This review comes with a disclaimer; I may have been influenced due to events that were out of my control. The evening had started out ideally for me since this movie was starting right after work. Luckily there wasn’t a big crowd buying tickets for this showing so my favorite seat was still available. I nestled into my seat before the start of 16 minutes worth of previews. We were 50 minutes into the movie before the screen suddenly went dark, followed by the light fixtures that were perched on the walls between the speakers. I looked up towards the projection booth that was steeped in darkness. Not sure what was happening I stayed in my seat like everyone else in the theater. It was no more than one to two minutes before the entire theater turned pitch black as all the remaining lights, including the running floor ones, lost power. Before anyone had time to take out their cell phone to use as a flashlight, several piercing bright strobe lights started flashing around the theater and a recorded voice announced there was an incident in the theater. The recording told us to walk not run in an orderly fashion to the nearest exit and leave the building immediately. My first reaction was annoyance that this was interrupting my movie watching experience. But as I noticed several patrons running to the exits, I was hit with a new reality. Since the exit to the main hallway was closest to me I made my way to it and slowly stuck my head out. There were people coming out of the multiple theaters, heading towards the main lobby. The building had lost power. We were ushered out the main doors where we stood for 20-25 minutes until power was restored and then allowed back in to finish watching our films. WITH the districts forming alliances Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle, X-Men franchise), had to convince them to direct their energy towards the capital and President Snow, played by Donald Sutherland (The Italian Job, An American Haunting). For the final installment to this science fiction adventure it was fortunate that Jennifer was the lead. Her acting along with Josh Hutcherson (Red Dawn, The Kids Are All Right) as Peeta Mellark kept me interested through the long script. I think it would have been better if the movie studio had not decided to split the last book into 2 films because I felt this one had a lot of filler in it. The 2nd half of this adventure picture was more exciting to me, though I enjoyed the mixture of emotions Peeta and Katniss were displaying in their roles. The movie as a whole was bleak where it felt as if it was going through a checklist of things to include in the story without going into much depth. Maybe due to my disruption, but this finale did not go out with a bang.
2 3/4 stars
How the heart swells at an act of kindness generated by love. Simple acts such as a small gift on a random day or a surprise visit to share lunch together expand the love that is shared by two. There are multiply levels for acts of love. Each on is as valid as one from another level; the only difference is the degree of difficulty. I believe a true love is one where the two individuals still maintain their love during life’s challenges. In my opinion, those people who leave a relationship when something hard comes up were never truly in love. For love is unconditional; it will not deflate when a person has a health challenge or disappear when one must travel for work and is gone for weeks at a time. There is the saying love makes the heart grow fonder and I believe it to be true. If love makes up the muscles of the heart then communication is the blood that nourishes it. LOVE was the underlying motivation to the events in this science fiction adventure film. Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook, Winter’s Bone) reprised her role as Katniss Everdeen for this first of a 2 part ending to the series. Having taken refuge in District 13 headed by President Alma Coin, played by Julianne Moore (Non-Stop, What Maisie Knew); Katniss had to be convinced in lending her voice towards the campaign to keep the revolution alive. When it was discovered Peeta Mellark, played by Josh Hutcherson (Red Dawn, The Kids are all Right), was alive and living in the capitol, Katniss agreed to be the spokesperson of the cause. However, there were a couple of conditions that had to be met. If you have not seen the previous films to this franchise you may feel a bit lost with this one. Things moved slowly at first which I attributed to the writers laying down the groundwork for the huge finale with the 2nd half of this story. Jennifer was her usual amazing self with this character; her acting was especially notable due to her having to pretend to act badly in a couple of the scenes. Compared to the previous installments there was not much action in this picture. There was more of a cat and mouse nature to the story. I did find it sad to see the deceased Philip Seymour Hoffman (A Most Wanted Man, Doubt) on screen playing his character Plutarch Heavensbee. A question came up for me during the latter part of the film. Since I had not read the books, I was wondering if it was really necessary to split the final book into two films. My guess was probably not but I understand how studios want to get the most bang for their buck. Though I enjoyed the previous film more, this one did not give me a reason to leave the series now.
There is a certain type of person I cannot play with regarding games or competitive activities. You may be familiar with such an individual. Their only reason for playing is to be the ultimate winner, no matter the cost. I played the game charades with a group of people at a party once, where the opposing team had such an individual. During their turn to guess the answer from their fellow teammate, this person’s face turned to a deep shade of red as he yelled out answers. For all the times he jumped out of his chair, you would have thought the seat was bristling with white hot electricity. When the timer ended and his team heard the correct answer; he shouted at his teammate, asking them why they did not do a particular pantomime gesture as a clue for one of the words. I reached my limit when this person tried changing the rules in the middle of our game, telling us the way he played the game was the right way. If there is one thing I cannot stand it is someone who tries to manipulate or change the rules solely for their benefit. For that very reason, I was quickly invested in the story of this action adventure sequel. After wining last year’s Hunger Games; Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, played by Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook, Winter’s Bone) and Josh Hutcherson (American Splendor, Bridge to Terabithia), had to keep up the appearance of being in love as they embarked on a victory tour throughout the districts. If you have not seen the first movie, I suggest you do because it will help you with the story in this film. The other thing you will notice is the improvements made to this science fiction movie. Let me start out with the script; it kept things tight and added a needed layer of depth to the characters that was missing in the first installment. I must admit I have a little crush on Jennifer’s acting abilities. She was the perfect person to play this role and that is without me having read any of the books this franchise is based on. Besides her gifted acting I thought Elizabeth Banks (The Next Three Days, Role Models) as Effie Trinket and Donald Sutherland (Pride & Prejudice, The Con Artist) as President Snow did a better job in exposing more emotions out of their characters. Not only were the special effects top notch but the high caliber of directing produced a seamless series of scenes that kept me completely engaged and entertained. In the game of making sequels; this exciting film is the way it should be done, because I enjoyed this better than the first movie.
3 1/2 stars
Everything in this action movie such as explosions, gun battles and chases would be ideal if they were all in a video game. If only the armrests had been equipped with joysticks I would have had something to do…like blowing up the entire town on the movie screen. I cannot believe someone at the movie studio sat down and tossed out the idea of doing a remake of a movie that was average at best. And then someone actually replied in the affirmative, offering an updated spin on the original story is mind blowing. In this new version, sections of the United States were taken over in a surprise attack by North Korean forces. On leave, marine Jed Eckert, played by Chris Hemsworth (The Avengers, Snow White and the Huntsman), headed up a group of local teenagers (trust me I am not making this up) to take on the enemy. Josh Peck (The Wackness, What Goes Up) who played Jed’s younger brother Matt, went through this movie in a near catatonic state or maybe he thought he was acting. I still am perplexed why Chris Hemsworth took this role, along with Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games, The Kids are All Right) as Robert Kitner and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Possession, The Losers) as Tanner. The dialog was dreadful, both corny and cliched. Not being a fan of the shaky camera filming effect, I was just annoyed with it here. As for the story it was looney. The idea of this band of kids taking on the North Koreans after they just outsmarted all of the United States’ defenses, was crazy. One would have thought Chris with The Avengers and Josh with The Hunger Games would have made enough money to allow them the luxury of being more selective in their choice of movie roles. A more suitable title for this film would have been Real Dull.
1 1/2 stars
I may not understand all the functions of being a tribute, since I did not read the book; but, I could not imagine anyone better suited then Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone, Like Crazy). In fact, this review will be more of a tribute to Jennifer’s acting skill as Katniss Everdeen, her district’s representative to the Hunger Games; a televised, fight to the death competition. As I mentioned, I did not read the book and felt some of the scenes were rushed and uneven, though the film was 2 hours and 22 minutes long. I am sure the book is better. The relationship between Katniss and her male counterpart, Peeta Mellark played by Josh Hutcherson (Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Fragments) was not easily believable at first. It could have been the difference in the acting skills of the two characters; Jennifer had such screen presence, every time she was in a scene, I could only watch her. The action scenes were well done and a couple of times, I was taken surprise by the level of violence. So the good news is Jennifer Lawrence was outstanding; the bad news is reality television still exists in the future.