The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

Mockingjay part 2 poster

I don’t think they should of made Mockingjay 2 movies.  I thought it after I saw the first and I thought it again after I concluded the series.  The choice is to milk it for more money, show a little bit more, and they were successful on both those fronts.   We know Mockingjay is going to make bank, but it doesn’t make it any less true that these movies are weaker apart.

I loved the first two Hunger Games movies.  I thought they were amazing looking, had awesome characters, and really made you feel for the citizens of Panem.  Mockingjay felt like a rushed, far weaker closing to this “trilogy.”  Splitting up the movies led to a far weaker first movie where nothing happened, and was horribly boring.  They had to fill 2 hours and they did not have anything to fill it with, so it felt cold, careless and struggling for story.   Mockingjay part 2 felt like it was half a movie.  At barely over 2 hours it really didn’t deliver that much either.  It was intended to have a “Hunger Games” style arena type movie, but it was a small part of the movie and felt very weak compared to the previous arenas.  It all was just a poor choice.

Mockingjay part 2 ends as you would expect.  It delivers on your expectations of what is supposed to happen.  It delivers the ending of a teen book trilogy.  I think that is where I am most disappointed, after all of this build up, years of story, and millions of dollars, it ended, and it was not exciting or unexpected.  It ended with a sunset and a fade to black and felt like I didn’t even need to see this movie to get to this ending.  This movie is more a failure of story and executive decisions, than it was on ground level execution.  I don’t know which is worse.

So as I stated in my other review for this week.  If I was going to pick a movie for this weekend, I would pick The Night Before.  It is a far better movie all around.  You can catch Mockingjay on HBO whenever it comes out on that.

3 Stars for Mockingjay part 2

The Night Before

The Night Before Movie Review

I am ashamed.  I prejudged, based on a trailer.  I try not to watch trailers in general, they are horrible misleading things, that can skew the experience of a movie quite a bit.  It can make you think a movie will be the best thing you have ever seen, only to be woefully disappointed.  Or as with The Night Before, it can make you think you are about to see a horrible pile of crap, but are given a wonderful movie watching experience.

The Night Before has everything you want in a Christmas rated R movie.  A solid funny movie, with something redeeming and wonderful in the end.  This is not a dark R rated comedy with nothing of value.  It is smart, cute, funny, adult and charming.  It has a great ending and is way better than that horrible trailer is making it look.  Seth Rogan is in top form in this movie and is so funny, it is one of my favorite characters he has ever played.  This movie deals with friendship, family, growth, and all those things that we want to think about around Christmas.  It does not pander, or force those messages either.  They feel natural, and part of the story.

I know that The Hunger Games comes out this weekend, so getting you to go see The Night Before is going to be hard, but I am going to try anyway.   This is the movie we need for Thanksgiving.  The Hunger Games is ok, but this is the better movie.  Everything about it feels far better than The Hunger Games and if I had to pick which one I was going to see this weekend (If I did not have kids with me) I would pick The Night Before.

4 Stars for The Night Before

The First Night Trivia:  The man who plays Mr. Green is also General Zod, and does not have a twitter account.

Bridge Of Spies

Bridge Of Spies Movie Review

Did you know there was a movie directed by Steven Spielberg coming out this weekend, and that it has Tom Hanks in it?  You didn’t?  Neither do most people.  The smaller, less huge movie by Spielberg deals with a very small story, in a very big cold war.  The story is about a insurance lawyer played by Tom Hanks, who is asked by the US Government to defend the first discovered Russian Spy during the Cold War.  They want it to look like the US is on the up and up when it comes to our due process, even to commies.

The story ends up unfolding into this twisty weird spy story that feels like no one knew what they were doing then.  We just happen to pick the right guy at the right time that would fight for what is right.   This movie is big on patriotism and the fight for what is right against an overwhelming drive to cut corners and not follow our rules of law.   It states that always is the time to do what is right, the time to give everyone the rights we take for granted and the things that make us a great country.   The movie is powerful, wonderfully crafted and delivers a very clear message to the world of today.

It is pretty easy to know that this is a solid contention for awards, with Tom Hanks and Spielberg teaming up again with the Coen Brothers writing, but that is not what makes this movie great.  What is wonderful about it, is the very small hidden story that was found and is told now, to the world of today, and how much it applies to this world now.  The history that is taught here, makes you reflect on what is happening in the world and makes you look at what is right, and what you believe in, compared to what the US is supposed to be about.  The Coen brothers delivered an amazing script, that was directed beautifully and acted by top notch actors who believed in everything they were saying.  It is a powerful piece of film, and a favorite of mine for the year.

5 Stars for Bridge Of Spies

Black Mass

Black Mass Poster

There is a lot going on in Black Mass.   It is a story that spans a long period of time.  It is a story about Whitey Bulger who was a South Boston gang leader that ended up on the F.B.I’s most wanted list for 20 years until he was caught in 2011.  Whitey Bulger is played by Johnny Depp.  Looking over Johnny Depp’s list of movies I see he played John Dillinger but overall has not delt with heavy characters that are as brutal and horrifying as Whitey Bulger.

Johnny Depp delivers an amazing performance as the Irish mobster.  Staring into the audience’s eyes with the blue eyes of Bulger you feel chills as he terrorizes across the country.  Truly wonderful, and very nice to see him doing something far different than his usual characters.

Black Mass the movie, while very good, is a bit scattered.  It is hard to get a sense of what is going on, and the criminal activity that is happening besides random killings.  The story has to deal with multiple locations, time frames and various illegal businesses and it gets a little lost trying to tell it all.  However the performances are so strong and that subject matter is not that important that it is forgivable.  The movie still entertains, frightens, and shows the grip he had on so many people.  It paints a picture of this person that I never knew about and delivers that story very well.

I enjoyed this movie very much, even with it’s flaws.  I think it is worth watching, and paying for.  It is violent, and heavy so be aware if you are looking for a little lighter faire.  It is worth seeing this weekend though if you are looking to hit the theaters and don’t want to go see The Maze Runner movie.

4 Stars for Black mass

Learning To Drive

Learning To Drive Poster

So Learning To Drive that is a movie that might be coming out in a theater near you this weekend, or perhaps next weekend.  It is most likely you have never heard of this movie, and do not know what it is about, or who it is for.  It is about a older divorcee, played by Patricia Clarkson learning to drive a car and creating a friendship with a Sikh Indian man played by Ben Kingsley.  As for who it is for, I am not sure.

What I do not know is this movie is not for 37 year old men in relationships that are not falling apart.  While I can see that this movie is a kind, sweet story about a woman lost in the world in the second half of her life, it did not speak to me at all.  I did not feel connected to any of the characters.  The story didn’t seem like something especially innovative, and it didn’t push the limits of that story into risky ground.  It is a story of a woman in New York going through a divorce and learning to drive.  That is it.  While I can appreciate the acting, and the struggle this character is going through if you are not a divorced 40ish something woman I can not see you really connecting to this movie either.

Learning To Drive really left me puzzled about who is going to see this movie and who is going to connect with this movie.  I can’t see many of my readers here wanting to go see Learning To Drive.  So I think unless you are the very targeted niche this movie is for you can skip this one.  There is just not going to be enough here for you.

3 Stars

We Are Your Friends

We Are Your Friends Poster

Have you ever seen a chill movie.  A movie with conflict and story, and all the things that have to come with a movie but done in a way that is just chill.  Like a sunday mid-day party with chill beats and some drama that is going on over in that cabana over there, but it is not effecting your party.  That is what We Are Your Friends feels like, and I am not sure if that is a good thing or not.

I liked We Are Your Friends because of this, it felt like Zac Efron’s Cole Carter was on the outside looking in at his whole life, and all of it was just going past him.  He is not paying attention or focusing on anything, instead being pulled all around by his friends, his attempts at celebrity, and the girl.   So nothing that is happening is a big deal, it doesn’t feel like a big deal, it just feels like another beat in his life.  You are tricked by the music and the beats and the pulse that those scenes trigger, you get excited and love what you are seeing.  You get into those scenes, and forget about everything else.  This is the problem.

When you look at the movie as a whole, it is a odd chill movie.  It deals with things like drugs, alcoholism and death, but in a way that doesn’t feel like it is a big deal.  These scenes happen and then they end, and then there is a party and running.  That is it.  The bottom doesn’t ever really happen for Cole Carter, and I think it is a worse movie for it.  It feels like an Sunday afternoon movie on TBS, when I think it was meant to be something far more real.  Instead you can watch it whenever you want and it isn’t going to have the meaning and punch I think that was intended.  So while entertaining, it does not deliver what it wanted, which was something more than just a movie about EDM.

So I would say you do not have to go pay to see this movie this weekend.  It is something you should watch on a sunny day, and when you are done go out to a pool party.

3 Stars for We Are Your Friends

American Ultra

American Ultra Poster

So surprise, the new movie about two stoners who get activated by the C.I.A. is not a comedy.  I just wanted to get that out in the open first.  This is not a funny movie, like they make it seem like in the trailers.  This is a hardcore action movie, with almost no message and no reason to really exist.  Take two of the most disliked people in Hollywood, put them together, and make them muted by making them stoned, in love and understanding of each others flaws and mental issues.  Then blow it up.   That is pretty much what American Ultra is, and I am not sure why it is a movie, except to maybe entertain you, which it can do, if you are ok with everything else wrong with it.

You have Mike and Phoebe, who live in West Virginia of all places, and who are useless pot heads.  He has major mental issues, and she for some reason stays with him.  Their lives seem awful and the choices they make are dumb.  Especially Phoebe, who like all Kristen Stewart characters seems to make really dumb decisions because of a boy that is not good for her.  Then some C.I.A. shit happens which does not make any sense at all until the last like 5 minutes of the movie and even then is a really weak plot, then the movie ends.  In between those two parts of the movie is guns and knives and stuff.  So if you are ok with ignoring the plot, and the characters, then you might have an ok time with this movie, because as an action movie it is fun.

In the moment I had fun with it, but if you think about the movie a little bit more and step back and see it for what it was.  It is of pretty poor quality, made shiny by some fun action scenes that barely keep it together.  I think maybe you can rent this movie or wait for it to be on HBO.  I do not think you need to go see it this weekend, it isn’t the movie you thought it was anyway.

2 Stars American Ultra

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