1 Paragraph Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (3.8/10)

mockingjay.jpg

Granted that I have avoided seeing the films that were generally viewed as major turds of the year (Fantastic 4, Pan, 50 Shades…) I went into “Mockingjay Part 2” with cautious expectations.  “Catching Fire” was great, “Mockingjay Part 1” was slow but acceptable.  This one was… oh god, what the heck did I just watch.  The film was dragged way too long; you can feel each scene being dragged just a bit longer they should just to fill up its 2-hour run time.  It was frustrating and boring at the same time.  The production and cinematography were fine, but the story was handled so badly that this has got to be one of the most unsatisfying endings to a saga I’ve never seen.

 

1.5 Paragraph Review -Legend

legend poster.jpg

Tom Hardy gives a brilliant performances – scratch that – Tom Hardy gives TWO brilliant performances, in this gangster biopic.  Overall quite entertaining.  Doesn’t hit as hard with its ‘gangster’ action sequences as some gangster classics such as “The Godfather” or “Goodfellas” but does have its moments.

The film connected with me personally as one of the brothers, Ronald Cray, was clinically insane, if not at least some serious conditions.  I work with children with special education needs, and to see (not to that degree, of course) someone like that thrust into the world of gangs, I can be someone sympathetic to his predicaments, as he should have, and would have, received help had he been born at a different time in a different place.

Honorable mention: Emily Browning was fantastic in this film, playing a very beautiful but vulnerable character.

 

1.5 Paragraph Review: Spectre (7.2/10)

spectre poster.jpg

Since “Skyfall” was such a good film, and made a ton of money (over a billion dollars for  a Bond film!?), the studio decided to bring back the director, Sam Mendes.  It seems like with “Spectre,” they decided to retain the feel of “Skyfall” but ditch all the substance and thrills.  The film is way too long for its story (at least 15 minutes too long), loses steam after a thrilling first hour, and had several moments in its third act that denied logic and so cringe-worthy that I was shocked that Mendes made this.  It seemed like, as the film ran out of steam, so did he.  It’s not a horrible film, but a major step down from Skyfall.

Honorable mentions: Lea Seydoux gave a very strong performance as a Bond girl, as did Monica Bellucci.  Dave Bautista was woefully underused, as was Christoph Waltz, who was just wasted (gosh I hope he comes back in the next Bond film).

I’d rank the Daniel Craig Bond films as follows:

  1. Skyfall
  2. Casino Royale
  3. Spectre
  4. Quantum of Solace

 

SPOILERS REVIEW: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

star-wars-force-awakens-official-poster.jpg

What better time to restart my movie reviewing blog after almost an entire year off!? Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a film that was decades in the making.  The result is a thrilling ride that recaptures the magic of the original trilogy.

The story had a solid direction; we are informed from the opening crawl the set up of the plot, and the film never loses its focus.  The special effects were magnificent, especially the scenes featuring the Millennium Falcon (hello nostalgia!).  The acting was solid from top to bottom; the new cast shined while the old was outstanding as they passed the torch.  The action scenes were thrilling, and the experience left me with a smile on my face.

Most importantly, the core of the story, which is centered around the force, is fleshed out.  This opens the door to so many more possibilities in the coming films with regards to the balances of the force.

Following in the footsteps of “A New Hope,” “The Empire Strikes Back,” and “The Return of the Jedi,” “The Force Awakens” is a space opera that is perfect for the holiday season.  If you haven’t see it already (which I suspect many of you have, as it has broken the all-time record for opening weekend box office), be sure to catch this one.

With the general review out of the way, let us talk some spoilers! While I really enjoyed the film, it is by no means perfect.  So, doing so in the most direct way possible, I’m going to discuss a few plot points that shows the film’s shortcomings, which was its pacing.  Keep in mind, though, as John Campea said on Collider Movie Talk, these issues are movie issues, not Star Wars issues (in that these are issues that all films struggle with) Once again, SPOILERS from here onwards!

  1. Rey’s emotional investment into Finn at the end isn’t entirely convincing – Since the duration of which Rey and Finn was only a few days max, I wasn’t sold on her crying near the end when she thought Finn had died.  That kind of a bond comes from months, even years, of being together (think the unit in Saving Private Ryan, the Fellowship in LOTR, or the Harry Potter students).
  2. Some people thought that Han Solo’s death was very telegraphed, that they saw it happen from a mile away.  I wasn’t too sure about that.  Maybe it was Adam Driver’s acting, that internal struggle that he displayed as Ben Solo / Kylo-Ren, that gave me that one glimpse of hope that he would return to the light.  Alas, I was wrong.
  3. Captain Phasma – This supposedly-badass captain of the first order did next to nothing other than being disposed of by Finn and Poe.  I would hope that she’ll have a greater role in Episode VIII
  4. Snoke seems a bit too CGI’ed.  Perhaps the writers tried to walk the line between having a human-esque villain (like the Emperor) and something mythical (like the Eye of Sauron in Lord of the Rings).  The result was a bit underwhelming (although it did give me that menacing Thanos feeling).
  5. I love BB8 as much as anyone else; damn that thing is adorable! But the personable droid got just a tiny bit too much screen time, especially when you compare it to the human characters such as Poe Dameron, Phasma, even General Leia.
  6. I had really hoped Luke would have a bigger role in the film… oh well.  This leads me to my final point!

All of these points are minor compared to the film’s achievements.  This film has brought the Star Wars franchise roaring back, and I absolutely can’t wait for Episode VIII!