After twelves years of regular “Canada AM” movie reviews, Richard and host Beverly Thomson get together one last time to talk about the weekend’s four big releases, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows,” “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping,” “Me Before You,” and “Into the Forest.”
Richard andCP24 anchor Nneka Elliot talk about the weekend’s four big releases, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows,” “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping,” “Me Before You,” and “Into the Forest.”
These days Jojo Moyes is a bestselling author with a movie adaptation about to hit screens.
But before she wrote her best-known book she says, “I had not troubled the bestseller charts.”
The former journalist, who has written 13 novels, hit publishing pay dirt with Me Before You, a romance about a young woman who has a life-changing relationship with a paralyzed man.
“I was driving my kids home from school,” says Moyes, “and I heard this story on the news about a young athlete who had been left quadriplegic after an accident.
“Several years into life as a quadriplegic he had persuaded his parents to take him to Dignitas, which is a centre for assisted suicide in England to end his life.
“I was just really shocked by this story because as a human and a parent I could not envisage how a parent would agree to do that.
“I kept thinking I would fight to the death to keep my kids alive. Because I am an ex journalist, I started to read around it and read more about this young man and read more about the issue and I discovered it wasn’t as black and white as I wanted to believe. Then it got me thinking, what would I be like if I were him? What would it be like to be his mother? What would it be like to be his girlfriend?”
The book sold north of 5 million copies and is now a movie starring Games of Thrones dragon lady Emilia Clarke. The 29-year-old actress plays the relentlessly cheerful Louisa, caregiver to quadriplegic Will, played by The Hunger Games star Sam Claflin.
“I read the amazing book first,” the effervescent Clarke says. “I was reading it to see if I wanted to be in it. In the first couple of pages of Lou (I thought) this is who I am. This is so much me in every way. Then there was the story itself and the beauty within it; the heartbreak, the joy and the laughter fell on top of one another and I just said yes.
“I understand (Louisa) innately because if things ever get too dire I’m going to crack a joke. We’re going to laugh through this. In those moments, at that peak when something bad has happened, and you’re like, ‘Let’s laugh about it,’ as you’re laughing you start crying.
She also says she had a rigorous rehearsal process with co-star Claflin, so she got to know her character and their story really well.
“When you’ve got all that knowledge someone only has to say one thing and you are there because you have built her within you. You’ve built the story around you.”
Moyes says finding the right person to play Louisa was important to not only the success of the film, but also to keep the fans of the book happy.
“I felt a huge responsibility to those people because it’s not like this has only been read by 20,000 people,” says Moyes.
“This is a much bigger thing. I will defy anybody to see Emilia as Lou and not feel this is a true representation of the character.
“When I picture Lou, I can’t help but picture Emilia. That is how fully she has taken root in my imagination.”
In “Me Before You,” a new three-hankie weepie based on the bestselling novel by Jo Jo Moyes, Emilia Clarke leaves behind her “Game of Thrones” persona as Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen—a.k.a. First of Her Name, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, Mother of Dragons and The Unburnt—to play Louisa Clark, an unambitious former Buttered Bun waitress who takes a job that changes her life forever.
Louisa is a wide-eyed 26-year-old with no great plan for her life. After six years of serving tea and scones to the elderly clients of The Buttered Bun Café she loses her job when the place shuts down. Jobs are scarce in the village—“There are no jobs. I should know,” says her under employed father (Brendan Coyle).—and her family desperately needs the money she brings in.
Prepared to take any job she visits the local employment center where they have just the thing for her. “There’s nothing about having skills so it’s perfect for you,” says the staffer as he tells her about the position of care assistant and companion to Will Traynor (“The Hunger Games’s” Sam Claflin), a recently paralyzed man so wealthy he lives in the local castle.
For most of his life Will was Louisa’s opposite, a robust go-getter who lived life to the fullest. Now, confined to a wheelchair with a spinal chord injury, he feels so lost he strikes a deadly deal with his parents. He will give them six months to help him find happiness, and if that doesn’t happen he’s off to Dignitas in Switzerland to die with dignity and put an end to his pain and constant exhaustion. That’s where Louisa comes in. “It would be nice if he thought of you as a friend,” explains his mother (Janet McTeer), “and not a paid professional.” Her primary purpose is to convince him that life can be just as rewarding as it was before the accident. Of course, before you can say Nicholas Sparks three times really fast, they fall for one another, but is love be enough to keep Will alive?
“Me Before You” is a fairly standard tearjerker with a lineage that can be traced back to ”Love Story” and beyond. The thing that elevates it above the usual sob story is the effervescent Clarke in the lead role. Her relentlessly upbeat charm—she has a smile so broad director Thea Sharrock almost needs a wide-angle lens to capture it—coupled with the character’s complete comfort in her quirky skin shows a much lighter side of Clarke than is ever evident on “Game of Thrones.” She proves she doesn’t need to command dragons to hand in a commanding performance.
Clarke has good chemistry with Claflin. He’s solemn enough to pull off a line like, “I sit and just about exist,” and gushy enough to breathe life into stilted dialogue like, “I just…want to be a man who has been to a concert with a girl in a red dress. Just for a few minutes more.”
Good casting makes “Me Before You” an engaging enough romance that subtly deals with larger issues like class and assisted suicide. Unfortunately by the time Ed Sheeran warbles, “Loving can hurt… It is the only thing that makes us feel alive,” in the long, drawn out final section, the movie gets a little too on the money. The “you only get one life and it is your duty to live it as fully as possible” message isn’t quite as original as the movie thinks it is, but certainly, writer Moyes and Company have their hearts in the right place.
Location: Canada AM staff visited Archers Arena in Toronto. There are various other archery tag facilities in many cities across Canada.
What they have to offer: If you’re a fan of “The Hunger Games” and have been dying to try out some moves like Katniss Everdeen, this might be the place for you. They have a shooting range where you can learn how to use a bow and arrow, before you move on to some combat archery.
In combat archery, dodgeball rules apply, but instead of a ball, you had a bow and arrow. Don’t worry, the arrows have foam tips.
Age ranges: Archers Arena accepts children as young as 10 for private games.
How the Canada AM team enjoyed it: Everyone on the AM team enjoyed target practice and learning how to properly use a bow and arrow. Combat archery was an interesting experience, as most of us had never tried it before. There were some talented archers amongst our staff, as well as a few who felt very intimidated!
“Everything old can be made new again,” says tribute escort Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) in “The Hunger Games: MockingJay – Part 1,” “even democracy.” So, apparently, is the “Harry Potter” model of cleaving the final book in a popular series into two moneymaking movies.
A better, catchier title for the third part of the Hunger Games tetralogy might be “You Say You Want a Revolution.” “MockingJay – Part 1” takes the action off the playing field and into the realm of rebellion.
With one arrow Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) changed the barbaric Hunger Games forever, opening the door to rebellion. In the surrounding turmoil, her love Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), was left behind in the Capitol and has become a pawn in the propaganda game being played by the totalitarian President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and District 13 rebel leader Alma Coin (Julianne Moore). The revolution to unify the districts against the capitol has begun with Katniss cast as the MockingJay, a reluctant hero but a symbol of hope to the oppressed masses.
“The Hunger Games: MockingJay – Part 1” ups the stakes considerably from the last film, putting several big ideas into motion. The cinematic world created in the first two movies is about to change in very dramatic ways and this movie prepares viewers for the revolution. Katniss looks suitably concerned throughout and there are several effectively staged action scenes, but despite the fine performances and lessons in mass produced anarchy, it’s hard to shake the feeling that this is a place holder for next year’s series finale.
Scenes stating the obvious—“He’s punishing me because I’m the MockingJay!” Katniss reveals in one, “Duh, yeah” scene—feel added in to stretch the movie to its two hour running time.
That’s not to say there isn’t entertainment value here. Far from it. Lawrence takes a role that could have been buried under layers of teen ennui or steely-eyed determination and gives Katniss some real depth and it is a blast to see Moore and Seymour-Hoffman back on screen together again. Sutherland is at his serpentine best and Harrelson and Banks struggle with their new surroundings in entertaining ways; he with sobriety, her with a lack of haute couture.
Most entertaining is the film’s take on the building of a social movement. Katniss is manufactured into the people’s hero. She’s given line readings and a fan to blow her hair around in sexy and stirring propaganda videos and dressed in stylish warrior gear. “Everyone is going to want to kiss you, be you or kill you,” coos Trinket. It’s a handbook to do-it-yourself social unrest and it is smart, funny and on the nose. In the end, however, it’s discovered that Katniss is more effective in her natural state, without meddling hands shaping her. One can’t help but think the same of the movie. Perhaps it might have been satisfying if it too had been left alone and presented in its natural state, as one movie instead of two.
Since the release of the first Hunger Games novel in 2008, literary sleuths have picked it apart, searching for connections to other books and films.
The scrutiny increased when the first film in the tetralogy set records for the biggest opening weekend for a non-sequel in 2012, and continues unabated with the release of this weekend’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1.
Based on Suzanne Collins’s mega-successful series, the movies are set in a dystopian world ruled by a fascist-style president (Donald Sutherland) who presides over The Hunger Games, a televised battle-to-the-death between 24 young players, two from each of the country’s districts, including Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson).
The series draws on things we’ve seen before, in everything from the human sacrifices of Greek mythology or Survivor-style television shows to news stories of government corruption to create a world with its own rules, style and customs.
The most often-cited influence is Battle Royale, a 2000 Japanese movie based on a book by Koushun Takami. Like The Hunger Games, it’s a story of school kids in a televised government-sanctioned death match.
Battle Royale’s DVD box set even included a quote from a critic suggesting there’d be no Hunger Games without the Japanese film. “This is the movie that started it all,” it reads.
Hunger fans were quick to point out differences in the two films. The Japanese movie is about survival, they said, while Collins wrote about revolution. The author revealed her main influences were reality television and the Iraq war.
“I had never heard of that book or that author until my book was turned in,” she told the New York Times.
It’s worth noting that the idea of humans being preyed upon for the entertainment of the upper classes dates back at least as far as 1932’s The Most Dangerous Game. The story of a big-game hunter who tracks humans for sport on an isolated island is based on a Richard Connell short story that also loosely inspired episodes of everything from Gilligan’s Island to Lost in Space. Since then, Norman Jewison’s Rollerball, Roger Corman’s Deathrace 2000 (and its 2008 Jason Statham remake) and The Running Man have mined similar territory.
As for the author who wrote Battle Royale, he gave ABC News a very diplomatic answer when asked about the similarities between the two stories. “I think every novel has something to offer,” he said. “If readers find value in either book, that’s all an author can ask for.”