The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Rare is the moment when I've enjoyed a movie more than the book it is based on, but that's exactly what happened with this episode of The Hunger Games. (This was NOT the case with the first movie and the original book, where I felt too many details about the way their world worked were omitted from the movie for the audience to understand the significance of so many details.) The tension that was built through this movie was compelling, the way details were changed made scenes more dramatic, and I cared more about the characters than I did in the book where they seemed a little flat. Perhaps that was because I read the book after seeing the movie this time. In any case, I enjoyed the film more, especially liking the way the wedding dress reveal was changed and the scenes in response to Gale's beating. Well worth seeing, but not as a stand-alone, and if you don't like to wait for what happens next, you might want to wait until closer to the release of Mockingjay.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Since I'm talking about movies I liked better than the book, I'd better jump in here with The Hobbit. I've read the book twice. I hated it both times. I fell asleep watching An Unexpected Journey. I was reluctant to see this episode in the theater. My husband tricked me, making sure we arrived too late to get tickets to see Saving Mr. Banks, which is still on my must see list. But, I was pleasantly surprised. For the first time I was able to tell the characters apart--the Lord of the Rings trilogy is a nightmare for me to watch for this very reason--and I was able to follow the story without feeling like I'd already seen this battle before--another problem with LOTR. I know purists aren't sure about this film because Jackson took the liberty of adding to the original plot, but since these new scenes and characters helped someone like me finally figure out important elements of the LOTR, perhaps he wasn't so off-base in doing so. This is another film that if you want to know what happens next, wait until the end of the year to watch it, right before the final episode is released.
The Lone Ranger
If you're one of those people who listens to the national media when it comes to movie reviews, then you probably think this movie was a real clunker. Not so! Disney marketing was the problem. Like they did with John Carter, the marketing department had another epic fail, trying to sell the movie to the wrong audience in the wrong way, thereby cutting off their own noses to spite their face when it comes to sales. I grew up watching The Lone Ranger as a child. Every Saturday morning my brother and I watched the show, which we recognized as somewhat campy even then. Sure Hammer's Ranger comes off a little more like Dudley Doo-Right, but that's okay. We loved that show too. This movie was hysterical! The subtlety Depp brings to the character of Tonto kept me in stitches. From the moment the William Tell Overture begins I was totally into the chase scene--both times I saw it in the theater. I bought only six movies this year for Christmas, and The Lone Ranger was one of them. Give it a chance, and be prepared to laugh!
Despicable Me 2
Speaking of laughs, this second installment about Gru, the girls, and those crazy minions will also have you laughing like crazy. The first time I saw it was in a theater packed with a hundred kids younger than eight-years-old and I felt like a fool whenever I laughed at the humor that was obviously aimed toward adults. The kids didn't get it. But then, I'm sure i didn't laugh as hard as they did and the physical comedy based on bringing pain to the characters. That's okay. It's all part of understanding the ladder of comedy. Those kids will grow into it. In the meantime, I loved the film enough that this was another movie I bought for Christmas. We watched it this week and I found even more to laugh about because I could actually hear the dialogue over the constant chatter of little people in the movie house. The producers left the series open if they decide to do another episode, but this one also has the perfect ending.
The Saratov Approach
Perhaps its because I currently have two sons serving LDS missions; maybe it's because one of those sons started telling me I had to see this movie long before I'd even heard of it; maybe it's because I like to revisit events in history, even if they were unfamiliar to me before seeing the film. Whatever the reason, I was touched by this movie and I've been recommending it to people everywhere. The core of the story is one every missionary mom prays she will never experience--a phone call from the Church office letting you know something is wrong. Your missionary has been hurt and you're half a world away with nothing you can do to set things right. As an audience, we go in knowing that everything works out alright--the two elders are still alive and doing press junkets, but that doesn't stop your heart from beating a little faster, your palms getting a little sweaty, and the tears from pouring out of your eyes uncontrollably. One of the best LDS movies I've ever seen, yet any audience will understand.
So, there are detailed reasons why I enjoyed five of the movies on my list. I could write about the other fifteen, but that would take me all day and I don't have all day. You don't have all day to read them either, so here are the remaining films that made it onto to my favorite list for 2013.
Man of Steel
Fast & Furious 6
Star Trek Into Darkness
Iron Man 3
Oz the Great and Terrible
World War Z
White House Down
G.I. Joe Retaliation
Jack the Giant Slayer
Hope you had a great time in 2013 At the Movies!