The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, review

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 is the third installement in a four feature franchise. Following Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) as she becomes the face of the rebellion against the brutal leaders of the Capitol in the fantasy world of Panam, Mockingjay – Part 1 gears up for the all-out battle to come in the final film. Lawrence is joined by return actors Liam Hemsworth as Gale, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta and the lovable, always kooky Woody Harrelson as an adviser to Katniss. Joining these now well-known characters are two actors who bring an adult touch, and a slice of charm; Julianne Moore as the President of Disctrict 13 and, a man who is in all our hearts this year, and in his second to last film (Part 2 will be his final role), Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch.

Mockingjay – Part 1 has been generally well received and seems to have managed to cement itself as a serious picture. You can no longer call The Hunger Games children’s films, as it presents itself as not only wholly accessible for audiences of all ages, but one which features some truly tense, and shocking material. If you are expecting a war film with this offering, you won’t get it. What you will get is a think piece – a lead up to the battle ahead, with time for character development and plenty of opportunity to strengthen your hatred for Donald Sutherland’s Coriolanus Snow. At 123 minutes the film’s length is judged well, and at no point do you find yourself clock watching, we are even entertained by a musical juncture from Lawrence who shows us all what a talent she really is.

promotional poster for the hunger games: mockingjay - part 1

promotional poster for the hunger games: mockingjay – part 1

Accepting the fact that this is fantasy through and through, the slightly cheesy components these films encompass can certainly be forgiven. With less bizarre haircuts and strange fashion sense, and more concentration on the world in which these characters now find themselves in definitely makes for a much more enjoyable watch. If you can ignore the fact that The Hunger Games is a more accessible version of Battle Royale, and don’t over-think the narrative too much, Mockingjay – Part 1 is a contemporary, fiery and well-directed piece of cinema. Francis Lawrence was brought in on Catching Fire which was clearly a clever choice – he has made what could potentially be a target for mocking and the butt of jokes a film of great success.

With a killer soundtrack, plenty of twists and just enough romance to keep those fan girls happy, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 is most certainly not a disappointment.

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X-Men: Days of Future Past

With the pending DVD release of ‘Days of Future Past it certainly seemed appropriate to give you guys a taste of what to expect, and an insight into what the film holds. As always, let me know what you think of this picture in the comments box.

There is many an X-Men film, from the Wolverine spin-offs to the original run, to this new franchise which brings us to the past (and interestingly, the future, hence that tricky title). X-Men: First Class was a re-invigoration for the series. Directed by Matthew Vaughn, the film took a stylish and well-scripted look into the lives of the younger, and rather handsome, Charles and Erik (or Professor X and Magento as you have probably come to know them). Vaughn made the film both look and feel hella-cool as well as surprisingly super interesting, opening up a world of strange and kooky characters, with powers (or of course more appropriately, mutations) which you and I wish we had. ‘First Class also had the power of making one re-visit older efforts from seasoned director Bryan Singer, who took the reigns with this second installment.

Lets start with whats good about this film, and there are certainly more than a few elements that make it so. The effects and make-up are the best yet, with Mystique presenting the audience with beauty and a streak of rebellion (or evil, whichever way you want to look at it), and the scenes of Magneto working his malevolent metal-wielding mutation are works of genius, and pure fascination. The cast are wonderful too. We welcome back the loveable Hugh Jackman as everyone’s favorite mutant, and McAvoy and Fassbender’s chemistry resembles a young sibling relationship mixed with a strong sense of loathing. The mix of the two makes for humorous effect, something which the franchise has become well-known for (the light relief of comedy is certainly welcomed, and marks X-Men as a series of films that never take itself too seriously).

promotional still for x-men: days of future past

promotional still for x-men: days of future past

Generally, and rather unfortunately,  ‘Days of Future Past falls flat on many different points. The film isn’t fast-paced, and actually droll’s along at the mileage of a Snail, lending to the boredom of those watching. The most interesting scene is the opener, in which we discover President Kennedy was assassinated by Magneto, and that’s both a clever and quite mischievous addition to the production. Evan Peters as Quicksilver adds wonderful humor, and brings a vibe of Scott Pilgrim or Kick Ass, as he  brings that loveable quality of youthful ignorance and cockiness to so many of the roles he plays. The main bug bare for me was the lack of screen time between Magneto and Mystique – Lawrence and Fassbender presented audiences with a simmering sexual chemistry in ‘First Class, and for that to be a missing juncture in ‘Days is something that’s sorely missed. Interjected with scenes from the 1970s are moments from the future, where robots named Sentinels are attempting to track down and kill all remaining mutants, these are well judged and never feel over-long or unnecessary (its also a great chance for the makers to show off how far the quality of the CGI they are able to use has come, and looks visually stunning).

X-Men: Days of Future Past is the second of three films, and that’s often a difficult position to hold in a franchise of films. It has that difficult task of handling characters who are now known, with new narrative traits that at times are most definitely not explained properly. The third film, Apocalypse looks to be a show-down of sorts (if the sneak-peak at the end of the credits has anything to do with it) and perhaps will help bring life back into a set of characters who we all have grown to care about. Bring Vaughn back as director, is what I say.