Tuesday 24 November 2015

The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2 - Review by Carleton Rutter

Directed by: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson and Donald Sutherland
Genre: Adventure, Sci-Fi, War
Strapline: "The Fire Will Burn Forever"

So, in a nutshell?
After being symbolized as the "Mockingjay", Katniss Everdeen and District 13 engage in an all-out revolution against the autocratic Capitol.

So, what are my thoughts?
The Hunger Games franchise for me falls in with the same crowd as The Maze Runner and Divergent series' of movies. Not on the obvious point that they are all adaptations of Dystopian teen novels, but inasmuch as I never caught the first installments at the cinema. So in preparation for this last chapter,  I caught the three previous entries at home at the start of September. 

The were good if unremarkable. I happen to catch the Divergent films first though, this was unfortunate as many parallels can be drawn between the two franchises,  i.e. a gifted and gutsy heroine front and centre who becomes a symbol of hope against an autocratic government. The Hunger Games of course came first, so in retrospect this is the order in which I should have seen them.

Anyhoo, Jennifer Lawrence did well in the lead, but again parallels in real life can be drawn with Shalene Woodley in the Divergent series in the sense that an entire franchise seems to rest singularly on their shoulders. Both though, are more than up to the task.

So here we are with the inevitable last part of the final book, which has been the norm now in Hollywood for sometime, Harry Potter, The Hobbit and Divergent being just three examples. Only with The Maze Runner has it been decided will keep the last book to one film. 

Of the three first installments on balance my favourite was probably Catching Fire with The Hunger Games clearly being the set up movie and Mockingjay Part 1 being too much talking and not enough action. 

This last installment certainly readdresses the lack of action in Mockingjay Part 1, but to be honest little else. Mockingjay part 2 is a dark final chapter as one would expect. However I did not expect it to be so boring, flat and predictable. I really wanted Part 2 to rise above the relative mediocrity of the series thus far, but alas it does not. 

The first issue I have with the movie is the pacing, it's all over the place. The first act is a real slow burn as it seems to take ages to distance itself from the pacing of Part 1. This portion of the movie could have been expedited and we would have been none the wiser. The second act where Katniss and her crew commence their assault on the Capital and President Snow is the movies best part, but it was rushed! As for the last act, I found this to be very disjointed, to the extent I was thinking, "Have they cut out scenes here?" I found it also to be frankly predictable and boring. 

As I say the best part of the movie is the middle act, as our band of rebels do their best to navigate the Capital as the games makers throw obstacles in their path called "Pods". These pods take the shape of several things such as a wave of tar, underground monsters known as "Mutts" and a wall of fire. All very nice I'm sure but not really original and rather bland. It's very much the case of the best bits are in the trailer.

My other issue with the movie is the cast. Jennifer Lawrence front and centre provides another strong central performance but at this stage in her career the role offers her no real challenge so she kind of phones in the performance. Josh Hutcherson is good in support as the troubled Peeta, but the two have zero chemistry. 

All other central returning characters like Gale, Finnick, Cressida, Ross and Henson get their share of screen time as does newcomer Michelle Forbes (Star Trek's Ro Laren) But the big hitters are woefully brushed over. Donald Sutherland's deliciously evil President Snow is rendered impotent in this movie, his gravitas is missing. This trend of under using the main returning actors does not stop with Sutherland. Woody Harrelson, Jeffrey Wright and Elizabeth Banks all fall into this camp. Finally, as for Stanley Tucci's brilliantly creepy TV host Caesar Flickerman, he is literally just shoehorned in for a few scenes. 

My Rating  

Far from the rousing finale, Mockingjay part 2 is a let down with a very anticlimactic ending. It features a descent series of action sequences in the middle chapter but that's all really. Jennifer Lawrence continues to hold this franchise together with sticky tape. I was very disappointed with the under utilisation of the major players in particular President Snow. If you've watched the previous entries then you might as well see this last chapter. However for any of you thinking of checking this one as a movie in its own right, avoid it. It's more lukewarm than flaming hot. 

Review by Carleton Rutter

Bridge of Spies - Review by Carleton Rutter

Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Alan Alda and Amy Ryan
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Strapline: "In the shadow of war, one man showed the world what we stand for"

So, in a nutshell?
James Donovan (Hanks) an American lawyer is recruited by the CIA during the Cold War to help rescue a pilot detained in the Soviet Union.

So, what are my thoughts?
Steven Spielberg is my favourite director of all time. There are other great directors in Hollywood today such as J.J Abrams, Christopher Nolan, and Ron Howard to name just three. However nobody can quite capture the magic of Spielberg himself. So whenever he releases a movie it is always an event. Tom Hanks is also perhaps my favourite actor in Hollywood as well. The two men have collaborated over the years on many projects most notably Saving Private Ryan (1998). ​Their partnership however can be traced all the way back to 1986, when Spielberg produced Money Pit which starred Hanks.

​Bridge of Spies marks the fourth time Spielberg has directed a movie starring Tom Hanks. The others being, Saving Private Ryan (1998), Catch Me if You Can (2002) and finally The Terminal (2004). ​

So, what do I make to their fourth collaboration? Well I enjoyed it, based on a true story, Bridge of Spies is an excellent film which perfectly captures the tense existence during this unprecedented time in history. One of the beauties of this movie is I knew very little about it going in, so this really aided to the general level of suspense. Although the movie clocks in at a lengthy 2 hours 20 mins, for a drama based on the Cold War, it flew by.

This was largely due to Spielberg's brilliant and confident direction. Tom Hanks in the central role excels. He is as this stage of his career like Morgan Freeman someone who now just plays himself, or at least our personification of him. This is fine though as he fits like a glove. Special mention should also be mentioned to the writers Matt Charman and the Coen Brothers, yes the Coen Brothers (No Country for Old Men, True Grit, Fargo and The Big Lebowski) wrote this movie.

Bridge of Spies ​also features a great cast, with the likes of Alan Alda and Amy Ryan but without doubt the star player is Mark Rylance as Rudolf Abel the Russian spy. I wouldn't be surprised if he was shortlisted as Best Supporting Actor come the awards season. Such an understated but subtle performance.

The movie looks stunning and is very well shot, this is no surprise when you learn it was shot by Janusz Kaminski who has provided some of the most startling and memorable images from Spielberg's movies such as Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List. Kaminski has done for the Cold War in this movie what he did for the beach landings in Ryan and the concentration camp in Schindler's List. The movie is extremely evocative of the Cold War era.

As for the movie itself, it essentially has two main acts, Hanks defending Rylance and then the story of the shot down U2 Spy plane Air Force Pilot Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stowell) and how the two are exchanged by the authorities. Bridge of Spies is very much a Spielberg movie for adults, not for the masses. There is hardly any "action" as you might call it but there are welcome sprinklings of humour.

It's not for everyone, but for me this is an old school spy movie. This is what it would have been really like, forget the gadgets, girls, and humour of other spy entries this year, this is what a spy movie should be like, suspenseful and intriguing. It's very much the thinking man's spy movie.

My Rating 

Bridge of Spies is as good as I had hoped it would be. Featuring assured confident direction from Spielberg with an equally assured central performance from Tom Hanks, this movie did not disappoint. Add to that a strong quality cast with a great performance by Mark Rylance in support, and a movie that is so evocative of the era, this is one movie which I hope you will enjoy. It will prove too slow for some people and given the nature of the movie, is equally effective on the small screen as the big, but if you are looking for a classy quality drama this month, you will do well to check this out. You won't catch a cold.

Bridge of Spies is released in the UK on Friday 27th November

Review by Carleton Rutter

Thursday 12 November 2015

Finding Dory - Trailer

Everyone's favorite forgetful fish is back! Check out this exclusive first look at the much-anticipated film.

Taking place six months after the first film, Dory suddenly recalls her childhood memories. Remembering something about "the jewel of Monterey, California", accompanied by Nemo and Marlin, she sets out to find her family. She arrives at the Monterey Marine Life Institute, where she meets Bailey, a white beluga whale; Destiny, a whale shark; and Hank the octopus, who becomes her guide.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 - Official Trailer (HD)

Gold Circle Entertainment and HBO present a Playtone production of My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, the long-awaited follow-up to the highest-grossing romantic comedy of all time. Written by Academy Award® nominee Nia Vardalos, who stars alongside the entire returning cast of favorites, the film reveals a Portokalos family secret that will bring the beloved characters back together for an even bigger and Greeker wedding.

Kirk Jones (Nanny McPhee, Waking Ned Devine) directs the next chapter of the film that will be once again produced by Rita Wilson and Playtone partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman. Paul Brooks and Steve Shareshian return to executive produce alongside Vardalos and Scott Niemeyer. Universal Pictures will distribute the comedy domestically and in select international territories.

Wednesday 11 November 2015

Triple 9‏ - First UK trailer

When a crew of dirty cops is blackmailed by the Russian mob to execute a virtually impossible heist, they realise the only way to pull it off is to manufacture a 999, police code for "officer down". The chaos that ensues when a police officer is shot in the line of duty is just the diversion they’ll need to do the job, but whether they have the will to kill one of their own is an entirely different matter, triggering a breakneck, action packed finale tangled with double-crosses, greed and revenge.

Chiwetel Ejiofor
Casey Affleck
Kate Winslet
Woody Harrelson
Aaron Paul
Anthony Mackie
Norman Reedus
Gal Gadot
Clifton Collins Jr