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The Hunger Games (2012)
Excellent execution of a ludicrous and dissatisfying story
During the introduction, as the premise of the story was presented, i thought, "okay, i can suspend my disbelief for this." Then we see little kids, age 13, being thrown into a combat arena against 18-year-olds (yeah, THAT's somehow going to end well for the young ones), and a society who turns its farmers-turned-killers into its greatest heroes (despite the psychological damage such "heroes" certainly accrue, as is eluded to via Woody Harrelson's character's constant drinking but never directly addressed). Nonetheless, the acting was good, the characters were well-cast, and the execution was commendable. As the story played out and the producers of the Games kept changing the rules, throwing out all sorts of "unfair" hurdles at the players (genetically engineered killer bat-faced dog/pig hybrids!?!?), who are supposed to be fighting _each other_ to the death, i kept thinking, "okay, someone had a bit too much budget to play with and felt compelled to stretch this out." As the end of the story drew near i kept thinking, "i don't see the threads coming together yet... what's with the boyfriend back home?" Then, after a particularly dissatisfying clip, practically out of nowhere, the credits started to roll. Aldous Huxley's ending was fine (if unpleasant) ONE time - we don't need a repeat. This time around is was dissatisfying on several levels, even more of a let-down than Brave New World's. Indeed, the ending is almost a 100% clone of Brave New World's, where the characters realize, "we can't change a thing in this broken system," but instead of hanging themselves they simply grin and bear it, becoming the reluctant stars of the Hunger Games. i get the feeling that the author of the story is trying to tell us, "accept it. It could be worse." Thanks, but no thanks - for that story i simply need to browse any world-news website.
Boardwalk Empire (2010)
Destined to be a classic
When i first learned that Steve Buscemi would be the leading man in a TV show i almost felt sorry for anyone who would have to play alongside side him and trail in his shadow. Now 1.5 seasons into Boardwalk Empire i'm continually amazed how every single one of the actors and actresses, from the smallest bit part up to Buscemi's Mr. Thompson, are absolutely spectacular. Whether this rubs off from Mr. Buscemi, whether the director brings (wrings?) it out of them, or whether they are all truly that talented, i have no idea. But this show certainly has an amazing cast of characters, each of them flawlessly played and interesting in their own ways. Even viewers not particularly interested in dramas in general (a group to which i admittedly belong) should be able to appreciate the level of skill and talent which goes into every episode of Boardwalk Empire.
SGU Stargate Universe (2009)
If it moved any more slowly, it would play backwards
SGU has wonderful CGI, a well-cast team of actors, a believable mix of characters, realistic inter-office politics, and the drama which goes along with that. But while the passengers of the starship Destiny speed through the universe at unimaginable speeds, the story runs almost so slowly as to run in reverse.
The pilot episode, in particular, was poorly executed, with the first half hour spent switching, without warning or context, between past an present events, leaving me utterly stupefied as to what was supposed to be going on (and _when_ it was going on).
Firefly, canceled before the 14th episode was was aired, contained more plot, more action, more humor, more compelling science fiction, and more drama in its pilot episode than the SGU writers/directors have managed to scrape out of their first 16 episodes.
i'll probably continue to watch SGU because... well, because i'm bored... but to be honest i'll be surprised if anything significant and compelling happens in the story. It is my dearest hope that the budget for this show will be reallocated to something more engaging.