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: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014)

SS_D8-3371.dngRoze-Rating: 3 / 5

The penultimate chapter within The Hunger Games franchise brings us to District 13, home of the rebellion. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is not in the best of shapes following the chaos of her quarter-quell Hunger Games and still grieving the capture of Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). She is reluctantly roped into becoming the face of the rebel forces with the hopes of saving Peeta as motivation. In order to defeat the Capitol, Katniss must embody the Mockingjay and lead the revolution towards victory.

I absolutely loved Catching Fire, so much so that it ended up being in my top ten films of 2013. It was everything that I wanted the first Hunger Games to be. It was grittier, action packed and free from unnecessary shaky cam! Which is why I was totally excited to be watching Mockingjay – Part 1 especially knowing Francis Lawrence was returning to direct it. Having ended on such a massive and intense cliffhanger, I was ready to see Katniss kick some ass and give the Capitol a taste of their own medicine. Of course you can guess that I was thoroughly underwhelmed by this film. My initial reaction leaving the theater was of annoyance having spent money on a film that didn’t really deliver on what I wanted to see but having also endured the smell of sweaty prepubescent teenagers for nothing (I can’t talk). On a business stand point I totally understand why splitting the last book into two films is smart and inevitable in today’s film industry, but I really did not see the ‘need’ for it cinematically. I think if the film was marketed as what it really is which is more of a darker character drama rather than an action packed film about revolution, then I probably wouldn’t be too bummed out about it.That being said, having reflected on the film and let it sit with me for a day, I respect what the film does and maybe after seeing Mockingjay – Part 2, it could end up being the perfect sibling to the ultimate finale. It doesn’t help that we have to wait another year to see it, which is why ultimately it just feels like an extended cliffhanger of Catching Fire.

I really wanted to like this film, and I did up until about halfway through where things started to feel a bit dragged on, overdeveloped and quite frankly slow. Stuff happens but really in the full scope of the franchise, not much really does, which is why the ending didn’t have an impact on me at all. I wasn’t shocked. It ended and I hadn’t learnt or felt any differently towards President Snow or the Capitol; I still hated them the same as I did in the last two films. It was just underwhelming and I could feel it within the theater, the energy was relatively low and people left without a commotion. I remember seeing Catching Fire and after that ending I was just blown away with excitement. I wanted that reaction.

That being said I don’t think the film is completely unnecessary, it’s a part of the story that needed to be told and is actually quite interesting. For a teen franchise, some of the themes are mature and compelling. I really liked the way they represented the rebellion and fleshed out how impactful propaganda can be on a revolution to push an agenda. It was also interesting to see how Katniss coped with being the face of the revolution and dealing with the pressures of being looked up to for inspiration. At points during the story I felt like I should be resenting Julianne Moore’s character and the nature of the rebellion based on how they were treating Katniss. I feel like there was a missed opportunity to represent revolution as a negative force although essential for change. Although these were interesting themes, it eventually became a bit tiresome as the narrative was stretched as far as it could go. The story never develops and in all honesty nor does Katniss. I was waiting for her to truly ’embody’ the Mockingjay and relish the position, but she never really does. Another reason for why Mockingjay – Part 1 ultimately feels incomplete.

Despite the film being shot gorgeously and the dystopian set pieces being well realized, I felt some of the scenes were edited frustratingly. Two scenes stick out to me at the end. Both having to edit in and out of simultaneous events. (Spoiler) The rescue scene was incredibly frustrating to watch for me. Even though I liked the Zero Dark Thirty feel about it, they completely milked that scene for everything it was worth. It went on for what felt like 10 minutes while Katniss and Snow faced off in a less than thrilling battle of wits, and by the end of what was supposed to be a suspenseful moment just didn’t work for me. It was frustrating because I loved how it was shot, the tinges of red, the way the camera followed them and the stealth. And how many speeches did we get in that film? It felt like too many.

Despite all the disappointment I could not help but admire Jennifer Lawrence’s performance, who is only growing from strength to strength as her career goes on. Nevertheless I really started to miss the no nonsense Katniss we grew so fond of from the previous films as her infatuation with Peeta increased. I can’t tell if she’s truly in love with him or if she feels guilty for the situation he’s in. Either way it’s an interesting relationship and somewhat a larger focus of this film.

Mockingjay – Part 1 isn’t necessarily a bad film, it has strong performances, interesting narrative elements and brilliant shots. Nevertheless I don’t think it merited its own film and could have easily been condensed into 45 minutes. I could understand fans loving this film as it more or less stays true to the book, but I’d much rather watch a 3 hour Hunger Games film that sticks with me forever than a 2 hour film that I’m most likely going to forget. But I doubt the studios care, because they know people like me will still buy a ticket for next years Mockingjay – Part 2!

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.

X-Men: Days of Future Past (Trailer + Discussion)


I recently re-watched all the X-Men films and I couldn’t help but notice that there’s a shiz load of continuity problems. As I moved on to the next movie you find more and more confusing errors that kinda ruin the franchise a bit. For example we see Emma Frost in X-Men: First Class (60’s) and in Wolverine: X-Men Origins (Decades after First Class) which are set at different times yet the character is younger in Wolverine: X-Men Origins. Another confusing error would be how we see Charles Xavier walk during a flashback in X-Men: The Last Stand but then we see him get shot in the spine and him being paralyzed in First Class. Of course a common reasoning behind all these problems is that it happened in the comics where characters would lose and regain abilities or whatever, but I can’t help but think they kinda screwed up a bit too much here.

There’s no doubt that First Class was a pretty awesome film, it raised the bar to a whole new level for X-Men films. So why not just say it was a total reboot of the franchise. Some people might say it is but the opening sequence is from the very first X-Men film so I think it was definitely intended to be connected with the past three films. It’s not a bad idea but they screwed up already in X2 when we see a glimpse of Hank McCoy (AKA Beast) as a human then in The Last Stand he’s back to being a blue furry monster. It’s just confusing, you can’t get away with it in movies like you can in comics because people like to complain for the sake of complaining.

To be honest it’s not a huge problem for me because I quite liked X-Men and X2 and it’s quite easy to just accept that what went down in the previous trilogy has lead to Days of Future Past; which looks amazing from the trailer. I saw The Wolverine once it came out but went in completely unaware that it was also connected with the X-Men story line. So as you can imagine once the after credits scene started playing I literally jizzed in my pants. Like wow, probably the best after credits scene ever.

Anyways the trailer is pretty awesome, it looks like we’re going to see an intensely cynical young Charles Xavier who doesn’t look in the best of shapes. I’m not aware much of the story or comics but I do know Wolverine is going to be sent back in time to help prevent a war which will happen in the near future probably related to Bolivar Trask and the Sentinels (sorry, probably a “no shit” comment to comic book fans). So it’s going to be pretty awesome seeing the past and future Xavier’s and Magneto’s in one film as well as past characters like Storm, Iceman, Rogue, etc. It’s going to be huge in terms of characters since we have even newer mutants joining the cast. What I’m hoping for is an even more intense Wolverine, I totally respect Hugh Jackman’s crazy commitment and love for this character. He hasn’t stopped working to improve this character since the very first X-Men, which is why The Wolverine was so satisfying because we  see some of that savagery we’ve not seen before. Days of Future Past better be a thrilling ride.