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?

 

Glee alum Lea Michele has found a new comedy project, this time on ABC, which leaves her Scream Queens fate undecided.

Daveed Diggs will be producing the untitled project for ABC, which was written and created by Jeremy Bronson.

Deadline is now reporting that Lea Michele has joined the project, stating, “The role that she was offered originally was conceived as Valentina Flores, Courtney’s Chief of Staff and reliable foil.”

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Glee alum Lea Michele has found a new comedy project, this time on ABC, which leaves her Scream Queens fate undecided.

Daveed Diggs will be producing the untitled project for ABC, which was written and created by Jeremy Bronson.

Deadline is now reporting that Lea Michele has joined the project, stating, “The role that she was offered originally was conceived as Valentina Flores, Courtney’s Chief of Staff and reliable foil.”

Now, it sounds like ABC will be tailoring the character specifically to Michele and could even showcase her musical talents along the way.

As previously reported, the show is about “an outspoken, idealistic rapper [who] runs for office as a publicity stunt and actually gets elected, then surprising everyone, including himself, when he has a natural knack for the job and slowly transforms City Hall.”

Interestingly, Ryan Murphy has let Michele out of her contract for Scream Queens in order to join this project. Apparently a season 3 renewal is unlikely anyway, and this sounds like another nail in the coffin for the show. However, the series could live on without Michele’s character, so fans will certainly be keeping an eye out for any news.

Will you be tuning into Lea Michele’s latest project?

Experiencing Star Wars in its original, unaltered format has been a distant hope for most fans. But now, according to new rumors, it could be set to become reality.

Ask any Star Wars fan about their opinions over the Special Edition releases, and you’ll typically hear the same thing: That the changes implemented by George Lucas, on the whole, either altered the story and character development for the worse, or added unnecessary and cumbersome CGI elements out of step with the movies’ aesthetic.

And so, for as long as the Special Editions have existed, so too have the persistent rumors that the theatrical versions of the Original Trilogy would eventually be released. They wane in the years between significant milestones in the franchise’s lifespan, but become ever more abundant when an anniversary is on the horizon.

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Experiencing Star Wars in its original, unaltered format has been a distant hope for most fans. But now, according to new rumors, it could be set to become reality.

Ask any Star Wars fan about their opinions over the Special Edition releases, and you’ll typically hear the same thing: That the changes implemented by George Lucas, on the whole, either altered the story and character development for the worse, or added unnecessary and cumbersome CGI elements out of step with the movies’ aesthetic.

And so, for as long as the Special Editions have existed, so too have the persistent rumors that the theatrical versions of the Original Trilogy would eventually be released. They wane in the years between significant milestones in the franchise’s lifespan, but become ever more abundant when an anniversary is on the horizon.

With the 40th Anniversary of the release of A New Hope coming up in May of 2017, it was only a matter of time before the rumors surfaced once more — so, what makes them different this time around?

That would come down to the source. Making Star Wars boasts a pretty solid track record when it comes to reporting rumors. Not only that, but they typically don’t give much, if any, attention to the rumblings about a re-release of the theatrical versions of Star Wars.

Per their report, however, Making Star Wars’ Editor in Chief Jason Ward states that “over the last month the evidence and tips have been piling up that the unaltered original trilogy will be re-released this year for the 40th anniversary in various formats. Several sources have let us know it was coming and it appears to actually be on the way this time.”

And the timing couldn’t be more perfect, with a 40th Anniversary panel recently announced for the upcoming Star Wars Celebration — the opening panel of the convention, no less. Big things are, unsurprisingly, expected to arise from that panel and, for fans, nothing could be a bigger than a confirmation of this rumor.

But why are the theatrical releases of the Original Trilogy such an important commodity for fans of the franchise?

The complicated history of Star Wars and the Special Editions

Whether you love, hate or are indifferent to Star Wars on the whole, there’s certainly no denying the significant cultural impact the franchise has had on the world. A New Hope — or just Star Wars, as it was known back in 1977 — won several Academy Awards, including Best Visual Effects, Production Design and Original Music Score.

It left its mark on the film industry in pretty spectacular style, and influenced movies in its wake, but there was no knowing then that the version of Star Wars so decorated by the Academy, and beloved by fans and critics alike, would be unceremoniously hidden away from the world — as though it was George Lucas’ secret shame.

Many fans of Star Wars have never experienced a version of the film where Han really did shoot first, where John Williams’ score isn’t drowned out by sound effects, and Luke and Obi-Wan’s arrival at Mos Eisley isn’t obscured by CGI creatures.

George Lucas has spoken out in defense of these changes, which debuted in a re-release of the Original Trilogy in 1997, saying that the Special Editions are the films as they were “meant to be.”

That Lucas could return to the trilogy years after its release, with more advanced technologies at his fingertips, in order to complete the film with his original vision in mind is something that most of us — as creators — would yearn to do. There is, as Lucas mentioned in his interview, always more you feel that you could have done. Nothing ever truly feels perfect, or complete.

But, in returning to the films to “correct” his mistakes, Lucas did more than alter them to more closely fit his ideal vision — he erased an important part of film history.

Setting aside the complicated feelings most fans have with the significant adjustments to the story and visuals, the 1997 release of A New Hope stripped the film of every aspect that it had won its Academy Awards for. Gone were the incredible sound effects and mixing, replaced with more cumbersome versions. So too were the costume and production design, overwritten by CGI creatures. And John Williams’ beautiful score was drowned out by the rush of X-Wings.

Each year, the American National Film Registry, a branch of the Library of Congress, archives 25 American films to preserve them. Star Wars, the 1977 release, was one of the first films chosen for preservation — but Lucasfilm refused to deliver the original archival print.

The 1997 release of A New Hope has been offered in its stead, but legislation dictates that the first published must be archived, so the Registry had no choice but to refuse to accept it.

Preserving the original version of Star Wars became a hugely important project for many fans, who felt as though future generations deserved to experience the film as they had. And so, with each subsequent release, and re-release, of Star Wars, several restoration attempts have been made.

The scope of these fan projects is nothing short of breathtaking, and the results in themselves are incredible, particularly with Harmy’s Despecialized Editions. They painstakingly restored the sound balance, breathing life back into John Williams’ score, and corrected the coloring, removed the additional scenes and CGI, and ensured the original sound effects were in place.

There is no denying that these projects are a labor of love. It is a true respect for the cultural impact of Star Wars and its part in film history that continues to drive fans to restore the trilogy to its original state.

But now, perhaps, those versions of the film will no longer need to be hidden in the shadows, skirting around the edge of legality under fair-use.

With the potential of an official release of the theatrical editions of the Original Trilogy, at a level of quality that Star Wars truly deserves, perhaps it can finally take its rightful place as a documented part of American film history.

Legion is FX’s mysterious new show loosely set in the X-Men universe that begs plenty of questions, one of which is who is Sydney Barrett?

Sydney Barrett is one of the more interesting characters on Legion, and that is certainly saying something. The show is nothing if not intriguing, but Syd stands out as a character who poses as many questions as our hero, David.

Sydney was first introduced at Clockworks Mental Hospital, the psychiatric institution where David was being treated for schizophrenia. The first thing we learn about her is that she doesn’t like to be touched. She’s a bit distant (physically and emotionally), speaks her mind, and immediately agrees to be David’s girlfriend. And let’s not forget she’s named after the founding member of Pink Floyd, who is rumored to have suffered from schizophrenia himself.

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Legion is FX’s mysterious new show loosely set in the X-Men universe that begs plenty of questions, one of which is who is Sydney Barrett?

Sydney Barrett is one of the more interesting characters on Legion, and that is certainly saying something. The show is nothing if not intriguing, but Syd stands out as a character who poses as many questions as our hero, David.

Sydney was first introduced at Clockworks Mental Hospital, the psychiatric institution where David was being treated for schizophrenia. The first thing we learn about her is that she doesn’t like to be touched. She’s a bit distant (physically and emotionally), speaks her mind, and immediately agrees to be David’s girlfriend. And let’s not forget she’s named after the founding member of Pink Floyd, who is rumored to have suffered from schizophrenia himself.

Right from the start, something is different about Sydney. She challenges the idea that they’re all crazy. Just because David hears voices doesn’t mean he’s insane. Since we know these two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive, this immediately sends up a red flag. What does Sydney know that David doesn’t?

For one, she knows more about her powers than he does. Despite their emotional intimacy, there can never be any physical touching. Sydney knows what will happen if there is, but David does not. On the day she is set to leave Clockworks, David rushes over to kiss her, and we find out for the first time what exactly Sydney can do.

Her ability is to switch bodies with whomever she touches with her bare skin. David ends up as Sydney, confused and more than a little concerned he now has breasts, and Sydney ends up as David, distraught, afraid, and unable to control his immense power. She destroys Clockworks and kills Lenny (Aubrey Plaza). Eventually, David ends up in Division’s hands, while Sydney joins Melanie Bird’s team of fellow mutants.

It’s at this point where I’d like to pause and emphasize how unreliable of a narrator David truly is. Yes, he really does have powers, but if you have any knowledge about the comics, you’ll know that he’s also mentally ill (he even continues to question his own sanity in episode 3 despite now knowing about his powers). David has a variety of abilities, which are traditionally associated with each one of his personalities.

At least five times an episode I question whether or not Sydney is real. As of this writing, I’m convinced that she is, but that could change next week. Since David is so powerful, we really don’t know what he’s able to do, and it’s clear that he and Sydney have a surprising and mysterious connection.

Sydney is often seen alone with David. She’ll find him in a room or down by the docks. When they’re in a room with other people, she stands off the the side. She doesn’t always participate in the activities. This last point isn’t too surprising, however, because we know that even being close to people makes her skin crawl. She avoids direct contact with most individuals because she doesn’t want to risk triggering her powers.

The lack of interaction does make you scratch your head, but it’s important to note that the other characters can see and talk with Sydney. In this episode in particular, we watch Kerry track Sydney as she leaves the room before David is to be tested. We also see her go into and come out of David’s mindscape, and then interact with other characters while he’s unconscious. If she were a figment of his imagination, she would have little to no impact on the real world, but she does.

Lenny, on the other hand, is just in David’s head. The real Lenny is definitely dead, and so every time we see her pop up on our screens, we know she’s not really there. The interesting part of this is that David’s speech center is working even when he’s not outwardly talking to her (just inwardly having a conversation with his friend). No one else can see Lenny and no one else can hear him talk to her, but she’s real enough to David that she causes his brain to function as if she were there.

People with schizophrenia or Dissociative Identity Disorder assume what they see and hear is real, and therefore they (and their bodies) interact with their hallucinations as if they are corporeal. But what happens when you have someone with these disorders who also happens to be an extremely powerful mutant? Would they be able to manifest one of their personalities into the real world?

We cannot deny that David and Sydney have a strong connection. In episode 3, David talks about still being able to feel her from the time they switched bodies. His center of gravity is sometimes off and he feels as though he has to brush her long hair out of his face. This could absolutely be a side effect of Sydney’s powers, but what if it’s something more significant?

After all, no one but David and Sydney can see the yellow-eyed demon. When the demon attacked, Melanie and Ptonomy couldn’t see him, nor could they see the way he ripped apart the world in David’s mindscape.

But guess who could see the yellow-eyed demon? Sydney saw him when she was in David’s body back at Clockworks, but she could also see him when inside David’s mind. Again, this could be some sort of residual ability left over from sharing David’s mind, but it’s still worth pointing out that out of everyone, Sydney is the one who can back up David’s claims that the creature in his mind is real.

Legion is meant to test you mentally, and so far they are doing an incredible job at just that. Sydney’s existence continues to baffle me, and I hope we don’t get an easy answer here. I would love if David were somehow able to manifest one of his personalities (though this story line would be a bit narcissistic, no?), or, on the flip-side, if he were able to absorb her mind into his thanks to Sydney’s unique abilities, providing them with a connection unlike anything David has experienced before.

If neither one of these options is the case, I’d love for Sydney to be the one person to truly begin to understand how David’s mind operates. Melanie is at a loss, and considering she seems like the most experienced mutant at their facility, that is certainly disconcerting.

Whether or not Sydney is real, I hope she’s able to help David understand what he can do.

How are you enjoying ‘Legion‘ so far?