Posts Tagged ‘Woody Harrelson’

That Dark Cathedral

Venom: Let There Be Carnage

Director: Andy Serkis

Cast: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Woody Harrelson, Naomie Harris, Scott Reid, Stephen Graham

Film Rating: 7 out of 10

Running Time: 97 minutes

Oscar nominee Tom Hardy (The Revenant) reprises his role as struggling San Francisco journalist Eddie Brock aka Venom in the sequel to the 2018 film Venom, now called Venom: Let There Be Carnage.

Directed with a sort of Gothic efficiency by fellow actor Andy Serkis, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a fun-filled monster flick about Brock who is fighting with his dark alter ego Venom who continuously wants to eat anything in sight, while trying to maintain a semblance of a routine existence.

Venom is soon drawn into the world of insane serial killers when he is asked to interview Cletus Kassidy aka Carnage wonderfully played with a crazy attitude by Oscar nominee Woody Harrelson (The People versus Larry Flynt; Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri) who is incarcerated in an insane asylum and longs to be reunited with his one true love, the equally devilish Frances Barron played by Oscar nominee Naomie Harris (Moonlight).

Soon Cletus Kassidy and Frances Barron break out of their respective institutions and are ready to infect chaos in the life of Eddie Brock including his gorgeous ex-girlfriend Anne Weying played by Oscar nominee Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain, Blue Valentine, My Week with Marilyn) and her new boyfriendm, the straight laced Dr Dan Lewis played by Reid Scott.

But Eddie firstly has to find Venom who escapes his body and goes on a gaudy Halloween jaunty only to discover that Brock’s body is the best place to host this symbiosis.

The four main actors made this film savagely enjoyable and director Andy Serkis fortunately did not make an overly cluttered production of this sequel and kept the running time to about 97 minutes while successfully linking Venom into the greater Sony/ Marvel Cinematic Universe as seen by the hilarious end scene in the closing credits. It’s definitely worth staying in your cinema seat for as the film ends.

Venom: Let There be Carnage does not pretend to be high-brow but it is loads of fun particularly for fans of the first film and Tom Hardy relishes in playing the role of Eddie Brock, a struggling journalist who has a hard time reconciling with his inner demon in this case the increasingly ravenous Venom.

Hardy’s body language throughout the film is amazing and so is Woody Harrelson and the final showdown in a dark Cathedral outside San Francisco is dripping with murky B-Grade Horror film references particularly the attempted marriage scene between Cletus Kassidy and Frances Barron.

Audiences should also look out for the clever animation sequence inserted in the middle of the film.

So relax and go watch Venom: Let There Be Carnage, it’s a fun-filled crazy superhero film which does not take itself or the entire caper scenario very seriously.

Efficiently directed by Andy Serkis, Venom: Let There be Carnage gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and is not brilliant but a worthy sequel to the 2018 original.

War in The Pacific

Midway

Director: Roland Emmerich

Cast: Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Dennis Quaid, Woody Harrelson, Mandy Moore, Luke Evans, Luke Kleintank, Aaron Eckhart, Nick Jonas, Keean Johnson, Etushi Toyokawa, Tadanobu Asano, Darren Criss, Brandon Sklenar, Jake Manley

The Battle of Midway was the turning point in the fight between the Americans and the Japanese in the summer of 1942, which followed on from the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbour in December 1941.

German director Roland Emmerich who brought viewers such films as Anonymous, 2012, The Day After Tomorrow and Independence Day, directs Midway with explosive special effects and excellent sound editing by Peter Bawlec.

Emmerich expertly recreates a good old fashioned war film with Midway aided by a superb ensemble cast who all play real life heroes who participated and survived the epic Battle of Midway.

This cast includes Ed Skrein (Maleficent, Mistress of Evil) who plays maverick pilot Dick Best, Mandy Moore plays his outspoken wife Ann Best, Patrick Wilson as naval intelligence officer Edwin Layton, Oscar nominee Woody Harrelson (Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri) plays Chester W. Nimitz, Welsh actor Luke Evans plays Wade McClusky, Dennis Quaid plays William Halsey and Aaron Eckhart plays Jimmy Doolittle.

There are also brief appearances by musician turned actor Nick Jonas as Bruno Gaido and American Crime Story Golden Globe winner Darren Criss as Eugene Lindsay.

What screenwriter Wes Tooke does insightfully is present the battle of Midway from both the American and the Japanese perspectives showing that in every war there are always losses on both side, while highlighting the specific historical landmarks which pinpointed Japanese aggression in the Far East and the Pacific.

The bombing of Pearl Harbour dragged America into the Second World War and caused the Pacific Theatre of War to be fraught with tragedy, aggression and strategic victories on both sides until eventually the Japanese sued for peace in 1945 after the American’s decisive and devastating atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

With spectacular visual effects, Midway is highly recommended viewing for fans of genuine historical War films which as a genre Hollywood seems to have disregarded in favour of superhero fantasy franchises.

Midway gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 is definitely worth seeing for the visual effects, the battle sequences and the portrayal of historical events during World War II which pitted two naval world powers against each other: America and the Empire of the Sun.  

Marvel’s Malevolent Hero

Venom

Director: Ruben Fleischer

Cast: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Jenny Slate, Scott Haze, Reid Scott, Melora Walters, Woody Harrelson

Marvel’s malevolent hero Venom comes to the big screen featuring Tom Hardy in the title role of investigative journalist Eddie Brock who unwillingly acquires the powers of a symbiote – a dark alien creature who allows him to be super-strong, constantly hungry and transform into Venom. Gangster Squad director Ruben Fleischer helms this San Francisco beast of a film.

Tom Hardy whose previous superhero work was as the villain Bane in Christopher Nolan’s electrifying The Dark Knight Rises makes the most of this anti-hero role which at times is thinly written but almost lovable as he battles the ruthless Silicon Valley tech billionaire Carlton Drake played by Riz Ahmed (The Reluctant Fundamentalist), whose alter ego is Riot – viewers can imagine the rest.

Michelle Williams plays Eddie Brock’s love interest Anne Weying and Hotel Artemis star Jenny Slate plays Dr Dora Smith who inadvertently turns against Drake after she discovers his true horrifying motivations for harbouring the symbiote.

If audiences don’t take Venom too seriously and if they are Marvel fans then Venom is an average likable superhero film featuring a wonderful performance by Hardy whose facial expressions change constantly between trustworthy and demonic. Knowing Marvel and Tom Hardy’s star power, I am sure there is a Venom sequel in development.

Venom is like the Gothic outcast of superheroes in the realm of Frankenstein, but Hardy makes his character so likeable that it’s difficult not to be on his side.

Venom gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and is strictly for twisted Marvel fans who like their superheroes ugly and hungry!

Recommended viewing and personally I enjoyed Venom a lot more than I expected, mainly because of the superb casting of Oscar nominees Tom Hardy (The Revenant) and Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea, My Week with Marilyn) in the main roles, whose onscreen chemistry sizzles.

Be sure to stay after the credits to catch a glimpse of Cletus Kasady….

Origins of an Intergalactic Smuggler

Solo: a Star Wars Story

Director: Ron Howard

Cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Paul Bettany, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Erin Kellyman, Jon Favreau, Linda Hunt

I have to confess I am a huge Star Wars fan. Ever since the first trilogy I saw when I was a kid, I have been hooked.

Well, when rumours circulated in the film trade press that there was going to be an origins story for Han Solo – it certainly piqued my curiosity. The casting was superb. The boyish charm of Alden Ehrenreich last seen in Warren Beatty’s Rules Don’t Apply is perfectly cast as the Young Han Solo, a role made famous by the Hollywood star Harrison Ford.

With steady direction by Ron Howard, Solo: A Star Wars Story is a brilliant prequel recommended especially for fans of the original trilogy, extracting elements out of The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi.

To add to the continuity, Donald Glover plays the young gambler Lando Calrissian last seen on the Bespin Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back and played back then by Billy Dee Williams. Glover is superb as the young Lando, a carefree gambler who gambles the millennium falcon in a space contest with the equally adventurous Han Solo.

Solo: A Star Wars Story also features Oscar nominee Woody Harrelson as the smuggler Tobais Beckett who teams up with Han Solo on a raid on an icy planet to steal some explosive mineral for the nefarious Dryden Vos, wonderfully played by British star Paul Bettany.

Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke plays the intergalactic femme fatale Qi’ra who facilitates between Han Solo and his enemy Vos. As Beckett advises Han solo in the cutthroat world of smuggling and intergalactic piracy, trust no one.

Westworld star Thandie Newton briefly appears as Beckett’s love interest Val, a fearless fellow smuggler.

The magnificent scenes in the film belong to those between Lando and Han, which establishes a friendship based on rivalry and pure competitiveness as each recognize a rogue quality in each other. Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover are cleverly cast as these two iconic space heroes.

Solo: A Star Wars Story is an entertaining hyperspace glimpse into the origins of an infamous intergalactic Smuggler as possibly one of George Lucas’s best loved characters, the charming risk taker pilot Han Solo which both Ford and now Ehrenreich captured so perfectly onscreen.

With stunning production design and beautiful cinematography, Solo: A Star Wars Story gets a film rating of 8 out of 10.

Highly recommended viewing for fans that love Star Wars films and fondly remember the original trilogy which shaped their love for sci-fi.

 

 

You Rock Mildred Hayes

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Director: Martin McDonagh

Cast: Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Abbie Cornish, Peter Dinklage, Lucas Hedges, John Hawkes, Christopher Berry, Zeljko Ivanek, Sandy Martin, Amanda Warren

Oscar winner Frances McDormand (Fargo) gives another Oscar winning performance as the tough and angry Mildred Hayes in director Martin MCDonagh’s acerbic small town drama Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri.

The In Bruges director paints a visceral picture of a small town populated with angry residents trapped by their own limited destinies as they battle to deal with grief, anger, death and divorce.

Featuring a phenomenally well placed cast, Three Billboards also contains stand out performances by Woody Harrelson as Chief Willoughby, Sam Rockwell as the rash and violent mama’s boy cop Dixon, who exudes pent-up aggression in his posture.

There are a host of smaller roles notably played by Peter Dinklage as James, Oscar nominee John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone) as Mildred’s abusive ex-husband Charlie who has run off with a nineteen year old and Caleb Landry Jones (American Made, Get Out) as the Ebbing advertising manager Red Welby who unknowingly rents out the Billboards.

At the centre of this brittle portrayal of small town America is Frances McDormand as Mildred who is still grieving the rape and murder of her daughter Angela, a case still unsolved by the Ebbing police department.

Their bureaucratic ineptitude prompts Mildred to hire out Three Billboards which cast blame on Chief Willoughby and his team including Dixon and Desk Sergeant played Zeljko Ivanek.

Mildred’s anger and her constant profanity to the town’s population causes her relationship with her young son, Robbie, superbly played by Oscar nominee Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea) to deteriorate.

Without giving away an intricate plot, Mildred’s main battle comes up against Dixon, a tightly wound on point performance by Sam Rockwell who deservedly won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar.

Martin McDonagh’s profane script and lively characters should have earned him an Oscar for best original screenplay but more significantly he managed to cast just the right actors in this drama which exemplify all the prejudice, bitterness and anger of being trapped in small town America which has lost touch with current socio-political trends sweeping the major cities.

Three Billboards is a powerful indictment of complacency, a brutal commentary about the violence perpetrated against women everywhere, a lot of which goes unpunished especially in provincial settings like Ebbing, Missouri which are sealed off from the nerve centres of cosmopolitan cities by their paucity and lack of economic opportunities.

It’s a relevant film about vengeance, grief and guilt, sharpened by Frances McDormand’s superb performance as Mildred Hayes who takes the law into her own hand, challenging authority and disrupting the status quo by hiring Three Billboards to show up the law enforcement as being incompetent idiots.

Three Billboards is highly recommended viewing, which will surely be discussed in years to come as a nerve-wracking examination of gender and social dynamics in localized communities.

The Oscar winning Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri gets a film rating of 9 out of 10.

 

 

 

 

We Own The Stars

The Glass Castle

Director: Destin Daniel Cretton

Cast: Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson, Naomi Watts, Ella Anderson, Sarah Snook, Max Greenfield, Josh Caras, Iain Armitage, Sadie Sink, Brigette Lundy-Paine

Hawaiian director Destin Daniel Cretton’s cinematic adaptation of the bestselling novel by Jeanette Walls The Glass Castle is an emotional and intricate exploration of a dysfunctional family’s unconventional upbringing.

The Glass Castle stars Oscar nominee Woody Harrelson (The People vs Larry Flynt, The Messenger) as the patriarch Rex Walls and Oscar nominee Naomi Watts (21 Grams, The Impossible) as his wife Rose Mary. Oscar winner Brie Larson (Room) stars as the grownup second daughter Jeanette who would eventually turn from gossip columnist writer to bestselling author of the novel from which the story is based.

Ella Anderson plays the younger version of Jeannette who has to deal with her poverty-stricken parents as they grow up in the backwater of West Virginia, often living in abandoned buildings and scrounging for food money.

At the film’s outset it is clear that Jeannette has a special bond with her heavy drinking, big dreaming and often delusional father Rex who keeps promising her and her siblings (two sisters and a brother) that he is going to build the family a glass castle from which they can glimpse the stars through.

As the narrative shifts between New York in 1989 and her poverty stricken upbringing in rural West Virginia, The Glass Castle intelligently explores the concepts of sustainable living, of living off the grid and repudiating the city driven Capitalist work ethic which defines contemporary America.

The mother Rose Mary is too busy painting to watch her children, never mind feed them while the father Rex is too busy drinking to actually get a proper a job to support his family. Woody Harrelson gives one of the best performances of his screen career as Rex Walls as he manipulates and misguides the family into believing that he has the capacity to actually take care of them.

Eventually the young Jeannette says to her siblings that they have to make their own plans to save up money and leave West Virginia for more lucrative work opportunities in New York.

Fast forward to 1989, where the older Jeannette, beautifully played with nuance and comprehensive emotional intelligence by Brie Larson who as a successful journalist on the verge of marrying her straitlaced accountant fiancée David played by Max Greenfield (The Big Short) suddenly has to contend with her parents squatting on the Lower East Side in an abandoned building.

Josh Caras, Brigette Lundy-Paine and Sarah Snook (The Dressmaker, Steve Jobs) play the other siblings Brian, Maureen and Lori.

The best scenes in The Glass Castle are between Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson and while the film is an emotional joyride, it does not give the parents any social accountability for the way they brought up their children through neglect and apparent starvation.

The Glass Castle is a fascinating exploration of familial responsibility or lack thereof and the emotional effects that irresponsible parents decision making can have on their unsuspecting children.

The drama gets a film rating of 8 out 10.

The highly underrated Woody Harrelson should received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his performance as Rex Walls in the upcoming 2018 Academy Awards.

The Glass Castle is recommended viewing for those that enjoy a tense, sometimes difficult family drama where the children are told to pick stars while they are starving on earth.

The Survival of the Species

War for the Planet of the Apes

Director: Matt Reeves

Cast: Woody Harrelson, Andy Serkis, Toby Kebbell, Judy Greer, Steve Zahn, Amiah Miller, Max Lloyd-Jones

Original score composer Michael Giacchino won an Oscar for Best Original Score for the animated film Up in 2010. Giacchino has also composed film music for Ratatouille, Inside Out and Jurassic World among many others. His most recent musical composition is for the Matt Reeves directed War for the Planet of the Apes in which he surely deserves another Oscar nomination.

In this case, brilliant music makes the film. War for the Planet of the Apes on a technical level is a superb film with superior production design by James Chinlund while the sound editing is perfect especially noticeable in the film’s final battle sequence which by all counts is absolutely remarkable.

As a story of survival of one species over another and an allegorical tale about the horrors of colonialism, War for the Planet of the Apes, with an engaging screenplay by Mark Bomback, is a fascinating film examining ethnographically man’s relationship with animals within the context of climate change or scientific experimentation.

At the centre of the narrative about a vicious conflict between men and apes is a towering performance by Oscar nominee Woody Harrelson (No Country for Old Men, The People vs. Larry Flynt, The Messenger) as The Colonel In which he draws direct inspiration from Marlon Brando’s performance of Colonel Kurtz in Francis Ford Coppola’s ground breaking Apocalypse Now.

Andy Serkis in motion capture technology plays Caesar an ape desperately trying to save his clan from being eliminated by the merciless attack of The Colonel’s army.

In a fascinating plot twist, the apes discover a mute young girl, played by Amiah Miller who galvanizes their support to fight on and also provides empathy for a conflict which is far more complex than it appears, brought on by a simian virus which has attacked Earth.

In the final chapter of the Apes Trilogy, War for the Planet of the Apes is technically brilliant, engaging and utterly watchable and director Matt Reeves has proved his worth in a film which is as good as Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, which also provided the final chapter in a compact trilogy.

Toby Kebbell (Warcraft, Prince of Persia) appears briefly as Koba and Steve Zahn (Dallas Buyers Club) appears as Bad Ape all done in superb motion capture technology but what really elevates War for the Planet of the Apes was the excellent musical score provided by Michael Giacchino for which he should be recognized at the 2018 Oscars.

War for the Planet of the Apes gets a film rating of 8.5 out of 10 and is highly recommended for audiences that enjoyed the first two chapters of the Apes films. Technically this film is extraordinary.

 

Digital Illusions

Now You See Me 2

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Director: Jon M. Chu

Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Lizzy Caplan, Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Daniel Radcliffe, Dave Franco, Sanaa Lathan

Following the success of the 2013 magical film Now You See Me, there was definitely a call to make a sequel and reunite the illusive four horsemen.

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In the sequel, Now You See Me 2, G. I. Joe: Retaliation director Jon M. Chu misses the mark in providing a magical follow up to the original film, despite reuniting the same cast including Jesse Eisenberg as Daniel Atlas, Woody Harrelson as Merritt McKinney who also has a rather irritating identical twin brother in this film, Mark Ruffalo as Dylan Rhodes and Dave Franco as Jack Wilder.

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New to the cast is master illusionist Lula played by Lizzy Caplan famous from the raunchy Masters of Sex TV series and the superfluous Daniel Radcliffe as a reclusive tech billionaire Walter Mabry who recruits the magicians to steal back a ubiquitous yet highly guarded computer chip which can hack into anything at an international exchange in the glamorous resort casinos of Macau.

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As the action moves swiftly from New York to Macau and then onto London, the magical tricks and digital illusions even involving numerous card tricks in which the microchip seemingly passes from one horseman to another, Now You See Me 2 appears to be lacking in the essential element of revelation. Something the first film did so brilliantly. For as the optical illusions, card tricks and magic increases, there is less time to provide valuable explanations to the bewildered if slightly amused audience.

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Veteran actors Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman reprise their roles as Arthur Tressler and Thaddeus Bradley respectively whose unholy alliance leads the Four Horseman to play the ultimate trick on the chief villain, a poorly played part by Daniel Radcliffe, who unfortunately appeared to be out of place in this sequel. Perhaps Radcliffe should stick to stronger script material with meatier roles in mind like he did in Victor Frankenstein and Kill Your Darlings.

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Oscar nominee Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight, Foxcatcher) is plausibly believable as the elusive FBI agent Rhodes despite occasionally giving the impression that he should not have signed on for this sequel. Harrelson is in top form playing twins and the only sparks are provided by Eisenberg and Caplan who seem to be the most energetic and enthusiastic magicians.

Whilst Now You See Me 2 falls short of being as brilliant as the first film, it certainly is a fun film to watch even if the plot is slightly convoluted especially in between the globetrotting disappearing acts that the main actors seem to do quite effortlessly. Now You See Me 2 is an enjoyable film, but nothing as magical or dazzling as the original. Lets hope the third film in this magical trilogy is more impressive.

Flipping the Coin

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

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Director: Francis Lawrence

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland, Jeffrey Wright, Julianne Moore, Sam Claflin, Paula Malcolmson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Stanley Tucci, Natalie Dormer, Sarita Choudhury, Patina Miller, Mahershala Ali, Willow Shields, Michelle Forbes

Consistency of vision is always imperative when converting a trilogy of bestselling novels into films and certainly The Hunger Games trilogy based upon the allegorical novels by Suzanne Collins have maintained that consistency in terms of casting, production design and overall cinematic appeal.

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Whether parent company Lionsgate’s decision to split the final installment of The Hunger Games, Mockingjay was a wise one remains debatable. Nevertheless director Francis Lawrence returns with the second part of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay picking up exactly where the first part finished.

Peeta Mellark has been returned to the rebels from the capitol, although slightly deranged and brainwashed. Our sturdy heroine Katniss Everdeen, beautifully played by Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) is unsure of Peeta’s complete rehabilitation and loyalty.

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In a brutal war, which takes Katniss and her team first to District 2 and then onto a treacherous mission of penetrating the devastated capitol, where images of the aging President Snow, still wonderfully played by Donald Sutherland, are flashed across random TV screens at interim moments during a savage battle between the rebels and peacekeepers. Urged on by the charismatic District 13 President Coin, played by Oscar winner (Still Alice) Julianne Moore, Katniss and her unit are implored to take the capitol and assassinate President Snow.

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As the love triangle which was initiated in The Hunger Games, between Katniss, Peeta and the hunky Gale Hawthorne, played by Liam Hemsworth is teased out to its logical conclusion, Katniss has to stay true to her own convictions, despite the brutal toll it takes on herself and her family. Katniss realizes in Mockingjay Part 2 that she is a symbolic pawn between Presidents Snow and Coin, while always struggling to retain her own autonomy and individuality.

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Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks reprise their roles as Haymitch and Effie Trinket respectively, although audiences should be warned that Mockingjay Part 2 is considerably darker in tone and texture than the lurid The Hunger Games or the visually gripping Catching Fire.

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A dark mood of warfare and finality hangs over the film, even with the cast giving a sense that this violent action trilogy has exhausted all options. Considering the recently high level of violence in the contemporary world, especially as shown on international news broadcast, suffice is to say that American author Suzanne Collins has made her point about millennials becoming immune to violence both on screen and in real life.

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Despite an all-star cast including the last screen appearance of Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote) as Plutarch Heavensbee, Mockingjay Part 2, belongs to Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson as their characters come to terms with their dramatic destiny in the face of a manipulative conflict between the Rebels and the Capitol.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 is recommended viewing for fans of the entire trilogy although the 3-D technology was not used effectively, making the second part of Mockingjay too long and aimless. Inevitably, Katniss Everdeen triumphs but at great personal cost to herself.

 

 

 

War is a Constructed Image

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

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Director: Francis Lawrence

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Julianne Moore, Jeffrey Wright, Elizabeth Banks, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Natalie Dormer, Donald Sutherland, Robert Knepper, Paula Malcolmson, Sam Claflin

The final book of the Hunger Games Trilogy, Mockingjay comes to the big screen in two parts, Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is a monochromatic diatribe about notions of war as a constructed image, and intelligently explores the concept of rebellion.

Katniss Everdeen, superbly played by Oscar Winner Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) has survived the Quarter Quell and plunged Panem into civil war between the Capital and the Districts, with her own District 12 being obliterated by the ruthless Capitol bombers.

Director Francis Lawrence creates a superb dichotomy between a more vicious Capital and the newly discovered District 13, a haven for the rebels built entirely below ground so as to escape the Capital’s firepower. Utilitarian District 13 ruler Madame President Coin, wonderfully played by Oscar Nominee Julianne Moore has plans of using Katniss as the much beloved symbol of resistance, the Mockingjay.

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However in the Capital, President Snow, played by veteran star Donald Sutherland has captured Peeta Mellark, the tribute who didn’t escape the Quarter Quell and like Coin is using Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) in a vicious game of propaganda and deceit to lure Katniss and her supporters into attacking the Capital.

In this manipulated game of propaganda, both Katniss and Mellark are used as constructs by a ruthless war machine intent on destroying humanity in this allegorical society. With Katniss being filmed against the ruins of one of the Districts after a hospital is destroyed, the viewer would think they are watching scenes of the recent conflict in the Syrian Civil War or the Crisis in the Ukraine.

Director Lawrence obviously working with a far bigger budget, has a clearer vision of this dystopian world post Hunger Games, after the lavish excess of the Capitol and the vicious expandability of the children fighting each other in a death match which made the first two films The Hunger Games and Catching Fire that much more riveting.

Whilst in the first two, the children or tributes as they were known in Suzanne Collins novels were the centre of attention, in Mockingjay it is clearly an adult world, with war a primary signifier in moving the brutal narrative along, ably assisted by a brilliant supporting cast.

This cast includes Oscar winner Phillip Seymour Hoffman (who incidentally died of a drug overdose during the filming of Mockingjay) in one of his last screen performances as Plutarch Heavensbee, Elizabeth Banks in a wonderful cameo as the downtrodden Prisoner of War yet still irrepressible Effie Trinket, along with Woody Harrelson as Haymitch and Jeffrey Wright as Beetee who all bring a gravity to Katniss’s predicament as her decision to become the symbol of the rebellion is thwarted by President Snow’s twisted methods especially using Mellark as a pawn.

The Hunger Games and Catching Fire was clearly aimed at the mature teenage market, but Mockingjay Part One is definitely aimed at a more mature audience whose has become used to seeing violent images of global conflicts flash across their TV screens. Even though it’s an allegorical tale Mockingjay Part 1 undoubtedly reflects a contemporary 21st century immunity to violent onscreen images of war, highlighting that along with all the propaganda and the rhetoric, the constant bloodshed seen has become engrained in a future society which appears to be emotionally resistant to such global strife, despite its constant coverage on all the international news broadcasts.

Mockingjay Part 1, although the storyline purposefully is left hanging at the end, still remains an impressively dark cinematic vision, gripping and unrelenting. Audience naturally hope that Part 2 will be equally brilliant and impressive. This is recommended viewing for those that have read the books and have followed the massive success of this ferocious and fascinating film franchise.

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