Movie Roundup 2012: March (The Raven and The Hunger Games)

2012 has been a great year for movies. With a superb array of films coming from almost every genre we at Sound And Motion wanted to celebrate this fact, and bring you our lowdown on what we think have been the key pictures this year, from January to December.

 The Raven poster

THE RAVEN

Released: March 9th.

Starring: John Cusak, Alice Eve, Brendan Gleeson, Kevin McNally.

Directed by: James McTeigue.

The_Raven_08 

Sharing its title with the much admired 1845 poem, The Raven is a fictionalized account of the last few days of American writer Edgar Allen Poe’s life, as he pursues a killer whose murders mirror his finest works.

1849, Baltimore. Edgar Allen Poe (John Cusak) is penniless, alcoholic and forbidden to marry his sweetheart Emily (Alice Eve) by her father Charles Hamilton (Brendan Glesson). He writes savage reviews in the Baltimore Patriot newspaper, and is a shadow of his former self, shunned by critic and common man alike.

When a mother and her daughter are murdered in a locked tight room, bright detective Emmett Fields (Luke Evans) spots a clue within the mystery that reminds him of an Edgar Allan Poe tale. As bodies begin to pile up in ways inspired by his work, the police enlist the help of the broken poet as they frantically search for an intelligent killer that’s always one step ahead.

The Raven was universally despised by critics. Described as being thinly scripted, unnaturally acted and disgracing the legacy of the late writer, the film missed out becoming the cult phenomena it clearly wanted and, perhaps, deserved to be.

 John Cusack stars in Relativity Media's stylish gothic thriller The Raven.

With a core idea both interesting and unique, at least in the case of Poe, The Raven should really appeal to unfamiliar viewers and fans alike, thanks to its deeply woven plot and tense atmosphere, but its lack of distribution in cinemas meant it was grossly under-viewed.

Here at Sound And Motion we very much enjoyed The Raven. Quite, but not massively, familiar with Poe’s work it had us on the edge of our seats throughout, constantly pondering and trying to predict what sort of grisly and macabre murder would happen next, and which poem it would be taken from.

Sure, The Raven isn’t the most groundbreaking story ever, and yes, the ending was one seen many miles off, but Cusak played the aging writer with intense virility, and we have to tip our top hats to him, and the director, for this one.

the-hunger-games-movie-poster

THE HUNGER GAMES

Released: March 23rd.

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, John Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz.

Directed by: Gary Ross.

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Based on a plagerised trilogy of books that should never have been allowed to see the light of day, The Hunger Games is a foolish, weightless hash of a movie that was boring to watch but great to mock.

Adapted from Suzanne Collin’s 2008 novel, The Hunger Games is set in a dystopian future where, in the totalitarian  nation of Panem which is divided and segregated into twelve districts and a capitol, twenty-four children aged between twelve and eighteen are picked to participate in a televised fight to the death.

Two children, one boy and one girl, are chosen by a lottery to represent their district in the games, partly as entertainment for the upper classes in the capitol, and partly as punishment for a past rebellion.

When Primrose (Willow Shields) of District 12 is chosen to take part, her older sister Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) does the unthinkable and volunteers to take her sister’s place in the combat, joining her male counterpart Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) in the arena.

Katnis and Peeta are treated as athletes and superstars while awaiting their entrance into the fray, as is tradition, but they soon find themselves up against children that have trained for the fight their entire lives, like Clove (The Orphan’s Isabelle Fuhrman)a female tribute from District 2.

The bottom line is that The Hunger Games shouldn’t have been made, let alone gone on to make a worldwide box office total of $686,533,290. Anyone familiar with the plot of Battle Royale can see that Suzanne Collins ripped it off completely and, somehow, managed to get away with it.

But it wasn’t just the fact that The Hunger Games was a stolen idea that annoyed us, in general it was just an awful movie.

Jennifer Lawrence stars as 'Katniss Everdeen' in THE HUNGER GAMES.

With ridiculous costuming, awful editing and amateurish direction the film was seemingly put together blindly and, for a large part, was like watching paint dry.

Battle Royale and The Hunger Games are both films with, just going by the plot, the potential to be overwhelmingly exciting and gory. Battle Royale managed this. Those behind The Hunger Games on the other hand managed to make a film about school children murdering each other with guns, bows and knives very dull and tame. Gary Ross, the man in the chair behind Seabiscuit and Pleasantville, must have found that very challenging indeed.

The Hunger Games’ single redeeming factor was the performance of Jennifer Lawrence, who managed to bring life to a hollow and lifeless character.

We feel we should end this review on an overused but absolutely perfect joke that made its way around the internet a few times after this film’s release; What do you call The Hunger Games in Europe? Battle Royale with cheese.

 

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