‘Star Wars’ Trailer to Debut at 30 Theaters on Friday

Living the Geek Life:

My closest theater is just far enough away to make me have to seriously debate how much of a fan I am! Argh, not fair!

Originally posted on Variety:

UPDATE: The Force is coming to theaters on Friday, with 30 locations rolling out an 88-second tease of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in front of every film over the holiday weekend.

Lucasfilm and Disney will premiere the first trailer for “Episode VII” at venues including Regal, AMC, and Cinemark.

Universal releases the first trailer for “Jurassic World” on Thursday, during Thanksgiving football on NBC, the day before the “Star Wars” reveal.

The locations screening the “Star Wars” trailer are:


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Listen to Jennifer Lawrence Sing in the New ‘Hunger Games’

Living the Geek Life:

This was one of the real highlights of the film. Loved this whole, gorgeous scene!

Originally posted on Variety:

Jennifer Lawrence was reportedly so worried about singing this sorrowful tune in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1,” she cried the day of the recording.

“She’d probably tell you it was her least favorite day,” director Francis Lawrence said in an interview. “She was horrified to sing, she cried a little bit in the morning before she had to sing.”

Judging by the recording, however, the Oscar-winner sounds like a natural.

The song, called “The Hanging Tree,” was composed by James Newton and the Lumineers, and is featured in the new Lionsgate film.

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Movie Review – ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part One’

mockingjay-movie-logoThose of us who have read Suzanne Collins’ trilogy knew this chapter would be a tough couple of hours. And it is. Fortunately, that’s mostly for all the right reasons.

Mockingjay Part One chronicles the growing revolution among the districts, while moving the main players all over to the secretive District 13. While there’s still some elements of games being played and our heroes being used, it breaks the Hunger Games storytelling formula just before that gets old.  On the other hand, without the Capitol’s over-the-top styles and overt Games, this movie is visually drab at times and lacks some much-needed levity.

Fans of the first two movies will be happy to see that the core characters are all back in fine form.  Katniss’ fragile state of mind and constant pressure don’t give Jennifer Lawrence as much variety to work with as she did in the earlier movies.  But she’s still a joy to watch as she portrays a girl who’s a pawn of much bigger forces than herself.

Liam Hemsworth gets a little more to do in this movie than in prior ones, and he does his best to be more than just a handsome face.  Josh Hutcherson, whose Peeta is absent in person for much of the story, has to portray a lot in a short time and limited scenes.  He does a remarkable job, and I’m really looking forward to seeing him tackle the storyline that Peeta will undergo in the fourth movie.

Writers wisely chose to bring back Effie Trinkett for a much bigger role than she has in the book.  Elizabeth Banks’ fan-favorite character provides most of the much-needed lightness in this story.  She’s a godsend to this dark chapter of the film quadrilogy.  Ditto for Woody Harrelson’s Haymitch.  The District 12 mentor doesn’t get as much to do this time around, but he’s always memorable.  And, of course, President Snow (Donald Sutherland) is still a pitch-perfect villain.  One of my all-time favorites, I think.

The new characters are all fantastic, as well.  Julianne Moore gives us a complex woman in power – a more interesting Coin than I was expecting.  Katniss’ propo filming crew don’t have huge roles (although we’ll see them again one more time) but they’re instantly likeable.

Given the decision to split the last book, the writers have had some time to flesh out the Hunger Games’ universe.   This benefits the story because we have time to experience the revolution being played out in action, rather than being told about it the way the books did.  There’s some pretty great scenes of districts rebelling, particularly a scene involving the downtrodden masses rising up to the tune of a haunting District 12 folk song.

Most importantly to me, the added time allows for one of my favorite parts of the story – a night mission late in the game – to be shown as it happens rather than told after the fact.  As with several of the district rebellion scenes, these scenes are edited beautifully to include all the action as well as the emotion.

And this movie really is all about the emotion, more than the action or plot.  District 13 is trying to excite the emotions of the other districts to rebel.  They need the Mockingjay to be that emotional lightning rod.  Katniss, though, is just struggling with her own emotional chaos.  She’s devastated over Peeta’s capture, confused about her own feelings for both men, trying to figure out how to not just be a pawn in the revolution’s hands, and being twisted by Snow’s heinous ability to play with her mind as well.

The place they split the book is a logical point, with a decent buildup to a climax at the end.  (It occurred about 5 minutes after where I expected them to cut it off, but pretty close.)  But everything – from the introduction of life in District 13 to the love triangle to the results of Peeta’s capture – is really just setup for things that will pay off next year.  That makes it a somewhat frustrating experience, no matter how well they handled it.

Also on the negative side, the sheer amount of characters and story to tell results in a few characters who don’t get the kind of screentime they deserve.  Finnick suffers this fate.

As a fan of the books and the movies, I found this movie to be pretty much what I was expecting and wanting.  It expands a few things, avoiding a few traps that the books fell into, but doesn’t fix all of its flaws. 

As a faithful adaptation constrained by its role as foreplay for the final movie, it does the job.  As a stand-alone story, it doesn’t quite hit on all cylinders.  It’s simply too dense and too full of internal conflicts. Don’t go see this movie if you’re not comfortably familiar with the whole story so far.  You’ll be as left behind as poor Buttercup in the ruins of District 12.

Parents should note that this (and the following) movie is grim.  Being in the middle of a war means that there’s violence both up close and from a distance.  There are also some haunting scenes of the remains of Katniss’ fellow citizens of District 12.  And a brief reveal about prostitution in the Capitol.

Now that we’ve made it this far, we all have to settle in for the long haul until next November’s finale and the big payoff for all this setting-up.  I don’t know who it’s going to be worse for: those who know what’s going to happen or those who don’t.  Either way, it’ll be a long year.




Review – Arrow, “Draw Back Your Bow”

image courtesy: www.cwtv.com

image courtesy: http://www.cwtv.com

This week, tune in for a foray into Arrow‘s exploration of love – including both over-the-top wooing and creepy stalking.

Carrie Cutter is a crazy stalker whom Oliver had the misfortune of saving during the Mirakuru incident last year.  Now she’s obsessed with him, trying to get close by committing murders and attempted murders while wearing the latest Arrow-inspired fashion.

Oliver, who’s not in the mood to deal with her warped version of love, eventually overpowers her and captures her.  He leaves her to Amanda Waller’s keeping, where we might see her again as part of the Suicide Squad.

Felicity, meanwhile, is doing better on the romance front.  Ray invites her to a business dinner, wining and dining her with fancy jewelry and a surprisingly well-fitting dress.  She’s clearly enamored of him.  Oh, and he kisses her at the end of the evening.

Oh, and did I mention that Oliver decides to come talk to Felicity about his feelings just as Ray kisses her?  Bad timing there, buddy.  Oliver and Roy drown their various heartaches in a nice family dinner with the Diggle family.

Back in Hong Kong, Oliver and Tatsu worry when Maseo goes missing while on an errand for Amanda Waller.  They bond over kicking some bad guys’ butts.  Fortunately, Maseo turns up alive and Oliver learns how to do his own laundry.

Finally, a new villain is teased:  Boomerang.  Guess what his weapon of choice is?


What Hit the Target

Sorry, Olicity fans,  but I like Ray Palmer.  He treats Felicity well, he says what he feels, and he’s a real Renaissance man.  He’s likeable and just the right amount of cocky.  And after the will-he-won’t-he behavior that Felicity has put up with for 2 1/2 seasons, she deserves a good love interest.

This was a Laurel-free episode, and that hits my target at the moment.  Once again, I fail to miss Laurel when she’s not around.

On the other hand, guest actress Amy Gumenick did a great job with a one-dimensional villain.  Like most Arrow villains, she wasn’t particularly well-explored.  But unlike many, she was fascinating to watch and great fun.  Kudos to the actress for breathing life into a one-note storyline.

For an episode not aired in February, there was a whole lotta love goin’ on.  There was crazy obsessive love, and hidden love afraid of commitment, love-at-first-sight, and sweet, potential new love.  And all this other (slightly or very) dysfunctional love/lust just made the Ray/Felicity plot shine even more.

ATOM!  We’ve all been waiting for it to show up ever since Brandon Routh was first announced.  And we finally got a great tease.  Given that Routh has said he won’t be putting on the suit in the show (but has been fitted for some kind of facial prosthetic…), we are left to wonder where this is all leading.  I love wondering.

Tatsu in full Katana mode was pure awesomeness.  ‘Nuff said.


What Missed the Mark

For all its great qualities, Arrow does have a knack for creating really annoying characters.  Thea’s DJ friend (listed as “Chase”, I guess) sets a new bar for being completely annoying and unlikeable.  It’s not just that he’s arrogant and off-putting.  It’s also that he makes out with her about 10 minutes after they’ve met.  Can this please be the last we see of DJ Horrible?  A girl can dream…

Speaking of Thea: she was given a slightly interesting character direction for a few episodes. Sadly, she’s been downgraded back to running a nightclub and making out with guys who work for her. In 3 years, the writers have never quite figured out what to do with her.

I know that Roy’s ‘head was not in the game’, but he was a serious wuss this week.  One girl points an arrow at him and he ends up inexplicably unconscious for the rest of the scene?  At least show the ex-SWAT lady delivering a knock-out or something.  This was just lame.

Why did Oliver go to all the trouble of visiting and asking the therapist for advice, and then completely ignore it?  I suspect it was just to fill time in a thinly-plotted story.

And what exactly was Oliver’s plan when he confronted the murderous Chinese gang at the docks?  Aside from walking up to them and saying, ‘hey I don’t want trouble’?  He was useless and it’s a good thing he brought along a woman who is much cooler than him.


The Final Tally

There’s not a lot of plot going on here, and  Team Arrow doesn’t come off particularly superheroic this week.  Fortunately, a strong guest actress chewing up the scenery and a fun outing for Ray and Felicity makes up for what the story lacks.  The flashback was also a bit of a filler story, but the reveal of Tatsu’s skillz made it worth the time.