The Hunger Games

Lionsgate (2012) 142 minutes PG-13

Director: Gary Ross

Screenplay: Suzanne Collins, Billy Ray and Gary Ross; based on The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Cinematography: Tom Stern; Editing: Christopher S. Capp, Stephen Mirrione and Juliette Welfling

Production Design: Philip Messina; Set Decoration: Larry Dias; Costumes: Judianna Makovsky; Score: James Newton Howard

Stars: Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss Everdeen), Josh Hutcherson (Peeta Mellark), Liam Hemsworth (Gale Hawthorne), Alexander Ludwig (Cato), Woody Harrelson (Haymitch Abernathy), Amandla Stenberg (Rue), Wes Bentley (Seneca Crane), Stanley Tucci (Caesar Flickerman), Donald Sutherland (President Snow)

Based as it is on the first novel in a popular trilogy of teen fiction, and given the legion of devoted fans the movie inherited before it was ever released, it’s probably unnecessary to point out at this late stage that The Hunger Games is about a futuristic, state sponsored reality TV show which pits twenty four adolescents against each other in a no-holds barred fight to the finish. Author Suzanne Collins, who also collaborated on the movie’s screenplay with director Gary Ross and Billy Ray, was inspired by the explosion in popularity of elimination round reality programs like Survivor, Celebrity Apprentice, The Amazing Race and even American Idol, where the public at large is invited to vote on their favorites, weighing in on who gets axed each week.

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Wrath of the Titans

Warner Bros. (2012) 99 min. PG-13

Director: Jonathan Liebesman

Screenplay: Dan Mazeau and David Leslie Johnson; Story: Greg Berlanti, David Leslie Johnson and Dan Mazeau; based on Clash of the Titans (1981) by Beverley Cross 

Cinematography: Ben Davis; Editing: Martin Walsh

Production Design: Charles Wood; Set Decoration: Lee Sandales

Costumes: Jany Temime; Score: Javier Navarrete

Stars: Sam Worthington (Perseus), Liam Neeson (Zeus), Ralph Fiennes (Hades), Rosamund Pike (Andromeda), Toby Kebell (Agenor), Édgar Ramírez (Ares), Bill Nighy (Hephaestus), Danny Huston (Poseidon)

This redundantly titled sequel to 2010’s Clash of the Titans opens with the narration of Zeus as he recaps events forgetful viewers need to be apprised of from the first film as if priming them for the latest installment of a chapter serial (Part 3 is currently in the works). For some reason all this is played out against images of cave paintings instead of the more age appropriate black silhouette figures that decorated Grecian urns and earthenware, and the confusing artistic choice associates the tale with an even earlier, Paleolithic time period than needs be.

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