4 Minute Movie Reviews


Title: The Hunger Games

Actors: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Amandla Stenberg, Lenny Kravitz.

Director: Gary Ross

Setting: 70+ years post-apocolypse in a dystopic future America, reorganized as Panem.

Genre: Action/thriller with sci-fi undertones

Plot: Twelve subjugated districts of the country Panem are required to offer up two youths, one boy and one girl, to participate in the annual "Hunger Games." Folks in the wealthy and happy Capitol celebrate while the citizens of the other districts watch as their "tributes" battle to the death in a government-controlled media circus that is mortally serious to the 24 participants. Sixteen year-old Katniss Everdeen volunteers to tale tje [;ace of her terrified younger sister, whose name is drawn in the lottery. Her male counterpart is Peeta Mellark, a seemingly shy baker's son who slowly reveals hidden abilities and feelings. After survival training and enduring a public grooming/repackaging as District 12's star-crossed lovers, they are left in the "arena" to fend for themselves and try to stay alive.

Summary: The violence in this film is unrelenting and realistic, although crafty camera-work is used to imply more gore than is actually seen. That said, it doesn't seem gratuitous, given that this movie intends to show a horrific scenario that is eerily familiar to reality-TV watchers. Katniss is an admirable role model: self-reliant, resourceful and fiercely devoted to those she cares about, her selfless act of taking her sister's place brought tears to my eyes in the first 15 minutes. Because of the intensity of the action and the violent death of so many teen-aged sacrificial lambs, I experienced several other occasions of overwhelming emotions like crying, eye-covering and turning away."The Hunger Games" is a cautionary tale not intended for young teens or extremely sensitive people of any age. It tells a very bleak and believable story with only a glimmer of hope for humanity. The movie also followed the Suzanne Collins novel pretty closely, and most of the devotees of the book who I spoke to felt that the movie stayed true to the book in most respects. 

Title:  Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 1

Actors:  Robert Pattinson, Kristin Stewart, Taylor Lautner

Director:  Bill Condon

Setting:  Forks, Washington and an island off Brazil, current day

Genre:  Fantasy, romance

Plot:  After three movies, numerous nail-biting romantic obstacles and at least one moment of bare-chested bliss, the most famous human/vampire couple in film history ties the knot.  A ridiculously extravagant wedding is followed by an impossibly exotic honeymoon, but after that, Bella and Edward's dream becomes a nightmare.  Afraid to consummate the marriage for fear of injuring his wife, the considerate non-human finally gives in, and the audience learns that vampire sex is rowdy and, um, destructive.  Even more disconcerting, Bella is instantly pregnant, showing after only a few days, and gestating something that no one in this alternate reality has ever seen.  However, the baby seems to be feeding on Bella's very life, and the scenes involving the delivery and Edward's assistance are disturbing and graphic.

Summary:  Devotees of the book may have liked this telling, but I found the bleak realism of the story to affirm the theme that vampires, the undead and blood-drinking are life-killing concepts and love does not conquer all.  Even though I read all the books in the series and know what is to come, I would only recommend this movie to fans of the Twilight series and related genre.

An Affair to Remember

Actors: Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr, Richard Denning, Neva Patterson

Director: Leo McCarey

Setting:  An oceanliner crossing from Europe to the U.S., with a stopover in an unnamed Italian village, and New York City - set in contemporary time of filming (mid-1950s).

Genre: Romance

Plot: Nightclub singer Terry (Kerr) is involved  with (the mistress of?) Ken (Denning), a nice man she doesn't love.  Nicky (Grant) is a playboy engaged to a wealthy American (Patterson).  Terry and Nicky meet on an oceanliner and fall in love, only to decide that they must honor their commitments to their respective partners.   As a Plan B, they decide that if their love has survived six months after returning to the States, they will meet at the Empire State Building and try to make it as a poor couple.  Nicky shows and waits for her at the top, but Terry never appears.  We know that she's been involved in an accident, but he does not.  The story of how he discovers what happened to her leads to one of the most revered and iconic moments in movie history.

Summary:  Mothers, watch this with your teenage daughters.  Few glamorous movies offer such an interesting springboard to discussion about the change in morals and behavioral expectations.  Terry, though a kept woman, is a role model worthy of study and discussion.  Wives, bribe your husband into watching this with you; dare him to see if he can manage to hate it all the way through.  Best viewing is with a girlfriend:, make sure she brings her own Kleenex.  Everyone should see this movie at least once, if only to better understand the many copycats and derivatives that persist into today.