Hunger Games: Are the Movies Better Than the Books?

hunger games movies books

Welcome to Now Conspiring with Jon and Maria! A podcast where we rant about movies, everything and everything.

This week, we talk Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 and discuss the HG franchise in general. Are the movies better than the books? Or is it the other way around? Even if you’re not in the mood to podcast it up with us, let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Plus, stick around for the end of the show to hear our thoughts on what’s slated for release next week (and which films we think might be worth watching). Enjoy.

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Mini Review: ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1′

hunger games mockingjay

Anita Katz | SF Examiner:

Other movies based on young-adult sci-fi novels surely get worse than this competently directed, well-acted, generally engaging adventure. Peter Craig and Danny Strong’s screenplay contains dialogue smart enough to keep adults from wincing. Echoing the previous two films, the story contains colorful characters and relevant themes. 

But with the climactic action and other second-half events slated for next year’s finale, this movie must stretch half a story into the two-hour running time associated with such blockbusters. The filmmakers don’t have enough quality material to fill the space. The action scenes are so-so. The love story – bland Peeta has never seemed a fitting match for dynamic Katniss – is tepid. 

So is the general consensus for Mockingjay 1, which has accrued a respectable 69% on Rotten Tomatoes. Though that is easily the lowest score in the Hunger Games franchise (Catching Fire holds 89%).

But that’s to be expected for several reasons. First, they split a relatively short book into two full movies (because money). Second, it hurts that the third book is already the worst one in the trilogy.

If anything, I’m happy this thing isn’t terrible, and I have a feeling I’ll like it a lot more, yet again, than I did the book.

First Pitch Perfect 2 Trailer: The Pitch Is Back

As a movie, this will probably be terrible. But as a comedy and guilty pleasure, it will probably be brilliant.

Also, props to YouTube star Flula for earning his part in this.

A Closer Look Into The Changes Behind Pixar’s ‘Good Dinosaur’

good dinosaur

Rebecca Keegan | LA Times

“The heart of the story remains the same,” Sohn said, in an interview last week. “It’s always been about this young dinosaur growing up. But the world itself has changed a lot. Nature has become a character.”

…the film still posits that an asteroid never hit the Earth and the dinosaurs never went extinct; a teenage Apatosaurus named Arlo takes a wild, young human boy named Spot as a pet.

This is a wonderful piece by the LA Times that details the transition this film has gone through, both in terms of leadership and creative vision.

Bob Peterson exited The Good Dinosaur as its director, due to conflicts with the story. He’s been quietly replaced by Peter Sohn, an inexperienced director who got the job thanks to a gutsy presentation of a new take on the movie (which he did with storyboards last summer).

Peterson’s moved on to helping write Inside Out and Finding Dory, so we’ll still see some of his finesse in coming years. And from what we’re slowly learning about The Good Dinosaur in terms of story and visual treatment, I’m happily excited as we get closer to next November.

Though I have to admit the whole “brute takes on a human pet” thing sounds a little too Monsters Inc.

The Stills (and First Trailer) For The New ‘Peanuts’ Movie Are Glorious

new peanuts movie

Cartoon Brew | Five New High-Res Stills from Blue Sky’s ‘Peanuts’ Movie:

Blue Sky Studios has released five new high-res stills from The Peanuts Movie via an article in USA Today. And thanks to the wonders of computer animation, they’ve finally added all the glorious details—fully-rendered hair, fur, cloth, lighting, shadows, even reflective eye highlights—that Peanuts creator Charles Schulz was too lazy to draw himself.

Blue Sky is no stranger to gorgeous animated moviemaking (Ice AgeRioEpic, and so on), but this is technically their first attempt at making an adaptation.

And from what I can tell, they’re off to a splendid start with their take on Peanuts, which is set for release next November (2015). Continue reading

Here’s a Pretty Perfect Plot Idea For ‘Toy Story 4.’

toy story 4

Since it was announced, many Toy Story fans like myself have been scratching our heads about the upcoming plot for Toy Story 4.

After all, John Lasseter promises that it’s good enough to warrant yet another sequel to an otherwise perfect trilogy. So what could this great idea be?

It’s too early to tell, but that didn’t stop Aaron Helman from writing out what he considers to be a pretty exciting script. Enjoy:

TOY STORY 4

by Aaron Helman

The film is set 6-7 years after Toy Story 3.

The toys are hanging out by themselves, doing Toy Story things when a woman barges in the room in a tizzy and starts throwing them into boxes. The toys are confused, but they hear a conversation in the next room, trying to figure out what’s going on. Through the perspective of the toys, we hear bits and pieces:

“Once I heard, I just knew you had to have these.”

“That’s so sweet, but what about…”

“Oh she’s 13 now. She doesn’t really play with them anymore.”

“I’m sure Andy will be thrilled.”

“When’s the baby due?”

Cue music and excitement from the toys. Continue reading

Maybe There’s a Hidden Story Behind All Of Christopher Nolan’s Films After All

Interstellar hidden story

If you’ve been keeping up with my latest ramblings, then you know that I wasn’t the biggest fan of Interstellar, despite my feverish love of Nolan’s past work. And I’ve never considered much about the underlying themes or connections between his movies. Until now.

No, this isn’t like a “shared universe” theory. No one has time for that. This is something better.

Akshay Seth | The Michigan Daily

And I realized something. The film’s final act, like its labyrinthine middle, rushed start or organ-blasting score, isn’t meant to inspire. Because this film is a farce. It is Nolan’s letter to Flora, his daughter. Stretched to the grandest scales, this movie is his most withering self-critique. Here’s why.

I think Akshay’s on to something. And after reading through his admittedly long arguments, I’m a believer.

If anyone’s capable of doing something like this across multiple movies over 16 years, it’s Christopher Nolan.