Inside Pulse » Twilight http://insidepulse.com A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Sat, 29 Nov 2014 00:50:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse no A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse » Twilight http://insidepulse.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://insidepulse.com Monday Morning Critic – Is Pitch Perfect Another Generation’s Franchise Level Footloose? A look at Anna Kendrick and the Pitch Perfect 2 Trailer http://insidepulse.com/2014/11/24/monday-morning-critic-is-pitch-perfect-another-generations-franchise-level-footloose-a-look-at-anna-kendrick-and-the-pitch-perfect-2-trailer/ http://insidepulse.com/2014/11/24/monday-morning-critic-is-pitch-perfect-another-generations-franchise-level-footloose-a-look-at-anna-kendrick-and-the-pitch-perfect-2-trailer/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 13:00:26 +0000 http://insidepulse.com/?p=2004717
MMC

You know what’s crazy? Sometimes I tend to think that without Up in the Air we’d have written off Anna Kendrick as a serious actress a long time ago because of her association with the Twilight franchise.

There’s a residual stench to it to anyone but the “Twi-Hards” that turned a substantial young adult novel series into one of the highest grossing film franchises of all time haven’t supported anything the cast has done en masse. Taylor Lautner went from being a movie star on the rise while in the franchise … to being just another face in the crowd after Abduction failed to do anything commercially or critically. Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson have predictably struggled to find a foothold in their careers since the franchise concluded, both intrinsically identified with it because of their prominent roles, and the rest of the prominent members of the cast have returned back to their pre-Twilight levels of fame and prominence.

Anna Kendrick, though … we really don’t associate her with it despite her involvement in every film of the franchise. In part it’s because we as a movie going audience kind of understand that sometimes you have to slum it for a bit to do the films you’re meant to. Matthew McConaughey was in a Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel, among other things, and now he’s an Oscar winning leading man of substance. In the end game we’ll chalk it up to a young actress establishing commercial bona fides without becoming a tabloid star in the process. Not every film is a masterpiece, or something to be proud of, but a good cinematic resume does require some dues paying in the process.

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With Up in the Air we saw something that said that Kendrick was someone who had talent. We saw that she could be great in the future given the right project, and we got with a film about acapella groups in college. It simultaneously poked fun at the coming of age tropes while also being a great coming of age film. Pitch Perfect helped to establish the bona fides of a number of people from the cast, most of whom are returning, and landed Kendrick a legit Top 40 hit with “Cups.”

But without Up in the Air we probably would’ve seen the same thing happen to Kendrick, I think, that happened to Stewart, Pattinson and Lautner. In less than two years they went from major celebrities to actors that you can’t remember what their last project was. She’d have been washed out in the tide like Ashley Greene, another young actress who can show up at conventions for 20 years and make a nice living with autographs like an ‘80s pro wrestler or a slasher movie heroine in between indie projects.

Up in the Air garnered her an Oscar nomination and tons of accolades, of course, but the thing that stuck with me the most is that it reminded us of how good, charismatic and interesting of an actress she can be. Admittedly it’s when she isn’t playing second fiddle to Kristen Stewart in campy, dinner theatre wannabe productions that play to the most basic among us. We could kind of forgive her for those horrible films because they were paycheck roles. She kind of got a pass because this franchise, and the paychecks involved, got her into films we could care about.

The whole trajectory of her career was changed overnight with that film because we saw a glimpse of what she could be on a grand scale.

Crazy enough Pitch Perfect might wind up being the franchise we remember her most in as opposed to the one that will have made significantly more money at the box office. Kendrick in the lead of the Pitch Perfect is more fitting and more memorable for any number of reasons. The key is that it inspires a different emotion than the mockery that Twilight did. For all the cultural zeitgeist that Twilight was, spurring the young adult novel film movement (and giving plenty of work to young actresses), Pitch Perfect has a shot at being the sort of film franchise that can be looked back at like Footloose is today: genuinely fun.

I remember what I wrote, and what I thought, when I saw the trailer for the first film in what I presume will probably wind up being a three film franchise. In fact, with the beauty of the internet, I can link it here and quote it directly. AHEM.

“Singing films are like films about dance crews: you know they’ll suck, they know they’ll suck and everyone just waits for them to stop with the crappy acting to get to the cover songs.”

I was coming off a weekend of insulting the faith based film Last Ounce of Courage, which did garner my first physical threat. So perhaps I wasn’t in the best of moods … but to be fair that’s usually par for the course. I had been making fun of it since the trailer was first released and it easily was the biggest surprise of the year. I paid to see the film three times by the end of its run in theatres, which is a rarity because I normally don’t see a film more than once in a theatre.

I wound up calling Pitch Perfect one of my Top 10 of the year for 2012 and has easily been one of the more rewatchable films from 2012 in the two years since. It’s found a significant fan base on DVD after being a minor hit, making well over $100 million worldwide off a budget of less than $20 million. It made sense for a sequel to be greenlit, despite not really being necessary, because Hollywood has traditionally been in love with franchises.

So now, two years after Pitch Perfect became a hit and Breaking Dawn Part 2 finished up that particular franchise, we’re in a much different cinematic landscape. And out of that entire cast, all mailing it in for a miserably awful franchise, Kendrick’s rise to prominence afterwards has been remarkable.

And now she has her chance at immortality with a franchise that’ll have a chance to do something remarkable in the summer movie season. Next year is going to be the year where “Hollywood is resurging” with a new Star Wars, another Avengers film and any number of substantive films coming out. The narrative will be there, especially after a down year like 2014 is going to wind up being. And Pitch Perfect 2, situated as perhaps the best of counter programming, has a shot at doing something wild.

While this is the era of the costumed hero, replacing the era of the movie star, we’ve got a chance at a genuinely fun franchise for the first time in a while.

Stuff for General George S. Pimpage, Esq

Travis tackled the latest Hunger Games film.

BC with some thoughts on 22 Jump Street.

And now on MMC … we watch Melvin Manhoef get planked.

If you want to pimp anything email it to me with a good reason why. It helps to bribe me with stuff, just saying ….

I didn’t have the chance to watch anything new on DVD this week … thus I say this: have a good Thanksgiving.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 tall boys of Red Fox and community college co-eds with low standards at the Fox and Hound

Horrible Bosses 2 – The trio is back for more, ahem, shenanigans.

Skip it – The first wasn’t all that funny and this promises to be far, far worse.

Penguins of Madagascar – The side characters get their own film many years after it would’ve been relevant.

Skip It – The final cash in for the franchise and counter programming opposite a hard R rated film.

The Imitation Game – The story of Alan Turing vs. Nazi machines. In limited release.

See It – Benedict Cumberbatch is getting strong Oscar buzz for a reason.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .
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Disc News: Trailer for Twilight Forever: The Complete Saga http://insidepulse.com/2013/10/10/disc-news-trailer-for-twilight-forever-the-complete-saga/ http://insidepulse.com/2013/10/10/disc-news-trailer-for-twilight-forever-the-complete-saga/#comments Thu, 10 Oct 2013 19:43:55 +0000 http://insidepulse.com/?p=341344 The Twilight Forever: The Complete Saga is due out November 5 on Blu-ray and DVD. Here’s the preview video for those still deciding whether to be Team Jacob or Team Edward.

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Disc News: Twilight Forever: The Complete Saga Sparkles In September http://insidepulse.com/2013/08/15/disc-news-twilight-forever-the-complete-saga-sparkles-in-september/ http://insidepulse.com/2013/08/15/disc-news-twilight-forever-the-complete-saga-sparkles-in-september/#comments Thu, 15 Aug 2013 22:05:00 +0000 http://insidepulse.com/?p=337507 What can be said about the Twilight films other than you know what to get the teen girl in your life this fall. Twilight Forever: The Complete Saga promises to give them everything they crave in the world of vampire love and werewolf lust. Here’s the press release from Summit Entertainment:

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Celebrating The 5th Anniversary Of The Theatrical Debut Of The First Twilight Film, Summit Entertainment’s Twilight Forever: The Complete Saga Features All Five Films, Over 2 Hours Of Brand New Bonus Content And Every Special Feature Ever Produced For The Blockbuster Franchise

SANTA MONICA, CA (August 13, 2013) —Timed to celebrate the fifth anniversary of The Twilight Saga’s original theatrical debut, fans are invited to relive the immortal love story with Twilight Forever: The Complete Saga, available as a 10-disc Blu-ray (plus Digital HD UltraViolet) set and as a 12-disc DVD (plus Digital UltraViolet) set debuting November 5, 2013 from Summit Entertainment, a LIONSGATE company. Whether Team Edward or Team Jacob, the passion of Twilight fans hasn’t dissipated with the final film, continuing through fan fiction, pop culture and the constant engagement of over 166 million fans in Twilight’s online network. Twilight Forever: The Complete Saga encompasses all five films, over 2 hours of brand new exclusive content and over 10 hours of every special feature ever created for the multi-billion dollar franchise. Twilight Forever: The Complete Saga is the ultimate collector’s set, an immersive experience for every Twilight fan to recapture and relive the most epic romance of the century.

The all-new material featured in this complete collection includes a cast retrospective with new interviews; “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Character” which showcases previously unreleased behind-the-scenes moments on set; an exploration of the epic’s “Twilight FAN-omenon” and individually highlights Edward and Jacob’s stories in “Twilight Forever: Edward’s Saga” and “Twilight Forever: Jacob’s Saga.” These new features will be available alongside the over 10 hours of bonus material released via previous home entertainment editions that includes multi-part “making of” documentaries, behind-the-scenes featurettes, cast and crew interviews, deleted and extended scenes, photo galleries, red carpet footage, music videos and more.

The deluxe packaging arrives in a double-sided box that highlights beloved characters, one side featuring Edward and Bella and the other side featuring Jacob; and the discs are held in a commemorative photo album highlighting the most iconic moments from the entire saga.

Twilight Forever: The Complete Saga
debuts as a 10-disc Blu-ray set for the suggested retail price of $74.99, and a 12-disc DVD set for $64.98.
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Weekend Box Office: Skyfall Shaken As Twilight’s Breaking Dawn Part 2 Opens Huge http://insidepulse.com/2012/11/19/weekend-box-office-skyfall-shaken-as-twilights-breaking-dawn-part-2-opens-huge/ http://insidepulse.com/2012/11/19/weekend-box-office-skyfall-shaken-as-twilights-breaking-dawn-part-2-opens-huge/#comments Mon, 19 Nov 2012 13:00:06 +0000 http://insidepulse.com/?p=318056

Bella and Edward – unliving on the edge.

The end of the Mayan calendar may be fast approaching, but if it is truly the end of the world, Twihards will have lived seeing the conclusion of the Twilight series on the big screen. Once again, Bella and Edward reign supreme making a blood pact while the rest of the movie business does solid returns in its wake. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 closes the chapter on Stephenie Meyer’s best-selling series of books with an estimated $141 million three-day opening. While it may be the end of the Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner playing these characters, Lionsgate, who purchased Summit Entertainment earlier this year, would be foolish to let this cash cow rest. It produces $100 million openings, so if Sony Pictures can reboot Spider-Man a decade after the first film was released, expect the same for Lionsgate and the Twilight series.

The $141 million opening is strong, but only slightly better than Breaking Dawn – Part 1. It couldn’t eclipse New Moon, the second film in the series. What does this tell us? The films could never expand outside of its target audience. I mean look at The Avengers. Sure, along the way it took some dips, with the Iron Man franchise being the biggest breadwinner of the Avengers unit, but the convergence of the superheroes broke box office records in the process. The same could also be said of Skyfall, Daniel Craig’s third outing as James Bond, but the first in four years (more on that film in a sec).

But if Lionsgate is content to give the fans what they want, the the quality and critical approval doesn’t matter one iota. The opening was enough to make it the eighth-best domestic opening of all time, with a total gross of $340.9 million worldwide, and a franchise total that’s just shy of $3 billion across five movies. Such money would make the Volturi stand down. The series may be done for now, but a slog of YA adaptations are on their way in the coming year including Beautiful Creatures and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. While it may be getting lumped into the YA discussion, I can’t wait for Summit’s Warm Bodies about a zombie (Nicholas Hoult) who learns to have a heart thanks to his infatuation with Kristen Stewart’s better-looking doppelganger Teresa Palmer.

Last week Skyfall opened in the U.S. to impressive numbers. This week it took its expected drop with the arrival of the final installment in the Twilight series. Losing 51% of its first weekend audience the plunge isn’t nearly as bad as Quantum of Solace‘s 60% drop four years ago with the arrival of the original Twilight. By Thanksgiving, Skyfall will overtake both Casino Royale and Solace to become the most successful Bond film domestically. Already, its total worldwide is a very sizable $669.2 million, well ahead of Royale‘s $599 million. And it’s only been out for less than a month. How do you like them apple martinis?

Opening in a few markets on November 9th, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln had slow expansion this weekend landing at 1.775 locations. For its first weekend as a semi-wide release the picture had a very impressive per-screen average of $11,831, which was nearly on par with Skyfall despite playing in fewer locations. Released in accordance with last year’s War Horse, Spielberg once again has another prestige release in theaters. However, unlike War Horse, Lincoln looks to be gunning for a ton of Oscars, including acting honors in the lead and supporting categories. Considering that the viewing audience is primarily single-parent adults in their 40s and 50s, I fully expect this one to get a sizable bump during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend with parents and grandparents insistent on forgoing shopping in favor of a 2.5 hour history lesson.

Wreck-It Ralph suffers another nominal drop in its third weekend, nothing major, but it does suggest that it will be hard for this one to reach $200 million domestic. This coming week it will be challenged with the arrival of Rise of the Guardians in theaters and it is another movie that has been getting some awards chatter. Robert Zemeckis’ Flight is at $61 million after three weeks. Paramount’s platform approach has helped to sustain interest just like it did when the studio released The Fighter several years ago. But $60 million after three weeks is pretty solid considering it is an R-rated drama.

The other R-rated drama in the top 10 getting awards buzz is Ben Affleck’s Argo. By the end of Thanksgiving weekend it will have surpassed $100 million. That will become Affleck’s biggest hit in the director’s chair and fully solidifies him as a bankable director to go with his leading man status. Taken 2 is still around in the top 10 and has at least one more week before the film is taken away from the countdown completely. The franchise has the last laugh, however. While it is $10 million from surpassing the domestic total of Taken, worldwide Taken 2 has bettered its predecessor by more than $126 million.

Pitch Perfect and Here Comes the Boom are exiting the top ten this week, each having crossed $60 and $40 million, respectively. Our number 10 finisher is up in the air at the moment. Early estimates have Cloud Atlas holding on to finish in tenth. Other outlets say it could be The Sessions, Hotel Transylvania or the Bollywood release Jab Tak Hai Jaan, which had strong returns at 161 locations.

Two newcomers in limited release, Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina and Silver Linings Playbook, had small roll outs over the weekend. Karenina opened at 16 locations and was greeted with $315k. Playbook was originally going to have a much larger release over the weekend, but the Weinstein Company decided to go with a platform approach before unleashing it in 400+ theaters Thanksgiving weekend. The end result was a $458k debut on at 16 locations. Supposedly, this will also be a big awards contender for a number of categories including Picture, Best Actor (Bradley Cooper) and Best Actress (Jennifer Lawrence). We shall see.


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The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 – Review http://insidepulse.com/2012/11/18/the-twilight-saga-breaking-dawn-part-2-review/ http://insidepulse.com/2012/11/18/the-twilight-saga-breaking-dawn-part-2-review/#comments Sun, 18 Nov 2012 13:00:46 +0000 http://insidepulse.com/?p=318028
Love story concludes in not-so-epic fashion

I get the impression that Stephenie Meyer must have been on a Final Destination horror binge when she was contemplating the thrilling epic confrontation that pits the Cullen kin and allies against the Volturi, a coven of vampires that enforce the laws of the vampire world. So they’re like our US Congress, but these are real bloodsuckers.

The execution of the battle sequence is nicely staged, until it leads to the audience having the rug pulled out from underneath them. In that moment any emotional attachment we had to any of the characters, even those who are on the periphery and whose names are mentioned once and soon forgotten (aside from Lee Pace as Garrett, proving to be the most alluring of the newly introduced characters), is gone. It reeks of desperation, as if Meyer was too attached to her characters to see them no harm. To steal a phrase from the YA-stylized Easy A, minus the Gothicism, she didn’t have the “lady balls” to follow through, say unlike J.K. Rowling who killed off one of her series’ important characters to the shock and surprise of readers and eventual viewers.

This discrepancy aside, Breaking Dawn Part Two is over. Fin. Terminou. El Final. No matter what language “The End” or “Finished” is written I can say that this interpretation of the Twilight series has come to a close. We still may have the cinematic adaptation of Meyer’s The Host (coming in 2013), but it’s okay to put a wooden stake in these characters. This bastardization of the vampire mythos is no longer.

If that reads like a condemnation of the series as a whole, then you are right. The phenomenon of the Twilight series is something I’ll never understand. First as a massively popular fantasy romance before becoming a box-office juggernaut, the Twilight series has become the sort of wish fulfillment for teens and soccer moms that need a little bloodsucking with their romantic trysts. Never mind the fact that the series seems to dispute the entire women’s lib movement. How so? Well, our central protagonist, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), forgoes a human life to live a life eternal with vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). She is determined to have a man in her life, be he cold, dead or sparkly – or all three. (So much for Miss Independent.) As much as I want to believe that they are a pair of star-crossed lovers, at least in the case of Romeo & Juliet they had the words of William Shakespeare to back up their case. Stephenie Meyer doesn’t have the same way with words.

If Breaking Dawn Part One felt like a cheap movie because of its non-conclusion, Breaking Dawn Part Two feels oddly with its pacing. Picking up where the first half left off, with Bella surviving her pregnancy by being turned into a vampire, the movie has a lighthearted touch, with moments of intentional and unintentional comedy. Like when Bella as a newly turned vampire makes werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner) her B— by kicking the crap out of him while Edward stands amused at the situation. After some familiarization with the characters, with Bella getting her bearings and learning that today’s vampires sleep on beds instead of in coffins, the narrative sputters along leading to a rousing false climax, before a conclusion with a vision of the future that seems to inherently celebrate pedophilia. Say what?

Without giving too much away, the Volturi are led to believe that Bella and Edward have a human infant that has been bitten and transformed into a vampire, which is a big no no according to the by-laws. While the problem could have been solved over a friendly chat with a Dark Shadows marathon playing in the background, Michael Sheen’s Aro and Dakota Fanning’s Jane and the rest of the nameless Volturi players make their way to Washington to confront the Cullen clan over this malfeasance.

This allows Sheen to overact big time as Aro and the film is better because of it. Sheen is one of those actors that understands the campiness of the Twilight series so he embraces it. He’s not at all frightening or intimidating. If anything he’s more feminine than Bella. I bet underneath that large robe of his Aro’s decked out in undergarments that would make J. Edgar Hoover and Dr. Frank-N-Furter high-five each other. Dakota Fanning is purely window-dressing in her role, limited to only uttering the single word “Pain” a few times.

Of the regulars, they go through the motions as per usual, but at least the actors are more comfortable in their roles. Kristen Stewart seems more alive as a vampire than she ever was as a human. Though it appears to be that newly-minted female vampires still have some PMS to work out before the cycle shuts down for good. The film also includes the necessary moments that will make women swoon (read: removal of shirts). But because this is PG-13 any passionate love scenes are neutered to close-ups, fast edits and no climax. Not even smoking a cigarette afterwards.

If you don’t get too caught up with the climatic battle, it can be a lot of fun. Lots of visceral carnage involving vampires that won’t be attending any hat conventions in the near future. We get vampire-on-vampire beatdowns and wolf-on-vampire action that is well choreographed and orchestrated by Bill Condon’s direction. But in the context of the film the outcome is so deflating that it seems to be a disservice to the series, not just the movie, overall.

Had the Twilight series not become best-selling novels, the films may have ended up on Syfy or been released direct-to-DVD. But because of its large fan base we have five thankless movies that seem to reinforce negative stereotypes about today’s youth. Don’t give me the argument that I have a stilted impression of the Twilight series as a whole. I’ve watched each film as an objective viewer, trying to keep my mind open to this change in vampire mythology and regression of womanhood. But, alas, I guess I just like my women strong-willed and lucid and vampires less sparkly.

Director: Bill Condon
Writer: Melissa Rosenberg, based on the novel ‘Breaking Dawn’ by Stephenie Meyer
Notable Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Peter Facinelli, Ashley Greene, Billy Burke, Mackenzie Foy, Michael Sheen, Dakota Fanning, Jackson Rathbone, Lee Pace

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Blu-ray Review: The Hunger Games http://insidepulse.com/2012/08/17/blu-ray-review-the-hunger-games/ http://insidepulse.com/2012/08/17/blu-ray-review-the-hunger-games/#comments Fri, 17 Aug 2012 17:00:23 +0000 http://insidepulse.com/?p=309186 The Harry Potter and Twilight series are two of the most successful book to film adaptations ever, and now The Hunger Games can be added to that list. In fact – at least domestically – The Hunger Games has earned more than any of the individual Potter or Twilight films, which is quite an impressive feat. Still, these are different stories told in different genres for different audiences, and that’s where The Hunger Games has that extra appeal.

While there’s no denying the worldwide popularity of the Harry Potter series, not everyone is excited by the idea of a boy wizard trying to find his way in the world; however, when there are 24 teenagers fighting to the death in an arena where only one can survive, that opens up a lot more doors in terms of broad appeal. That may sound somewhat sadistic, but it’s true. It’s a scenario where the viewer is able to put themselves in the shoes of the participants in this life or death situation without putting anything at risk. It’s a shock to the system to ask yourself, “What would I do in this situation?” even though as it’s shown multiple times throughout the film, you really don’t know until you’re there.

Yes, The Hunger Games has a different sort of subject matter, and because of that it’s able to appeal to both sexes equally. Boyfriends and husbands – or just guys in general – are able to go and see it because it’s cool and action packed; not just so they can please their significant other. And of course it appeals to women of all ages due to the incredibly strong female lead Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and her journey, as well as the love triangle that subtly, yet effectively, weaves its way into the story.

The story, based off the novel by Suzanne Collins (who co-wrote the screenplay alongside Gary Ross and Billy Ray), sees a nation divided into 12 districts, and the Capitol. Each year the Capitol selects a male and female between the ages of 12-18 to participate in the Hunger Games. The games are a battle to the death, which serves as a penance for each district to pay for their rebellious ways of the past, and out of the 24 teenagers, only one can be declared winner.

Now, I have not read the book, so I can’t do a comparison; however, I’ve heard that while there are minor complaints with how certain things were handled, overall this is a strong adaptation. For someone like me, I can assure you that the film is impressive, and story is easy enough to follow without having read the book.

While there are a few supporting and minor characters who suffer from lack of depth due to time constraints (and the fact that this simply isn’t a book), the writers hit the nail on the head for most, especially considering how much they had to work with in such a short period of time. And while you may not consider two hours and twenty minutes a short period of time, this movie sure makes it feel like it is.

The greatest character, and rightfully so, is Katniss. In a time where there is definitely a shortage of inspirational, strong-willed, heroines for young women to look up to, Katniss definitely helps fill the void. Her attitude and ability to handle herself in ever changing situations, along with her spirit and determination is something that younger females will hopefully take away from the film as well.

While talking about the violence in the film may be a bit pointless, simply due to the fact that odds are those who wanted to see the movie likely already have, I’ll still touch upon it for those who may be curious. Director Gary Ross does a fantastic job of using handheld camera motions, as well as quick edits to help cover up what would otherwise be some hardcore violence. These tricks make it so that the violence is shown in a more effective way, with sharp cutaways and reaction shots instead of being gratuitous. The film definitely earns its PG-13 rating, and younger kids may find it to be a bit much, but for the most part Ross does a fantastic job of making the story work without making the violence the central focus.

The casting for this film was remarkable, as there are so many great performances by a wide variety of characters. Lawrence is superb as Katniss, and really brings her strength and spirit to life on screen. Everything that makes Katniss great in this film is because of Lawrence, and that’s easy to see right from the start. Josh Hutcherson plays Peeta Mellark, the male tribute from District 12 (Katniss’ district). Peeta is also part of the love triangle that forms around Katniss, with the other interest being Gale Hawthorne (Thor’s younger brother, Liam Hemsworth), Katniss’ friend back home. Hutcherson does a good job here, and his chemistry with Lawrence works on the awkward, more unnatural level because that’s pretty much how their relationship is defined. Hemsworth plays a very minor role this time around, though I’ve heard Gale has a bigger part in the sequel, which is good because it looks like Hemsworth could make the character work well.

The supporting cast is also great, with my favourite character from the film (right up there with Katniss) being Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), a former Hunger Games winner, and the mentor of Katniss and Peeta. Harrelson is just fun in the role, delivering some great lines while also playing the part of a mentor who knows his students have very little chance of winning perfectly. Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Wes Bentley and Donald Sutherland also play their roles incredibly well, with Tucci being a scene-stealer, Banks giving her character the theatrical feel needed, and Kravitz being awesome in his somewhat minor role. Sutherland is perfect as the evil leader, though his character likely won’t get a chance to truly shine until the sequel.

The Hunger Games is a great story about courage, strength, trust and honour, which just happens to take place inside an arena where teenagers must fight to the death. With a strong cast led by Lawrence, The Hunger Games is a movie that has something for everybody, and isn’t just for fans of the book.

The video transfer for this Blu-ray looks great. There are some fantastic colours used throughout, with vibrancy being highlighted when need be, and a more dramatic, toned down pallet transition when the story calls for it as well. The audio quality is flawless, with the soundtrack coming through beautifully, and the sound effects adding the perfect ambiance for the scenes without any music whatsoever.

The Blu-ray comes with a nice assortment of extras.

The World is Watching: Making The Hunger Games This is the main attraction of all the special features found on this disc, and it comes in at just over two hours in length. This feature covers everything any fan of the film or book would want to know about the making-of process from pre-production all the way to post. Ross gives a huge amount of insight into how much he himself put into making sure this story was told right. For those who didn’t like the shaky cam (which was there for smart reasons) or thought that he left too much out of the film, watching this may change your mind as to how much Ross truly cared about the source material, and how now that it’s been confirmed he won’t be returning for the sequel, just how much of a void there is to fill in the director’s chair. This feature is incredibly thorough, and even if this were the only feature offered, it would still be seen as plenty, as everyone from the production crew, to the actors give their thoughts on the story and film.

Featurettes: There’s a section that holds six featurettes in it that cover other pieces that the above feature doesn’t focus on.

Game Maker: Suzanne Collins and The Hunger Games Phenomenon – This featurette comes in at just over 14 minutes in length, and talks about the book, and how the idea came to Collins, as well as how the popularity of the book spread incredibly fast, and why it appeals to so many people. Like the above feature, Collins doesn’t actually speak, though those who know her speak on her behalf.

Letters from the Rose Garden – This featurette comes in at just over 9 minutes in length, and actually explains how the scenes with the President in the rose garden came about. It’s a very Donald Sutherland-centric piece, and tells the story about how he wrote a 3-page letter to Ross explaining the importance of roses to President Snow, and after reading the letter, Ross got the idea to add in those scenes.

Controlling the Games – This featurette comes in at just under 6 minutes in length, and shows how the control room where the games are run came to be.

A Conversation with Gary Ross and Elvis Mitchell – This featurette comes in at a bit under 15 minutes in length, and sees film critic Elvis Mitchell interviewing Ross about his work on the film, and why certain things were done the way they were.

Preparing for the Games: A Director’s Process (Blu-ray Exclusive) – This featurette comes in at three minutes in length and basically touches on Ross moving from writing the screenplay to actually working on the film.

Propaganda Film – This is the film shown during the Reaping, where President Snow talks about the history of the Hunger Games, and why they’re necessary.

Marketing Archive – This section holds all the production aspects of the film, such as the trailers, posters, and photo gallery for those interested in checking them out.



Unlike Twilight, The Hunger Games has an appeal that stretches beyond female audiences, and creates a world that, while being set in a dystopian future, remains realistic and eerily similar to our own. With a well told story filled with strong thematic elements, and a vibrant heroine that should serve as a role model for young women, The Hunger Games is a film that has something for everyone, and shouldn’t be missed.

Lionsgate presents The Hunger Games. Directed by: Gary Ross. Written by: Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins, Billy Ray. Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland. Running time: 142 minutes. Rating: PG-13. Released: August 18, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.


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New Trailer For The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 Revealed http://insidepulse.com/2012/06/20/new-trailer-for-the-twilight-saga-breaking-dawn-part-2-revealed/ http://insidepulse.com/2012/06/20/new-trailer-for-the-twilight-saga-breaking-dawn-part-2-revealed/#comments Wed, 20 Jun 2012 16:00:39 +0000 http://insidepulse.com/?p=303107 A new trailer for the latest Twilight film has been released. You can view it below.

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The Teaser Before The Teaser – 10 Seconds Of Breaking Dawn Part 2 http://insidepulse.com/2012/06/19/the-teaser-before-the-teaser-10-seconds-of-breaking-dawn-part-2/ http://insidepulse.com/2012/06/19/the-teaser-before-the-teaser-10-seconds-of-breaking-dawn-part-2/#comments Tue, 19 Jun 2012 15:45:17 +0000 http://insidepulse.com/?p=303008

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 is the last entry in the lucrative Twilight Saga. Based on the best-selling novels penned by Stephenie Meyer, the film series stars Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner. Bill Condon, director of Dreamgirls and Chicago, finishes what he started with the first half of Breaking Dawn.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 opens in theaters on November 16th, a week after the 007 adventure Skyfall and a week before Ang Lee’s adaptation of Life of Pi.
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Monday Morning Critic – Chris Evans, The Avengers And Twilight Are Interrelated … and The Muppets http://insidepulse.com/2012/05/07/monday-morning-critic-chris-evans-the-avengers-and-twilight-are-interrelated-and-the-muppets/ http://insidepulse.com/2012/05/07/monday-morning-critic-chris-evans-the-avengers-and-twilight-are-interrelated-and-the-muppets/#comments Mon, 07 May 2012 12:00:24 +0000 http://insidepulse.com/?p=298865 Every Monday morning, InsidePulse Movies Czar Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings an irreverent and oftentimes hilarious look at pop culture, politics, sports and whatever else comes to mind. And sometimes he writes about movies.

The most surprising thing about this weekend was just how big of an opening The Avengers had this year. I had expected somewhere between $140-160 million or so, right around or bigger than The Hunger Games but not 30% greater. $200 million, the biggest opening ever, is fairly remarkable as a number but there has to be a smidgeon of an asterisk because of the sheer volume of 3D screens boosting the bottom line.

But then again you can argue that with nearly every major film release of the summer season sans The Dark Knight Rises.

3D is kind of the game changer in bolstering up box office revenues. Me, I paid almost $15 to see the 3D version of The Avengers this weekend and I imagine plenty of other people did as well. Normally I stay away from 3D but there are a handful of films I will indulge that particular aspect on and this was one of them. But it brings up something I think is going to get missed as this film makes a truckload of money for Disney and Marvel Studios.

Mainly the Twilight Comparison that needs to be made that won’t for a while.

Now I know what you’re thinking. What the hell does a franchise about sparkly vampires, emo werewolves and a vapid twat trying to figure out which one to have comically hilarious sex with have to do with another franchise about superheroes saving the world? Plenty, actually, in that this weekend’s box office grosses are going to make a whole lot of people a whole lot of stupid when it comes to future projects. And it starts with Chris Evans, who’s about to become rich and famous as an actor without really becoming a star. And there’s a recent historical context to make that fits.

On a side note, I used to call this the Star Wars Comparison because of how divergent the careers of Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill went but that franchise has been replaced in it because it’s more topical to me.

When you break it down Robert Pattinson doesn’t sell tickets in the same way Daniel Radcliffe doesn’t. It’s also going to be the same way Chris Evans won’t, either. All three have something in common: they’re talented young actors who are about to find out that being someone who puts asses in seats and playing a character who puts asses in seats are two very different things. Just look at recent history:

— Radcliffe is just starting this process. The Woman in Black had a respectable box office earlier this year, making a tidy profit off a small budget. But the $120 million or so it made during its run worldwide was about the same size as an opening weekend for a Harry Potter film. An above average amount of horror film fans came out to see the film, as did I, but Harry Potter fans stayed home for the most part. Every major hit he was a part of has Harry Potter in front of it.

— Pattinson had solid box office grosses for Water for Elephants and Remember Me but neither broke $100 million domestically. Elephants broke that mark internationally but the latter didn’t cross $60 million total. Both were helped by small budgets, thus remaining profitable, but neither could be called a hit.

— Evans hasn’t been in a film that has grossed significantly that hasn’t involved a superhero. Captain America was a hit, as were both Fantastic Four films, but when you look at Evans as a box office draw without tights on then it’s a losing case. It’s odd to think that his biggest hit was the first film he starred in, Not Another Teen Movie, which is the high water mark outside of superhero films at under $40 million.

And I feel bad, because I’m not picking on Chris Evans. I like him as an actor; I like Pattinson and Radcliffe as actors as well. I think all three are going to end up getting screwed because of their franchise success because they won’t have the sort of star-power we think they do to get projects they want to get made, et al. In a way I kind of feel bad for all three, particularly the sparkly vampire. Pattinson is a really talented actor who you can tell is happier making and discussing indie films than he is being Edward Cullen; it shows in his interviews and press for projects he makes.

He believes what he’s saying, as opposed to going through the motions to protect the box office like he does with Twilight. And you know six months after the super massive Twilight DVD box set with everything is released three years from now, the final big money thing you can release with the franchise, he’ll come out and be honest about it all. Probably something along the lines of Shia Labeouf’s thoughts on the final Indiana Jones film without the wannabe tough guy/douche bag antics of the guy who has made it his mission to ruin anything good related to the ‘80s.

I don’t think Evans will come out and trash the entire series, which has gotten great reviews (mine notwithstanding), but I think somewhere inside of him the fact that the film made $200 million probably hurt inside. It means that films like Puncture, which he was genuinely passionate about go to the wayside because blockbusters have massive shooting schedules and publicity tours that take up more time. It’s one thing to be famous and to have a project succeed beyond your wildest dreams; Chris Evans is going to have steady work as Captain America in both sequels to the original as well as Avengers films for quite some time.

It’s better to work than not, especially as an actor, but part of me thinks Evans is going to have similar problems once this is over and he’s back to being the sort of handsome leading comic actor he was before all this. He may have been Captain America, which is pretty badass don’t get me wrong, but when that’s all people will pay to see you as it’s not the best spot to be in. Kind of like being Harry Potter … or Edward Cullen … it’s the price of being a popular character and not a popular actor, which aren’t the same thing but many people tend to get confused all the same.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This Week’s DVD – The Muppets

One thing kind of bothered me after the success of The Muppets last year. Talk of a sequel, more specifically. I mean honestly … do you really need any more of a story after this film?

You can read Travis’s review here for more formal thoughts, as mine echoed his. Not all the time though; he loved The Avengers and I did not. It happens sometimes.

The Muppets follows the return of the old Muppet gang as they try to save their theatre from an evil oil man (Chris Cooper) by throwing a telethon. Cue in wacky shenanigans in one of the most genuinely affecting films of the past couple years. This isn’t a film to love on the first try, oddly enough, though many did. It’s a film that gets better on the second and third viewing; now I watch it and think if I had to do my best of 2011 list again I might throw it on there.

Strongly recommended.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club

Dark Shadows – Johnny Depp is a vampire in the 1700s who is unlocked into the ‘70s. Shenanigans ensue.

Skip It – We’ve seen Tim Burton do this film before in style, tone and look. The plot has just changed.

God Bless America – Bobcat Goldthwait’s latest, a screed against pop culture or something about a guy who starts killing people or something. In Limited Release

Skip It – Goldthwait’s last was really good but this is getting toxic level word of mouth.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .
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New The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 Teaser: Kristen Stewart Vamps It Up A Bit [Video] http://insidepulse.com/2012/03/26/new-the-twilight-saga-breaking-dawn-part-2-teaser-kristen-stewart-vamps-it-up-a-bit-video/ http://insidepulse.com/2012/03/26/new-the-twilight-saga-breaking-dawn-part-2-teaser-kristen-stewart-vamps-it-up-a-bit-video/#comments Mon, 26 Mar 2012 15:00:13 +0000 http://insidepulse.com/?p=294356 The teaser trailer for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 has been released. You can view it below.


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