"News is the first rough draft of history."

The Voice of the College at Florham

"News is the first rough draft of history." - The Voice of the College at Florham

Review: ‘Catching Fire’ lives up to expectations

JON SCOTT
Film Critic

After seeing “Thor: The Dark World” for a second time last weekend, my opinion on it had not changed, but I thought to myself, “what qualifies as a good sequel?” For me, personally, a good sequel qualifies as expanding the world that was last introduced, developing the character arcs set up last time and taking them to a different place and seeing how they have changed since the last movie, while also setting up new characters for potential future films.

While “Thor: The Dark World” did do that, I realized that there could have been better moments of character (such as with Jane Foster and Thor). However, the next sequel to come out in November was “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.”

The sequel to the worldwide smash- hit “The Hunger Games” picks up after the events of the first film. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) have won the 74th Hunger Games, and have returned home to District 12.

But there’s a storm coming.
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Review: ‘Thor’ sequel is solid addition to Marvel movie franchise

JON SCOTT
Film Critic

In the last few years, Marvel Studios has become a powerhouse studio, thanks to their genius strategy. In just the short span of five years, Marvel has churned out hit after hit. This past summer, they initiated Phase Two of their Cinematic Universe with “Iron Man 3,” which went on to gross over $1 billion worldwide. Now, Marvel hopes to strike lightning twice with “Thor: The Dark World,” a sequel to 2011’s “Thor.”

The film picks up right after the events of “The Avengers.” Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has been brought back to Asgard to stand trial for his crimes against the people of Earth. Meanwhile, our favorite God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth) is traveling with his companions across the
Nine Realms trying to bring about peace. It seems that since Thor’s absence in “The Avengers,” the Nine Realms have erupted into chaos.
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Review: ‘Ender’s Game’ film adaptation stays true to book

JON SCOTT
Film Critic

Films based on book adaptations are rarely as good as the source material. They miss the point of the book and instead try to condense it into a product that contains stiff, wooden acting, poor dialogue filled with meaningless jokes, and a script that misses the point that the book makes. Now, some of these adaptations are the rare exception to good movies. The “Harry Potter” franchise, “The Hunger Games,” and “Holes” are a few of the exceptions that come into my mind.

Now we have the latest film adaptation of another acclaimed best seller, “Ender’s Game.”
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Review: Tom Hanks stars in ‘intense’ blockbuster based on true events

JON SCOTT
Film Critic

Films based on real life events always seem to be a big draw for Oscar picks. Moviemakers feel as if what had actually transpired in real life can be replicated on the big screen, hoping that these stories can provide inspiration and hope. The public also likes Tom Hanks. He is one of the most recognizable and likable actors working in the industry today. Put these two elements together and you get “Captain Phillips,” the latest film from director Paul Greengrass (“The Bourne Supremacy,” “The Bourne Ultimatum,” “United 93″).

“Captain Phillips” focuses on the real life story about the crew of the Maersk Alabama, a freighter which was hijacked by Somali Pirates in 2009. During the hijacking, the film’s captain, Richard Phillips (played by Hanks), was taken hostage in a lifeboat by the pirates for three days. This resulted in the Navy SEALs having to step in and control the hostage situation. In Greengrass’ take on the story, we also briefly get to see the lives of both Phillips and the pirates before the hostage situation occurs.

I did not know what to expect going into this film. I had recalled seeing the hostage situation unfold on television but did not remember any of the details of what had occurred. I was more curious in seeing it because I have liked Greengrass’ other work, with “The Bourne Ultimatum” being one of my favorite action movies of all time. Also, Tom Hanks is one of my favorite actors working in Hollywood. I was interested in seeing what these two could bring to this story together. What I saw on screen was probably one of the most intense films I’ve ever seen in a theater. I walked out with my heart pounding in my chest. I could not stop thinking about it.
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Review: Latest ‘Riddick’ film returns to franchise’s roots

JON SCOTT
Film Critic

The man with the glow in the dark eyes is back. Vin Diesel once again returns to the role of Richard B. Riddick in the latest installment of the Riddick franchise. It is simply titled “Riddick” (I suppose “The Chronicles of Riddick 2: Furyan Boogaloo” was a tad too long).

This time, we find Riddick stranded on a deserted planet, after having been betrayed by the Necromongers from the last movie. While trying to survive, two groups of mercenaries, both extremely different from each other, land on the planet after Riddick sends out a distress call hoping to hitch a ride off of the planet. Both groups are on the hunt for Riddick, with the bounty on his head doubling should he happen to die. Soon, though, they come to discover that there is something far worse out there. Now, both Riddick and the groups of “mercs” must fight to find a way to survive and get off the planet.

I happen to be a fan of the Riddick franchise. “Pitch Black,” the first film in the series, was an extremely well done science fiction film and it looked very impressive, especially considering it was only made on a budget of $23 million. This film was tense, creepy, and atmospheric. Also, Diesel was charismatic and enjoyable to watch as the main character.

The next film, “The Chronicles of Riddick,” was a complete 180 from the last film. While the first movie was a confined, creepy science fiction horror film, “Chronicles” was a grand, sci-fi action adventure with a much bigger scope. Personally, I did not mind “Chronicles of Riddick.”

I thought it was a fun ride and I liked the fact that they expanded on the first movie and actually made what they established into a universe, introducing more planets and races.

That being said, I will admit there are some flaws with the movie, particularly with some of the quick editing (sometimes you could not see what was going on) and that some parts did drag on for a bit too long.

This latest installment appears to be a return to the original roots of the franchise, especially from the trailers, which gave a very “Pitch Black” like feel. So did this latest film do just that? Did it return the franchise to its roots?

For the most part, I felt like it did. I had a fun time with this movie and was very entertained by it. However, there are some issues with the film itself.

Diesel once again completely nails it as Riddick. He brings the character back to basics this time around, making him more of a survivalist. In fact, the first part of the movie, which shows Riddick just trying to survive on the planet after being injured, was the best part of the entire movie. To have these kinds of survival skills, he could survive anywhere. Diesel was the best actor in this whole movie. This is his baby, as he’s been a part of this franchise since 2000 so he knows the character and what makes him tick. The rest of the supporting cast was fine as well. The other standout was Katee Sackhoff as one of the mercenaries. She was a blast to watch. Basically, she took no names, rather, she took down anyone in her way.

Another thing I enjoyed was the story and how they expanded the world even further than last time. I was surprised just how much this film’s story tied into the stories of the last two films, especially with the first one.

However, some may be confused with what’s going on and the references that are made. If you want to see this movie and you have not seen the other two, don’t go yet. It would be much wiser to see the first two Riddick films before going to see this one. Another thing that impressed me was the set design of the film, especially the planet.

It looked like really cool concept art that was fully realized on screen and it was extremely impressive.

The film was also suspenseful and tense at some times. I did appreciate the mood that the film set. It was extremely reminiscent of “Pitch Black.” Director David Twohy, once again returning to the franchise, does a nice job directing some of the more tense moments. However, there were problems with this movie.

I will admit that, at times, the CGI looks a little bit too fake. It’s actually quite noticeable in parts.

Also, part of the film was a bit cheesy. This was seen in the beginning when Riddick gets a companion, which is a dog-like creature. Giving Riddick a companion felt too … out of place for his character. It didn’t feel right at all.

Overall, “Riddick” was an enjoyable addition to the Riddick franchise. It was a nice, fun, return to its roots with Vin Diesel stealing the show once more though there are some admittable problems. Diesel and the director have said there are plans for two more films and I do hope they get made. I would like to see where the character goes next.

Grade: B

Review: ‘Iron Man 3’ good start to summer movie season

JON SCOTT
Staff Writer

It’s that time of the year again. School is winding down and kids are eagerly looking forward to summer vacation. More importantly, the summer movie season is once again upon us. As it has been since 2007, the summer movie season starts every first weekend of May with a superhero film.

This season, that film is “Iron Man 3,” the first film to kick off Marvel Studios’ “Phase Two” of their Cinematic Universe (after the culmination of “Phase One,” which was last summer’s box office smash “The Avengers”).

In “Iron Man 3,” we see how Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is haunted by what happened during the Battle of New York that was depicted in “The Avengers.” Because of this, he can’t sleep and suffers from anxiety attacks. He also now spends his days in his workshop making Iron Man suits, which puts a strain on his relationship with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow).

Despite how he is feeling, Stark must return to save the day once more when two new threats show up.
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Review: ‘42,’ a baseball film

JON SCOTT
Staff Writer

I am a sucker for sports movies. Even though I go in knowing that, yes, it will be cheesy and possibly a bit overdramatic, I cannot help but get sucked into the atmosphere of the film and root like crazy during the final game.

One of my favorite types of sports movies are baseball movies. I love to watch baseball so I enjoy films like “Field of Dreams” and “The Rookie.”

When I heard they were making a biopic on Jackie Robinson, one of the greatest baseball players of all time, I was immediately intrigued.
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Review: ‘Jack the Giant Slayer,’ is an ‘all-right’ film, kids

JON SCOTT
Staff Writer

It seems that in Hollywood these days, making classic fairy tales into a darker and grittier tale full of special effects is all the rage. With “Alice in Wonderland” starting this trend back in 2010, we can’t go a year without a darker version of a classic fairy tale. In 2011, we saw the release of “Red Riding Hood” and in 2012 we saw the release of “Snow White and the Huntsman.” Now we have “Jack the Giant Slayer,” a darker version of “Jack and the Beanstalk.”
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Review: Latest ‘Die Hard’ installment is dead on arrival

JON SCOTT
Staff Writer

Ever since I was young, one of my favorite film franchises has been the “Die Hard” franchise. I loved watching ordinary cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) trying to fight his way out of a situation that is beyond his control.

Many others, including myself, could fantasize that we would probably do the same thing in his situation. Now, Willis returns as John McClane in the fifth entry to the series, “A Good Day to Die Hard.”

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Review: Despite winter storm, ‘Identity Thief’ tops charts

MEGAN HEINTZ
Managing Editor

Although Winter Storm Nemo may have kept Northeastern audiences away from the opening night of “Identity Thief,” the movie took in $36.6 million in its first weekend.

The relatively inexpensive comedy ($35 million budget) directed by Seth Gordon (“Horrible Bosses,” “Four Christmases”), introduces Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman), a family-man with three children, a wife and a perfect track record.

Yet, when Patterson falls victim to Diana (Melissa McCarthy), a professional con woman, his life is turned upside down. Now with his family, career, finances and credit score on the line, Patterson chooses the only option that can save them all: taking the 2,000 mile journey from Colorado to Florida to find and catch Diana in the act himself.

This search for Patterson’s identity spawns an unlikely friendship.

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