I watch a lot of highly visual detective dramas, and True Detective ranks among the best of them. It’s atmospheric without getting boring, and handles suspense with true mastery. The time skipping structure felt a bit uneven, and some of the drama can seem a bit drab, but McConaughey’s depressing diatribes are glorious things to behold. And of course, I ate up all the King in Yellow/Carcosa references.
Catching fire is a true rarity: a film that’s significantly better than the book. The book bored me nearly to the point of giving up, while I felt the film was even more entertaining than the first. Gone were all the unnecessary detail and tedious filler scenes. Even more impressive, I liked it better than the first film, which I liked more than the first book. The focus shifted to the places it needed to, and thankfully we’ve moved away from shaky cam. After my disappointment with the Catching Fire novel, I never bothered with Mockingjay. Now I find myself wanting to see the end on film. (Though, lamentably, it’s being split in two. Hopefully that’s the next trend we can escape.)
Like Trance, you can expect a movie about magicians and misdirection to have a high level of plot twistiness. Unlike Trance, the final twist is incredibly forced and doesn’t make any sense under even slight scrutiny. Fortunately, the ride along the way is entertaining enough and is populated with actors I like enough to enjoy, though surprisingly Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman aren’t up to their usual standards. It starts with some awful spinning camera tedium and is filled with terrible dialog by bystanders, audience members, and news reporters. But these annoying details are largely forgiven by some fun scenes, such as the initial police interrogations and the various magic performances/heists.
My opinion of Hunger Games is skewed from reading the book. And not in the normal “the book was better why’d they change things” sort of way. It was too faithful to the book. This hyper-faithfulness, while I’m sure will solidify the movie’s success, left me with no surprises. But they did well with the material. The other bigger problem was the camera. Shaky camera and out-of-focus zooming are like 3D: a stupid gimmick that hurts the viewing experience. It’s acceptable during action scenes (though still better without it) but during moments of quiet or suspense they’re distracting and pointless.