The Hunger Games

   Director: Gary Ross, Roadshow Entertainment, Rated MA, 142 mins

Seabiscuit writer and director Gary Ross has adapted Suzanne Collins’s best selling novel to the big screen with the focus of the surreal storyline being on the survival of the main character, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence - Winter’s Bone) when she is forced to participate in a deadly gladiatorial type game.
   Ross spares no punches in his particularly violent movie, ensuring that these games are certainly not for the faint-hearted.
   Set in a dystopian future in a totalitarian America where the tyrannical President Snow (played by legendary actor Donald Sutherland - The Mechanic) has decreed that each year two young people (a boy and a girl) between the ages 12 and 18 from each of the 12 Districts must submit to the annual Hunger Games lottery.
The Hunger Games
   In accordance with the custom, the 24 chosen “Tributes” must then fight and kill each other in bloody combat until there is only one victor which the rest of the population must watch live on televised screens around the country, hosted by the celebrated Caesar (Stanley Tucci – Margin Call ).
   The opening scenes show the 16 year old Katniss (Lawrence) taking the place of her younger sister as well as a young boy, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson - Journey 2-The Mysterious Island) being chosen to represent the deprived District 12 and are then transported to the lavish Capitol where, together with the other 22 representatives they are given a Roman style welcome by the Capitol’s citizens.
   In preparation for their battle with the Districts’ other competitors both Katniss and Peeta are provided invaluable advice and combat training from mentor Haymitch (Woody Harrelson – 2012 ) and Cinna (Lenny Kravitz - Precious) before being released in a forest setting to begin the bloodsport.
   Besides the colourful costumes, the only other pleasing aspect of Ross’s brutal movie is the wonderful portrayal by Lawrence of Collins’s major character, especially where Katniss demonstrates her survival skills including her protection of Peeta which provides a brief romantic interlude from the killing spree.
   Even though it may please the young adult fans of Collins’s novel (the first of a trilogy), it is clear that any reasonable minded person would be particularly distressed in watching the slaughter of young children and would find this bloodsport movie no longer entertaining despite the hype.

VIC'S VERDICT:       2 Rubber Stamps


Margin Call

   Director: J.C.Chandor, Becker Entertainment, Rated M, 107 mins

This thrilling financial drama from first time writer and director J.C. Chandor provides an intriguing insight into an investment company coming to terms with the onset of the 2008 financial crisis having earlier orchestrated the redundancy of its risk management head, Eric Dale (Stanley Tucci - The Lovely Bones) just prior to him completing his assessment of the firm’s financial viability.
Margin Call
   Fortuitously for the firm, his understudy Peter Sullivan (Zachary Quinto - Star Trek) works through the night to conclude Dale’s analysis, urgently calling in his superiors Will Emerson (Paul Bettany - Priest) and Sam Rogers (Kevin Spacey - Horrible Bosses) to tell them of the impending financial disaster.
   This in turn results in division head Jared Cohen (Aussie actor Simon Baker - TV’s The Mentalist) convening an emergency meeting in the early hours of the following morning together with partners Sarah Robertson (Demi Moore- The Joneses) and Aasif Mandvi – The Last Airbender) to discuss the dire financial situation before confronting the firm’s calculating CEO John Tuld (Jeremy Irons - Eragon) on the way out of their predicament.
   With the world still recovering from its financial doldrums Chandor has cleverly drawn on the current difficulties facing financial firms, assembling a great cast to play each of the fictional characters, with performances from Tucci, Spacey, Quinto and Irons being particularly enjoyable and enthralling.
   In some respects Chandor’s Margin Call could be described as a psychological drama, showing the unfolding events taking place over a 24 hour period and providing a riveting portrayal of the key players involved as they attempt to deal with the survival of their firm.
   Like Oliver Stone’s Wall Street made in 1987, Chandor’s sound script has delivered an exceptionally entertaining movie that is both dramatic and tense as well as having such a stellar cast appearing together in one movie.
VIC'S VERDICT:         4 ½ Rubber Stamps

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