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.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

katniss-peeta-the-hunger-games-catching-fire-wallpaperRoze-Rating: 4.5 / 5

Seems like ages ago since I saw The Hunger Games in the cinema, because of that I can’t say that the film stuck with me. It was definitely an entertaining watch because of an awesome protagonist with lethal bow and arrow skills, but it lacked some grit. I’m not saying that it never had any but the fact that we never really get to see blade and flesh make contact diminished the affect of the Hunger Games concept implemented by the Capitol. Maybe that’s just me having watched too many Nicolas Winding Refn films. As for the sequel, it has to be one of the biggest surprises of 2013 for me. I did not expect much with this sequel having not read the books, I thought it would be the same formula (which it kinda was) but did not expect such an explosive ending and cliffhanger. Because of that, it was one of my favourite films of 2013.

This film is everything I wanted the last film to be. It had mind games, thrilling obstacles, conspiracy, likable characters and most importantly an arrow to the knee. What I liked about the beginning of this film is that we’re instantly thinking about the last film. How it ended and why Katniss is suddenly kissing some other dude who we haven’t actually seen much of. Once we learn that her berry antics were all for survival, we subconsciously think more about the decisions these characters make.

The tone remains consistent with the first film except it’s more intense and gritty aided by the story’s progression as we learn more about Snow and the Capitol. Katniss is obviously affected from her experiences in the Hunger Games which makes her a lot more stubborn than I remember. She can’t really trust anyone nor can she trust her decisions. Jennifer Lawrence make’s this role her’s, in a franchise I really didn’t expect to take off as well as it has, luckily it feels like it’s going to get even better.

If you thought the first film looked great then get ready for another film with innovative costumes, diverse set designs and beautiful cinematography. This film truly looks great with it’s crisp visuals especially when we get to the exotic Hunger Games dome and the CGI kicks in.

It may annoy some people but the cliff hanger we’re left with felt weirdly satisfying for me. I’ve never felt so intrigued and surprised and annoyed at the same time. But what tied these feelings off perfectly was that last close up on Lawrence’s face. For this franchise that moment will be the most iconic, when Katniss turns into more than a Hunger Games contestant but a symbol for all existing districts to look to for hope. As a result of that I never would have thought I’d be so desperate to see a Hunger Games sequel.

Dredd (2012)


90851_galRoze-Rating: 4.5 / 5

Judge’s have the combined power of being judge, jury and executioner all at the same time. Dredd has a prestigious reputation making him known as the most feared judge around. They have been enforced to keep order in a deteriorating society where the criminals rule the chaotic streets. Justice calls for Judge Dredd to take down drug leader Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) who is the main distributor of a new street drug “slow-mo” which makes your brain perceive reality a fraction slower. He has been given rookie Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) a mutant psychic, for him to assess, unlucky for her, her first day isn’t a breeze in the park.

This film is exactly what we’ve been missing this year. I think we’ve been deprived of good no nonsense action films with cool gadgets and a simple bad ass character with good one liners. It’s unrealistic, gritty and bad ass all at the same time, exactly what you want from a comic book character brought to the screen. I have no relationship with the comics and little knowledge of the character, but from what I’ve read about it, Dredd perfectly captures that deteriorating society atmosphere with murky surroundings and a tolerance to violence. 

I really liked the cinematography, it’s stylish and has a genuine comic book look to it. The transitioning of the scenes reminded me of how comic strips are laid out and drawn, as well as the vivid colours that came out of the slow-mo moments. It made the action a lot more enjoyable to watch and set itself apart from the generic action films with static camera work.

Despite the lack of expression of Judge Dredd, I think Karl Urban did an outstanding job, he captured that non nonsense precision of the character perfectly. He plays Dredd extremely tough but also portrays his human side effectively during his moments with Anderson (Olivia Thirlby). Would like to see him in more actions flicks as good as this. Olivia Thirlby surprised me so much in this film, when I saw her cast as Judge Dredd’s temporary partner I honestly thought her character would be a mess. I’m extremely happy to say that she put in one of the most surprising performances of this year for me, I was totally hooked to her character. At first I expected her to exude femininity because of Thirlby’s past roles, but she doesn’t show a hint of it. She’s mysterious, calculated and incredibly gritty. Her abilities make her interesting and the way they are used is very entertaining. Definitely one of my favourite characters this year.

A great action film bringing Judge Dredd from the comic strips to the big screen with stylish cinematography, excess computerized blood and engaging characters, definitely one of the best action films of the year. I really hope they make a sequel, can’t get enough of these characters, truly badass.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

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Roze-Rating: 4.5 / 5

The Dark Knight Rises came with huge anticipation, after having huge success with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. I didn’t watch the previous films until a few months ago, but after watching them I knew that the final addition to the trilogy was going to be something special, especially after seeing the additions of Tom Hardy and Anne Hatheway. Hardy of course with big shoes to fill after a great performance from Heath Ledger playing the infamous Joker, who set’s the stage for today’s Gotham City.

This film goes way back into the previous two films to capture the rise of Bruce Wayne and his vigilante side, batman. Not only does the effects of the Joker impact the ways of Gotham City, but Bruce Wayne’s past catches up with him unexpectedly when a member of the League of Shadows forces him to rev up the Batmobile for a final time. Without  knowledge from previous films, this could prove to be a very confusing two and a half hours, made apparent by a couple of girls beside me who kept asking me “what’s happening?”, “who’s that?”, “is he a bad guy?”, which made the film experience not as awesome as it could have been, but at least it tested my batman knowledge to an extent. The fact that this film explored a lot of Bruce Wayne’s past, also juggling introductions of Catwoman and Bane, made for a film with a lot of substance. For some films, this could prove to be a downfall, but the intelligent plot and fluent story telling made it entertaining and not hard to grasp at all, which wasn’t the same story for the girls beside me. The story alone was interesting enough to engage the audience but from a film with a reputation of great action, it wasn’t enough, and that’s where the film faults. If there was room for more action and darkness, this would have been the perfect film, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it proves to be the perfect finale to a great trilogy. Tom Hardy makes previous villains of the Batman franchise proud, with an intense performance, having only the expressions from his eyes and limbs to express his character. I also fell for Catwoman, who was perfectly played by Anne Hatheway, finding the perfect balance between seductiveness and grit, there could be potential for an origin film there, which I would be totally up for.

After an epic showdown, the film ends perfectly concluding Batman’s legacy, leaving a moment which made me literally leap in excitement; a moment which will leave hardcore comic fans salivating for more. It also leaves a lot of room for possible sequels, so this might not be the end of The Dark Knight, but the birth of something really special. I just hope that the speculation towards a Batman reboot for a possible Justice League film isn’t true, because that’s just asking for some hate.

Do you guys think there is room for a sequel? and who do you think will be involved? Would you also be up for Justice League film without Christian Bale? and do you think it will live up to the success of The Avengers?

Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)

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Roze-Rating: 5 / 5

Marvel sets the world alight with this ground breaking film which incorporate’s seven Marvel Comic heroes introduced from five previous films, illustrating their path into the S.H.I.E.L.D. Avengers initiative. The Avengers broke significant records during it’s release, namely the all-time domestic weekend record, taking an estimated $200.3 million, thankfully the financial success of the film did not go in vain.

To prepare myself for this well anticipated film, I spent some time getting a hold of the films leading up to it, and made sure it was in order, starting with “Ironman”, starring Robert Downey Jr. He fit into the role of Tony Stark so well that even during the film’s multiple premier’s, he exuded pure Tony Stark mannerism’s and style. The next film created quite a debate leading up to The Avengers. “The Incredible Hulk”, starring the experienced Ed Norton, who plays Bruce Banner with a likeable charm, resultantly winning the hearts of the Marvel fans. Of course, when the news got out that he had been replaced with Mark Ruffalo, this created quite a bit of negativity and doubt over the Bruce Banner character. He soon proved critics and pessimists wrong, taking a different direction with the character in the best way possible.  Ironman 2 sheds a lot more light on Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and his intentions about introducing the S.H.I.E.L.D. initiative, which is why The Avengers film is present with us now. It also introduces Natasha Romanoff, known as Black Widow, who is played perfectly by Scarlett Johansson, showing the athleticism and no nonsense characteristics of her role. Following these films are Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Captain America (Chris Evans), which are generally Origin films, with exception to Thor, which introduces the space threat within the Marvel Universe, emphasizing the potential threats on earth.

The Avengers depicts the final stage of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Avenger initiative, which involves the process of assembling each character to triumph against Loki and his increasing army. Managing a cast of main characters, would prove to be a difficult task, but the thoroughness of the script, really finds the perfect balance between each characters screen time; leaving no room for an independent hero. That’s where the film flourishes, we are able to get to know each character that much more and how they all react in the presence of each other. It is normal for families to fall out every now and again, and this film really is about the ultimate group of heroes who have their differences uniting at a time of desperation to save the world. One particular scene, where they are all in the middle of battle back to back and the camera pans around them, really symbolizes that perfectly, and is sure to send shivers down your spine. Another great aspect of this film is the comedy it possesses. The moments which are intended to make you laugh will achieve that genuinely, but props must go to Robert Downey Jr. who uses his improv skills at it’s best. Finally, the action is great, filled with iconic comic moments, from the Hulk smash to the flawless archery skills of Hawkeye. There will be no let down towards that aspect of the film, and nor does the film on the whole. If you are looking to watch a film with masses of action, mixed with comedy, then this film will offer vast’s amount of fun, leaving you thinking of it for quite some time.

The best feature of Marvel film’s are the sneaky Easter eggs they subtly fit into the film, which only the hardcore fans are likely to find, but then they add the end credit addition for the less hardcore fans. This is where the fun continues, being able to anticipate future film plots, and debating with other fans, which is why the Marvel experience, is quite a special one to take part in.

Who do you guys think the villain during the end credits was? What impact do you reckon he will have on the future Marvel films? Which Marvel film are you looking forward to the most, Ironman 3, Thor: The Dark Wolrld, Captain America: The Winter Soldier or Ant-Man?