Tag Archive: Liam Hemsworth


Independence Day is one of the films responsible for defining the modern summer blockbuster. It was big, goofy and a lot fun, which ultimately cemented it as one of the best disaster movies of all time. Sequels weren’t quite as common when the film was initially released, but 20 years later, Hollywood is intent on reviving every single existing property. So audiences are treated to Independence Day: Resurgence, a completely unnecessary rehash that loses much of the charm of the original. It may not be as terrible as one would expect, but it’s ultimately forgettable and doesn’t even deliver any great disaster sequences that we’ve come to expect from director Roland Emmerich.

It’s been 20 years since an alien threat came to Earth and nearly wiped out the human race. Since defeating them, humans have taken the technologies that they brought and used them to ensure peace and develop space exploration. On the anniversary of the attack, scientist David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) travels to Africa to investigate a leftover alien spacecraft that has mysteriously turned on its lights. This strange occurrence may have something to do with the arrival of a strange alien spacecraft on the surface of Mars. Levinson believes that this could be a different, more peaceful alien race, but President Elizabeth Lanford (Sela Ward) orders an attack on the extraterrestrials. But soon another spacecraft arrives, one that’s even more enormous than the ones that came before it. When the alien race begins to drill into the Earth’s core, Levinson is reunited with former president Thomas J. Whitmore (Bill Pullman). They and a trio of young military pilots (Liam Hemsworth, Jessie T. Usher and Maika Monroe) must work together to bring down the invaders.

The essential elements of the plot are almost identical to the original film: an alien race arrives on Earth and a group of diverse individuals from around the globe must figure out a way to defeat them. But this time, Emmerich and his co-writers seem to have taken the approach that bigger is better; instead of a dozens of large spaceships, this time the aliens arrive in a single vessel that’s 3,000-miles wide. It’s a logical way to raise the stakes, but nothing ever comes across as more intense or interesting. It’s just a lot of formulaic sci-fi action that would feel more at home in the late 90s than today. You could look at this as a welcome throwback to earlier blockbusters, but everything from the humor, to the look, to the set pieces feels incredibly dated. The only action sequence that really works is the climactic chase between the alien queen and a school bus full of kids. It’s certainly not amazing, but it at least feels different enough to stick in your mind.

Although 20th Century Fox would have probably loved to see the return of Will Smith to the sequel, they were unable to drum up the $50 million paycheck that he required. Luckily, we are treated to the return of Goldblum, Pullman and Judd Hirsch, among several others. Maybe it’s because they were introduced in the previous film, but these three actors portray the only characters worth caring about. The film introduces a younger generation of characters and while Hemsworth, Usher and Monroe give fine performances, their characters are paper-thin and generally uninteresting. The younger cast ultimately serves as an apt metaphor for Independence Day: Resurgence; it may have a massive budget and epic scale, but it doesn’t even come close to matching the fun experience of the original.

Independence Day: resurgence receives 2/4

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Movies are certainly a business, but they’re also an art form. It’s understandable that the people behind them want to make money, but they also shouldn’t let their corporate greed get in the way of the film’s quality. When Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was split into two parts, most people thought that it was an understandable decision. With the book clocking in at over 700 pages, this decision seemed to be made because there was simply too much content to pack into a single movie. But now movie studios have become savvy to this idea and lately the decision to split a final installment into two parts seems to occur just so they can make twice as much money. The final installment in The Hunger Games series, Mockingjay, isn’t even the longest novel out of the three. After having watched The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, it’s clear that the decision to split this franchise finale into two parts was a poor one. Not only are moviegoers only getting half of a movie, but the half of a movie that they get is slow, boring and incredibly uneventful.

Following the events of Catching Fire, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) has been picked up by members of the rebellion and brought into District 13’s underground bunker. While there, she reconnects with old friends including Gale (Liam Hemsworth), Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) and Finnick (Sam Claflin). She also meets President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore), the head of the rebellion. With the help of Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), they convince Katniss to become the face of the rebellion. They send her out onto the battlefield and film her for a propaganda video. But Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) is being held in the Capitol by President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and Katniss doesn’t want to do anything until they’re able to rescue him.

I realize that the summary that I just wrote feels very slim, but that’s literally all that happens in the movie. This is only the first act of a three act story and it’s been stretched out into a 2 hour film. Where the film begins and where it ends is essentially the same place, with only a few minor differences. If Mockingjay had been made into one film instead of two, the events that occur in this film would have occupied the first 30-45 minutes. This is the first Hunger Games film without any appearance of the actual Hunger Games and there’s hardly any action to substitute for it. This is a film that’s all about setup. While this could have been interesting, the political strategizing that’s going on here is so basic that it fails to garner any interest. It also doesn’t help that the majority of the runtime takes place in an underground bunker that’s bland and uninteresting to look at.

How long will studios be able to get away with this? We never used to see films get split into two parts, but now it seems like every major blockbuster is using this idea. It makes sense from a business standpoint, but from a creativity standpoint, it’s shallow and ultimately pointless. Maybe it’s time that moviegoers start a rebellion, much like the one that we see in Mockingjay – Part 1. We could strategize in an underground lair, before we march up to the bigwigs in Hollywood and force them to end this nonsense. We’re getting tricked into buying two tickets for a single movie and we won’t stand for it any longer. Who could we have as our Mockingjay symbol? Jennifer Lawrence probably wouldn’t do it, because I’m assuming that she’s making twice as much money from these movies as well. Maybe someone from the Harry Potter franchise could join our cause. That series is the only one to do a two-part finale well, so maybe they’re just as outraged at what The Hunger Games, Twilight and Divergent are doing. I certainly wouldn’t mind having Emma Watson as our Mockingjay symbol.

Even though this film is adequately directed by Francis Lawrence and features some fine performance (Julianne Moore is a welcome addition to the cast), there’s just nothing to get excited about. In fact, the only great part of the movie is the Lorde song that plays over the end credits. The song , entitled “Yellow Flicker Beat”, was written by Lorde and Joel Little and it perfectly captures the tone of the Hunger Games franchise. It starts off slow and quiet before turning into a kicking pop song that’s more exciting than anything in the film. Lorde is the best pop star working today; she’s just 18 years old, has only released one album and she’s already put veteran stars like Lady Gaga and Katy Perry to shame. She has such a unique voice and her songs never feel like they’re trying to appeal to the masses. Just look at a song like “Royals”, which goes against the fame and fortune that most pop songs are built upon. Lorde curated the official soundtrack to go along with Mockingjay – Part 1 and it’s good to see that the song she provided  is just as good as anything on her debut album, Pure Heroine.

It may seem like I’m getting off topic here, but that’s happening for a reason. There’s simply not a lot to discuss with this film. I can only talk about how uneventful it is for so long before I begin to sound repetitive. It feels like the filmmakers are treading water, stretching a film out even when they know that they shouldn’t. It’s just a shame that the executives in charge of splitting the movie will still get away with it. The film is bound to make millions upon millions of dollars and Part 2 will probably make even more money. So that’s why I’m calling for a revolution. Let’s recruit Emma Watson, organize our members and march to Hollywood so we can tell these producers what we really think of their greedy decisions. Mockingjay – Part 1 is the first bad film in the franchise and it’s all because somebody wanted to sell twice as many tickets.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 receives 2/4

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I recently rewatched the original Hunger Games to prepare for this review and I realized that it isn’t quite as strong as I remember it being. Sure, it’s well directed and it makes good use of its large budget, but there were simply too many problems with the film’s narrative. Because of this, I was worried that The Hunger Games: Catching Fire would not live up to the massive hype that the public has bestowed upon it but, luckily, it is a huge improvement over the original film. Vastly greater in terms of story, scope and sheer ideas, this film proves to everyone what all of the fuss has been about regarding this young adult franchise.

Having cheated the system, the two winners of the 74th annual Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) are forced to go on a victory tour of all twelve districts. Before the tour begins, Katniss is visited by President Snow (Donald Sutherland), who informs her that she must continue her romance with Peeta, so that their act of defiance appears to have been done out of love and not out of rebellion. For a brief moment, Katniss and her family appear to be safe. But with the 75th annual Hunger Games approaching, no one is safe, not even previous Hunger Games victors.

It’s a given that Catching Fire was bound to make a boatload of money regardless of the film’s quality, so it is even more admirable that this second feature in the insanely popular trilogy has been treated with the utmost care. Director Francis Lawrence is able to inject the film with an excitement that the previous installment simply didn’t have enough of. The stakes are higher and things get exciting much, much faster. Credit must also go to series author Suzanne Collins and screenwriters Simon Beaufoy and Michael Arndt for expanding upon the universe set up in the original film with much more adult themes and concepts.

One of the most obvious improvements in this installment is the development of the characters in the Hunger Games themselves. In the first film, other than Katniss, Peeta and Rue, none of the contestants in the Games were given any depth of character. They were simply bland caricatures, used to advance the plot from point A to point B. In Catching Fire, while not all 24 contestants are able to be developed, a good majority are at least given some type of characterization. Many of these new characters are among the most interesting of the entire series with Finnick (Sam Claflin) and Johanna (Jena Malone) being among the clear standouts. This is not only a testament to the film’s fine writers, but also to the great performances from the entire supporting cast.

Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson give solid lead performances, allowing the audience to experience the pain and horrors of this dystopian society along with them. Liam Hemsworth gets a much larger role in this installment as Gale Hawthorne, but his much larger role also places extra emphasis on the film’s love triangle, which is, in my opinion, one of the weakest aspects of the series. No fault of the performers, this is a plotline that feels far below what the rest of the series is trying to achieve.

I hesitate to spoil anything that occurs in the second half of the film, but I will say that the 75th annual Hunger Games are far more exciting and interesting than the 74th. This basically sums up the entire quality of the film, because The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is far more exciting, engaging and relevant than its predecessor. The film’s ending will leave both casual viewers and diehard fans of the franchise hungry for more.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire receives 3/4