As the press embargo is lifted, film critics are sharing full-length reviews of The Hunger Games. Last week, we shared a few tweets from journalists who seemed very positive about the movie. But, are the full reviews just as positive?

Well, the short answer is yes. Naturally, responses vary a little between each publication – but the film has yet to receive a review giving it any less than four stars. Below are a few extracts from the various articles.

Empire – Four stars

Probably the greatest achievement of The Hunger Games, and there are many, is that in adapting a phenomenally successful teen novel its creative team have produced something that works as a film, not just as an adaptation of a book. There’s no required reading before entering the cinema in order to ‘get it’, and it’s well above the ‘all your favourite bits but with pictures’ business that has become the accepted standard. When a series has sold millions of copies, as Suzanne Collins’ trilogy has, the default position is to produce something that will look just as readers imagined, to show what we were all thinking, rather than offer something nobody had considered. The Hunger Games as a novel has been dissected, expanded and retooled into something intelligent, immersive and powerfully current.

Total Film – Four stars

Lawrence’s shining star is orbited by other casting successes. Elizabeth Banks and Stanley Tucci amuse as media grotesques Effie Trinket and Caesar Flickerman, also tying for Best Worst Wig/Make-Up.

Wes Bentley is smoothly ruthless as gamemaker Seneca Crane, quietly conspiring with Donald Sutherland’s slyly sadistic President Snow. The glory-hungry Career Tributes – ie the cool kids – are a suitably hateful mob, headed by Alexander Ludwig’s sneering Cato.

Lenny Kravitz (Katniss’ sympathetic stylist) probably shouldn’t start clearing space on his awards shelf, but you can’t have everything.

The Telegraph – Five stars

Ross and his cinematographer Tom Stern, capture the action up close with twitchy, often hand-held camerawork: not only is it a perfect match for the punchy, urgent prose of Collins’s novel, it lends the film a teenager’s heart-in-mouth hyper-awareness. The screenplay, co-written by Ross, Collins and Billy Ray, deftly pulls together all of the novel’s itchiest themes: the Faustian pact of instant celebrity; the ever-broadening gap between the have-nots and the haves; the basic human urge to confer narrative, and so meaning, on human life in all its nasty, brutish brevity.
The Hunger Games is an essential science fiction film for our times; perhaps the essential science fiction film of our times. Whatever your age, it demands to be devoured.

The Hollywood Reporter

As for visual spectacle, there’s enough but, along with it, a feeling of being slightly shortchanged; the long shots of gigantic cityscapes, of a fast train gliding silkily through the country, of massive crowds gathered to see this year’s gladiators before they set off to kill one another, of the decorative flames emanating from the leads’ costumes as the pair is presented to the public for the first time — all are cut a bit short, as if further exposure would reveal them as one notch below first-rate. On the other hand, the costumes and makeup are a riot of imagination designed to evoke a level of topped-out decadence comparable to that of Nero’s Rome or Louis XVI’s Paris.

Den Of Geek – Four stars

Gary Ross is a brave man. He’d need to be, of course, to take on a project like The Hunger Games: the books have sold millions of copies, and have attracted both intense adulation and fierce criticism. The movie is a big deal, and the weight of its success or failure sits on his shoulders, so just making it requires courage.

But Ross has done more than churn out a faithful adaptation of the book. His vision of the world of The Hunger Games is bigger, scarier, darker, and more political than the books ever dared to be.

Impressive reviews indeed! The film already seems to have fared better with critics than the Twilight series, and quite a few of the Harry Potter films as well. Reviews also stress that the film has little in common with its fellow book-to-film adaptations – although fans of the books already knew that. Something else we can glean from the reviews is the confirmation that the film will run at 2 hours and 22 minutes (UK fans will presumably get 2 hours, 21 minutes and 53 seconds).

You can keep track of reviews as more come in over on the films Rotten Tomatoes page, and keep checking back here as we will be updating this post with more reviews from top critics as we find them.

Are you glad that the film has received so many positive reviews? Do you think the great response will move some of the cynics to give the film a chance?

 

Dan Aykroyd loves the new ‘Ghostbusters’ movie

As the "originator of the original," let's listen to him.

6:31 am EDT, May 31, 2016

Dan Aykroyd, star and creator of the original Ghostbusters, has seen the 2016 reboot. And he liked it.

“As originator of the original: Saw test screening of new movie. Apart from brilliant, genuine performances from the cast both female and male, it has more laughs and more scares than the first 2 films plus Bill Murray is in it! As one of millions of man-fans and Ray Stantz, I’m paying to see that and bringing all my friends!”

This is what Dan Aykroyd wrote on his Facebook page. Evidently, he is very pleased with Paul Feig’s re-imagining of his 1980s comedy classic.

And this isn’t the first time he’s offered endorsement of the contentious reboot (which Aykroyd is also producing and cameoing in). Earlier this year, he wrote on Twitter:

Despite everyone and their father already having made up their minds about this particular reboot, all we’ve actually had to go on so far have been a few trailers, Paul Feig and the cast’s infectious enthusiasm, and generalized opinions about Hollywood reboots/the cast.

But now that test screenings are beginning to roll out, we can finally begin to get a real sense of what this movie is actually gonna be like.

And if anyone’s opinion should hold some clout, it’s Dan Aykroyd’s. He not only starred as one of the original Ghostbusters, but came up with the concept and co-wrote both of the previous films.

Of course his comments haven’t gone over well with everyone. When he says it has “more laughs and more scares” than Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters 2 combined, many people have taken that to mean that he thinks the new one is better than the original — but it’s worth noting that that’s not actually what he said.

Related: New Ghostbusters trailer updates the title to Ghostbusters: Answer the Call

The original Ghostbusters (if not its sequel) was a masterpiece, and Aykroyd isn’t suggesting anything different. He’s merely suggesting that there’s a higher quantity of funny and scary scenes in the reboot. Which, knowing Paul Feig (who blew us away with Bridesmaids and Spy), makes a lot of sense.

The important takeaway here is that Aykroyd seems to genuinely enjoy the new Ghostbusters movie. Regardless of your feelings on the original, the new one can still be fantastic, and if anyone would know, it’d be Aykroyd.

At the end of the day, the new movie really is a win-win for fans — it’s an excuse to dust off our old merchandise, and we’ll get to see an exciting new team take on the iconic monsters. July can’t come soon enough!

‘Ghostbusters’ premieres July 15, 2016

Major changes coming to ‘Sense8’ season 2

And I'm excited about what happens next.

11:00 am EDT, May 30, 2016

Sense8 is currently in production for their second season, and they’ve gotten pretty far. Here are some important things you need to know about what’s to come for your favorite cluster!

Ever since Sense8 debuted on Netflix a year ago I’ve been obsessed. Not only because it was such a fantastic premise of connecting eight people, but because it was so immensely diverse and represented so many people from all over the world. Now that we’ve got a season 2, it’s about time to start learning what it’ll be about.

There’s some major things about Sense8 season 2 that are going to be dramatically different, and we’ve gotten an update on what our favorite characters will be up to this season thanks to BuzzFeed.

There’s only 1 Wachowski left

One of the biggest draws of Sense8 was the fact that it was a Wachowski sister production. These sisters have brought us The Matrix and Cloud Atlas so we knew when we heard that last name that this was going to be an epic series.

This year, only Lana Wachowski is staying on to direct the show. Lilly Wachowski is taking the much-deserved time off after having just come out as transgender in March, and is using the time to focus on herself. Should the show return to Netflix for a third season then she’ll probably return.

The return of only one sister isn’t something that should affect the show too much, and I’m sure if it does then any changes will be welcome and give the show a fresh vibe — not that it needs it.

Sense8 Nomi Amanita

Capheus has been re-cast

For those who enjoyed Capheus’ story in Kenya the most prepare yourselves for a major change. Due to disagreements between Lana and Aml Ameen, who portrays Capheus in season 1, Ameen left the show before production began.

Capheus’ story isn’t one you can just replace and end so suddenly, so instead of writing him out Wachowski opted instead to re-cast him. Toby Onwumere will now play the part.

For those of you concerned with any disagreement between Ameen and Wachowski being over her being transgender, Jamie Clayton, who plays Nomi, was adamant about stopping that rumor.


The good news is that Onwumere has been completely welcomed by the cast and he felt immediately connected to them upon meeting them at dinner for the first time. This makes me more confident that his chemistry with the actors will show on screen, which is one of the reasons I love Sense8 so much – the chemistry has been fantastic in every episode with all 8 actors.

But these changes can be amazing!

Even though they’re major changes from how the show operated last year, I feel like the new single director and the new actor is going to bring a welcome fresh take for the new season.

Every show can use something new in each season they come back just to keep it interesting and unique every year. I feel like, thanks to these changes made to the cast and crew, the story isn’t going to have to change too drastically just for the sake of change. Obviously it’s going to probably take to places we don’t expect, but that will be because the story is naturally progressing, instead of them trying to change actors and plots already set.

Are you excited for season 2 of ‘Sense8’

Hollywood reacts to ‘Begin Again’ director’s candid criticism of Keira Knightley’s acting skills

Should the trust between actors and directors ever be broken?

10:33 am EDT, May 30, 2016

After Begin Again director John Carney’s candid comments about Keira Knightley’s acting went viral, Hollywood has taken to Twitter to defend the British actress.

In case you’ve somehow not heard the story, here’s the sitch:

Over the weekend, The Independent released an interview with Irish director John Carney, in which he had some harsh words for former colleague Keira Knightley.

The pair worked together on the 2013 musical rom-com Begin Again, where Knightley starred opposite Mark Ruffalo as a promising young folk singer recovering from a broken heart.

Carney evidently wasn’t satisfied with Knightley’s performance, claiming she “always has an entourage that follow her everywhere so it’s very hard to get any real work done.”

Related: Exclusive: Keira Knightley, Joe Wright talk Anna Karenina and the choice to set it in the world of theater

Going on to praise both Ruffalo and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine’s performances, Carney said, “I think that that’s what you need as an actor; you need to not be afraid to find out who you really are when the camera’s rolling. Keira’s thing is to hide who you are and I don’t think you can be an actor and do that.”

“I like to work with curious, proper film actors as opposed to movie stars,” he continued. “I don’t want to rubbish Keira, but you know it’s hard being a film actor and it requires a certain level of honesty and self-analysis that I don’t think she’s ready for yet and I certainly don’t think she was ready for on that film.”

Carney concluded, “I learned that I’ll never make a film with supermodels again.”

Now, Carney clearly had a frustrating experience working with Knightley on this film, and his distinction between ‘proper film actors’ and ‘movie stars’ may be legitimate in theory. Begin Again certainly wasn’t the great critical hit that Carney’s Once had been, and at the time of the movie’s release, Keira Knightley herself admitted that she struggled with the material, not being a singer-songwriter herself and having no great appreciation for music.

“It’s terrible. I know nothing about music whatsoever,” she told The Guardian. “I was always more into reading and drama. I was such a geek. … There’s often a huge link between music and memory. And I’ve got such a bad memory.”

But the issue Hollywood professionals have with Carney’s comments seem to have less to do with Knightley’s specific performance, and more about the fact that Carney made these comments at all.

Ava DuVernay certainly makes a great point about why Carney should have stayed silent:

Both industry professionals and notable journalists have joined DuVernay in speaking out against Carney. Here are some of their reactions:

All the same, there are some that find Carney’s candidness refreshing.

What do you think? Should John Carney have held back his criticism of Keira Knightley out of professional courtesy? Or was he right to share his negative experience?

John Carney rose to international fame with Once in 2007, and this year he’s coming out with a musical drama titled Sing Street.