REVIEW: Independence Day: Resurgence

Photo: Twentieth Century Fox

Photo: Twentieth Century Fox

Chris Luckett

Some directors find success with a formula and, for a lack of better ideas or larger ambition, repeat it over and over again until studios stop paying them money to. (How else to explain the continued employment of Michael Bay?)

Roland Emmerich is one of those directors. After Universal Soldier and Stargate, he reinvented the modern disaster movie by adding as many explosions and pyrotechnics as he could fit into Independence Day. Upon bombing with his 1998 Godzilla reboot, Emmerich then retreated back to the commercial comfort of The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, and White House Down.

He now finally returns to the story that blew up his career twenty years ago, continuing what he originally envisioned as a trilogy. Independence Day: Resurgence may not have the bombastic impact of the original, nor its ballsy ingenuity, but it’s still better than you’d expect a two-decades-later sequel to be.
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REVIEW: Mockingjay, Part 2

Photo: Lionsgate

Photo: Lionsgate

Chris Luckett

Any time a popular book series is adapted to film, changes are always necessary. Such changes, though, do invariably yield a different experience for the movies than their literary sources.

For Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy, the single change that’s had the most effect on the movie franchise has been shifting the focus from the first-person point-of-view of the books — in the novels, the reader never sees anything Katniss Everdeen herself doesn’t — to the multiple perspectives that allow for cross-cutting to Seneca Crane’s control room or President Snow’s office or the barracks of District 13.

That alteration, however seemingly unimportant, has created a different animal than Collins depicted, for better and for worse. The stories have been more spectacular on screen, but never as intimate as the books, for that very reason. Continue reading

REVIEW: Mockingjay, Part 1

Photo: Lionsgate

Photo: Lionsgate

Chris Luckett

When it was announced in 2008 that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows would be split into two movies, such an idea for a franchise’s climax seemed odd and alien. While many cynical moviegoers cried studio greed, it was seen by many as a strong creative decision, considering how much material was in J.K. Rowling’s ultimate book.

In the wake of Harry’s two-parter ending, though, more and more movie series have decided to follow suit, from the Twilight saga’s Breaking Dawn to the recent announcements that the Divergent and Avengers trilogies would become 4-parters. Moves like these feel more studio-driven and motivated by dollars rather than fan satisfaction, and it the very thing that hurts Mockingjay, Part 1 the most.

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REVIEW: Catching Fire

Photo: Lionsgate

Photo: Lionsgate

Chris Luckett

Twenty or 30 years ago, film adaptations usually didn’t have to worry about aping their source books exactly. The recent influx of book series with rabid fan bases being adapted into films, though, has led to filmmakers being afraid to cut scenes that worked in the book but don’t in the movie. Catching Fire is a better movie than The Hunger Games was, but it still ultimately falls into the same traps by treating its source novel as gospel.

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REVIEW: The Hunger Games

Photo: Lionsgate

Photo: Lionsgate

Chris Luckett

The last time there was this kind of fervour for a film adaptation may have been over a decade ago, with the releases of the first films in the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings franchises. Even bestsellers like The Da Vinci Code or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo didn’t have the built-in anticipation and the drummed-up marketing that The Hunger Games has amassed for itself. Continue reading