The Hunger Games (2012)
And so we find ourselves in the near future once again and humanity has somehow taken reality TV in a gruesomely fatal direction. Teenagers from around the country are rounded up by lottery, placed in an isolated location, and left to do battle with one another. To the death. And there can only be one winner.
The death battle is also much more polished in The Hunger Games in that the reality TV series is highly polished and organized. They reveal the “contestants” to the world in a pageant. They have a post-game interview, as it were. With Battle Royale, it was crude and barbaric… which I ultimately preferred.
The running time of 142 minutes can be roughly split in half. The first half deals with establishing the circumstances, showing how society has now been carved into districts based on class (not unlike In Time), and getting you through the training that the teenagers receive. This felt labored, running far too long. The action really doesn’t start until the second half when the actual “games” begin. And even then, there are so many holes in logic and common sense that you really have to suspend your disbelief. On the bright side, Woody Harrelson’s character always has a drink in hand. That’s pretty realistic.
The Hunger Games isn’t a bad movie, per se, but to put it in the same sentence as Battle Royale would be to put Twilight in the same league as Blade or Interview with the Vampire.
John Carter (2012)
So, some rogue soldier miraculously teleports to Mars and finds himself in the middle of battle between rival factions. While there are certainly some elements that will remind you of Avatar and Rise of the Titans, the interesting thing is that John Carter was really one of the original science fiction stars. It just so happens that Disney wanted to revive him for a new movie.
That probably wasn’t a good idea. While the original John Carter of Mars may have proven popular in its heyday, the execution of this adventure in the modern era doesn’t provide the same kind of satisfaction as some of its contemporaries. If nothing else, I wanted an enjoyable action-filled romp, but this Carter comes up short. It’s not the worst, but you can certainly do better.
The Muppets (2011)
This ironically self-aware revival of the Muppets does a great job of poking fun of itself. The plot mirrors reality in that the masses have lost interest in the Muppets over the years and now they’re looking to make a comeback. And Jason Segel has largely succeeded.
All of your favorite characters are back, from Fozzie Bear to the Swedish Chef, Beaker to Sam the Eagle. They’ve put them in the middle of the real world–Animal is taking anger management classes with Jack Black (you’ll come to love the “in control” line)–but they need to do a reunion show to save their old theatre. It’s all kitschy and cute, but it’s the nostalgia value that’ll really get you. The brand of comedy really hasn’t changed.
If you were once a fan of the franchise, it would be a disservice to your childhood to miss out on The Muppets. It was thoroughly entertaining and I’m very much looking forward to the sequel.