The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Hunger Games

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutchinson, Liam Hemsworth and Donald Sutherland
Directed by Francis Lawrence
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and for some thematic material

     It has finally come to the end. In this last chapter of the highly anticipated Hunger Games franchise, Katniss and her two boyfriends, Peeta and Gale, set off to do battle in the capital with the hope of killing off President Snow once and for all.

     The great thing about this Hunger Games finale is that the franchise started out strong and each one of these films has been consistent since. This film is no different. It is a loyal telling of the book’s story and while the movies have gotten progressively darker (hard to believe if you haven’t read the books), they have not deviated from their source material in any major way.

     In other words – you won’t be surprised – and that’s a good thing. Since a vast majority of the audience has read through the novels at least once, almost everyone will get exactly what they expect out of this finish. This sounds elementary, but so many recent franchises haven’t accomplished this. Twilight, Maze Runner and The Divergent Series have managed some extreme let downs due to filmmakers’ inability to represent the various authors’ visions on screen. The fact that The Hunger Games has carried out this feat in spectacular fashion is a huge accomplishment and one that will be heralded for decades to come.

     So is the film perfect? Hardly. I’m still not convinced that we needed a two-part finale. While the actions taken by the cast are in the book, much of it is unnecessary for the telling of the overall story and I bet a talented screenwriter could have put this thing in at one film with less than a three hour running time. That being said, the studio wants to make money and this formula has been working for Hollywood so I get why they do it.

     At least the filmmakers didn’t sleep walk through it. It appears that they made every attempt to give us our money’s worth. If they are going to try to take some extra hard-earned dollars, its nice that they at least want to have you enjoying yourself while you cough them up. Overall, I feel that my time spent with these films has been well-rewarded. A-

New in Home Entertainment – November 24, 2015


New in Home Entertainment

November 24, 2015

Shaun the Sheep
Rated PG for rude humor
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
From the creators of Wallace & Gromit comes this fantastic little stop-motion animated film about a family of sheep who inadvertently give their owner amnesia while trying to take a day off, and then go on an adventure to recover him. Told without spoken dialog, the film is a creative and fun story with great imagination and big belly laughs. While technically a flop (the film only made 19 of its 64 million dollars in the U.S.), it was a critical smash, garnering a 99% score on Rotten Tomatoes. Whether or not you have kids, you owe it to yourself to check this one out as it will bring a huge smile to your face and give you a great film to suggest to your friends who I can almost guarantee haven’t seen it yet. A-

Ricki and the Flash
Rated PG-13 for thematic material, brief drug content, sexuality and language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Everything about this film says it should have been a hit. The Silence of the Lambs director Jonathan Demme was at the helm and Juno writer Diablo Cody wrote the script. The greatest actor of our time, Meryl Streep, was the star. The film even had my favorite rock star, Rick Springfield, in a large starring role. But this film about an aged rocker wannabe who tries to rekindle her relationship with her family falls very flat. The movie has its moments but so much of it seems inauthentic that it becomes a hard pill to swallow. C

American Ultra
Rated R for strong bloody violence, language throughout, drug use and some sexual content
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
American Ultra asks the question “what if Jason Bourne was stoner?” It’s a question that only a stoner would ask, but enough talented people put their time and money into it to really come up with a solid answer. In this case Jesse Eisenberg is just a loser pothead who suddenly realizes that he is a butt-whooping secret agent capable of taking on whatever the US government can throw at him. Along with his girlfriend, Kristen Stewart, the two try to stay alive long enough to figure out what is going on. Eisenberg and Stewart are actually somewhat likable heroes here and some of the film is fun to watch. The plot is ridiculous and contrived, but the acton is extreme and the violence has a twisted sense of humor to it that makes it less real and less offensive. Still, the film has a very limited audience and it justifiably flopped at the box office. C+

New in Home Entertainment – November 10, 2015


New in Home Entertainment

November 10, 2015

Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and some drug use
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
From The 40 Year Old Virgin director Judd Apatow comes this shock comedy about a selfish single journalist (Amy Schumer) who knows love is in her best interest but would rather live her life without romantic commitment. Written by Schumer, the film is as dirty as her standup comedy and television show, but deep within there is a heart, if not misplaced. The result of bringing Judd and Amy together is an absolutely hilarious two hours that will have you cringing at some moments and tearing up at others. B+

Terminator Genisys
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and gunplay throughout, partial nudity and brief strong language
Available on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D
Arnold Schwarzenegger is back in yet another Terminator film where resistance leader John Connor (Jason Clarke) sends back his father Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) to protect his mother (Emilia Clarke), who is already being protected by an older version of the Terminator robot played by Schwarzenegger. Of course things don’t go as planned and a ridiculous plot unfolds leaving you scratching your head for two hours. To make matters worse, the actors, who are all mostly very solid, give horrendous and unbelievable performances that I can only blame on the lousy script and direction by folks without the pedigree to handle a big franchise film such as this. And to make matters worse, the special effects, for which this franchise is probably most famous, are a step down from what we’ve seen in previous installments. D

New in Home Entertainment – November 3, 2015

inside out

New in Home Entertainment

November 3, 2015

Inside Out
Rated PG for mild thematic elements and some action
Available on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D
Pixar has always had a talent for taking stories that don’t sound very interesting and turning them into thrilling pieces of animated art. For example Up followed an elderly man obsessed with balloons and Ratatouille tells the tale of rat who dreams of cooking. In this case, Inside Out shows us the inner emotions of a pre-teen girl as she moves with her family from the midwest to San Francisco. She’s up, she’s down and then when a chemical imbalance occurs she is at risk of forever entering a dark world with no joy. Speaking of joy, Joy is her personified happiness who scrambles in her brain to try to fix the problem and get her girl back on track. It’s a brilliant, lovely film, full of intelligence and creativity. After a string of critical misses from Pixar, it’s nice to see that their brain trust isn’t dead, but rather very much still alive and kicking. A

The End of the Tour
Rated R for language including some sexual references
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
From The Spectacular Now director James Ponsoldt comes this based on a true story about the five day interview between Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) and David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel) which took place after the release of his novel Infinite Jest. Because of the very nature of the film (it’s an extremely dialog-heavy pic with a very heavy undertone) it is somewhat of a hard sell, but this really is a great little indie worth checking out if not for the subject then for the terrific performances by Segel and Eisenberg. A-

Seymour: an introduction
Rated PG for some mild thematic elements
Available on DVD
In his first attempt at a feature narrative, famed actor Ethan Hawke shows us the life of virtuoso pianist Seymour Bernstein and his impact on the people in his life. The beautiful thing about this doc, besides the music, is the way Hawke has allowed us into the world of Seymour. It’s like we ourselves get the chance to sit down over coffee and absorb an ounce or two of the man’s greatness. It’s inspiring and motivating to say the least. At times it will absolutely bring a tear to your eye. A

I Love Lucy: The Complete Series
Available on DVD
I just couldn’t find anything bad to review this week and to close out there’s I Love Lucy on 33 DVDs. It’s one of the most important television shows of all time and still hilarious 64 years later. This new set from Paramount contains all six season of I Love Lucy (1951-1957) plus three season of the Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour (1957-1960). It will take you weeks or more to get through but could be the perfect Christmas present for the right fan. A