Friday FabOoolousness –The Hunger Games… Leaving Us Hungry for More

Last week, I mentioned that I wasn’t feeling all that well and listed a few of the movies that I would like to see while curled up in my chair.  Well, would anyone be surprised if I said I didn’t get around to watching any of them?  I did watch something though…

I wanted to see The Hunger Games in the theater, but for whatever reason we never made it.  And last Friday when I was listing all of the movies that I wanted to see while recuperating in the comfort of my home, I completely overlooked the upcoming release of The Hunger Games.

How is that possible?  I don’t know… but I corrected that mistake as soon as I realized it was available via OnDemand Saturday night.

For those that still haven’t read Suzanne Collins’ trilogy or seen the film adaptation, I’ll try not to give anything away.  But, honestly, I feel like my house was in this minority grouping up until this past weekend and I wouldn’t be ruining anything for a lot of people.  But regardless, I’ll stay away from any spoilers.

However, what I do want to mention is the fact that I couldn’t help but compare The Hunger Games to another Young Adult franchise that has practically taken over the world these past few years—The Twilight Saga.

And let me begin with… The Hunger Games wins.

I’m not a Twilight hater; really, I’m not.  I own all four books and I have seen all four movies to date.  I do enjoy the love triangle, the werewolf pack, and the Cullen clan; but, I prefer my vampires to have more bite.  I want to see vamps do what they’re supposed to do—feed on humans.  It may be bloody, but there is something about it that is as hot as all get out.  Vampires are probably the most seductive and sexy of all the supernatural, and that’s what I like to see.  Even Vampire Jerry from Fright Night (2012) was one bad vamp, but what girl sitting in the theater still didn’t wish he was her neighbor?

Now, with The Hunger Games, I expected violence, and violence is exactly what I got—PG style, anyway.   I never expected the tributes to survive the Games without bloodshed.  But thankfully, the scenes were not gory or over-the-top; they portrayed just enough to leave the worst parts to the viewer’s imaginations and leave us clinging to the edge of our seats.

Now let’s switch to another comparison—the female protagonists.

First, there’s Bella… perhaps if anyone besides Kristen Stewart had played the beloved Bella in the movies, I’d have a different opinion.  But she did, and I don’t.  It’s hard to sit through a series and love it when you can’t stand the protagonist—and I’m speaking of the character here, not the actress; but because the actress lacks a certain emotional range and rarely smiles when in character, it’s hard to empathize with her.  Maybe Miss Stewart played the role just as Stephenie Meyer intended, and she’s certainly earned millions because of the franchise, but for me personally, let me just say she’s not the reason I see the films.

But Katniss Everdeen (played by Jennifer Lawrence) on the other hand, now that’s a strong, female lead.  Wow!  I fell in love with Katniss from the very beginning.  She has purpose; she’s caring; she provides; and most importantly, she volunteers herself to save another—she is amazing.   Never once did I think the character of Katniss felt sorry for herself (and if anyone was allowed to feel sorry for themselves, it would be Katniss).  I was ready to watch Miss Lawrence kick some serious booty when the tributes from each district joined at the Cornucopia.  Heck, I was even ready to watch her take down Peeta.  I was one-hundred percent enamored with Katniss Everdeen, and Jennifer Lawrence nailed the role.

I could keep going; heck, I haven’t even listed the guys/eye candy in the films or the other supporting actors yet.  But I’m done.  These two aspects alone launch The Hunger Games way ahead of Twilight where I’m concerned.  A part of me is a bit shocked to say this… I do love the supernatural; however, this time, fantasy wins as far as I’m concerned.

What do you think?  Have you watched The Hunger Games?  Do you prefer it over the Twilight Saga or Katniss over Bella?  I’d love to hear from you!

And while it may not be supernatural or fantasy, remember to check out my YA Mystery novel, Football Sweetheart… now available on Kindle and Nook!

Friday FabOoolousness – Action Packed Movie Madness

Staying in, wrapping up in a blanket, lighting a candle, and watching a movie makes for a perfect weekend evening in our house.  Due to the recent closures of most Blockbuster and Hollywood Video Stores, we slide our credit card into the vending machines dubbed Redbox and rent the new releases for $1 per night. 

That’s right – $1 per night; that’s cheaper than racing to the theater for a hot new release or renting a movie via OnDemand.

So, what have we watched lately?  Two fabOoolous action-packed movies: X-Men First Class and Fast Five

*****

X-Men: First Class

The fourth movie in the franchise, X-men: First Class takes us back in time; this prequel shares the story of how Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) becomes Professor X and how Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) becomes Magneto

For those unfamiliar with the comics, the explanation of Charles and Erik’s friendship in First Class helps explain the first movies of the X-Men franchise.   Each and every one of the films is very enjoyable, but First Class really pulled us in. 

In addition to us learning about Professor X and Magneto’s early years, we meet the young and beautiful Raven, better known as Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence).  The movie also introduces a few of the younger mutants from the comic books and the first three films: Beast (Nicholas Hoult), a mutant ashamed of his abnormally large feet who takes a self-made potion that transforms him into a gigantic blue beast; Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones), a mutant with the ability to emit powerful supersonic sound waves; Darwin (Edi Gathegi), a mutant who transforms into any being to protect himself; and Havoc (Lucas Till), a mutant who absorbs energy and unleashes it in fire blasts to defend his friends. 

We also meet the evil Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) and his Hellfire Club members (aka the bad guys):  Emma Frost (January Jones), a telepath who also has the ability to mutate into diamond form making it impossible to physically torture her; Azazel (Jason Flemyng), a mutant who resembles the devil and can teleport back and forth surprising his victims; Riptide (Alex Gonzalez), a mutant with the ability to transform into a powerful whirlwind of dust like a tornado, or water like a cyclone; and Angel (Zoe Kravitz), a mutant who possesses the ability to fly and spit an acid-like substance.

Of course, there are a few humans in the movie like CIA agent Moira MacTaggert, played by Rose Byrne.  She is the one responsible for bringing Xavier’s team of mutants together.  She is also the one who opens the door to the mutant world with the US government. 

Additionally, we see a few other familiar faces playing human roles including the fabOoolous Ray Wise, James Remar, and Michael Ironside.

A nice and appreciated addition to the movie was the cameo appearances by Rebecca Romjin (the adult Mystique) and Hugh Jackman.  We can’t have an X-Men movie without Wolverine, can we?

*****

Fast Five

We love high-speed racing and action in this house.  The Fast and The Furious starring Paul Walker as Brian O’Conner, the undercover police officer sent in to gather evidence to arrest the illegal street racing ring leader, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), gave us just that and absolutely rocked. 

Despite the lack of Diesel in 2 Fast 2 Furious, we maintained interest as Brian works undercover again, only this time with the FBI to take down a drug lord (Cole Hauser) in an effort to redeem himself after falling in with Dom’s crowd. 

However, after The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift in 2006, we almost wrote off the franchise.  Why have a Fast and Furious movie without Walker and Diesel? 

Luckily in 2009, the series redeemed itself with Fast & Furious and brought back the franchise’s hotties, as well as other favorites including Leti Ortiz (Michelle Rodriquez) and Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster). 

Add Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as federal agent Luke Hobbs, and Fast Five officially has the best eye-candy of the entire series. 

Oh, and action…just not enough racing.  The scenes in which Dom and Brian acquire the necessary cars to take down the evil Brazilian crime lord Reyes were omitted; instead of showing us how they earn the pink slips to these vehicles, we just see the two return to their hideout with the cars.   Maybe these scenes were scrapped on the cutting room floor? 

But what did we really, really enjoy about Fast Five?  Not only did we see the return of all the original surviving characters (no spoilers), but a few of our favorites from the past also join forces to help Dom and Brian, including: Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce (from 2); Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as Tej Parker (also from 2); Matt Schulze as Vince (from 1); Sung Kang as Han Seoul-Oh (from 4); and for the men, Gal Gadot as Gisele Yashar (also from 4).

Making up for the lost pink-slip racing mentioned before, the heists at the beginning and at the end are action packed and fabOoolous.  Viewers watch Brian, Dom, and Mia steal cars from a moving train, and later witness Dom and Brian’s synchronized driving sequence, which is unlike any other. 

Oh, and don’t turn off the video before the end of the credits….just sayin’.    Something is in the works.

Eye Candy....

*****

Overall, X-Men: First Class and Fast Five are both definitely worth a watch; definitely worth spending a $1 at Redbox.  The action, special effects, relationships, backstory (in First Class) and continuing story (from Fast Five) are even worthy of the more expensive video rental via OnDemand . 

What do you think – have you watched X-Men: First Class or Fast Five?  Which of the X-Men characters is your favorite and why?  What about the Fast and the Furious men (or women, let’s be fair)? 

Have you checked out Redbox yet?  Any other new releases we should rent?  I’d love to hear from you. 

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