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The Hunger Games (2012)
Entertaining, weak ending
Entertaining movie. It has got some nice stuff for sf-fans, like 3d-objects created on the drawing table and made to come to life on the fly. I love the combination of futurism and middle ages (take that, steam punk! nothing beats a bow for a weapon!). Maybe that's what it makes far more interesting than it's Japanese foster parent, Battle Royal. The Lord of the Flies theme of innocent children and grown up violence in a remote place of beautiful nature combined with the reality game element of The Running Man and the cliché but ever more relevant distinction of cultural decadence versus natural purity does it every time. In that sense also in the line of Avatar. Connotations with colonialism and Nazi Germany are not to be missed. All stuff that comes much too late off course, in 2012, where critique on colonialism has become cliché and reality shows are, well, a reality. That together with the insignificant ending, that explains and solves nothing, renders the movie in mere entertaining. No, I must admit, VERY entertaining. And no no no, Jennifer Lawrence has nothing to do with that :).
Great movie, but skip the dancing sequences
What is there to say, amongst these lyrical reviews by Indian fans of 'Superstar Rajinikanth'?
Yes, it is an interesting movie. As is to be expected from a movie about robots from 'the East', where robots are becoming a familiar sight in peoples daily lives, while in the West robots for most people are still science fiction.
And yes, the special effects are pretty cool, although they do look a little bit cheap here and there (try to watch them without sound and you will see what I mean). It's definitely the first time that I saw a swarm of humanoid robots, and director Shankar (who also wrote the screenplay) definitely gets the most out of this ingenious concept, both visually and conceptually.
I fact, the idea and its elaboration are so cool, it's easy to forgive the filmmakers the a bit too simple story and rather flat characters. Girlfriend Sana is only beautiful (although rather extremely beautiful) and her only goal in life is to get the attention of her boyfriend. The helpers of the inventor are only (very) silly and start a big mess by falling in the trap of the bad guy and the bad guy is... well.. dressed in black and jealous and all that.
That's OK. But what is UNFORGIVABLE, for Western eyes, is that the middle of the coolest action, everybody just starts dancing! Why would they do that? The kitsch Bollywood music videos that you find yourself suddenly watching are really silly, are totally unrelated to style of the rest of the movie, take the flow out of it and they are just WAY TOO LONG.
And why are they situated all over the world? The story is situated exclusively in India, but all of a sudden you see the main characters dancing in Peru,of all places. Why? Did the director need an excuses for having a nice trip to some other continents? Or do Indian spectators don't mind this incongruity? Or, more interesting still, do they actually appreciate it?
As reviewer Mahesh Kothamangalam on IMDb said: 'The songs are spectacular. Shankar shows the audience some of the best places in the world all for a few bucks.' Now, that's another way to look it! Maybe I should try to reevaluate my all too rational European expectations and judgment, but when people start dancing in an otherwise cool movie, I really have a hard time doing that. Hello cultural difference!
So, if you don't like musicals (or just don't want them to be mixed up in your sf movie), skip the silly dancing and singing parts. You will see, this is actually a great movie. And if you want to know what the future of cinema is, don't skip the dancing parts. India with 1.2 billion people is one of the largest emerging economies. Bollywood probably really IS the new Hollywood.
The Illustrated Man (1969)
I don't understand
I don't understand why this movie is rated so low. I think this a really great movie. It is strange, surprising, original and funny. It combines several genres and narratives. I like the main character, the silent and gruff illustrated man and the way he is filmed in the quiet surroundings of the lake and I like the futuristic design in some of the other scenes. I have always had weakness for these 'Canterbury tales'-like stories within a story and I especially like this film because the stories within he story are so diverse, while the movie does not become fragmented. The movie reminds me a bit of the 'books of blood' from Clive Barker, which consists of stories of 'ghosts', inscribed on the skin of a man ('written in blood').
If you like to be surprised, watch this movie!