The second installment of The Hunger Games franchise is on a lot of people’s Thanksgiving schedule. My sister and I have already planned our Hunger Games night for next weekend, and I’ve talked to quite a few friends who have made it part of their holiday plans as well. I’m glad to report that it’s a solid choice for a post-turkey outing for the 13-and-overs—heck, wild poultry even shows up in the first few minutes of the film. Catching Fire follows Katniss Everdeen as she tries to live a “normal” life post-games back on District 12. Fallout from her faked-or-was-it-faked romance with Peeta, her Panem-wide celebrity, and the machinations of President Snow all hem her in and threaten her (admittedly depressing) status-quo.
Friends, I’ve just returned from seeing The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in high-frame-rate 3D and I can tell you two things: 1. The film remains true to the book’s spirit, if not its letter. 2. The high-frame-rate format did indeed enhance my Hobbit viewing enjoyment.
Let’s deal with the second point first. I’m making a firm recommendation to see the high-frame-rate 3D. There were just too many gasp-worthy visuals that you’d miss otherwise. Did it look different? Yes. Did it take me a while to get used to it? Yes, but only as long as the now-Jackson-standard (and well-done) introduction-for-context lasted. Did I feel sick at all? Nope…and I had a fair amount of popcorn before the show started, too. Is there room for improvement in the use of the format? Yes, as with all new technology. (I thought the storm-giant sequence in particular lost energy because it was supposed to feel disorienting, not detailed.) Did my mouth drop open and were people around me audibly cursing with joy because of the awesomeness meeting their eyeballs? Yes. Repeatedly.
Let’s do this, guys. Pack up your second breakfast and get your furry feet to a theatre tomorrow! Here’s a rundown on your Hobbit viewing choices (HFR 3D, IMAX 3D, RealD 3D and classic 2D). Find tickets to a local theatre here.
Only two days until The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opens. Do you have your tickets? Have you done your Peter Jackson research? Checked out Hobbiton? Entered the Hobbit giveaways on Reads, Style and Life? Still need more Hobbit activities to kill the remaining hours? Then why not stream these Hobbit-connected stories that will let you see Bilbo, Gandalf and Thorin in a whole new light?
In honor of Hobbit Week, I bring you the Peter Jackson Filmmaker Flashcard. I admit I’ve only seen one of Peter Jackson’s films outside of the Lord of the Rings trilogy: his 2005 remake of King Kong. I enjoyed it, and I’ve read he loved updating his favorite film, but it didn’t make a lasting impression on me. I want to go back and check out The Lovely Bones and Heavenly Creatures(with Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey), to see if my admiration of his LOTR work will extend to non-Tolkien films.
Jackson began as a DIY filmmaker who slowly built a blockbuster career after his first films became cult favorites. I appreciate his audience-first aesthetic. You can tell he’s not trying to be cool or achieve auteur status or win an Oscar (though he’s arguably been successful at all three)…he just wants to tell a good story. I respect that.
Last week, I bought my tickets to a midnight showing of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (it opens at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, December 14) and discovered it was a little more complicated than just picking a location and a time. The film is being shown in 2D, RealD 3D, IMAX 3D and High Frame Rate (HFR) 3D. Depending on what tech your local theatre uses, you’ll have up to four ways of seeing Bilbo Baggins begin his long trip toward the Lonely Mountain. Here’s a quick rundown to help you decide.
When one tries to learn how to write screenplays, one hears this bit of wisdom over and over again: Don’t write voice-over narration. Just don’t.
It’s generally good advice. Using a narrator can be a shortcut to avoid the hard work of figuring out how to show your story visually. Voice-over can get tedious fast. It can sound stilted. Just don’t.
Life of Pi
Directed by Ang Lee, adapted by David Magee, starring Suraj Sharma
Based on the absolutely riveting book by Yann Martel, Life of Pi is being eagerly anticipated by book clubs that are curious how its magical realism plot (a young man is shipwrecked and stranded with a Bengal tiger) will translate to screen. Oscar-winning director Ang Lee (Sense and Sensibility, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain) is known for his genre-hopping, poetic vision.
No mere movie, this film is shaping up to be an American cultural event. Spielberg is a master at getting to the heart of history (see Saving Private Ryan, Amistad and Schindler’s List), and Daniel Day-Lewis (Abraham Lincoln) is as committed as actors come.
You should go if: You love American history, good stories, and you want to have something to talk about at Thanksgiving with relatives you have nothing else in common with.