Foreign films and young adult novels combined for an excellent set of releases that raised the bar for August rentals.
“The Hunger Games” — When fans heard Suzanne Collins’ book series was being made in to a film, they were a little anxious (at least the bloggers). Those worries prove needless, with this stylish take on her book. The story takes place in a future where the gap between the rich and poor is even bigger than it is now. The resulting culture enjoys a little bloodsport on TV every year, as under-privileged youth compete in a winner-take-all tourney in which they must kill off the other entrants. Fans of “Battle Royale” might spot some similarities, but it is all well told and Jennifer Lawrence (“Winter’s Bone”) is very good as the heroine.
“The Raid: Redemption” — It has been over two decades since John Woo rebooted the action flick genre with “The Killer.” Now we have a worthy successor. This one hails from Indonesia and it is one of the best action flicks you’ll ever see. A team of special forces police plan to break into an apartment complex and capture a crime lord. The problem is their operation gets blown when a spotter sees them and the complex is shuttered down, trapping them inside. Worse, the crime lord has put an enormous bounty on their group, which van be collected by any of the killers in the complex, as long as they produce the head of their victim. Jaw-dropping action and bone-breaking fights ensue for a solid 90 minutes of high-octane action.
“Juan of the Dead” — When the living dead invade Cuba, things go to heck in a hurry. Then Juan, a 40-year-old slacker, finds that his mission in life is to repel the zombie horde with his loser friends. This is the movie that “Shaun of the Dead” fans have been waiting for, and it delivers.
“Dexter: Season 6” — Showtime’s serial killer series takes off in a new direction, as Dexter looks to religion for a cure to his wicked ways. He is also getting his son ready to start school so he has a lot on his plate. Then he comes across a pair of killers who are perverting religion with their acts, and so it’s “game on” for the series that has managed to remain fresh and engaging, thanks to a talented cast and tart writing.
Next week brings some off the wall comedy with “The Dictator” and farewell to a an excellent crime series with “The Closer.”