Blog: Grosse Point Geek – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 Reviewed

Blog: Grosse Point Geek – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 Reviewed

Grosse Point Geek Uncategorized

Grosse Point Geek turns his critical eye to the fourth and final Hunger Games Movie…

Director: Francis Lawrence
Actors: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Woody Harrelson, Julianne Moore.

Picking up directly where Mockingjay Part 1 finished, we find Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) recovering from her attack by the brainwashed Peeta (Hutcherson), meanwhile the Resistance, led by President Coin (Moore) are preparing for all out war on Panem’s capital city.

Last i year i wrote a review of Mockingjay Part 1 – and whilst perfectly acceptable, it was nothing more than half a film. As a result i refused to give it a star rating as, basically how can you rate something that was incomplete?
So it was with much anticipation that last weekend i went to see this, the conclusion of the rather splendid Hunger Games series. Now what i expected was a full on action movie that (if the poster was to believed) promised to be chock full of action, gun fights, explosions and all manner of exciting escapism. What i got instead was sadly way short of the mark.

Frankly to say that this film was a disappointment of epic proportions would be the understatement of the millennium. Yes i will admit that it has it good points. For a start its universally well acted – the principal players ( Lawrence, Moore, Hoffman, Sutherland and especially Josh Hutcherson) are all excellent. Director Francis Lawrence builds up lots of tension, and a refreshing air of unpredictability, plus throws in some really good set pieces – in particular a lengthy underground chase sequence that proves to be relentlessly tense and very exciting.
However, just as things are starting to get really enjoyable, the whole film comes to an catastrophically unbelievable, soul crushing stop that totally ruins everything that has come before. Now without saying too much, what should have been a slam bang climax to what is, at its heart, an action franchise, ends up being nothing less than a total damp squib of the first order. Putting it mildly, never before have i been so disappointed as i was here.

Now in many cases the practice of splitting a film is understandable – The Hobbit, Lord Of The Rings, Harry Potter and even Kill Bill needed several chapters to tell their stories – however this final part of the Hunger Games did not. Overall when one looks at both the two Mockingjay films it becomes blindingly obvious that one instalment would have more than sufficed. Indeed had the studio had been driven by more than just how much money they could wring out of this now concluded franchise and had any respect for the fans, they could have delivered a film that should have had potentially Star Wars levels of action  in it, rather than the bafflingly dull effort we have here.

In short  – a huge letdown and a totally wasted opportunity.

Rating:

Author: Will Strong

 

Blog: Grosse Point Geek – The Hunger Games Mockingjay – Part 1 Reviewed

Blog: Grosse Point Geek – The Hunger Games Mockingjay – Part 1 Reviewed

Grosse Point Geek Uncategorized

After the events of ‘Catching Fire’, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is now safely ensconced in the underground rebel hideout of District 13, and has been shanghaied by its leader (Moore) to be the spearhead of a publicity campaign to lead the other districts in an all out rebellion against  the evil President Snow (Sutherland) and his totalitarian government. 

Director: Frances Lawrence
Actors: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Donald Sutherland.

In past i have not exactly been backward in coming forward with my dislike of Hollywood’s never ending obsession with adapting young adult novels into films. To say the least i hated Divergent, loathed The Mortal Instruments and don’t even get me started on the bloody Twilight series.

Despite this however – i have always liked the Hunger Games. Both the previous two entries were extremely well made, superbly written, relentlessly exciting and featured very strong performances from the likes of Jennifer Lawrence, Woody Harrelson and Donald Sutherland. Indeed i am  pleased to say that Mockingjay has all of this – but –  and its a big but – its only half a film (the other half is due next year) and maddeningly ends very abruptly just when it moves into high gear and starts to get interesting.

Ok I can understand why the studio cut it in two –  they wanted to make more money, which makes complete sense from a business point of view – but in doing so they have completely and utterly short changed the audience, who will now have to cough up more money in 2015 in order to see how the whole thing ends. Now in the past this has been necessary  – The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit trilogies had way too much story to tell in anything less than 3 films a piece, and frankly I didn’t mind shelling out to see them as they were all brilliant (i haven’t yet seen the 3rd Hobbit film as its out later in December). I could even see the point of splitting Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows in to two parts, as again the book is just too big for one film.

However with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay this was a totally unnecessary move, as a great deal of its story is nothing more than padding and window dressing for all the good stuff (i.e. fighting) that is going to happen in the next film. Indeed on reflection i completely struggled to see the point of it all. There isn’t that much action, the story doesn’t really move forward and as good as she is, Jennifer Lawrence is given very little to do other than mope and incessantly worry about  Hutcherson and Hemsworth.

Don’t get me wrong i did like Mockingjay – but because its only half a film i truly am at a loss as to how to properly review it, so just this once i am not going to give it any stars at all because until i see part 2 next year its going to be impossible to form a  proper opinion about it.

Frustrating

 

Author: Will Strong 

 

Blog: All Things Film – Non Stop Reviewed

Grosse Point Geek Uncategorized

During a routine Transatlantic flight, Air Marshall Bill Marks (Liam Neeson), receives a series of text messages from an unknown person, threatening to kill a passenger every 20 minutes unless a $150 million ransom is paid by the airline. Thinking he is being wound up, he dismisses the texts as a sick joke, however things start taking a turn for the worst when the bodies start piling up and Marks finds himself being framed as the chief suspect.

Its then down to the beleaguered air marshal and a plucky passenger (Julianne Moore) to find out which of the passengers is the villain and stop the air force from shooting down the plane.

It had to happen, I knew it couldn’t last. 2014 was going so well –  just about every film id seen so far this year had been superb. The Wolf of Wall Street, 12 Years a Slave, Dallas Buyers Club – all brilliant, even the Robocop remake wasn’t bad.  So, being the total  sucker for an action film that I am, I merrily  toddled off to my local Cineworld to watch this stinking  pile of pants.

Now Non Stop should have worked – Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore are always good value, its produced by the legendary Joel Silver (Predator, Lethal Weapon, Die Hard etc.), the plot seemed interesting, the trailer screamed “top action movie”  – hell even the poster looked great. Not only that, when it was released in the US, it flew straight to the top of the box office with a $30 million opening weekend!

So what went wrong I hear you cry? Well friends, just about bloody everything.

For a start the script is woefully awful,  with characters that are cliché’ to a fault. Marks is a grieving alcoholic, one of the stewardesses is having a fling with the co pilot, everyone on the plane is made to look suspicious and of course there’s the obligatory  vomit inducing, teddy bear wielding 9 year old, who (predictably) is on her  1st flight by herself   – laugh? I nearly asked for a sick bucket.

As far as the performances go, the normally superb Neeson seems to have just shown up for the money and  is by turns cheesy, and ineffective in the lead role. Julianne Moore fares no better,  her bland  character given no depth or backstory – quite what an actress of her ability and range is doing in this nonsense is beyond me.  Jaume Collett Serra’s direction is uninspiring , boringly by the numbers and criminally fails on every level to crank up any tension or deliver one half way decent action scene. Even the shootout at the films climax lacks any and all excitement – I mean how hell does a director screw up a scene showing the mighty Liam Neeson flying through the air firing a handgun??! Answer – you just don’t – it aint the done thing old son.

Dammit there’s no place  for films like this anymore, you could get away with it in the 80’s and 90’s but not now. The next two years are going to be some of the most exciting times the cinema has ever seen.  Talented directors like JJ Abrams, Chris Nolan and Joss Whedon, are out there right now, taking their time developing sharp scripts and good stories,  –basically making damn sure that we, the punters get our money’s worth.

OK, yes I’ll admit that Non Stop isn’t the worst film I’ve ever seen and it passed the time well enough, but If I wanted to see a rehash of the likes of Executive Decision or Air Force One – id simply just watch them again.

All I would say is that, if studios are going to recycle and redo old films , then at the very least write a good script, throw in a few decent characters, and for God’s sake don’t bore me! It was done brilliantly last year with the fantastic Olympus Has Fallen and there is no reason it shouldn’t have been done here.

Liam you are better than this, and to producer Joel Silver – a word to the wise, the glory days of the 80’s are over mate, get some inspiration and stop living on the past.

Epic Fail

 

Author: Will Strong

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Carrie (2013): A Quick Capsule Review

Carrie (2013): A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
It’s all a bit of been there, done that with the latest reimagining of a horror classic.  As they mostly seem to be.  The biggest problem however with Carrie (2013) is that the usually excellent Chloe Moretz is lost at sea, be it through poor direction or just bad casting and being that the film’s success or failure heavily rests on her shoulders, that is an issue.  Add in an collection of faceless could be anyone ‘teen’ support cast and your left with a film that does nothing new, and what it delivers isn’t a patch on what was made before.

Best Bit: It’s pretty short.

Rent, Borrow, Buy, Stream: Borrow

IMDB Rating: 

If you liked this try: Carrie (8/10); Evil Dead 2013 (8/10); Texas Chainsaw Remake (5/10)