Friday, 13 April 2012

Murderous Children, Battleships and the British Education System

Well this is blog number 2 and I still have something to say, which is surprising as I usually consider myself the strong silent handsome type! Actually it's more a case of better to be thought a fool than removing all doubt as the old saying goes.


The blog title may give the impression that I'm going to talk about battleship, but its slightly misleading. I have no intention of paying to see battleship at the cinema, or giving Hasbro the misguided idea that what they've produced is anything but an abomination against humanity. Some people may say that this is unfair, maybe despite the soulless money making excuse of an idea it may confound your expectations. It maybe a a barn storming, navy based action film with a brilliant story line and stunning special effects. To these people I say stop and think about what you've just said. Remember that your talking about a film based on battleships, really BATTLESHIPS. This means either playing devils advocate, in which case I say piss off, or you've been lobotomised. 

Inception proved that a special effects film, an event film, a film everyone talked about and discussed and dissected and then watched again on DVD can be intelligent, despite having a budget that runs into the hundred millions. People don't need to be treated like idiots; if given a complicated story line they will follow it, as long as it's worth following. Don't pass off your deficiencies as a film maker on the stupidity of the audience. The cinema going public are used to awesome special effects, but films like these think we just want to see them in slow motion. For instance look at Transformers 2. I still believe that that film would only be 90mins long if they ran all the slow mo bits at normal speed. More than all this the main reason I don't want to see this film is I had the misfortune of catching the IMAX trailer before Mi:4. This trailer was introduced by the director Peter Berg himself. I can honestly say I never want to meet him or see any film he makes if that's what he calls an introduction!

Give me the money

"I'll never let you go" shortly before she lets him go! possibly she's just embarrassed she's slept with him? 
Before I get onto reviewing a film that I've actually seen, let cover Titanic 3D or more money for old rope. Genuinely I don't feel 3D immerses you more in a film in the slightest. Toy Story 3 and Up would've been awesome in 2D or black and white for that matter. Avatar however would still be shit in 2D, 1D or any other dimension you can think of! To put what I can only describe as an extremely average film into 3D seems like a cash in by any stretch of the imagination.  The only thing 3D seems to do well is small floaty things and lets be honest, there's only so many of them you can have in a film.  It's fair to say that I won't be going to see this at the cinema however one of my work colleagues did. Yes, he did seem to like it despite me pointing out to him why he's wrong.  What amazed me more, was that someone behind him in the cinema genuinely seemed surprised that the ship sank! Throughout the film she made startled remarks about the iceberg, the ship splitting and the actually sinking. This goes some way to disproving my above point about cinema goers not being as stupid as Peter Berg/Hasbro think we are. Maybe this cinema goer would enjoy battleship. Is this really the state of the British education system, in the centenary year of the titanic setting sail someone really doesn't know what happened? Does she watch Saving Private Ryan and ask who won the war? Maybe she'd be amazed to know that people have been to the moon?  Then again Mel Gibson doesn't seem to know his history, and that's never stopped him making "historical epics."

File:HungerGamesPoster.jpgThe Hunger Games

The only new release I've seen this week has been the brilliant Hunger Games.  

Set in the fictional country of Panem in a post apocalyptic future. The hunger games take place every year to ensure the residents of the 12 districts of Panem don't get any ideas about rising up again, as they did pre apocalypse. In each district one boy and on girl aged 12-18  are randomly chosen to take part in a fight to the death. The fantastic Jennifer Lawrence (Winters Bone) plays Katniss, master archer, head of her family and in her last year of possible selection for the hunger games.  For her sister Primrose this is her first year in the pot, and unfortunately her number is up. Katniss however volunteers to take her place and so sets in motion events that will change her life.

I've never read the books and so had no preconceived ideas of how things should go. The pre publicity implying this could be the new twilight is unfair in the extreme. This film is more mature and grown up, with a genuinely strong female lead. Not a mopey Bella, staring into the distance looking confused, whilst the boys duke it out. The film does take some time to get going, but there is a genuine sense of apprehension as it builds towards the start of the games. The uncomfortable idea of children butchering each other in the name of entertainment is dealt with well. It would've been very easy for the reality TV aspects of the show to be grating, it's credit to Stanley Tucci that these bits fit in perfectly with the film. There is a sense of satire and a nod towards our own obsession with reality TV, and the cult of celebrity that arises from these shows. The importance of sponsors and getting the public to like you, is a essential as knocking the shit out of the nearest teenager.  The only misstep for me is the bizarre, Jean Paul Gautier esque clothing of the Capitol city residents which don't sit quite right.  I understand the need for them to look different from to the residents of the 12 districts, it just seems a step to far and at times a distraction.

As a 12A, the violence has been toned down and the blood clearly removed from some scenes (the cornucopia scene for one). I personally don't have a problem with this, if this is the route the studio wanted to go down to secure a bigger market so be it. That's the world we live in. In some ways perhaps it would be best to show the true effects of violence, uncensored to show that there is no "good" or "bad" violence, just violence.

The ambiguity of Katniss' feelings towards Peeta is played in a way that we never figure out if she genuinely cares for him, or is simply trying to make herself seem popular. This puts her in charge of the pairs interactions. It is down to the way Lawrence portrays Katniss that we never lose our affection for her character, even though we think she maybe using Peeta.

Overall I'd recommend the Hunger Games, and I'll be looking forward to the rest of the trilogy.

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