Tag Archives: Francis Lawrence

Review: Water for Elephants (2011)

Director: Francis Lawrence
Based on the book by Sara Gruen
Starring: Resse Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson, Hal Holbrook, Christoph Waltz,Tai, James Frain, Paul Schneider, Ken Foree, Tim Guinee, Mark Povinelli, Scott MacDonald, Jim Norton, Richard Brake, Sam Anderson, John Aylward

Water For ElephantsWater for Elephants is about the young Cornell Veterinary undergrad Jacob Jankowski (Robert Pattinson) who found himself in the midst of the Circus world as the in-house veterinarian who fell for Marlena (Reese Whiterspoon), the wife of the circus’s owner August (Christoph Waltz.)

Jacob and Marlena had the same passion for animals and their love ensues until August suspects them having an affair. The two escapes by jumping off the circus’s train but August easily discovered them. Marlena appeared in her last show as August’s wife and Benzini’s Circus star attraction when that fateful fight ensues that would change hers and Jacob’s life forever.

I thought Christoph Waltz was amazing [as usual] as the villain August and was very much effective as the cruel Circus head master. His acting here reminds me of his award- winning Col. Hans Landa portrayal in Inglorious Basterds. He’s got that subtle darkness in him that makes you hate him terribly. Robert Pattinson was rather disconnected into this film. I didn’t feel enough emotion from him, there was too -much “Edward Cullen-ish” in his acting which isn’t good at all. Reese on the other hand kind of disappoint as the circus’ star attraction. For a short period of time, how could someone be so in love with a perfect stranger???? It was like as good as an escape scapegoated as falling in love. Moreover, there was no chemistry between her and Pattinson at all. I also thought that the dialogues were a bit off.

For some good points, the cinematography and the musical score are to die for. The sceneries were exquisitely shot and the music was perfectly rendered.

It thought the whole film was trying to be melancholic but failed miserably which made me think that they’re trying to recreate a The Notebook v2. Really?! Unfortunately, it didn’t work. No Sirreee.

 Rating: 5/10

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Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014)

MockingjayDirector:Francis Lawrence
Based on Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Sam Claflin, Natalie Dormer, Jena Malone, Willow Shields, Paula Malcomson, Stef Dawson

Wow. I  didn’t see it coming for this one to actually hear people muttering about wasted money and being snoozefest and all after leaving my seat in the cinema. I loved the books and the first two film installments are just perfect for me. Mockingjay Part 1 this time gave me that almost “slow-burn” of enjoying a book and being forced to drop it while in the midst of the most important chapter. That should’ve been a bummer right? But no, I welcomed it for this film.

There were some changes which I didn’t appreciate at all having read the book and feeling faithful with it but as a whole, I very much enjoyed it even with the cliff-hanging to be continued…blahblahblah.

After  the events from the last film (Catching Fire), Katniss Everdeen was persuaded to be the face of the revolution where she get to learn more about the District 13, President Coin and her people, the whole long brewing plan for rebellion and that’s when the going gets tough.

I get to appreciate Liam Hemsworth much better here since well, we see a lot of him here. He’s got some moments and there was this really angsty chemistry between him and Jennifer Lawrence.

A lot of Josh Hutcherson fans (including moi) will be disappointed though since we didn’t feel much from Team Peeta here – nuh uh – not at all. They were seriously pushed aside to focus more on Katniss. But man’ Katniss o’ Katniss delivered big time. I think I mentioned once that Jennifer Lawrence was like the “heir apparent” to The Meryl Streep and with all the hype around her over the past – like 3 years? Man’ so worth it! That speech in District eight was like – OMG! Give this girl another Oscar already!!!!

I’ve to wonder about Finnick though – he’s one of the secondary characters in the book who’s got a lengthy pagetime and here his character was like, bazzooom! It’s either they decided not to give Finnick an overly emotional focus  or the actor playing it (Sam Claflin) couldn’t really act to save his life – I’m almost leaning towards the latter because I didn’t really feel much from “his” Finnick impersonation but it could also be the material he has to work on. I loved his character in the book and felt like, he wasn’t there at all.

At first I didn’t really pictured Julianne Moore as President Alma Coin when she was announced to play the role but I thought she was amazing here. Her interaction with the late Philip Seymour Hoffman was a beautiful thing to watch. It’s really sad because it feels like we need to see more of him.

As a whole, I liked this film better than I expected if I’m being honest. I loved the more aggressive yet uber-vulnerable Katniss. The story was amplified by “enough” action sequences IMO and though, there were some changes I really think that director Francis Lawrence was able to deliver a very solid introduction to the conclusion of this franchise.

Rating: 8/10

Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

via wikipedia

via wikipedia

Having read the Hunger Games book trilogy and easily becoming a fan, I came expecting something about the sequel that would let my mind linger a bit longer about it. The film brings us back to the world of Panem and its 12 Districts. The 74th Hunger Games winners Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark are now comfortably residing at the Victors Village joining their mentor Haymitch. This victory is not without a price as we all know after what have happened during the stars-crossed “lovers” time at the arena from the last Hunger Games. Apparently, their final act of killing themselves both (by eating poisonous berries) instead of killing each other became a catalyst for every district to revolt yet again against the oppressive Capitol.

To combat this, the ever-so creepy President Snow ordered Katniss to play the crowd and convinced him that she indeed did not intend to create rebellion as she has become the “beacon” of hope for the people from the word of Snow himself. Being Katniss and all, she obviously did not succeed thus resulting to a twist of reaping the players of the 75th Hunger Games a.k.a the Quarter Quell from the pool of winning male and female tributes from each district. This would make Katniss go back to the arena but not ofcourse without Peeta volunteering. This leads to an agreement between Katniss and their mentor Haymitch to just try to save Peeta at whatever cost. This was the plan until a secret unravel in the very eyes of Katniss leaving her helpless and with just a little hope.

I’m actually satisfied with the outcome of the film. It was just okay. I thought this time unlike its predecessor; the film lacks agility, the fierceness of its characters and the emotional sub-plot of the book. It felt a bit too rush. Director Francis Lawrence was probably trying to make it as concise as possible making me wonder how Gary Ross would have handled it. I am not saying it’s not good, though, there were some great moments in the film but I was left with an uncertain thought about it. Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence was amazing as usual taking your to an emotional wrecking ball and so as the outrageous Effie Trinket played by the gorgeous Elizabeth Banks. I also love the support of Josh Hutcherson making my first judgment that he’s indeed the perfect actor for the role! Donald Sutherland makes President Snow all the more creepy while Woody Harrelson as Haymitch delivered yet again. My favorite in this film though was Jenna Malone who played Johanna Mason. She’s very refreshing. I’m still disappointed with Sam Claflin as Finnick but he’s fine. There was great acting in this film as a whole.

But the best thing, in my humble opinion about this film is that it didn’t lose its steam – there is still the charm from the first film. You would still care about Peeta, Katniss, Prim, Gale, the tributes and the rest of the oppressed people from the Districts.  If the first Hunger Games feels like a dissection of a lot of things political, this was a film that continue its promise to bring about a good story telling this time, a bit cliché but nevertheless entertaining.

Director: Francis Lawrence

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Jeffery Wright, Stanley Tucci, Toby Jones, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Lynn Cohen, Amada Plummer, Meta Golding, Bruno Gunn, Alan Ritchson, Stephanie Leigh Schlund, E. Roger Mitchell, Maria Howell, Elena Sanchez, Bobby Jordan, John Casino, Willow Shields, Paula Malcomson, Patrick St. Spirit, Stef Dawson

Rating: 8.5/10