The Huger Games: Mockingjay- Part 1

Shoutout to Aimee J for taking me to see Mockingjay for my birthday! Here is a link to the review podcast we did together for Aimee J’s site! Okay so let’s talk. Out of all The Hunger Games books, Mockingjay was my least favorite. I am going to try super hard throughout this post to not give any spoilers whatsoever for those shameful people who have not yet read the books, but let’s just say the book was too different than the other two and much more political for my liking. I was not expecting much going in to see the movie, but I am pleasantly surprised with the result!

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 1 follows Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) after she has survived the Hunger Games twice and finds herself in District 13. Becoming the symbol of the rebellion against the Capitol, she must unite the districts and save Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) from the hands of President Snow.

Overall it was a good movie. Not the best, I still like the previous films more, but it was a surprisingly well done adaptation of the novel. Kudos Francis Lawrence for making such a dislikeable book into an enjoyable movie. I was always on the edge about Mockingjay being split into two films because honestly if they were able to fit Catching Fire into one, then Mockingjay would definitely work as one too. However, it is nice to see them not have to rush or take too many scenes out. The changes that were made were fine. It was a great move to make Effie into a much more prominent character. However, I am not sure how the change in President Coin (Julianne Moore)’s character will play out because it really is much different than that in the book. Not to give anything away, but it also surprised me where the movie decided to end. You won’t be disappointed but it was interesting to see how it foreshadows Part 2.

Let’s talk about my favorite part of the movie. The Hanging Tree. Readers of the book will recognize it as a song Katniss sings in Mockingjay briefly but the movie took it to a whole ‘nother level. First of all, Jennifer Lawrence did a great job singing along with whoever laid down the track because you just get goosebumps when you start to hear the music rise and the actions in the movie being played out to the tune. It is simply haunting, beautiful, and worthy of praise. In all seriousness though, it reflects the tone of the film. Mockingjay is not at all similar to the last two films. The games are gone, and this is war. The one person who I really thought encapsulated this shift into darkness was Josh Hutcherson. What a great performance! His visible and emotional downfall is really powerful though he has substantially less screen time.

Critics of the movie: I get where you are coming from. Mockingjay Part 1 does feel like mostly rising action but it does a great job of leading into the events of Part 2. Fans of the book will be pleased overall and it is a well done adaptation. Yes, I am still not a fan of Mockingjay in the series but the film was satisfying. Also, it was a nice tribute to the late Philip Seymour Hoffman so I do recommend that you see it!

PG 13, 123 minutes

Interstellar double review

And we’re back! Fall movies are abound and the big one right now is Interstellar, directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway. Interstellar tells the story of a team of space travelers who travel through a wormhole in search of new habitable planet. The movie has received mainly positive reviews but still many viewers and critics alike are split. In a segment new to Ticket Stub Love, we have brought in two viewers of the film to do a review and talk about their very different opinions!

Amanda A

“You can spend minutes, hours, days, weeks, or even months over-analyzing a situation; trying to put the pieces together, justifying what could’ve, would’ve happened… or you can just leave the pieces on the floor and move on.” –Tupac

Tupac must have anticipated that Interstellar was going to come out because he perfectly describes the attitude that everybody watching this movie should have. We’re talking about a plot that centers on a mission to find a habitable planet in another galaxy. Of course you are going to have to suspend your belief and just accept that not everything is going to make sense!

I actually really liked this movie right after I finished watching it. It reminded me of Inception (long plot with many flashbacks), but it has a much more satisfying ending. Then I came home and tried to think about the plausibility of some of the events in the movie. Then I gave up and decided to accept Interstellar for what it is: a movie with a great plot, great acting, and fascinating premise.

The premise is worth pointing out. In the movie, the earth can’t produce any more food, so massive dust storms appear. At one point, Matthew McConaughey’s character says, “This world’s a treasure, but it’s been telling us to leave for a while now.” Interstellar is basically saying that if we are more environmentally-friendly, then we will be able to stay on Earth, and Matthew McConaughey won’t be sent far away. What better argument is there for appreciating our planet?

 

Asha A

Unfortunately Asha A was not able to do a full review and I also wanted to do this post before Interstellar faded out of the limelight so I’m just going to summarize her thoughts. Right when she came home from viewing the the film, her first words were “Wow, that has to be one of the worst movies I have ever seen.” Pretty extreme right? Here is her explanation though. The main problem was the time, which truth be told, 169 minutes is a bit too long for a movie that does not fulfill it. Character development was lacking along with a logical plot that could actually be understood. Some of the scenes with Matthew McConaughey thinking philosophically were simply too ridiculous and reminded her of his Lincoln car commercials, and the visual effects in Gravity were much better according to her.

A very big thank you to our two reviewers Amanda A and Asha A! Well folks, it’s up to you to decide who’s side you’re on and what you think about Interstellar.

Interstellar: PG-13, 169 min

image: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/sites/default/files/custom/Blog_Images/interstellar3.jpg

TV review: Red Band Society

The season of new fall TV shows is here and I thought it would be cool to do a TV review for once. If there’s one show that I know a good amount of people have heard about, it is Red Band Society, the new comedy-drama show on Fox that’s been getting a lot of buzz. I decided to start watching the show and here are my thoughts after the first two episodes.

First of all, let’s explain what the show is about. Red Band Society revolves around the lives of a group of teenagers living together in a Los Angeles based hospital’s pediatric ward. There’s Leo and Jordi, who are both suffering from bone cancer; Dash, who has cystic fibrosis; Kara, who has an enlarged heart; Emma, who is anorexic; and Charlie, a our narrator who’s in a coma. The staff of the hospital includes Octavia Spencer as the no-nonsense but caring Nurse Jackson and Dave Annabelle as the dreamy Dr. Jack MacAndrews.

I agree with the hype surrounding the show that it is a new and refreshing turn from most other TV programs. However, that does not mean Red Band Society is realistic at all. I have never seen a hospital as nice as the one in the show, but I won’t criticize that since there are probably ones like it somewhere in the world. Second, in the case of Jordi who came across the border from Mexico to get treatment at the hospital, how was he actually able to sneak in, see Dr. Andrews, and convince him to do surgery on him the next day? He’s an illegal immigrant! Again, I am not well aware of the legal proceedings at hospitals and maybe this could happen so I won’t dwell on this too long.

The show has a good heart and I did enjoy watching it. Though predictable, the characters are all well-played by the young cast. Octavia Spencer kills it as Nurse Jackson! Yes, the show gets sappy and philosophical almost every 5 minutes, but I’ve come to accept that. I think my biggest problem with Red Band Society is the way they portray the kids in the hospital. It seems like Hollywood has a fascination for sick kids and hospitals now (the movies/books The Fault in Our Stars and If I Stay, the show Chasing Life, etc.). Though it is always great to see life from another person’s shoes, this needs to be done correctly. Life in a hospital is not fun and all of the kids on the show look perfectly healthy and mobile. I couldn’t even tell that any of them were sick, except for Leo who has a bald head. Also, Dr. MacAndrews is a bit too good-looking to make me believe he’s an actual doctor.

This show, as one critic called it, is pretty much like Glee mixed with The Fault in Our Stars. I’m going to continue watching Red Band Society because I genuinely liked it. My only hope is that it starts to be more realistic.

ALL IN ALL: Red Band Society has great potential and a talented cast, however the light hearted and unrealistic portrayal of hospital life is not something to be looked over.

great article about the show from an actual cancer survivor’s POV: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/hollywood-has-it-wrong-im-a-teenager-with-an-illness-and-its-not-glamorous-at-all/2014/09/12/b9154a7e-38f9-11e4-8601-97ba88884ffd_story.html

image source: http://p1cdn03.thewrap.com/images/2014/07/red-band-society.jpg.jpg

Let’s Be Cops

I got to say, Summer 2014 disappointed me mucho movie-wise. There were a few good ones (ex. Guardians of the Galaxy, which I still have to see). However, there were practically no kid movies and the action movies were just way too hmm explosive. Now it wasn’t my idea to see Let’s Be Cops, and though I’m always glad to go to the theater, I think I would have been fine without seeing this one.

Let’s Be Cops is about two friends (Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr) who after dressing as Los Angeles police officers for a costume party, pretend to be cops, only to become entangled in a web of mobsters and dirty detectives.

In short: this movie was alright. Let’s go over the pros. There is great chemistry between Johnson and Wayans Jr. (both of whom star in one of my favorite shows New Girl) and they provide a lot of great laughs. The first hour of the movie is pretty funny too since it shows them and their crazy antics while posing as the cops. You forget how ridiculous the whole concept is when they are just being goofy.

Perhaps I am a bit biased, since I saw the many negative reviews other critics gave for Let’s Be Cops before I went in to see it. Nevertheless, I do agree with them. Let’s Be Cops has a simple premise and the potential to be great. It is in the second half of the movie where it starts to falter. This is where the dramatic crime story comes into play and the two get caught up in solving an actual case and bringing down the bad guy.

Leading into the cons. My main complaint is that the whole film felt way too long. When a comedy starts to feel long, you know something is not right. It’s also in the second half of the movie where you realize how unrealistic the whole scenario is. Serious moments became silly for me because I could not fathom the fact that they are getting away with so much.

Let’s Be Cops, could have been worse I guess. There were some good laughs. However the shift in story, turns it into a longer and more tiring experience. There were probably five different times when Johnson’s and Wayans Jr’s characters were walking slow motion to some beat in their uniforms. That one officer in the film was right, it’s a uniform and you have to deserve it. Once again though, I did not think of that at all in the light and comedic beginning. I’d say if you are into these kind of goofy buddy cop movies, then watch Let’s Be Cops. It’s not bad, but not great.

ALL IN ALL: Let’s Be Cops has a funny first half with some potential but soon sputters to a stop when things start to get ridiculous.

Rated R, 104 minutes

poster: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Let’s_Be_Cops#mediaviewer/File:Let%27s_Be_Cops_poster.jpg

The Kings of Summer

Hard to believe it, but August has arrived, signaling the coming end to summer. So far, I actually haven’t watched many new movies this summer. Now that I am faced with the short reality of my time left though, I am going to try to once again catch up. Yesterday I watched Skyfall for the second time, but I decided to not to do a post on that because it would be way too long and up to the brim with praise (Yes I loved it that much). So I wanted to do a lesser-known film and chose instead to do The Kings of Summer (fitting, don’t you think?).

The Kings of Summer follows the summer of three teenage boys (Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, and Moises Arias) who in the ultimate act of independence, decide to build and live in their own house in the woods.

The film is a good watch. Sort of like a good book that you can read to pass the time. The different sequences in the film that showed the boys building the house and living in the woods were shot beautifully and had some great images. Overall it might have been montage heavy, but I enjoyed that. The story itself did feel a bit weak at times and that is probably why this is not the kind of movie that you think about for hours after watching. Again it’s a nice short watch.

The performances were all solid, but there is one boy who needs recognition. Moises Arias. Yes the little guy who played Rico in Hannah Montana. I gotta say, this movie would not have been the same without Moises, who played the hilarious and unpredictable Biaggio. His scenes and lines had me laughing out loud, making him the best part of the movie. Gabriel Basso’s parents in the film (Marc Evan Jackson and Megan Mullally) were also pretty relateable and funny when it comes to movie parents.

At times, The Kings of Summer tries to cross too many genres and themes at once. Dysfunctional families, coming of age, adventure, comedy, etc.  However it’s enjoyable and recommended for, I’d say, teenagers and young adults since some might roll their eyes a bit at the trio’s shenanigans. It really does though make you want to venture out into the woods and escape your life.

ALL IN ALL: The Kings of Summer is a quirky film that packs a few laughs and great montages over a story that still comes up a bit short.

2013, Rated R (language), 95 minutes

 

The Fault in Our Stars

I’m sure many of you have heard about this phenomenon of a book/movie. I read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green earlier this year and absolutely loved it. The writing was superb and the emotions run high. Perhaps it was a bit too philosophical for its young protagonists, but still enjoyable. High expectations were given for the film adaptation and they were met when I finally got to see it, along with some annoyance.

The Fault in Our Stars (TFIOS) tells the story of sixteen year old cancer patient Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) who is forced to attend a cancer support group. Here she meets the devilishly charming Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort) and subsequently falls in love.

I thought the film was great! Perhaps I am a bit biased because I fall in the film’s young female target audience, but I still thought it was a good adaptation of the book. The actors played their characters perfectly. Shailene Woodley’s performance was beautiful and natural. Ansel Elgort (who fun fact: played Woodley’s brother in Divergent) was simply Augustus. There were so many moments between the two characters were I just felt myself beaming. Their chemistry was palpable and refreshing, as was the story. A few scenes were left out, but you don’t really notice until afterwards. I personally liked the soundtrack as well. There is one criticism I have but it lies outside of the movie.

Practically everyone I know who has seen this film always claims to have cried. It’s a sad story no doubt about it. No, I did not cry (though I did tear up during the book). My lack of emotion during the film can be pointed to two reasons. One: I read the book already so the plot was not much of a surprise to me. “What?”, you say, “How can you have no heart?!”. I know, I know. Seeing some more of the emotional scenes on-screen should have done the trick but nope. My focus was not on the movie but on the large group of crying girls in front of me, reason #2.  I do not cry much during movies anyway but I could not enjoy TFIOS fully with these sobbing girls passing tissues to one another and choking so hard that you would think they too went through the same ordeals. I cannot fathom what it would have been like if I saw this movie opening day. A word of advice to those with little patience who also like silence during a movie: skip the theater for TFIOS and watch it at home.

Aside from that little rant, I truly did like The Fault in Our Stars. I think I need to see it again, by myself, to truly appreciate it more though. It is kind of targeted for young girls but I think its’ abundant warmth and humor can be enjoyed by many. By many, for years to come.

ALL IN ALL: The Fault in Our Stars really has no essential faults and can valued as the Love Story of this generation.

Rated PG-13, 125 minutes

image: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/2/22/Fault_in_our_stars.jpg/220px-Fault_in_our_stars.jpg

 

Catch-up!

Well where has the time gone? Ticket Stub Love has been extremely busy lately and we probably won’t be able to get back into full swing until summer but we’re doing our best to still bring you some reviews.

So I recently went on vacation to Barcelona and on my way there I watched some movies of course. Right when I turned on the little TV in front of me, I got really excited because it was full of pretty up to date ones too!

Now these aren’t full reviews but a few thoughts of some of the movies I watched:

American Hustle (Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner)

I have wanted to watch this for a while so I immediately selected this as my first choice. Got to say though, kinda disappointed. Now don’t get me wrong, I loved the cast. Every single actor did a great job but the story was so bland. I enjoyed the beginning where you got introduced to everyone and it went through some of the past cons of Christian Bale’s and Amy Adam’s characters, but when they got into the full Abscam storyline, I quickly lost interest. It got good again near the end, but still a downer.

Gravity (Sandra Bullock, George Clooney)

Sooo remember my trailer review of Gravity back in August where I made fun of the movie (I later too back some of this in follow-up post). Yeah, I was wrong. Dead wrong. Gravity was AMAZING! No wonder it won 7 Oscars! Everything was great: cinematography, score, direction, performances. I mean Sandra Bullock’s character has pretty much everything go wrong on her in space, but the audience is still tethered to her because it’s just that thrilling. I loved this movie and thought it was fantastic!

The Book Thief (Sophie Nélisse, Emily Watson, Geoffrey Rush)

I am a huge fan of the book so I was naturally curious to see how the movie pulled off the movie. Overall I would say it was well done. Nothing compared to the book though because there are some aspects of the book that don’t have the same impact when transitioned to the big screen, such as the narrator being Death-you just can’t do that well on-screen.

 

Divergent

 

Earlier this year I read the novel Divergent by Veronica Roth and totally enjoyed it! It brought me back to my Hunger Games days and my reading got so bad that I had to tie the book up in a drawer so I could focus on my work.  Naturally when I heard about the movie, I was pretty psyched and I finally got to see it this past weekend. Though there were flaws, Divergent was overall pretty entertaining.

Divergent takes place in a dystopian world where people are divided into factions by human virtues. Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) though discovers that she is Divergent and will never fit into any one faction. Soon she and the mysterious Four (Theo James) learn about a sinister plot looming in their seemingly perfect society and must find out a way to stop it before it’s too late.

As always, I recommend to always read the book first. However, I went to see it with some of my friends who had never before heard about the series, but still understood and enjoyed the movie. Divergent has gotten many mixed reviews and though I agree with most of it, I feel that many people are comparing it to The Hunger Games. Yes both take place in a dystopian society with a strong female lead, but the stories are very different (however I still liked Hunger Games better).

Fans of the book will be disappointed with some aspects of the film such as the nonexistent appearances of some crucial characters and multiple missing scenes. For me, though the film was pretty long (139 minutes), it flew by way too fast and you hardly got to know any of the characters. Shailene Woodley and Theo James (very handsome by the way!) fit their roles perfectly and I enjoyed their screen time, but the supporting cast, many of whom are very important to the plot, were overlooked. Kate Winslet, who plays a faction leader names Jeanine, did great too but her character was much bigger in the film than in the book. I also hated how all the action seemed to take place in the last 20 minutes of the movie. Better timing was needed.

This is a very non significant complaint but I thought the sets could have been more impressive. The Dauntless faction’s compound was described in the book to have this huge underground cavern and ravine, but in the movie, it just looked like an empty warehouse with some boxes and tarps. Many of the sets seemed too drab.

To conclude, the film did feel a bit weak overall, but I still enjoyed it. Teens and some fans of the book would probably like it the most, but it is still worthwhile to see (maybe not in the theater though if you’re an adult).

ALL IN ALL: Divergent, though a bit weak and rushed, is an entertaining film that combines several genres (action, sci-fi, romance) into a pretty satisfying mix.

Rated PG-13, 139 minutes

image: http://img2.timeinc.net/ew/i/2013/11/12/Divergent-poster.jpg