The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015)

the-hunger-games-mockingjay-part-2-tigris-is-that-you-mockingjay-527916Roze-Rating: 3.5 / 5

The Hunger Games returns for its last and final installment in the franchise, as we are reunited with Katniss Everdeen and the rebel army as they ready for all out war against the Capitol. Becoming the Mockingjay continues to burden Katniss, as her propaganda work overshadows her ability to contribute to the fight in more tangible ways. With Peeta returned psychologically distressed and President Alma Coin controlling her every move, she must find away around her adversities and get to the larger problem at hand; taking down president Snow.

It was no secret that Mockingjay – Part 1 was considered a complete cash grab. On a business standpoint it was an inevitable move, considering the cash the previous two films made. But on a film going stand point, it seemed to stale the momentum coming off an exciting film like Catching Fire. Mockingjay – Part 1 is not necessarily a bad film. In fact it put the franchise on a pleasantly mature course, exploring themes that seem very relevant to today. With hindsight, it became easier to understand and forgive the direction they took, as long as Part 2 made up for the stalemate that was initially experienced when watching Part 1 in theater’s.

Unfortunately, Mockingjay – Part 2 may be just as big of a disappointment as its predecessor. Which is hard to confess as I really wanted to love this film. What it suffers from is creating this massive build up of expectation and anticipation for this all out war against the Capitol. The contempt for President snow is palpable, as we’ve had three films to develop this hate, and we empathize for the districts, as we’ve seen them be treated as pawns for the Capitols entertainment. Ultimately, we want to see these Capitol ass-juices go down! What we end up getting is the equivalent of wanting to watch a Shia LaBeouf film, but upon putting the Blu-ray CD in your Blu-ray player, you are greeted with a video of Shia LaBeouf watching the Shia LaBeouf film that you desired to watch! For some, that might be a welcome surprise, but in the case of Mockingjay – Part 2, it was quite frustrating.

At its core, this is a war film. Which is why it was disappointing to be deprived of any visual representation of it throughout the film. Talk about blue balls… Perhaps we’re given that prompt when we briefly see the rebels bomb the crap out of a mountain containing a bunch of the Capitol’s artillery from the perspective of Katniss. Even then, it still looked awesome! Only fueling the need to see more of this destruction even further.

Perhaps without the films conscious social commentary about war, there would be little redeemable about this film. Just like Part 1, the themes of war and propaganda is what transcends the franchise away from the stereotypes of young adult films. Throughout Mockingjay – Part 2, we are compelled with dialogue exploring the morality and ideologies of war, taken from multiple perspectives. Questions are asked and discussed, such as, how can war possibly have a good side? especially if collateral damage is considered a worthy excuse for taking innocent lives. Just before viewing the film, a friend and I were discussing the atrocities that have afflicted our world of late. How a rational reaction to a tragedy is usually to strike back, with bigger weapons and no consideration of the implications of those decisions. How can one be better than the other, when the damage is almost identical. It’s a sad thought, but the film arouses such contemplation’s.

In that respect, the film is aware enough, not to let the Pearl-Harbor-esque love triangle story become the forefront of the narrative. Especially when there are bigger political injustices at hand. Nevertheless they subtly add it in the film here and there, just to remind us that Gale still exists. I mean what does he even do! I haven’t read the books, but from the apparent “team Peeta vs team Gale” obsession, I can only imagine that the film doesn’t do his character much justice; because I never once questioned my loyalty to team Peeta… I mean, he’s a damn good guy… For the most part anyway. That being said, the difference between Mockingjay – Part 2 and Pearl Harbor is that the latter redeems itself with high octane action sequences amongst all that icky love triangle pandering. Which raises the question, Jennifer Lawrence vs Kate Beckinsale, who would you most rather go through all that love triangle BS for? Trick question. Ben Affleck. Batman beats all!

Despite the film lacking in thrills, the two action sequences the film does have, are genuinely amazing. The sewer chase will undoubtedly be one of the most memorable moments in film for me this year. mixing tension with terror as we see these impeccably CGI-ed monsters chase our heroes through a dark, wet sewer. But then that is all we get for the remainder of the film… All this film needed to take it from “ok” film territory to “epic” film territory, was one or two more action sequences. What originally made this franchise fun, was seeing our protagonists overcome adversity and challenges that were set in front of them; a reason why Catching Fire was one of my favourite films of 2013; a film that made me actively wince!

It’s easier to forgive Mockingjay – Part 1 because that film is deeply rooted in the politics of war, and the set up for this movie. Nevertheless it only intensified the hope that this film would return to the sensibilities of the first two installments and even top them in terms of thrills. If it achieved those expectations, it would have been a cracker of a finale to a franchise that has surprised many like me, who aren’t particularly interested in the young adult genre. You can thank Twilight for my pessimism.

Mockingjay – Part 2 is ultimately a good film undone by high expectations. Admittedly much of the film is hard to criticize. Jennifer Lawrence returns with another strong performance in the series, but Josh Hutcherson arguably steals the show as a mentally tortured Peeta, battling the war in his mind. It is filmed with beautiful precision as we’ve come to expect with Francis Lawrence, ever since he took over the franchise since Catching Fire. And the story offers enough twists and turns to entertain throughout its run time. Although disappointing in some aspects, it remains a satisfying conclusion to a widely successful franchise. Lets hope they wait at least 10 years before rebooting the damn thing.

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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

Dawn-of-the-Planet-of-the-Apes-WallpaperRoze-Rating: 4.5 / 5

A decade after the fight of San Francisco, Ceasar and his following of intelligent apes have adapted to life in the Redwoods. Suffering the consequences of developing the drug which created these apes are the humans who have spent the last 10 years surviving a Simian Flu epidemic.The apes are convinced that the humans have lost their battle against the disease, until a member of Malcolm’s (Jason Clarke) group runs into two apes and shoots one in excitement. Ceasar still faithful to his no killing rule lets the humans escape, unaware that they are searching for a power source to get San Francisco running again.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes joins the ranks of great sci-fi blockbusters this year among the likes of X-Men: Days of Future Past, Edge of Tomorrow and Godzilla. Films which could really prompt the rise of genuinely good sci-fi films. For a sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes completely trumps its predecessor in all departments. Keeping Ceasar central to the story was a masterful decision and because of it we get a far more compelling story than that of the humans. We’re ultimately trying to get our way to the climax which is the planet of the apes, and it wouldn’t have felt right if Franco was still there fighting for screen time. Of course he is a massive part of Ceasar’s origin story which is where Ceasar’s compassion and empathy for the humans comes from, also a reason why Rise of the Planet of the Apes works so well, but telling the majority of the story from Ceasar’s perspective was definitely the right way to go. This way we have a protagonist who is unbiased and has an impartial view towards the world, a character we know we can trust in a broken society.

During Rise of the Planet of the Apes, we see Ceasar grow up among humans, absent to life with his own kind outdoors where he belongs. He doesn’t know what humans are capable of or where he came from, but asking the questions gives him answers he finds hard to swallow. Ten years on he and his family of intelligent apes have formed a sophisticated society living as one. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is great in so many ways, it could have easily turned into a cheap action crapfest but instead it’s an intelligent film not short of the human element. I think I join a large group of people who were attracted to this film purely because of apes with guns on horses, I mean I’ve never heard of anything as awesome as that. Anyone expecting 2 hours of apes with guns may be disappointed but I’d like to think that they’d be pleasantly surprised at the same time. We spend most of the film with Ceasar amongst his family contemplating how to deal with the humans. We learn their way of life and how they all live as one and care for each other, living without the modern necessities that we live with nowadays such as electricity and internet. It makes us question how we are as a modern society, everything that is wrong with it and everything right with it. Ceasar genuinely believes that Apes are better, but as the film unfolds he learns that ignorance and indifference is something you can’t prevent and maybe conflict is all but inevitable within nature.

This film not only shows us the potential of sci-fi but also how far performance capture has come. Andy Serkis has revolutionized the film making tool and proves that it shouldn’t be ruled out as a legitimate method of performance. A lot of buzz has gone around saying that Serkis deserves an Oscar nod after this performance, and I’ll have to agree. It’s amazing to even think that a man is literally playing Ceasar, all of his facial expressions, his movements, all these details which bring the character to life. Serkis expresses so many emotions just from these delicate details which is pretty amazing since Ceasar’s dialogue is quite limited. I’ve never felt such a strong connection with a non-human protagonist. That being said, Serkis is only one of many who use performance capture to play the ape characters. The likes of Toby Kebbell and Judy Greer prove that Serkis is not the only actor who can master performance capture. Kebbell especially puts in an absolutely terrifying performance as Koba, an ape who can’t forgive the years of torture ensued by the humans.

The only negative about the film would probably be the human characters, the only character which stands out is Malcolm (Jason Clarke), one of the few humans who see the apes in a much brighter light. He is to an extent quite an important character as he reminds Ceasar that not all humans are corrupt. Characters like Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) and Carver (Kirk Acevedo) represent how we find it hard to blame ourselves for the downfall of humans, even when the facts are right in our face. To an extent they mirror Koba’s same feeling of indifference.

As for the aesthetics, the CGI is a lot better than its predecessor by a large margin. The apes actually look real this time around, improving from the choppy CGI we had in the first film. The set design is incredible creating a post apocalyptic forest look to both San Francisco and the Redwoods, which sets up some incredible shots throughout the film. It’s just an overall great looking film. Also props to the sound mixing crew who created a genuine ape society atmosphere, sitting in the cinema and being able to hear apes surrounding you was not only awesome but put in perspective how many of them there were.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is definitely one of the best films of the year so far, not for its spectacle but more for its storytelling and direction. We’re being given an intelligent story about war and human nature, a film which makes us think rather than fry our brains, and for anyone who wants their brains fried, well apes on horses with guns!

Trailer Park: Lucy (2014)


Verdict: Buying a ticket!

Director: Luc Besson
Screenwriter: Luc Besson
Main Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Min-Sik Choi, Morgan Freeman

Coming to screens soon is Luc Besson’s Lucy, probably one of the most exciting films he has been involved with in awhile. Besson of course coming off a bad year with The Family, would like to come back with a success. It’s about time we get a film with a little something different, of course with the surge of superhero movies over the past few years this may become a big hit as Scarjo AKA Black Widow is boasting some badass brain super powers. It’s about time Scarlett Johansson started pursuing action films as we’ve seen her reprise her role as Black Widow three times now brilliantly, and Lucy looks like the perfect film to legitimately cement her as an action star. The trailer doesn’t really reveal anything unique in its premise, as it simply seems like a revenge flick, but when do revenge flicks ever get boring; I mean we have Oldboy’s Min-Sik Choi cast as the bad guy, who is known for having a particular set of skills with a hammer. What makes this film intriguing though is the drug and its effects on Scarlett Johansson’s character, it obviously increases brain power significantly as Morgan Freeman explains, but the abilities that Johansson develops influences a whole bag of baddassary. Ultimately we know to expect some great visuals and action sequences, but in terms of story we’re not really given much to know confidently what direction Lucy’s journey for justice will take her.

Screen Fix Predictions: July 2014

July PredictionsFilms Opening in July;

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Sex Tape
The Purge: Anarchy
Hercules
Wish I Was Here
Begin Again (Critics: 75% | Audience: 79%)
Tammy (Critics: 21% | Audience: 62%)
Earth to Echo (Critics: 55% | Audience: 64%)


Dawn of the Planet of the Apes –
(Rotten Tomatoes Prediction: Critics: 85-95% | Audience: 85-95%) – Cinema Fix

All it took to sell me this film was monkey’s on horses, if they were to release a trailer of just the apes riding horses for a whole minute, I think I would still watch this film. Unfortunately this film looks even greater than monkey’s on horses, and that scares me because I hate going into films with high expectations. But I have a good feeling about this, as it looks greater in scale than “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” with the complex conflict between human and ape coming into play, Caesar seems even more conflicted perhaps sympathizing for humans downfall and the war scenes look incredible. Whatever happens I’m sure it will be one hell of a ride.

Sex Tape – (Rotten Tomatoes Prediction: Critics: 55-65% | Audience: 75-85%) – Cinema Fix

What makes this film so intriguing is how possible the premise is. I think most of us could admit that amongst our worst nightmares, accidentally mass emailing racy photos of ourselves would rank quite high on that list. Unless such photos don’t exist, then good on you, but who can resist nowadays with the emergence of the front side camera, snapchat and the increase of celebrity nudes. The way technology is going, soon being seen naked will be inevitable, as mentioned in the trailer, what even is the cloud?! The comedy seems to be going for a slapstick and sex jokes route, which is fine by me, therefore I will watch this film.

The Purge: Anarchy – (Rotten Tomatoes Prediction: Critics: 40-50% | Audience: 65-75%– Cinema/Rental Fix (Depends what else is opening)

I was not a fan of the first film and couldn’t understand why a sequel was being made, especially with the less than complimentary response it attained. I mean the premise is pretty interesting and makes you think a little bit about how we are as a society surrounded by violence. But the execution was below par and for a thriller it was quite the opposite. Nevertheless The Purge: Anarchy potentially looks entertaining, with a change of formula, now taking the fight to the streets and casting Crossbones (Frank Grillo) as the lead. That being said it could still end up being a mess, but as long as it provides enough thrills to put us at the edge of our seats, it should easily improve on its predecessor.

Hercules – (Rotten Tomatoes Prediction: Critics: 25-35% | Audience: 55-65%– Rent Fix

One word springs to mind when watching the trailer, “ambitious”. It looks visually impressive and usually that alone would get me in the cinema but I get this feeling it will be all spectacle and no substance. I love The Rock and he will no doubt kick ass but what ultimately turns me off this film is his “I am Hercules!” line, it just comes off so flat and expressionless, I cant help but think he may not be as bad ass as I want him to be. Either way I’m sure it will be entertaining and the CGI monsters may just do the trick for some people.

Oscars Throwback: No Country For Old Men (2007)

Movies_Movies_N__006313_Roze-Rating: 5 / 5

Llewelyn Moss is a Vietnam veteran living in the desolate lands of Texas. One day during a hunting session, he finds what would be a drug deal gone wrong. Along with dead corpses and a wounded man begging for water, he finds a black satchel with 2 million dollars inside. He takes the money and hides it in his house knowing people are going to be looking for it. His conscious gets the better of him as he wakes up in the middle of the night to bring water to the wounded man, a mistake as he gives vital clues to the one man with no morals when it comes to getting what he wants.

No Country For Old Men is an absolute gem of a film. For me, it ticks all the boxes for a perfect thriller with a wild west edge. As a shallow viewer it has enough suspense, violence and action to enthrall for the full viewing time. Even with its quiet, barren land demeanor. But for the sometimes sophisticated side of my brain, the narrative has enough substance for me to have come out with a much richer experience of the film.

As the title and opening monologue from old timer Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) would suggest, it’s a film about the changing times. How a land which was once relatively safe has now become a harsh environment. Whenever we see the older generation on screen, they seem to be bogged down by unusual information or just odd behavior. A sign which says, times are more complicated and not as straight forward as before. Even for Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, he fails to put the pieces together quick enough to solve the drug deal gone wrong case. This isn’t to say he’s incompetent, he is the opposite, but it says that crime in the modern times are a lot more overwhelming.

The characters are also a great part of this film, the three main characters signify something different. We have the Sheriff who is an obviously good man. He has a loving wife and is also good at his job. Just like the old time’s, he’s laid back and composed but nothing less than a good person. There is the antagonist Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) who is a total psychopath, from the worst hair cut ever in film to his lack of remorse when killing people, he is the bad of the film. Since we are unaware of where he’s from and it’s apparent that he isn’t local, he seems to signify the unpredictability of modern evil and crime, sometimes referred to as a ghost. This may refer to the how the future is and what makes it so unsettling. He has no moral compass but believes in the power of fate, apparent from his coin toss game. As for Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), he is right bang in the middle, as Uncle Ellis refers to some of his cats as half wild or outlaws. Moss is your every man, he’s been through a lot and understands the harshness of life. I like how he looks at the money with no expression and sighs “yeah” as if he already knows what he’s getting into but can’t protest against it. There’s some form of inevitability to it.

This film really is a cat and mouse thriller. Except the mouse is a cat too. Predator vs predator. It’s refreshing because we have characters who aren’t stupid. They’re all intelligent and know how to cover their tracks, they know how to defend themselves and when it comes to doing the deed, they can do it. Just as you think a character is missing something they respond with intelligence. It’s awesome to watch a film where you find it hard to criticize characters decisions but instead be left wondering “why didn’t I think of that”.

As for performances, well you have Javier Bardem in one of his first major English roles and will probably stand as his best for awhile. Think Silva from Skyfall but even crazier. I like that opening scene of him where he’s strangling that cop, just from his facial expressions you can tell that he’s a heartless bastard and it’s not the first time he’s attempted to kill someone. As good as Bardem is, Brolin totally knocks it out of the park for me. There’s something about his portrayal of the character. He’s just so slick and such a guy, a guy we all wish we could be. If I could pull off boots and a cowboy hat, I would, wouldn’t have to think about it, I’d be walking around looking like a total badass. (Brolin) “you got socks”, (Shopkeeper) “We only have white”. (Brolin) “That’s ok, whites all I wear”, that’s what it means to be a man right there. Tommy Lee Jones is business as usual and it was nice seeing some Woody Harrelson as well to make up a really great cast.

This was totally deserving of the Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Javier Bardem) Oscars. A film back in the day that I wouldn’t have wanted to watch, purely because it’s absent of music. Thanks to more appreciation for films, that lack of music only adds to the film, putting us in the west with the characters and surprisingly adding suspense to the films more thrilling scenes. No Country For Old Men is truly a great film.

Rush (2013)

130910155412-rush-movie-poster-horizontal-galleryRoze-Rating: 5 / 5

Rush is based on the true rivalry between Formula 1 drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda during the racing season of 1976. It’s a story about two sportsmen with different outlooks on life and racing. Despite their seeming hatred of each other, there’s one thing that set’s them apart from other rivalry’s, they respect the effect it has on their lives.

What makes this film great is the attention to detail given to make this true story as real as possible on the big screen. If you are unaware of this rivalry and Formula 1 in general then I wouldn’t advise to go looking up the story. For me, not knowing anything about these two guys made it a much more thrilling watch. Your constantly wondering how far these drivers will push themselves to win, and whether or not they will go too far. It definitely makes that last race an edge of the seat moment. After the film though, having done some research and youtube-ing, it’s quite remarkable how much detail went into this film. From the costumes to the accents, almost everything about this film is spot on. Of course parts of the film are dramatized but it’s essential to telling this story as effectively as possible.

The casting is great, as a result of this we get two of the best performances of 2013. Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl don’t only look like the famous drivers they are portraying but sound like them too. Hemsworth captures the bad boy persona of James Hunt perfectly, with a you-only-live-once swagger. You buy into his character because he doesn’t race because of the lifestyle it brings, he races because it supports the lifestyle he lives. He respects the dangers of F1, therefore sympathizing for the men that get into accidents every season. Niki Lauda of course is the complete opposite. Bruhl presents Lauda as a cold, calculated racing driver, always acting on statistics and not emotion. If a fellow driver spins out or crashes, he shows no compassion but criticize their technique. He may sound like an antagonist but his conflicting behavior between winning and actual happiness gives us a reason to care for this character.

The cinematography is brilliant throughout the film, giving us the perspective of the driver during these relentless races. It makes the racing scenes more of an adrenaline inducing experience. As for it’s overall look, the shiny shades of orange and colour filtering make it great to look at. It feels as if we are in the 1970s as well as watching a documentary about it. Everything from the camera angles and the colours used to the back commentary and interviews.

It’s definitely one of the best rivalry stories I’ve seen on film. I like how the story doesn’t make the rivalry dirty or unpleasant but rather inspiring for both drivers. They use it as a way to push each other harder, a way to learn from each other and ultimately a way to feel alive. During the journey of the season, we realize that there’s a lot more respect within the rivalry than we think. That’s what makes the final scene quite a compelling moment.

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Thor the dark worldRoze-Rating: 3.5 / 5

Set after the attack on New York, Thor is busy restoring order within the Nine Realms whilst the Bifrost is being reconstructed. Having not seen Thor for two years, Jane Foster strives to find scientific anomalies which are similar to the time they found Thor in New Mexico. As a result of the convergence, a rare alignment of the Nine Realms, Foster is sucked into a portal which links these Realms together. She is teleported to a new world and gets infected by the Aether. A group of Dark elves awake once they feel the Aether’s release, the same dark elves who attempted to take over the Nine Realms using the same weapon.

There’s a moment during the film’s opening where we first see Thor appear, and that’s the moment where Chris Hemsworth truly feels like Thor. In the past two films he’s been in, he never really became anything more than an actor playing this character, but after this film it feels as if no one else could play this role but him. From that moment onward’s I felt pumped to be watching a Thor film.

This sequel is better than the first in many ways but it doesn’t feel as whole as it could have been. Firstly the improved CGI makes this film visually stunning as we get to see Asgard in more detail. It’s colourfully glossy which gives it that genuine comic book aesthetic. There’s a lot more emphasis on costume and set design. Thor’s costume looks polished and pristine, which no longer feels gimmicky. Asgard and the Nine Realms actually feel real now which reflects Jane Foster’s feelings as she follows Thor to Asgard for the first time.

It also feels a lot more like a Thor film, even though the Aether is a part of something Avengers related. The first film was an origin story but it was also as much an Avengers prequel. Thor: The Dark World has a much more interesting story driven by fantasy stories and fairy tale inspired characters. What I like about these Marvel films is that they all offer something different. Iron Man is pure comic book action, Captain America is a lot more political and Thor feels like Lord of The Rings in terms of the fantasy elements.

In terms of the film not feeling whole, I think what tarnished its potential is the fact that there’s too many characters which get such small screen time. Thor has an awesome group of warriors he fights with yet we hardly see them. I don’t know if the comics are the same way, if so fair enough, but I wanna see more of them. Maybe their teasing us for whats to come in the third Thor film, but there is definitely going to be some love triangle forming soon. It might have been hard incorporating it in this film but it was disappointing not seeing just a little bit of it. It’s going to be interesting to see how Sif and Jane Foster face off.

The theme that felt evident is inconsistency. When intended to be funny it was, but the jokes either come at inappropriate times (Thor getting on the tube) or don’t happen for long periods of time during more mellow scenes. Same goes for the tone, once scenes transition between Earth and Asgard there’s definitely a tonal change. Once at earth, the music is more comedic and light hearted which contrasts the dramatic orchestral music when in Asgard. It makes sense as it gives these locations different identities but the film was either funny at one point then dramatic in others.

The major highlight though is Loki, who Tom Hiddleston continues to play to perfection. It’s different seeing a villain stick around for once, and a villain that most people like, even if he is completely evil. Once Thor and Loki eventually team up, the film kicks into gear and it starts feeling like a Marvel film.