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MV5BNjQzNDI2NTU1Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTAyMDQ5NjE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_What’s it all about?

As the war of Panem escalates to the destruction of other districts, Katniss Everdeen, the reluctant leader of the rebellion, must bring together an army against President Snow, while all she holds dear hangs in the balance.

Why did I want to see it?

I had worked my way steadily through the first three films (although I think I only saw the first one at the cinema) and as Mockingjay Part 1 (which I reviewed here) ended without  proper conclusion it made sense to watch the last part. As I had never made it past the first few chapters of Catching Fire I had no idea of how the story would be resolved and I just wanted to find out.

What did I think of it?

Not a bad film at all, although I think that it suffered from both the law of diminishing returns and from being one story split into two. It was interesting that the film reverted back a little bit to the first two in the franchise and introduced more Hunger Games type obstacles for the characters to overcome, and I liked the complexity of the adult characters, especially Coin and Snow. I think it’s fair to say that they both got something close to what they deserved.

Jennifer Lawrence is of course excellent as Katniss, with my only quibble being one that I think I have raised before, namely that she seems too mature for the role. What I mean by that is that her reactions to the events of the story work for someone much younger (or at least more immature), and that jars occasionally.  And the wholelove triangle thing is still deeply annoying, but at least it gets resolved.

So I enjoyed it, am glad I saw it but don’t think this is a series that I will revisit.

Dazzling details:

  • Directed by Francis Lawrence
  • 137 minutes long
  • 12A for moderate violence, threat

 

 

MV5BNzgyMDcyMjMwMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjY5MTA1MjE@._V1_UY268_CR1,0,182,268_AL_What’s it all about?

Jacq Vaucan is an insurance agent of ROC robotics corporation who investigates cases of robots violating their primary protocols against altering themselves. What he discovers will have profound consequences for the future of humanity.

Why did I want to see it?

I have absolutely no idea but apparently I something clicked (possibly a trailer?) because I asked for the DVD as a gift for (I think) Christmas last year.

What did I think about it?

Well.

Automata was hard work, and seemed much longer than its stated running time. It’s hard to avoid comparing it with Blade Runner and I Robot (my review of the latter is at the link) in terms of its themes, but it doesn’t stand up well to the comparison, especially with the former.

Though it takes a very European approach to its material and is often visually arresting, it asks the same questions about artificial intelligence and whether humankind should be afraid of robots (and given the way they are treated in this film I would say yes), without coming to any meaningful conclusions.

Banderas is always watchable but he looks perpetually puzzled by what is happening around him. Everyone else is pretty much a stereotype, from company executives with secrets to hide, to corrupt cops (why is Dylan McDermott so angry – we never really find out why) to the loyal company foot-soldiers who have no idea what’s really going on. Though it’s always good to see Tim McInnerny, here giving one of his most sneering performances.

This promised much but really didn’t deliver; there was just something missing. Too much brains, not enough heart.

Dazzling details: Directed by Gabe Ibanez, this was 1hr 49 minutes long and rated 15 in the UK (for strong language, violence and sexual images) I watched this at home on DVD.

dbacc1aedc6c6a0136f203876e51d9e9I’m catching up on reviews from films seen over the past couple of months, so these may be a little shorter than normal. When I get back into the habit of reviewing within a couple of days of watching then normal service will be resumed. Until now it’s basically what I can remember! 

Watched: 26 May 2016 (DVD at home)

What’s it all about?

Katniss Everdeen is in District 13 after she shatters the games forever. Under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss spreads her wings as she fights to save Peeta and a nation moved by her courage.

Why did I want to see it?

I’d watched the first two films having failed to get further than the original book in the trilogy, and just wanted to see how it would turn out.

What did I think of it?

I quite enjoyed this; it was well done though very clearly a bridging film into Part 2 where all will be resolved (I assume) so it did suffer from that a tiny wee bit. Something didn’t quite gel for me though; I can’t decide whether it was Julianne Moore’s hair, Donald Sutherland’s moustache-twirling villain or Stanley Tucci’s teeth. If I’m honest I think it’s actually Jennifer Lawrence herself. Don’t get me wrong, I think that she is a really good actress, but I think she’s just too old for the part. Most of the reactions she had seemed more fitting to a much younger girl. But like I said, it was enjoyable, mostly due to the presence of Elizabeth Banks and Woody Harrelson, and of course the still much-missed Philip Seymour Hoffman. And I will get around to watching the final part if only to see whether the (slightly) tedious love triangle is resolved. Personally I hop she rejects both Peeta and Gale and runs off with Natalie Dormer’s character, but that’s just me.

 

Catching FireWhat’s it all about IMDb?

Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark become targets of the Capitol after their victory in the 74th Hunger Games sparks a rebellion in the Districts of Panem.

Which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense if you haven’t seen The Hunger Games, but that raises the question of why you would watch Catching Fire if you hadn’t seen the previous film. So says the woman who saw Return of the Jedi before The Empire Strikes Back and was totally confused about the whole Luke/Vader/Dad thing.

Don’t judge me.

Why did I want to see this?

Because I wanted to know what happened after THG and had tried and failed to read the book (mostly due to the law of diminishing returns).

What did I think of it?

Even though it’s very much more of the same I really quite enjoyed it, though it’s really pretty much a bridge between the original and the final two-parter. I have trouble sometimes with Katniss’s emotional approach to the world but wonder if that’s because as a character she’s meant to be much younger than Jennifer Lawrence (who plays her, duh, as I’m sure you know) and so her apparent naiveté jars a bit despite her best efforts.

The romance stuff is also mildly annoying but that’s because I am Team Peeta and it just seems obvious to me who she should end up with. But the set pieces were really well done and the new characters were nicely introduced so it was a fun watch (if seeing people try to hunt and kill each other can be said to be fun, but you know what I mean).

The best bits were actually the supporting characters: Donald Sutherland (obvs), Philip Seymour Hoffman (ditto) and Stanley Tucci (double ditto) being the standouts for me. But everyone deserves an award for acting seriously in some of the most ridiculous costumes known to man (looking specifically at poor Elizabeth Banks here).

I will definitely be watching Mockingjay to see how this all pans out.

I finally got around to reading the first book in this trilogy earlier this year, in good time for seeing this eagerly awaited adaptation.

I’ve said all I wanted to say about the book in my review here, so this is mostly about the film adaptation and how I thought it worked. And I did think it worked – I’m not sure you can say that it’s an enjoyable experience watching children try to kill each other but it was extremely well made and gripping even if you knew how it was going to turn out (which clearly most of the audience at my screening did.)

So, the film stuck reasonably closely to the book, with some stuff as always cut out to keep the narrative flowing and a few additional scenes as explanation for some of the stuff which I presume we find out about in book two (which is on my tbr pile but I haven’t got to it yet. I though the casting was very good; it could have been really easy to have the actors be far too old for the roles but a good balance was struck, especially with Katniss and Peeta who both perhaps pushed it to the edge but still got away with being teenagers. I particularly enjoyed Lenny Kravitz and Woody Harrelson’s performances and Donald Sutherland has been a hero of mine for many years so is always a joy to watch.

I thought the violence was pretty restrained given the subject matter but still managed to give the clear impression that these kids were really in danger, were really going to die. I thought they reined in some of the horror towards the end a little too much for my taste but it was probably right for the target audience which, lets face it, wasn’t me.

The Book God came to this completely cold but enjoyed it as much as I did. I’m looking forward to (reading and) seeing what the film-makers do with the sequel.