The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015) Review

***SPOILER FREE REVIEW***

Directed by Francis Lawrence

Based on Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
As the war of Panem escalates to the destruction of other districts by the Capitol, Katniss Everdeen, the reluctant leader of the rebellion, must bring together an army against President Snow, while all she holds dear hangs in the balance.

My Opinion:

Well, I was attempting to take a week off from blogging but I just watched the final Hunger Games film so figured I should say something about it before the weekend (I also watched Steve Jobs this week but a review for that can wait until next week). Hmmmmmmmm……. Mockingjay – Part 2………….. What can I say? I want to stay very spoiler-free, even for those who’ve read the books as I’m sure the readers will be very curious to know if certain things get changed. But I’m not going to tell you! I can say that I’ve read the books and was a very big fan (of the first two, at least. like most people). I also think the first two films are very good. These final two, though? Well… I’ll get to that more in a bit.

What’s interesting is that my husband, who hasn’t read the books, had quite a different reaction to this film than I did. He thought the first two were good but did NOT like these final two. He had a lot to say about it but I’m not going to go into any of that – I just find it interesting that he disliked these final two so much & wonder if others who haven’t read the books will have the same reaction that he did. I think they probably will. I think they’ll feel exactly the same way about the final two films as us book readers felt about the final book.

I think The Hunger Games book trilogy is fantastic. I know it’s “YA”, which puts some people off. But it’s nothing like things such as Twilight – Collins is a great writer and the first two books are two of my very favorites that I’ve read in the past decade or so. Yeah – the first two. Not the final book. I think most readers felt the same way about that one.

I don’t know how to go about reviewing this movie as, for me, it’s impossible to review it on its own & not compare it to the book. No, I didn’t like the final book. So… I was never going to love the final two movies (not helped by the fact that splitting one book into two movies pisses me the hell off). As a whole, though, these movies are quite faithful adaptations & that’s always very important to me. It’s been a long time since I read these but Mockingjay – Part 2 is very faithful from what I remember (without giving away to the books’ readers whether or not anything big was changed). So, I can’t fault the two Mockingjay films. They did what they could with them and remained pretty loyal to the source material. Which is great! It’s just unfortunate that the source material isn’t so great.

I haven’t reviewed the first film as I wasn’t blogging yet but I reviewed Catching Fire (HERE) and Mockingjay – Part 1 (HERE). Catching Fire was really good (I gave it 8/10) but Mockingjay – Part 1 felt pointless as there was no need to turn it into two films (I gave it 7/10). Part 2 is at least a bit better than Part 1 since you finally get a conclusion instead of being left hanging halfway through a story. I once again enjoyed re-visiting these characters & stand by my opinion that Jennifer Lawrence was the perfect choice to play Katniss (although the hubby thought she seemed bored in these last two films, which I don’t totally agree with but do admit that it did feel that way a little at times).

Elizabeth Banks & Woody Harrelson have very small roles in this final film, which is a shame as they’re two great characters. The character of Peeta is once again a bit of a bore (sorry if you like him! but his character is a bit bland). One big complaint I’ve had all along & still have is that I don’t think they developed the character of Primrose (sister of Katniss) enough. Well, the books were kind of guilty of this as well if I remember correctly but they should have given more screen time to the two sisters and slightly less to the somewhat annoying love triangle. I don’t think the films fully gave you the sense of love that Katniss has for her sister and also felt they didn’t fully explain some important plot points to a movie audience that hasn’t read the books. I think I’d have been slightly lost during the two Mockingjay films if I hadn’t read the books.

Summary:

I really want to hear from you guys what you all thought of this one & whether or not you’ve read the books. I’ve not yet read any other reviews so don’t know what kind of reaction this movie is getting but I’d guess that those who haven’t read the books will feel the way that my hubby did & won’t really like this film. As I said, I can’t really fault this movie as it’s a good adaptation and I think they’ve done a pretty great job in choosing the cast for this entire series (especially Lawrence). Mockingjay – Part 2 is a good film but I kind of lost interest in it in the same way I did with the final book. Obviously you’ll want to see it if you’ve watched all the others but don’t expect it to be much different than Part 1. However you felt about Part 1, you’ll probably feel the same about Part 2

Sorry for that rather uninformative review! It’s a very hard one to talk about without spoiling things so feel free to discuss it with me further in the comments. 🙂 Just try to put a spoiler warning at the start.

My Rating: 7/10

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014) Review

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

Directed by Francis Lawrence

Based on Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Starring:
Jennifer Lawrence
Josh Hutcherson
Liam Hemsworth
Woody Harrelson
Elizabeth Banks
Julianne Moore
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Jeffrey Wright
Stanley Tucci
Donald Sutherland

Running time: 123 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The story continues to follow Katniss Everdeen; having twice survived the Hunger Games, Katniss finds herself in District 13. Under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss reluctantly becomes the symbol of a mass rebellion against the Capitol and fights to save Peeta and a nation moved by her courage.

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My Opinion:

I love YA fiction (especially of the post-apocalyptic dystopian sci-fi variety!) and have read The Hunger Games books. It was before this blog started but I did review the Catching Fire movie (HERE if you’re bothered). The first two books are possibly my favorite of the YA stuff I’ve read in recent years and I think the first two films were very faithful, especially the second, and I’ve been happy with them and with the choice of actors (other than maybe Josh Hutcherson). I’ll admit that I’m not a big fan of the final book so I’m naturally unlikely to like these last two movies as much as the first two. However, from what I can remember of the final book now all these years later, I think this film again stayed pretty faithful. It’s a solid movie and everyone again does a good job with their roles but I still can’t help but feel a bit “meh, so what?”. It especially doesn’t help that they’ve done that thoroughly annoying thing again of splitting the final book of a series into TWO movies. Why why why?! It’s not as annoying as the whole Hobbit bullshit but, seriously – they’re doing it to get more money out of us as opposed to making sure to make the best piece of “art” they can and it gets on my nerves.

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Now that I got that little rant off my chest: Is The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part Freaking 1 any good? Yes, it’s fine. I enjoy the story and seeing the characters again and still think Jennifer Lawrence is perfect for the role of Katniss (even though we’re starting to see her in too many movies and I’m afraid she could someday be on my annoying list instead of my favorites list). They have some very famous actors in these movies and it feels like they take their roles seriously as opposed to just “phoning it in”, which it feels like famous actors do in some other YA films. I think it makes The Hunger Games movies feel a bit more “grown up” than others (which I see as a good thing). The final book is the darkest and the movies have been good at getting the tone right but, hopefully, no parents are letting anyone see these if they’re TOO young…

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Summary:

I don’t think I need to go into this film much. If you liked the first two, you’ll like this one even though you may be annoyed at again not getting any sort of “conclusion”. If you like the books, you’ll be happy enough with this adaptation. The acting is really good, especially for a “YA” film, and Lawrence is still the perfect Katniss. I understand that the story needed to take this direction in the final book and couldn’t just do the same thing once again but it just didn’t work as well for me and I don’t expect to like the final two films as much as the first two. Speaking of YA stuff, I saw The Maze Runner a couple weeks ago but haven’t had a chance to review it yet. Maybe Wednesday…. Yes! I’ll make this a “movies based on novels” week here at CPD since I also just watched Odd Thomas! Anyway, although I think Mockingjay is the superior film, I kind of enjoyed The Maze Runner more as I haven’t read the books and liked watching a story unfold without already knowing what would happen. I’ve watched Mockingjay as I want to see how they handle the books but I really wish they’d just made this into one film. But I’ll of course shell out money once again this time next year to see Part 2. And I’m sure I’ll complain about that once again. 😉

My Rating: 7/10

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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) Review

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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

Directed by Francis Lawrence

Based on: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Starring:
Jennifer Lawrence
Josh Hutcherson
Liam Hemsworth
Woody Harrelson
Elizabeth Banks
Lenny Kravitz
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Jeffrey Wright
Stanley Tucci
Donald Sutherland

Running time: 146 minutes

Plot synopsis:
After their victory in the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark have become symbols of hope to those in the Districts of Panem. President Snow will do whatever it takes to make sure that this hope doesn’t lead to a rebellion.

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My Opinion:

I read the Hunger Games books and loooooved them (Well, loved the first two at least…). So I was very excited to see the films. I thought the first one was a very good adaptation and feel the same way about Catching Fire. I know they can never put absolutely everything from a book in the movie as there’s just not enough time – As long as no major changes are made, I’m happy. It’s been a while since I’ve read these but, from what I remember, Catching Fire is extremely faithful to the book so that should keep the fans happy.

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I’d actually be more interested to know what people who haven’t read the books think of these films. I often try to read the book before the movie and all that but it does take a little fun out of the movie for me. I just like to be surprised & like not knowing what’s going to happen. I always enjoy seeing the movie bring a book “to life” but… I have no idea what point I’m trying to make here! Just that, you know – I knew what was going to happen every step of the way.

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However, both of these films have done a great job creating the overall look of this world and especially bringing these characters to the screen. I really can’t fault ANY of the casting. Jennifer Lawrence is absolutely perfect as Katniss Everdeen. She’s totally what I’d pictured while reading the books and she does an excellent job in these films (well, she IS an Oscar winner, you know). For a young adult series, it’s a very dark story and she does all the serious & emotional stuff brilliantly. I can’t really imagine anyone else in the role. And I think with these young adult adaptations, the actors don’t always take the material as seriously & it sometimes feels like the big name actors are only there for the paycheck & are giving a half-assed performance. I don’t feel this way with the Hunger Games films, though. Everyone seems to be giving their all.

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Woody Harrelson – Also perfect. He’s a great Haymitch and one of the biggest highlights of these films. I also love Lenny Kravitz as Cinna. Even though he’s not what I’d pictured from the books, he’s also one of the best characters in the films (for me). I also loved seeing Effie having a bit more depth in this one (and, again, I think Elizabeth Banks does this role very well).

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Donald Sutherland, Stanley Tucci, Amanda Plummer, Jena Malone – All good! Liam Hemsworth & Josh Hutcherson are both fine as Gale & Peeta but are the only ones that aren’t *quite* right for me (especially Hutcherson). However, both have grown on me & I fully see them as those characters now after this second film. I’d love to see Primrose get a lot more screen time – I feel that the audience barely knows her if they’ve not read the books. Also not 100% sure on Finnick or Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch – Hoffman was good but kind of just seemed his usual self.

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Summary:

I know I’ve not said anything about the story as, well, I know the whole story from the books. I loved the books – the story was really intense and I couldn’t read them quick enough. Luckily, the films are the same way – they’ve been very faithful adaptations so far and I don’t think fans of the books can have any major complaints. The world looks great and, more importantly, the casting has been perfect. I really can’t complain about any of the actors at all but the ones they especially got right were Haymitch and, luckily, Katniss. If they’d gotten the wrong actress for Katniss, I don’t think these films would be quite as successful. Catching Fire is just as good as the first film (although you really can’t top the first film just as you can’t top the first book in the trilogy). If you haven’t read the books but liked the first film, you’ll definitely like Catching Fire and you’ll get a lot more character development than you did in the first film.

It’s going to be VERY interesting to see what they do with that final book…

My Rating: 8/10

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IMDB Top 250 Challenge – Movie #18 – Mary And Max (2009) Review

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Mary And Max – IMDB Rank #183

Watched 7/6/13

Directed by Adam Elliot

Starring Voice Actors:
Bethany Whitmore
Toni Collette
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Eric Bana
Barry Humphries

Running time: 90 minutes

Country: Australia

Plot Synopsis:

This story follows the friendship between a lonely 8-year-old Australian girl named Mary and a 44-year-old New Yorker with many mental problems named Max. Their friendship starts in 1976, when a very lonely and neglected Mary decides to write a letter to someone in New York and chooses Max at random from a telephone directory.

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My Opinion:

I hated this. Absolutely hated it. That is all. Review over. :-p

Okay… I’ll try to say a bit more. To be honest, I don’t know why I hated this so much but the whole thing just rubbed me up the wrong way. I can see it has some merit and a lot of this is probably just me being awkward as it’s obviously liked by enough people to have been voted into the IMDB Top 250. It does NOT deserve to be in a list alongside the “all-time greatest movies”, though.

I wouldn’t say that I don’t like a bit of black humor so I had no problem with that. But the whole thing was SO depressing. Every single character in this, other than Mary as a young girl, is completely unlikeable and some are downright hateful & horrible. As a young girl, Mary is so sweet. But she’s very lonely thanks to very neglectful parents (especially her alcoholic mother). The kids at school are horribly mean to her because she has a big birthmark on her head. She’s such a nice girl and I just couldn’t stand seeing this poor little girl being neglected and so in desperate need of a friend.

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Then Max comes along and they have a great but oftentimes troubled pen-pal relationship due to Max’s many different issues (anxiety attacks, overeating, depression, and Asperger syndrome). He will sometimes get mad at Mary and she won’t hear from him for ages, which really hurts her. Her life is full of ups and downs (mostly downs!) and, as to pretty much be expected, she starts to descend into her own depression… Yada Yada. I won’t say whether or not this movie at least has a happy ending but who cares anyway – you’ll be lucky to not be severely depressed yourself by the time you make it to the end of this.

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Um. Okay – I’ll say a couple good things. I liked that Mary’s world is sepia & Max’s is black & white. And there are, believe it or not, some quite funny things in this (I was just too depressed to give a shit). These were mostly things said by Mary or Max – I do admit that a lot of their correspondence was cleverly written and sometimes very funny. But this is one of those movies that’s too “aware” of its own cleverness. That sort of thing always gets on my tits. This film is pretentious. Oops – I was trying to say good things, wasn’t I… Mary. Mary as a girl. The only good thing, really.

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Oh! And here’s another thing I hated probably more than anything else – this movie has now ruined for me a song that I loved: Penguin Cafe Orchestra’s Perpetuum Mobile. And it not only used the song once, it kept using it over and over and over again. The movie clubs the viewer over the head with this song. Annoying. Dammit – I can’t hear that song now without thinking of this movie!

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Anyway – I suppose this film is making some sort of point about mental illness that maybe I missed. Maybe the point is how it can ruin people’s lives through no fault of their own. Because the lives in this film are certainly not happy ones. Here’s a list from Wikipedia of some of the themes covered in this film:

Childhood neglect, friendship, the obscurity of life, teasing, loneliness, autism (Asperger syndrome in particular), obesity, depression and anxiety.

They forgot several things as well – such as agoraphobia, kleptomania, and alcoholism.

Yeah. Fun stuff indeed. 😉

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Summary:

I hated this movie.

My Rating: 4/10

Now listen to this awesome song then never watch Mary And Max because it will destroy the song for you: