While I was spewing praise all over Jennifer Lawrence last week, Angelina Jolie won another Oscar.
The academy gave Angie the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for her 40+ humanitarian missions with the UN High Commission for Refugees and her work as the co-founder of the Prevent Sexual Violence Initiative. She delivered a classy and heartfelt speech and instantly reminded everyone that is why she's the ruler of all things awesome and getting better with age.
Not to say Lawrence doesn't have the potential to match. She's also fantastic and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is now playing at the Whistler Village 8. Lawrence plays Katniss Everdeen, co-winner of the 74th annual Hunger Games, a Running Man-style battle royal where children from each of the future's 12 socio-industrial "districts" fight it out to the death for the entertainment of the upper class. In the first film Katniss and her District 12 cohort Peeta are the last two standing and plan to commit suicide as an act of defiance.
Instead the IOC, er ... Hunger Games organizers award the first-ever dual victory and in this film they're pushing to sell the two teens as lovers who'd rather die than be separated. Katniss and Peeta are to be toured around the districts selling this story to the masses. Who cares if she has a real boyfriend back home?
Love triangles seem to be integral to teen entertainment these days but what makes Hunger Games 2 awesome is that director Francis Lawrence (no relation) throws all kind of intelligent and contemporarily relevant themes into the mix. The media is a powerful tool for social control and the people calling the shots will do whatever it takes to keep the masses distracted from the truth — that the system can be beaten.
Katniss becomes a symbol of the growing revolution so they toss her back into the Hunger Games again and the action is even better this time around. In between looking hot and shooting arrows into people, Jennifer Lawrence imbues meaning and humanity into every decision Katniss makes. Will she sacrifice her real love for the better of everyone else? Will she seize destiny and lead the revolution?
The director downplays the themes enough to make them resonate more truly and mixes it all with slick action, stunning camera work, decent costumes and a strong cast that includes Philip Seymour Hoffman now. This teenybopper-literature movie is actually pretty kick-ass. And Jennifer holds it all together beautifully.
Opening Friday, Homefront stars Jason Statham (Transporter) as a single dad/retired DEA agent who retires to a small redneck town to raise his 10-year-old daughter in peace. When the local hick kids pick on her, the little one sets off a chain of hillbilly justice and criminal intrigue that includes James Franco as a freaked out meth cook and Kate Bosworth as the wife/mom who looks to be getting high on her own supply. It all ends up as a kind of Yankee doodle Straw Dogs meets Taken with all kinds of ass-kickery, which is about as awesome as it sounds.
Frozen also opens. It's a Disney animated sing-along flick about an unhappy ice queen perpetuating an endless winter on her realm. So her sister and a random dude team up with a talking snowman to go save the day and bring back summer. Sure, even a kid will understand this means the snowman is probably gonna die in the end (I wish) but "Some people are worth melting for." I just puked in my snow cone, plus looks like there's way too much singing in this one for my tastes. Kids will probably love it.