth documentary. This is interesting viewing for fans as we can witness the transformation of the landscape into one we immediately recognise as Middle Earth, but compared to the plethora of features that came with the Lord of the Rings DVDs, it seems inherently disappointing.

It’s hard to have patience these days, but die-hard fans of the franchise are as always advised to wait until all movies are released in a box set of inevitably epic, lengthy proportions, with more special features than you could watch in one sitting.

Like Bilbo himself, we might not initially be too keen on running off on an adventure, but thankfully this allows us to follow his from the comfort of our own couches, where the dragon population is significantly lower.

Ciara O’Brien

Share

Limp

0007f2f8-630

 

Ciara O’Brien takes a look at a new Irish film making waves – Limp, written and directed by Shaun Ryan, an independent abstract horror about a lonely man in love with the corpse of a dead woman.

 
The horror genre has taken a bashing in recent years. There has always been underlying murmurs of hope for the genre as the ‘torture porn’ of yesteryear takes a backseat to a more sinister film. The Irish horror genre is one that has been whispering quietly throughout, producing excellent movies that somehow fade into the background. New indie offering Limp, however, attempts to take this whisper and turn it into a shout, making people sit back and take notice of an ignored genre by creating waves at the recent IndieCork Film Festival.

 

Written and directed by Shaun Ryan, Limp innocently claims to follow “the deterioration of a relationship told through the eyes of a man whose brain has been curdled by isolation.”  The opening is stunning in its simplicity as a young boy tells a simple yet malevolent tale. Awkward and ignorant of social norms, our anti-hero Mr. Grot appears initially to be a simple caricature of horror. As the story builds in intensity, the masterful performance of Eoin Quinn follows suit and we are left with a different individual than we started out with. This is the true genius of this piece; nothing is ever what it seems. Limp consistently blurs the boundaries between what is real and what is imagined.

 

We quickly realize that Grot’s issues are more severe than we thought as he plays out an imagined relationship with a co-worker he has killed. As her condition deteriorates, the relationship he has created soon begins to crumble around him. A couple of the extraneous characters might seem to be superfluous but are later revealed as plot points in the greater narrative of Grot’s life.  Real world relationships soon become less interesting. We witness love through the eyes of someone we find oddly charming, but probably don’t want to meet.

 

Towards the end of the film as Grot’s world is crumbling, multiple image layers and quick cuts are used to show how disorientating the world has become through his eyes. Visually this was the best moment in the movie and by drawing the audience back to the voice of the young boy the film wraps up perfectly. Limp is not a simple film, but a visceral experience, which is a testament to the amount of work and heart put into it.

 

What sets Limp apart from other films in the horror genre is that it purposely avoids slipping into gory madness. Limp gives a knowing nod to the genre at several points, convincing the audience that it is about to become the usual blood-stained massacre and then turns its back on it immediately. These moments are a necessary masterclass for all future horror writers.

 

Despite the problems all indie movies face, Crooked Creations present us with a believable protagonist and an intense feeling of abject horror. This is something that many big-budget Hollywood offerings often fail to do. A true indication that low-budget film can be just as good as anything Hollywood has to offer.

 

 

Share

Bio: Ciara O’Brien

 

 

Ciara O’Brien is a writer from Wicklow with a somewhat embarrassing love of vampires. When not in the cinema she can almost certainly be found watching Dawson’s Creek re-runs.

 

Email: ciaralianneobrien@gmail.com

Share

We Love… Superheroes: Batman

 batman signalcopy(1)

  Illustration: Adeline Pericart

Bam! Pow! Thwack! From masked avengers to caped crusaders, what would we do without spandex-wearing superheroes fighting crime and righting wrongs? While we mere mortals go about our daily business and sleep soundly in our beds at night, an army of superheroes are working tirelessly around the globe – but mostly in America – fighting to bring peace, justice and outside-underpants to the world.

And so, in honour of their efforts, our own band of Film Ireland superheroes assemble to dish out their own critical form of justice and wreak havok on those villians who long for a world without heroes.

Eat dust evil! Superheroes are here to stay.

 

We Love…

Superheroes

Batman

‘… his only real super- power is his dedication to his self-created

ideologies …’

Ciara O’Brien

 image

 

Superheroes are undoubtedly the most enduring of movie figures and recent years have seen them explode onto the silver screen with renewed vigor. With the recent releases of Man of Steel and Wolverine’s latest offering it seems their 15 minutes is showing no signs of slowing down.

 

Of all superheroes, there is one who always sticks out, not least because of his knowledge of the fashion faux pas that is underwear as outerwear.  Batman, or Bruce Wayne, the millionaire playboy with a past and an unshakeable belief in justice. An outsider in his lack of superhuman powers that should make him inferior but somehow doesn’t. Although let’s face it, Ant-Man’s powers are probably not ideal and make Spiderman feel strangely lucky about his own insect-like status.

 

Despite his seemingly vapid alter ego, Bruce Wayne spent his youth travelling and training himself for his future having sworn an oath to rid the streets of Gotham City of evil and crime. This is what sets the figure of Batman apart; his only real super- power is his dedication to his self-created ideologies. Despite the varying stages of ridiculousness the character has evolved through, the idea of a hard-working vigilante remains the focal point.

 

Batman is the epitome of the outsider, positioning himself outside of the realm of superheroes by being a nighttime vigilante, and positioning himself outside the realm of the public by coming across as a dim-witted millionaire playboy. It is the manner in which he exists on the periphery, which has appealed to children and adults alike for over 60 years and looks set to continue that appeal for a very long time. Batman exists as both the anti-hero and the anti-superhero but somehow perseveres as a firm favourite.

 

Superheroes are unlike other movie characters in that they persevere, Batman has been imagined and re-imagined countless times in various guises and yet somehow as an audience we don’t feel like we have been cheated when we see a new story. Regardless of how many times he emerges from the shadows, there will always be a crowd waiting in the cinema.

 

Batman is in good shape for a character who originally appeared in Detective Comics in 1939, and with the announcement that the Batman figure to appear in the upcoming Justice League movie will be an entirely new imagining than Christopher Nolan’s, it is clear that even filmmakers have accepted that Batman is a figure that audience don’t tire of. Public interest in the character of Batman perseveres regardless of how many people we see don the infamous cape.

 

Regardless of how many interpretations of the same character we see, we still care. We have been taken through the camp Batman of the 1960s, George Clooney’s nip-slips and the dark lisping broodiness of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight, yet we will still queue to see the next. Who can say they have survived so many re-inventions unscathed?

 

Sit down, Madonna; we aren’t talking about you right now.

 

Ciara O’Brien

Stay tuned. Next time on ‘We Love… Superheroes’ – Glenn Caldecott on Superman

Check out the all the Superheroes we love…

Share

Another Look at ‘The Conjuring’

images

 

Ciara O’Brien is not impressed with all the fuss surrounding The Conjuring.
 
The horror genre has been through an inordinate amount of change, from so-called ‘torture porn’ and comedic horror to the more traditional gothic style. More recently entering the world of the blockbuster with the release of World War Z. This August, the latest offering from the people who brought us Insidious and Saw attempts to once again bring something new to the horror buffet.The Conjuring begins with an over-explanatory dramatization sequence detailing a haunting in 1968, before we are assured that what we are about to see is a ‘real’ story detailing one of the most difficult cases renowned paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren have ever dealt with. Here, the ultimate issue with The Conjuring is immediately evident. Instead of being taken along for the ride, we are bombarded with too much information. Nothing is left to the imagination here.

 

We meet the Perrons, Carolyn, Roger and their five daughters. The Perrons make the ultimate mistake of uprooting their family and moving to a new home. When strange events take a malicious turn, the family has no choice but to call in the infamous paranormal investigative duo. We learn that there is no easy fix for the family and that they will be forced to confront their evil presence. What follows is a relentless attempt to force the audience into edge of their seat terror.

 

Both the Perrons and Warrens are charming enough to make the viewer care about them, with Patrick Wilson being effortlessly adorable as Roger. I am unsure how he maintains a straight face despite the Warrens being the most saccharine duo of paranormal investigators imaginable. We get to know both families intimately through a great deal of overtly explanatory dialogue which flies in the face of the old ‘show – don’t tell’ rule.

 

Director James Wan’s obsession seems to be in taking that childhood feeling of fearing monsters under the bed and applying it to adulthood. Somewhere along the way, Wan seems to have forgotten that what scared us as children existed in our imaginations, and by mapping everything out for us, he prevents us from experiencing true fear throughout. Wan’s specialty is his unique brand of ‘in your face’ horror, the kind that first shocked us in Saw. Unfortunately we have all become immune to its effects and The Conjuring fails to thrill.

 

Wan’s passion for the horror genre is evident throughout, with nods to movies such as The Amityville Horror as well as his use of the more classic generic tropes. His passion is infectious enough to ensure that the film is entertaining throughout, although probably not in the terrifying way he would prefer.

 

Going to see The Conjuring is a little bit like taking a trip through a particularly underwhelming ghost train – for the time you’re sitting in the dark, you’ll be having fun and laughing at the ridiculousness of it all, but once you leave you won’t be in any hurry to pay money for the experience again.

 

.

Share

Cinema Review: Stuck in Love

images

 

DIR/WRI: Josh Boone • PRO: Judy Cairo • DOP: Tim Orr • ED: Robb Sullivan • DES: John Sanders • Cast: Kristen Bell, Logan Lerman, Jennifer Connelly, Lily Collins

Stuck in Love spends a year with a broken family finding their voices in a changing world. As with many indie films, they all speak as though they have all the answers, but this is no simple love story. All our characters are struggling with the very idea of love.

 

We meet Bill Borgens (Greg Kinnear), a divorced father of two, struggling to match his early writing success following his divorce from Erica (Jennifer Connolly) who, after marrying a younger man apparently still can’t decide where she wants to be.

 

Bill’s children both want to follow in his writing footsteps. His daughter, Sam (Lily Collins) is a devastatingly beautiful yet cynical-in-love young woman who finds herself publishing her first novel whilst attempting to recoil from the advances of die-hard romantic Lou (Logan Lerman).

 

Meanwhile, son Rusty (Nat Wolff) exists in his sister’s shadow. He is struggling to find his voice in writing and life and falls for a girl who needs more help than he realizes. Bill and his children make up a trifecta of romantic misfits. Perhaps it is intentional given his existence in the shadow of his sister’s success, but Wolff unfortunately fades into the background here alongside Connolly.

 

Kristen Bell takes a departure from goofier characters here as Tricia, Bill’s neighbor-with benefits-who takes it upon herself to force Bill back into the dating world. Logan Lerman is a gorgeously executed character here as Lou, who far from being the usual pathetic love-interest, sets upon wooing Sam with wit and intelligence.

 

Stuck in Love is the debut offering from writer/director Josh Boone. This is nothing if not a passion project. We understand implicitly that Boone understands his characters better than most screenwriters, having given each of his actors a ‘care package’ of items (including of course, books) that his characters would love in order for them to get a better sense of the character as they exist in his mind.

 

The film somewhat lacks the intensity of a real purpose driving the story. It is character-driven rather than being driven by narrative. In general, this shouldn’t work on screen but, with Boone’s caring hand, it somehow works. We care enough about each character to want to spend time with them, whether or not they will lead us to any gritty on-screen action.

 

It becomes clear that, despite being unable to write a word of his own prose, Bill is the author of our story here. Bill exists as an observer, rather than a participant, which is ironic given his writing advice to his son:

 

‘A writer is the sum of their experiences. Go get some.’

 

Kinnear shares a beautiful chemistry with Collins who manages the same on-screen mastery.

 

This movie is a must-see for all book-lovers. We learn that that the kind of books our characters read reveals more about each character than any amount of dialogue.

 

Stuck in Love is a charming snapshot of a family in crisis, which teaches us what it means to be part of a family and the way in which people become part of a story. It begins and ends with Thanksgiving in a demonstration of the over-arching theme of the film, that endings can also be beginnings.

 

Ciara O’Brien

15A (see IFCO website for details)

96 mins
 Stuck in Love is released on 14th June 2013

Stuck in Love – Official Website

Share