A very quiet December, with only two films viewed.
First up, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is that rare sequel that manages to be confidently better than the original in almost every regard. The pacing of the film is excellent, moving through months of propaganda in minutes without feeling rushed before settling into a slower, but still lively, pace for the main events. It’s a little darker, the situation unravels a little more and, most importantly, I actually cared about what happened to most of the characters by the end; something I can’t really say about the original. The ending marks it very much as the middle chapter of the series, but it had done enough by that point that a cliff-hanger ending didn’t seem unfair. Well worth seeing. (See my The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Twitter review).
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, on the other hand, was never going to live up to the original, which was likely my most watched comedy of the preceeding ten years. Let’s be clear: it’s a good comedy, better than most of the competition, and with some incredibly funny moments (Doby!). In fact, for the first hour it seems like it might just pull off getting into the same league as the original. Sadly, it begins retreading the same plot arc as the original, and the same jokes. While the supporting cast are still great (Brick is a particular highlight), it’s Ron Burgundy that seems a little off. Rather than being the out-of-time, dumb, but loveable anchorman, he is played as an amped-up-to-eleven version of the original; a louder, pantomine parody. Again, it’s a good film, it’s funny, but it’s not a classic. (See my Anchorman 2 Twitter review).
The final monthly winner for 2013, then, is The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. An unexpectedly fun sequel.