Teen Wolf fans might still be reeling from the penultimate season three episode that was impactful enough to keep the #RIPAllison hashtag trending on Twitter for more than 12 hours. Now that the finale has aired, it might be time to take a look at the major problem the show has when it comes to character death — specifically, which characters die and which only come close to knocking on death’s door.
Let’s play a little game (akin to those played on Wolf Watch)! Peter Hale, Deucalion, Gerard Argent, Isaac Lahey, Jackson Whittemore, and Ethan; what do these characters have in common? They’re all male, they’re all white, and they’re all still alive — despite some of them contracting life-threatening diseases or actually dying.
Next group! Victoria Argent, Allison Argent, Jennifer Blake, Erica Reyes, Vernon Boyd, and Kali; what do these characters have in common? They’re either not male or not white and they’re all dead!
For many fans, the most recent death of Allison has been a serious point of contention and, for a few, the last straw. On a show that has always been proud of its female heroes — the next generation of Buffy Summers — killing Allison seemed like a slap in the face to the Teen Wolf’s female fans. (Yes, we know Crystal Reed decided to leave the show, but so did Colton Haynes and his character wasn’t killed.)
The cast of characters on Teen Wolf is seriously skewed in favor of men, which works for eye candy, but offers little in the way of female representation for the majority of the show’s fans. If the reaction from fans is any indication, they did not take kindly to losing one of their beloved female heroes.
However, perhaps the writers are taking note of the representation problem on the show. The Teen Wolf season three finale may have attempted to right the wrong: Kate Argent was resurrected from the grave (seriously, did she dig herself out, or what body did the Argents bury in season two?) and Aiden fell at the hand of an Oni.
It may not be a complete reversal of the male and female character scales on Teen Wolf, but the finale showcased a step in the right direction. Maybe the fans that have taken issue with the character deaths will be able to look past the politics and simply enjoy the show again. Here’s hoping!
Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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Sigh. It feels like it was only yesterday when we last left Raylan Givens and co., with his nemesis Quarles lying on the ground with a bloody stump, and Raylan himself bleeding from the inside due to the several emotional wounds opened by various members of his family. But it wasn't, and tonight, Justified will make its triumphant Season 4 return — complete with snakes, flashbacks, and Twitter-happy comedians. Hollywood.com was able to attend Justified's premiere in Los Angeles last week, and we're here to fill you in on what you missed last season, and to mercilessly tease you with quotes from the stars on what's to come. Read on, hill people!
Where We Left Off: Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) was already having a pretty rough go of it — his pregnant on-again-off-again Winona (Natalie Zea) left him, and began trolling Orbitz for flights to Costa Rica. His arch-nemesis Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) was finally in jail for murdering his former associate, but he was released when Raylan's own father, Arlo (Raymond J. Barry), confessed to the crime — effectively choosing his buddy-in-crime over his son.
Things were (sort of?) looking up when Season 3's big bad Quarles (Neal McDonough) got his arm hacked off by Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson), but the pale bastard used up his last words telling Raylan that Arlo only shot Trooper Tom because he mistook him for Raylan. And you thought Boyd had daddy issues?
Biggest Jaw-Dropper Last Season: Well, besides the aforementioned attempted filicide, the ruthless murder of Winona's other ex-husband, Gary, was a shocker.
Biggest Let-Down From Last Season: Last season was pretty stellar, but it would be nice to see Raylan's co-workers actually do something. This isn't Dexter, after all.
Most Improved Character: Arlo was always interesting, but his ruthless deception and moral decrepitude was fascinating to watch, and we can't wait to see how it will continue to weigh on Raylan this season.
Least Improved Character: Tim (Jacob Pitts) and Rachel (Erica Tazel), though it's not really their fault that they never have anything to do.
5 Reasons You Should Keep Watching: First, there's the fact that comedian Patton Oswalt will recur as Constable Bob, a goof from Raylan's high school class who is assigned the difficult task of watching over Arlo's house, and who not-so-secretly has a man-crush on Raylan. Then there's the mysterious backwoods "Snake Church" that Boyd, Ava and co. become involved with over the first few episodes — a plot line that Goggins wasn't initially very happy about. "I'm not scared of many things, but snakes are one of the things that I’m most scared of in the world," Goggins says. "I read [the script] and I started sweating, like I couldn’t handle it. And at one point there’s a snake in a box that I had to pick up, and that freaked me out. There’s not really anything that scares me in the way that snakes do, so yes — Walton Goggins did not want to go in that church as much as Boyd Crowder did not want to go in that church." Color us intrigued!
Meanwhile, Raylan will interact with a group called the "Hill People", while also tackling a deep family mystery, which means — you guessed it — FLASHBACKS! And since Raylan/Olyphant are both sexy as f***, we were very excited to hear the following news about the Deputy Marshall's love live: "Well, [Winona] left Raylan so he’s available to f*** up his life in every which way," Olyphant says.
What We Ultimately Want To See: More Dewey Crowe (Damon Herriman) and Dickie Bennett (Jeremy Davies, who won an Emmy for the role), though producer Graham Yost has hinted that their returns may not happen this year. It's a shame, because these two redneck extraordinaires steal every episode in which they appear. We'd also love to see Ava take on a larger role in the crime world, as Harlan County would be a very interesting place with the competent, fiery blonde running the show.
What Would Make Us Turn Our Backs: That would be extremely difficult, as Justified has been consistently engaging throughout the last three seasons. However, we will say that we're pretty sick of the Raylan/Winona drama.
Justified premieres Tuesday, Jan. 8 at 10pm on FX. Reporting by Leanne Aguilera Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna [PHOTO CREDIT: FX] MORE: 'Justified' Gets Season 4: More Timothy Olyphant Shooting Junkies 'Justified' (Season 3) TV Stills 'Justified' Recap: Who Took the Money? From Our Partners: ’Texas Chainsaw’: Top 5 Leatherface Kills (Moviefone) Quentin Tarantino’s Most Bad-Ass Music Moments (Moviefone)
A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.