Saturday, 29 November 2014

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

I've been quite busy recently and haven't had time to write a review for the the third instalment of The Hunger Games franchise. I saw the film last week and my feelings are a bit mixed on it. Carry on reading to find out why.

So the third film follows the first half of the final book in the trilogy. Following pretty much after the events of the second film, we see Katniss in District 13, where she must help start the rebellion by being the 'Mockinjay' symbol to create war propaganda and unite the districts against the Capitol. I've read the books and was surprised they were going to split the last one into two films. Unfortunately every young adult franchise seems to do this now and Lionsgate are going to want to keep on milking The Hunger Games cow because it has made them a tonne of money. Because The Hunger Games franchise has been so well done, I thought this film might show me a viable enough creative reason for splitting the films. It does not. The film drags and hasn't got enough content to keep me fully engaged throughout. In my opinion they split the films where the book finally gets interesting. This means the second part should be pretty great but I am not longing for it like I was after watching the brilliant Catching Fire.

Katniss is a great character and she has always been played superbly by Jennifer Lawrence. This film is not an exception but does feel less like Katniss is helping move the plot of her own film. Obviously this is not a great time in her life but there is only so much upset Katniss I can take, she took a backseat in this one and rarely engaged in the action. This is similar to the book, however she does do a lot more in the second half, so I guess we'll just have to wait a year to see Katniss at her best.

Now don't get me wrong, this isn't a bad film. In fact there are quite a few really awesome and powerful scenes. The only problem is, is that the awesomeness is mixed in with long, boring scenes that drag. I just want to see the main character do something!

One of things I like about the films is that they can delve into the world more than the books did, because we aren't just looking at this world from Katniss's point of view. Mockingjay continues this and shows a really well developed and thought out world. We get to see some awesome rebellion scenes and find out more about the villains like President Snow, who was definitely my favourite character in this film. He is pretty darn scary. Donald Sutherland has brought way more to that character than I ever got from the books. I love all the political and social undertones to the film and they are the themes that separate this franchise from other young adult films. A love triangle is present but it never feels like the driving force of the film. I like that Mockingjay still feels different and cool.

So Mockingjay is an ok film with standout scenes but pretty dull ones as well. I feel if the third book was one film, with just the awesome scenes from part 1, and then whatever is to come in part 2, we could have been looking at one of the best trilogies of our generation. However this is not the case and the once superb franchise now has a dent in it, not a big one, but a dent none the less. I'm still excited for part 2 but not as much as I was last year after watching Catching Fire. I am giving The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 a rating of 3/5.

Here's hoping the second part is a lot better!

What did you think of Mockingjay Part 1? Are you still excited for the final instalment next year? Let me know in the comments below.

On a different note, the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer came out yesterday and it looks incredible! I grew up on Star Wars and I cannot wait to go see a new one in the cinema! Go watch it if you haven't already!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 12 November 2014


Wow. How do you review a film like Interstellar? Well for one I am keeping it SPOILER FREE, so get ready for a very vague review, but overwhelmingly positive because Christopher Nolan has made yet another masterpiece.

Set in the future where our planet is running out of food and the human race is on the bridge of extinction, a team of explorers set out on the most important mission in history; travelling beyond our galaxy to discover whether mankind has a future among the stars. This is the basic premise, but after all, this is a Nolan film, expect this and a lot, lot more. Yes Chris and his brother Jonathon Nolan have written yet another complex and creative cinematic experience that is unlike any other film you will see this year.

The cast of the film is brilliant, especially main character Cooper played by Matthew McConaughey who continues his recent run of perfect performances. All the performances are great, however I have yet to find a character played by Anne Hathaway who I have any connection towards, she was perfectly fine in the movie, I just never engage with her as much as other actors.

The film is visually stunning, an incredible piece of film making that definitely takes a lot of influence from 2001: A Space Odyssey, it's about as long a running time as well, thankfully though the story runs at a faster pace! Be prepared though, this three hour film isn't a breezy fun time, you are going to have to sit and listen intently because this is one film that encourages you to think about what is going on. If you go in ready though, this film will blow your mind. It is unlike any other film I have seen and viewing it in the cinema really engrossed me into the epic scale and story. It doesn't follow the traditional three act structure and the story goes into different directions constantly. It's also very powerful and I was tearing up at least three different times during the film, it also has a countless amount of goosebumps moments. For a film about Matthew McConaughey going into space, the first 40 minutes I didn't want him to leave Earth for the sake of his family! The heat of this film lies in the father/daughter relationship,be prepared for a full range of emotions during this film, because it is pulled off extremely well.

I have read a lot of reviews picking holes in the plot or the realism of the science. They have done nothing to curb my enjoyment of this film. The science shown is based on theories rather then reality and although some of it can seem far fetched, this is at the end of the day a science fiction film. Sit back and believe if for the sake of the story and the themes and ideas it wants to convey. This is a film that you are going to take home with you, I saw it last night and I am still trying to process it all.

It has a few flaws like the odd one or two underdeveloped characters but this does not take away from the enjoyability and ambition of the film. Nolan films are going to get harder criticism then others because he has made a long list of incredible films. He is one of the best and most innovative filmmakers around and nobody makes films like Interstellar, so it is great to see a film that completely blows you away. I always leave his films in awe and respect of his filmmaking. Yes there are aspects of this film that could have been cut to shorten it, but at the end of the day this is not your average film, and the experience of watching it was worth every minute and I would happily of watched another hour if need be.

I feel like I'm gushing a bit now. Interstellar is a masterpiece of a film. Go see it. I am giving it a rating of 5/5.

I know this film has divided audiences, so let me know what you think in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 6 November 2014


Nightcrawler was pretty much unknown to me until about a couple months ago when the excellent trailer came out. I knew straight away it was something I really wanted to see. Unlike last week's Fury, Nightcrawler did not disappoint at all.

The film follows Lou Bloom, a man who is in desperate need to make it in the world. He finds himself in the world of crime journalism and becomes a freelance nightcrawler, filming urban street crime for news channels. 

Lou Bloom is a very weird guy. He's intense, creepy and has a dark side which comes into play when he starts to blur the line between observer and participant in the crimes he is filming. Bloom is played by Jake Gyllenhaal, who is at the best he has ever been in this film. Gyllenhaal is pretty much unrecognisable in Nightcrawler and lost a bunch of weight to play the character. Bloom may not be a character you particularly like but he is so interesting and unpredictable that you will be on the edge of your seat for the whole duration wondering what crazy stuff he will be doing next. He isn't a character you sympathise with, but you will see a man who has been shaped by the economic climate and has also been overloaded with a bunch of information from the Internet on how to make it in the world. Jake Gyllenhaal should definitely being seeing some Oscar nods for his incredible performance. Other great performances come from Rene Russo who is excellent as news director Nina. And Riz Ahmed who plays Lou's partner Rick, also really good in his role.

The film is really dark and is very good critique of media culture, especially news corporations and the lengths they will go to get their ratings. It may not be as subtle as the message was brought across in Gone Girl but it still is a lot of fun and very thrilling film to watch unfold. The relationship between Lou and Nina is played out really well and although it goes to some really messed up places it is never unbelievable. I found it similar in theme to Breaking Bad, with idea that bad guys make it in the world whilst the good ones get left behind.

The cinematography is great, the film is very good looking and portrays the streets of downtown L.A as dark, gritty and a scary place to be. This is the directorial debut of Dan Gilroy, previously a writer of films such as The Bourne Legacy, and he has gotten off to one hell of a start. As an aspiring filmmaker myself, one could only dream of writing and directing a film as good as this to begin with, I can't wait to see what he does next.

As you can tell, I really, really loved Nightcrawler. It is definitely one of the best films this year and I hope it generates a lot of awards buzz. I am giving this excellent film a rating of 5/5.

What did you think of Nightcrawler? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!