Sometimes it’s a dilemma: what DVD should you rent or what movie should you stream or order-on-demand? Do you want a date flick, an action caper, or a goofy comedy? Weekly Surge is here to help with our reviews of recent at-home movie releases, which we’ve watched from the comfort of that favorite recliner.
“The Hunger Games”
Another movie geared toward teenagers, another movie with a female protagonist with two completely opposite love interests. But wait…this movie kicks ass. Literally, there’s a lot of violence in this film geared at girl power. There are two other major differences between this movie based on a popular book series and the super-awful series of books and films about vampires, that we won’t mention by name (see below) – those two differences are obvious – the writing in the books and the acting in the movies. “The Hunger Games” is a gripping book with great characters. The other one (see below) is a hyperactive melodrama laced with Harlequin mush. Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss and her costars capture your attention and don’t let it go. Kristen Stewart and her monster-boy-toys make you want to yell “shut up!” at the screen. This is the first film in a series and it moves in the right direction to make fans of all ages hungry for sequels. So let the games begin – worth a watch.
“Twilight: Breaking Dawn – Part 1”
The overall problems in this franchise are listed in the above review, but let’s take a minute to talk about the first part of “Twilight’s” series finale. To begin with, this is the first half of the last novel in the series and it’s baffling why they couldn’t have combined these into one movie because nothing happens here. OK, there are wedding plans followed by a wedding followed by a honeymoon followed by a vampire baby being born. In the mist of all this, there are werewolves howling and a bunch of people brooding and a lot of sappy, predictable dialogue. And that’s about it – at least in the other films, you knew some action would come along some time to change the pace. You can see every one of these plot points on a dozen reality shows on cable TV – minus the vampires and werewolves, of course. They should change the name to “Breaking Yawn – Part 1” and with the history of this series, let’s hope the sun rises soon – pass.
Since Director Paul Weitz’s first film “American Pie,” he’s had his ups and downs. He’s crafted warm films such as “About a Boy” and “In Good Company.” He’s also hammered out stink-on-film such as Chris Rock’s “Down to Earth” and Hugh Grant’s “American Dreamz.” This may be his best film yet. Robert De Niro really sinks his teeth into the role of the dysfunctional father in the Flynn family. Julianne Moore shines as another eccentric character. But this movie belongs to Paul Dano and the young actor, Liam Broggy, who play Nick Flynn at different ages – Broggy as a child and Dano as a young man. They both capture the tone, the emotion, the awkwardness and finally the disdain of an estranged son trying to hang onto and learn from a self-obsessed father who lives in his fantasies. Based on the non-fiction memoir, "Another Bullshit Night in Suck City," by Nick Flynn, it’s a great story told in a refreshing way – worth a watch.
Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge