In Retrospect - Issue 8

Page 1

Contents: 3-15:

Reviews of this month’s film....






On DVD this month...


A list of DVD releases for this March


In cinema next month...


A list of films to be released in April



Creators Note:

Journalist and Editor: Charlie Derry:

Apologies for this issue being a little late, but we have managed to get it completed despite technical difficulties.

Designer and Art Director: Mikie Daniel:



Reviews of this month’s film...


The Hunger Games 4

Release Date: 23rd March 2012

Director: Gary Ross

Famous Faces: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, and Lenny Kravitz

The first in a trilogy of novels adapted from Suzanne Collins’ best-selling series, The Hunger Games is set in a dystopian future where, in order to maintain peace in the 12 districts of Panem, 24 young representatives are forced to compete in a televised game each year where they must to fight to the death until only one remains. Directed by Gary Ross, the film centres on the character of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) a young woman living in the poorest of districts who, when her sister Primrose (Willow Shields) is chosen to compete in the games, volunteers herself as tribute alongside fellow district competitor Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). Pitted against the richest of tributes who have been training all their lives, Katniss is thrown into the colourful world of the rich in interviews with TV host Caeser Flickerman (Stanley Tucci), stylist Cinna (Lenny Kravitz), and Game escort Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks). But with only the mentoring skills of the drunk and bitter Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) to prepare her, does Katniss even stand a chance of returning home to her family? And how will seducing her district competitor in order to attract sponsors affect the harbouring romance she has with Gale (Liam Hemsworth) back at home? From very early on, The Hunger Games has been constantly compared to

many films, the biggest of these being the Harry Potter and Twilight franchises, as well as the Japanese action thriller Battle Royale. I think it’s impossible to deny any comparisons, and even more so to avoid mentioning them, but at the same time I don’t see why they are a means to judge the film either before or after seeing it. Of course the film is verging on the same lines as the classic Battle Royale, which is also set in a dystopian future where the government capture a class of students who they force to kill each other, but name a film that doesn’t pull its influence from somewhere else? The reason that The Hunger Games succeeds in differentiating itself from this comparison is because it’s aimed at a completely different – and much bigger – audience, which it does by portraying a dystopian future where there is still hope and something to strive for. Battle Royale shows the more sinister and pessimistic side of such a world, killing people for pure entertainment, but what’s so good about The Hunger Games is that Ross manages to create the world of Panem so successfully that is believable enough to provoke an emotional response to both the setting and the people within it. You can feel the desperation and hatred towards the government for what they are doing, and because of this Katniss becomes a heroine.

Through her character, we now have someone to relate and emphasise with, which is a bonus in itself compared to Twilight’s Bella Swan. What Ross captures onscreen is almost exactly how I had pictured the story when reading it, which for me is the best part about his adaptation (of course!). Occasionally missing out explanations or further details that are sometimes needed, though this can be said for most adaptations and is why it’s worth reading the book, the film does an excellent job of filling in the audience with most of what Collins was trying to create through her own words. Because of Ross’ brilliant portrayal of this dystopian setting, he also manages to capture the darkness of the situation, whilst at the same time not making too ‘scary’ for the younger audience. With its premise of death and murder, it was inevitable that there was going to be a lot of violence, and it would have been extremely hard for Ross to dance around these subjects. Ultimately


given a 12A rating after having seven seconds cut, we have to wonder what scenes were removed to make it acceptable for this younger audience. One technique that was used to help avoid this extreme violence was a shaky camera, which overshadowed any killings, taking away the emphasis of anything too serious and instead focusing on the confrontation itself that was going on… somewhere. Of course, whilst this made the film easier to watch for the younger audience, for the rest of us it did occasionally ruin certain scenes. But even without gore and the visual image of spears going through people, the film doesn’t flower the themes of death. The scene with Rue (Amandla Stenberg), especially, was quite a big part of the book that could not have been easily ignored. Whilst at times a bit of blood would have emphasised these scenes even more, it wasn’t a complete negative on the film as the violence was still enough to have an impact. As for any comparisons to the Harry Potter and Twilight franchises, the only way that The Hunger Games can relate to either of these series of film adaptations is that it will be just as big of a franchise as they have already succeeded to become. Only verging on the inclusion of any mythological beings or


creatures (I’ve only read the first book at this point, and the film doesn’t draw on the beasts with human eyes), The Hunger Games has a sense of reality to it, and for that reason it emanates a sense of relatability that were not be achieved with the previously mentioned series of films that it is being compared to. The Hunger Games managed to remove itself from the young adult genre, not only because the film derives a sense of inspiration through the character of Katniss, but because the tributes are fighting for a better life. It is this maturity and socially relevant themes of politics and government actions that sets it aside from the franchises that find it hard to escape its teenage audience. And for that reason I must ask why we are not comparing it to George Orwell‘s 1984. It’s not a literary classic, let’s not go that far, but in reading Collins’ novel I was able to imagine a dystopian and totalitarian regime just in the same way that Orwell’s novel managed to capture. This sophistication is really well expressed in the film, and is definitely worth thinking about. As for the cast of the film, of course it is all about Jennifer Lawrence. Not only did she fit into the role perfectly, but she played the character almost flawlessly and held a strong

performance throughout. Helped by the fact that her character is one of inspiration, Lawrence is almost indefinitely going to do well from this. But whilst she was the star of the show, the film held many other great performances too. One of my personal favourites was Stanley Tucci‘s Flickerman, who, with his shiny white grin and bright blue hair, was just what the role called for. Provoking laughter and cheers from the audience of his TV show, he did just the same with the audience of the cinemas too. And let’s not forget Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks, too, who were both great additions to the cast and again suited their characters superbly. Overall, The Hunger Games is a brilliant adaptation of the book. Not missing out too much of what the book details, the one thing I felt was quite hard to express in the film was the romantic connection between Katniss and Peeta. Whilst some of the audience may have felt that their relationship was a genuine one, the book puts it very differently. Katniss’ actions were, for the most of it, for the cameras, which in the book Peeta eventually realises. With Katniss narrating the book, we are able to understand this better. Whilst the film picks up most of what was left unsaid in Collins’ novel, the emphasis on Katniss’ thoughts of Gale wasn’t easily

expressed on-screen. Something else I feel worth briefly mentioning that the film missed out was that the wild beasts at the end of the film were supposed to be mutations of the dead tributes. Whilst not making a major different to the film, this would have further shown how far the government were willing to go, I think, and would have given a darker twist to the end of the film, which instead ended quite abruptly and almost on a cliché note. What I did like about the end, however, was that the film very slightly went into the second book. From reading the first book we are left to guess what will happen next, knowing that Katniss must be punished somehow to fill another two books, but the film makes it certain that President Snow (played by Donald Sutherland) is determined to retain his power and that he isn’t going to let Katniss’ actions slip. This both tied the film up brilliantly and also made it clear that more is to come that we can look forward to. Despite the only one major flaw of a shaky camera, The Hunger Games is brilliant from start to end, and I really would recommend it to everybody. But if there’s only one thing that we can all agree on, it’s that Gary Ross knows how to adapt a novel onto the big screen. Now can we stop talking about Battle Royale and love it for what it is please?


Wrath Of The Titans Directed by Jonathan Liebesman, Wrath of the Titans follows the demigod son of Zeus, Perseus (Sam Worthington), who must help the Gods restore order and supremacy as, weakened by humanity’s lack of devotion, they struggle to keep control of the imprisoned Titans. When Hades (Ralph Fiennes), along with Zeus’ godly son Ares (Edgar Ramírez), make a deal to capture Zeus (Liam Neeson), Perseus can no longer ignore his true calling. Enlisting the help of the warrior Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike), Poseidon’s demigod son Argenor (Toby Kebbell), and fallen god Hephaestus (Bill Nighy), Perseus must embark on a treacherous quest into the underworld to rescue Zeus and overthrow the Titans to save mankind. Sequel to the 2010 film Clash of the Titans and set ten years later, Wrath of the Titans sets itself as a tale of epic fantasy that is full of monstrous and terrifying beasts. Unfortunately it isn’t. With a fairly decent story line that doesn’t become boring or confusing, the only problem is that we’ve heard and seen this Greek mythological tale so many times before, and unfortunately this most recent franchise just doesn’t stand out enough from the


ever-expanding crowd to make a name for itself. With a poor dialogue and fairly stiff acting throughout, the film completely lacks imagination and is underwhelming in most aspects. Of course, as the film has promoted itself, its highlight is the use of stunning visual effects, which really benefits the film due to its constant use of lightning bolts and scenes full of lava. However, we were supposed to see this at its highest level through the four titans that the film has largely been promoting over the past couple of months. Unlike what was expected, we don’t get to see much of these monsters at all. The main creature, Kronos, the father of Zeus and Hades, is described in Greek legend as the castrator of his father, devourer of his offspring and incestuous and the impregnator of his sister, but we are presented with something very different. That’ll be due to the film’s 12A rating I’m guessing, which is a shame as this only glitters up the end of the world rather than filling us with fear. Not quite a wrath of titans, more like a few slaps across the face whilst we are distracted by too many other, less relevant, story lines and characters. And then, how can we forget, the unmissable

romantic ending. This would have worked really well between the characters of Pike and Worthington as they are both fairly attractive to the other half. Regretfully there was a complete lack of chemistry throughout, even at the point of them kissing. This scene felt like it was forced in rather than worked on, which is another great failure on the director’s behalf. As for the acting alone, Sam Worthington is brilliant in the film’s lead role. Strong and powerful, his performance as a demigod has been pretty solid throughout the franchise, but he still has so much more to offer an it seems that he just doesn’t want to give the film any effort. He is then followed by an even stronger cast that includes the like of Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson and Danny Houston, all great and powerful actors who on paper are extremely well suited for their characters. Unfortunately none of them give anything spectacular either, nothing in the way of what we have seen from them in the Harry Potter and Dark Knight franchises at least. For me, it was Bill Nighy and Toby Kebbell that stood out, livening up the supposedly depressing nature of the universe ending by adding in a bit of humour

where it was needed. These two were good because they didn’t take themselves seriously, and that stood out a mile in comparison to everyone else. There’s not a lot else to be said really. I had hoped I could have recommended this just for the CGI, but I actually enjoyed the first film more, and that says enough itself.

Release Date: 30th March 2012

Director: Jonathan Liebesman

Famous Faces: Sam Worthington, Rosamund Pike, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, and Bill Nighy


21 Jump

Release Date: 16th March 2012

Director: Phil Lord and Chris Miller

Famous Faces: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, and Dave Franco


Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, 21 Jump Street is a loose sequel to the TV series of the same name, that originally starred Johnny Depp and aired in the late 80s. Centring on two police officers, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are old high school classmates who become friends during police academy and end up

becoming partners. Because of their young appearances, the two are sent to work under the authority of Captain Dickson (Ice Cube), where they are then made to go undercover in a local high school to stop a new synthetic drug from spreading to other campuses by finding the supplier. Set in high school, 21 Jump Street is not a typical teenage drama. No pressure on relationships, no overly obsessive romantic situations, and no clichés, it’s crude and immature, but surprisingly this is one of the film’s biggest highlights. Co-written by Hill and Michael Bacall, the dialogue is one of the great things about this film. We are very used to Hill acting as the – now skinny – funny guy, but it’s good to see that he can put it down on paper too. What’s good about the script is that it often takes the piss out of itself. Whilst in a lot of cases this can be a sign of worse things to come, this technique actually really works here. A favourite running joke was one revolved around unnecessary explosions that comedies often try to fit in, which in this case involved a van carting chickens. But whilst this may make an older audience laugh, it’s 15 rating means

p Street that it cannot be enjoyed by anyone younger. Is this part of the film’s success? I would say that it is; it’s a high school comedy for adults, and that’s something you don’t get to say often. With Jonah Hill also starring in the film, 21 Jump Street is far from Superbad. Whilst we can expect a certain type of comedy from Hill, you can see how his acting – mixed with his own writing – has far progressed since getting a Oscar-nomination for his role in Moneyball. What was surprising, however, was finding yourself actually enjoying the on-screen company of Channing Tatum. This is the first film that he has starred in that I have wanted to watch, as with many of his others I have

purposefully avoided. The two leads are an unexpected but effective duo, and it is the combination of these two actors as to why the film is constantly funny. Nevertheless, there is a fairly decent backing cast too, as the duo become part of a gang that includes Eric (Dave Franco) and Molly (Brie Larson) and find themselves only too often bumping into one of the school’s teachers, Mr. Walters (Rob Riggle). Not really worth more of a mention than that, it would be hard not to mention Johnny Depp‘s cameo appearance from his role in the TV series. We all knew that it was coming at some point, but it

still came as a total surprise. Whilst at first I was a little pessimistic about this aspect of the film, it was generally quite a nice addition to the film and provoked even more laughter. Whilst 21 Jump Street isn’t anything special, it’s not the same-old regurgitated crap that we often have to put up with these days. Many of the reviews I have read around this film have complimented how funny the film is, and most of these have come from a second or even third viewing. 21 Jump Street is a good comedy, but it didn’t make me laugh any more than usual.


This Means War Directed by McG, This Means War is a romantic comedy action film that centres on two CIA agents, best friends FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy), who find themselves part of a love triangle when they end up dating the same woman. When neither are willing to back down, the quest for true loves turns into a spy vs. spy operation as


the two battle to see who has the best tricks in the book, as they become willing to do anything to come out on top, literally. Meanwhile, Lauren Scott (Reese Witherspoon) must make a decision for herself, as she is forced to choose between the womanizing playboy that is FDR, and the sensitive and more easy option that is being offered by Tuck. So who, if anyone at all, will she choose? From the director of Charlie’s Angels, This Means War isn’t a typical romantic comedy. Whilst the film is undeniably one for the girls (because let’s face it, it’s pretty impossible not to melt when Tom Hardy opens his mouth), the film manages to stir away from being a generic American romcom by adding a splice of action, as well as being led by a brilliant cast that is the bromance of Pine and Hardy. I’ll say this now that this is no masterpiece, but what happened to enjoying a film for doing nothing more than making you laugh? Being a mix of genres is, ultimately, the reason why the film both exceeds and fails, giving something for all of the audience to enjoy, but whilst at the same time not living up to either of

these genres particularly well. With the sub-plot of a group of Russian gangsters who are attempting to… well, that part doesn’t even matter…the focus of this rom-com is occasionally taken away by heading back to the CIA headquarters to get down to work. Kind of. Not technically including any scenes of real action, at least not in the sense that is to be expected from McG, the setting of this spy agency is enough to mean that if you have been dragged along to see this by your girlfriend then you may just find yourself enjoying it too. It’s a romantic comedy that tries to appeal to both halves of the couple, and whilst many have argued that the film doesn’t do this well, I would argue otherwise. It’s a widely held view that the action in the film isn’t amazing, so what about the romantic and comedic genres that it still has to fill? For me, it was the comedy that made This Means War bearable to sit through. The best part of the film, I felt, was that the script has some genuinely really funny lines. This ‘banter’ between Pine and Hardy was constant throughout and, even though you can see much of it from the trailer, it was the conversations along side of the pranks that

they were the entertaining part. As for the romance, well the film doesn’t really succeed at that either, as its misogynistic nature doesn’t really allow any feelings of love to break through once the ‘games’ have begun. I would, however, say that it is quite sexy in places. Unfortunately the film does end on a bit of cliché, one that I hoped it would avoid. It was, however, dealt with it in a more adult fashion, so it didn’t ruin the film in any way, and whilst there was a

“The best part of the film was the ‘banter’ between Pine and Hardy. It was these conversations along side the pranks that was entertaining.” lack of real action, there was a lot of emotion to be taken from these final few scenes. Obviously the chemistry was in the wrong place though, as I was rooting for the wrong team throughout. Nevertheless, it did end well and I’m glad that it went a bit further with the underlying, more sophisticated, story line of Hardy’s family finding a resolution. Despite how much I enjoyed the film it is very much a low point in all

of these actors careers, especially for Hardy. Pine and Hardy may not make very convincing spies, but they are a comedic duo that have a lot of fun working together, and that is expressed really well on-screen. Neither excel in this film as they have done in the roles that we remember them for (for example: Pine in Star Trek and Hardy in Warrior), but in relation to what is being asked of them from this film, they both play their roles brilliantly and it was a nice turn to see them both in something more lighthearted. For Witherspoon, however, it is a little different as it’s this type of film that we are used to seeing her in. For this reason, whilst her role her is a lot more serious from her Elle Woods days, there can be no faults found. At the end of the day, if you are planning to watch a rom-com then you know what you’re in for. Whilst This Means War doesn’t excel in any of its genres, it’s a decent film that keeps you enticed, and is one that will certainly make you laugh every now and then. It’s light, it’s fun, and if you’re not looking for anything serious then you can’t go wrong, even if it’s just for the bromance.

Release Date: 2nd March 2012

Director: McG

Famous Faces: Tom Hardy, Chris Pine, and Reese Witherspoon


John Carter Directed by Andrew Stanton, John Carter (formerly John Carter of Mars) is an epic science fiction action film based on the heroic protagonist of Edgar Rice Burroughs‘ Barsoom series of novels. Based on his fantasyromance serial written in 1912, A Princess of Mars, the film tells the story of Civil War vet John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) who, at the beginning of the film, we are to believe has died. Leaving his private journal to his nephew Edgar (Daryl Sabara), Carter takes us back 13 years to the day, whilst searching for a fabled cave of gold, he was inadvertently teleported to Mars, known to its inhabitants as Barsoom. Captured by an army of giant, four-armed green martians named Tharks, who are under the rule of the King, known on Mars as the Jeddak, Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe). Carter is told of the ongoing war between two of the humanoid tribes, Zodanga which is ruled by Sab Than (Dominic West), and Helium which is led by Tardos Mors (Ciarán Hinds), of whom the Tharks live in the shadows of. Sab Than is now armed with a special weapon, the “Ninth Ray”, given to him by the Thern leader Matai Shang (Mark Strong), and proposes an end to the war by marrying the Princess of Helium, Dejah


Thoris (Lynn Collins). The defiant Princess, however, escapes, and is rescued by Carter as they descend on a quest to find a way for him to return home, as the battle becomes a backdrop to their blossoming attraction. Known for a number of Pixar films including Wall E and Finding Nemo, John Carter is director Stanton’s live-action debut. Whilst the film is brilliant visually, with great CGI affects and realistic enough looking aliens, unfortunately there isn’t a lot else going for it. The only reason that the film doesn’t completely fail is because of its source material. With a back story to base itself on, the plot of John Carter is constantly solid. Thinking in-depth, you can see how Mars relates to Carter’s home town, contrasting with the two conflicting countries but where this time Carter is forced to choose a side. This plot line may be very detailed, which is a huge advantage of the film, but it is very easy to feel a little thrown around. From the very beginning we go from Mars to Earth then from present to past. On a first watch it’s easy to lose confidence in what has actually happened, and between watching the film and writing this review I did have to question what I had seen. Because of this a second

viewing is definitely needed, an I would recommend it to not completely dislike the film, but it’s still very hard to want to sit through the film more than once. It’s this lengthy process that ruins the film. Whilst John Carter is full of non-stop action that you would hope to be enough to keep you entertained, the 120 minute run time is far too much to take in. This lengthy process further affects the film’s story line as, whilst there are very few holes in the plot, it does, at times, seem to get slightly ridiculous. Going endlessly on, there are many parts of the film where nothing seems to be happening, and there is only a very small percentage of the film that is worth remembering. As for the acting within the film, lead Taylor Kitsch is fairly gratifying under the circumstances of a drowsy film, but it will undoubtedly have set him up for bigger roles in the future, already appearing in Battleship next month. As for his leading lady, Lynn Collins is a great fitting for the role as she works really well with the action side of it. At the same time, however, she is not a very sympathetic heroine, which negatively effects the romantic aspect of her character. Whilst it’s all there on paper, with Kitsch being

the handsome hero and Collins the beautiful strongwielded damsel in distress, it just doesn’t come to life on-screen. The supporting cast is also a pretty solid one, including Mark Strong in his typical role of evil as well as Dominic West and Ciarán Hinds. Whilst these classy British actors are a great addition to the film, I wouldn’t say that any one of them in particular stood out. It’s all just very mediocre, with no performance strong enough to help compliment the nonvisual side of the film. I have to admit that I wasn’t invested from the very beginning, so for me it had no other way to go. Whilst on a second viewing it was much more enjoyable, it’s very hard to escape the length of the film, especially when nothing grabs your attention within that time to pull you in. The length of the film only further lowers your opinion as it goes on, As a result, John Carter will be a forgettable experience for most of its viewers, who unfortunately will not remain invested long enough to look forward to its potential sequels, which is a shame because it really was a missed opportunity.

Release Date: 9th March 2012

Director: Andrew Stanton

Famous Faces: Taylor Kitsch, Willem Dafoe, and Mark Strong


On DVD this month...


March DVD Releases: My Week With Marilyn Date: 16th March Based on Colin Clark’s diary account of his time on set with Marilyn Monroe, My Week With Marilyn focuses on the week in which Clark spent his week escorting Monroe around England.

The Adventures of Tintin Date: 19th March

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 Date: 12th March

Intrepid reporter Tintin and Captain Haddock set off on a treasure hunt for a sunken ship commanded by Haddock’s ancestor, starring the voices of Jamie Bell, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and more.

Bella Swan and her vampire fiancé Edward Cullen get married and prepare for a new born. But will the bloodsucking baby inside of her kill her before the Volturi?

The Help Date: 12th March An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African-American maids’ point of view on the white families for which they work.

50/50 Date: 26th March

The Rum Diary Date: 5th March

When 27-year-old Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) goes to the doctors about back pain, he finds out that he has a rare type of spinal cancer, and must undergo chemotherapy with the help of his best friend Kyle (Seth Rogen).

Journalist Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp) who travels to Puerto Rico to escape the American life. Here, he starts writing for a run-down newspaper, picks a habit of drinking rum and falls in love with the beautiful Chenault (Amber Heard).


In cinemas next month...


April’s Cinema: Avengers Assemble Date: 26th April Captain America (Chris Evans), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) unite.

Mirror Mirror Date: 2nd April

Cabin In The Woods Date: 13th April

A re-telling of the classic fairy tale that follows an evil queen who wishes to steal control of a kingdom, of which the princess enlists the help of seven resourceful rebels to win back her birthright.

Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin in the woods, where they get more than they bargained for. Together, they must discover the truth behind the cabin in the woods.

Salmon Fishing In The Yemen Date: 20th April Based on Paul Torday’s acclaimed novel of the same, the film follows the attempts of a scientist who hopes to fulfil a sheikh’s dream by bringing the sport of fly-fishing to his homeland.

Battleship Date: 11th April

Damsels In Distress Date: 27th April

Based on the Hasbro game, a fleet of ships is forced to do battle with an armada of unknown origins in order to discover and thwart their destructive goals.

A trio of girls set out to change the male-dominated environment of their campus and to rescue their fellow students from depression, grunge and low standards of every kind.