Passengers

Two strangers alone on a spaceship. Make that Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence alone on a space ship. Sounds intriguing right? I mean I would want to see that movie. Passengers has all the ingredients for a solid movie. An interesting premise, cool sets and effects, two of the hottest actors in Hollywood. All it really needed was a well crafted story. What a story it lacks though.

On a spacecraft transporting thousands of people to a distant colony planet, two passengers (Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence) wake up from induced hibernation 90 years too early.

Okay just read that premise. Again does it not sound interesting? That is the movie the trailers were advertising. That is the movie that I went in thinking I would see. Sadly it is not. Here is my main issue with Passengers and what I gather has been many people’s: Passengers is misleading. It really is. However I am going to refrain from giving anything away. The film was marketed in a way that was not fair to its actual material and to the people paying money to see it, and I personally found that frustrating. It also makes it very hard to overlook the true premise, which is a little more difficult to accept.

Not only was the film misleading, but the story itself was pretty lackluster once you get past the revelations not given away in the promos. The film felt sort of like Titanic, Gravity, and a bit of The Martian all rolled up into one. The action was severely anticlimactic and the character development poor. Good chunks of the movie were solely devoted to showing off how hot the main actors are. It only goes to show my theory that if one of the two characters was not as attractive, then none of the events in the film would have happened. It all felt vain at times and I found myself with many questions at the end.

All this is not to say there are no positive aspects of Passengers because there are! Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence’s performances were great, as was their chemistry. They were not given the best material to work with though. Michael Sheen was actually a bright standout in the film as the robot bartender Arthur. His character was charming and his performance was simply refreshing. The costumes and sets had a nice aesthetic to them and while more could have been done with the visual effects, I found them overall satisfying.

To put it simply, Passengers made me frustrated. Not only was I upset with how the story developed but I also felt that there was so much missed opportunity with the film. Again all the key ingredients were there. It just needed a better story. That being said, I enjoyed Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence in the film. While I might not recommend seeing Passengers in theaters, I feel like some may still enjoy watching the film.

ALL IN ALL: Even with great chemistry from its two leads, Passengers still comes up short with a misleading and lackluster story.

Also, introducing our new ticket stub rating system (thanks Aimee J)!

PASSENGERS 2.5/5 Ticket Stubs

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Confession time: I actually saw this movie over Thanksgiving weekend but I have just been so busy lately that only now am I finding time to write my review. Though its been a while since I have seen it and the movie probably is not on many of your minds anymore, I nevertheless have to stay true to my commitment to review every movie I see in theaters. I also think The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 deserves a review as it is the last film of my one of my favorite book/movie series.

Directed by Francis Lawrence, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 serves as the final installment of the Hunger Games film series. In Mockingjay- Part 2, the story continues as leader of the rebellion Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) travels with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), Gale (Liam Hemsworth), and others to the Capitol in order to win the war against President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and save what holds dear to her.

Let me start off with a small complaint about the splitting of the last book into two movies. While I get why they did it and it is also nice to not have to rush through anything or have too much of the story omitted, I still do not think it was completely necessary especially since I feel like the split affected the audience attendance and reaction. I honestly forgot what happened in Mockingjay going in to the theater simply because it had been so long since I saw the last movie or read the book. My stance is that if they were able to fit all of Catching Fire into one movie, then Mockingjay is easily doable but no worries, it really is not that huge of deal.

I thought overall that Mockingjay – Part 2 was a very well done film and I enjoyed it. It was not my favorite of the series (for me it is still Catching Fire), but Mockingjay – Part 2 provided a satisfying ending. One of the reasons I disliked Mockingjay Part- 1 was that it felt like rising action most of the time. The great thing about Mockingjay Part- 2 though is that it starts right off into the storyline and action (a reason why Part 1 is necessary to watch). The length of the film felt like nothing as the pacing was fast and well-managed.

The great supporting cast though was not featured much at all which was very disappointing. I would have loved more screen time for characters like Johanna, Beetee, Effie, etc. Meanwhile the main cast gave some great performances, in particular Josh Hutcherson. He was fantastic and his performance is severely underrated! In the books and in the past films as well, the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale was more emphasized, but not in Mockingjay Part- 2, which I appreciated. The action and the war against the Capitol was the main focus of the movie and rightfully so.

I would say that if you are a fan of the Hunger Games series, watch Mockingjay – Part 2 because you will not be disappointed. It is an enjoyable film and very well done, a conclusion the series deserves.

ALL IN ALL: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 is a satisfying final installment of the Hunger Games series with the right focus and direction needed to conclude a great film series.

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

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

After about a month of waiting while it seemed like the whole world went to see it, I have finally watched The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (thanks Aimee J)! The book is my favorite out of the trilogy so I was thrilled to watch the film. I even got so excited as to re-read the book before seeing it, which definitely helped my understanding and compare/contrast of the film. Joyously, the movie did the book deserved justice!

Sequel to the 2012 film The Hunger Games and adaptation of the second installment in The Hunger Games trilogy , Catching Fire follows up with Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) after their victory in the 74th Hunger Games, which has not only sparked a rebellion in the Districts of Panem but also made them both targets of the Capitol.

I loved this movie. period. It stayed so close to the book and took out just the right scenes. There were some added scenes (ex. Snow’s granddaughter) and while they may not have been that necessary, the scenes actually assisted the movie in a way of showing the different perspectives of Panem. I salute director Francis Lawrence! For one thing though, there really is no point in comparing it to the first film by Gary Ross because the two had totally different budgets.  The first film had a budget of $78 million, while Catching Fire had $130 million and it shows. The special effects and the great costumes complement the film well.

The cast was great. I personally am not a fan of Katniss’ character but as always Jennifer Lawrence did a great job. Even in the beginning when they started off right away with showing her PTSD (smart move btw), Lawrence portrayed her distress perfectly. I especially love how the movie downplayed the big love triangle that is ever so present in the books because it’s so unimportant compared to the other major plots in the film. Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth (Gale) did a good job of portraying their respective character developments too. However, I think the supporting cast needs the most applause. Elizabeth Banks, as always, was charming and bubbly as Effie Trinkett, Wood Harrelson provided bits of humor as he perfectly portrayed Haymitch, and Stanley Tucci was fantastic as Caesar Flickerman who provided the much-needed comic relief at times. Newcomers Sam Clafin (Finnick Odair), Lynn Cohen (Mags), Jena Malone (Johanna) Amanda Plummer (Wiress), Jeffrey Wright (Beetee), and Philip Seymour Hoffman (Plutarch Heavensbee) all really stole the show, especially Malone. Clafin was good in depicting Finnick’s ambiguous personality, and Cohen along with Plummer hardly spoke any lines but still had the audience in the palm of their hands. Wright was not exactly what I pictured as Beetee when reading the book but I still enjoyed his performance. Jena Malone was definitely my favorite new cast member though because she WAS Johanna, no doubt about it. The ferocity, sass, confidence, all there.

Not sure if I actually have too much to criticize. The film is long (146 minutes) but you don’t feel it. If anything, I was not a huge fan of the ending because I thought it could have ended perhaps a few seconds/lines earlier. Other than that, and as far as book adaptations go, Catching Fire was visually and emotionally amazing.

ALL IN ALL: With great performances and effects, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a winner for fans of the book and a must see for 2013.

Rated PG-13, 146 minutes

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