‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2’ & ‘Spectre’ reviews: Good enough to watch

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November 30, 2015 by Hope W.

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Mockingjay – Part 2 follows pretty much faithfully to the book — except for all the subtext that they could not (dare not?) translate to screen, which Darren Franich from Entertainment Weekly explains in a brilliant analysis. (I may have enjoyed reading that analysis even more than I did watching the movie itself.) I didn’t consciously think of half the things that he mentioned, but when he put it in words, it is obvious in retrospect. For instance, I couldn’t pinpoint why there was a marked difference between Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Plutarch Heavensbee, and Plutarch in the books, until he points out that “Book-Plutarch thrills over the snake oil he is selling; Movie-Plutarch seems more amused that people love snake oil so much.” No wonder I like Book-Plutarch better: Rather than someone who puts on a show while snickering at the audience’s gullibility, he revels in the process of catering to the audience’s gullibility.

Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2

Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Franich also points out: “There is an entire war fought in Mockingjay, but our lead character experiences it from a distance. When Katniss finally joins the fight, no action she takes ever proves especially meaningful for her revolution.”

I did not like Mockingjay very much because of how depressing it was, and how many people died. I disliked the second half of the book especially, because of the *entire waste of lives* that was her suicide mission into the Capitol, and she never completes her mission anyway. (The movie kind of lessens that impact, as they cut out the training and bonding period, so you don’t get to know the members of the Star Squad as well as you do in the books. So when they all start dying one after the other, in the span of probably less than 15mins in the movie, they feel like easily expendable characters, except for Finnick.) But I never consciously considered how ineffective she was when she was fighting on the ground, because she was so successful at marketing the revolution through the propos.

Even in the very first piece of action she sees in District 8, her shooting down of the Capitol planes caused them to crash into the hospital, killing everyone in it. It was something I never liked to think about, because I thought it was just to show that accidents happen in war, but now I see that Suzanne Collins deliberately meant for that to happen. And of course, the propos that she does immediately after that turns out to be one of her most effective. Which is ironic, because it was her actions, rather than the Capitol’s, which led to the deaths of the people in the hospital.

Katniss and the Star Squad

Katniss and the Star Squad

One thing I disagreed with Franich about is that he used to hate Gale, until he reread Gale’s characterisation in the books; whereas for me, I never forgot why Gale became the vengeful person he was. I empathise with Gale’s reasoning, and I can’t fault him for that, which is why it was so upsetting when what could have been his trap kills Prim in the end, severing for him all possible ties with Katniss. Franich believes that “everything we have heard about Gale in Mockingjay proves that he would have killed Prim, and all those children, for the greater glory of the revolution”, but I don’t believe he would have killed Prim. Gale was someone who protected his own, and he loved Prim like a sister.

Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2

Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

But this is supposed to be a review of the movie, not a review of an analysis of the movie. Honestly, I don’t have much to say: Other than the above-mentioned shortcomings, I feel it’s a satisfactory end that unfolds much like it does the book, down to the epilogue ending and the last words spoken. A lot of people who have never read the books don’t feel the same though, as evidenced from these reviews on the GV website, because they were expecting a full-blown war that Katniss would be involved in, when she would come into the mantle of “hero” she seems set up to be. In short, the complaints of people who read and didn’t like Mockingjay, except these people didn’t read it, so they didn’t know.

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2

In other news, I also watched Spectre recently.

That movie is absolutely riddled with cliches, but it worked, because I was entertained. It’s a typical Bond movie, with a ridiculously over-the-top evil mastermind (complete with a white Persian cat!), evil villains meeting in every definition of a lair, killing each other over internal squabbles, a beefcake henchman nearly overpowering Bond only to lose in a spectacular fashion, Bond seducing women, damsels-in-distress who weren’t in distress through most of the movie until near the end where she predictably gets caught by the villain. (The moment she decided to go separate ways from Bond just before he leaves for the final showdown, I knew she was going to get caught. Either that, or she would turn out to be a mole; but they already did the mole thing in Casino Royale, so it would likely be the former.) Shall we also talk about damsels who go to sleep wearing a dress and wake up in a negligee???

Léa Seydoux as Madeleine Swann in Spectre, rolling her eyes at the plot contrivances.

Léa Seydoux as Madeleine Swann in Spectre, rolling her eyes at the plot contrivances.

But hey, there were some thrilling car chases in Rome, daring helicopter maneuvers in Mexico City, and that long tracking shot at the very beginning of the movie was cool. Also, Ralph Fiennes is awesome as the new M (though Judi Dench is missed); Andrew Scott plays his antagonist with the same moral apathy as he does Moriarty in Sherlock; and Q is a really cute geek. I wish more of the movie was devoted to M, Q, Moneypenny and whoever Rory Kinnear plays. (Apparently he was in the previous movie too, but I don’t remember his character.)

It’s not as stylish as Skyfall was. But precisely because it is less stylish, and more typical of a spy movie than Skyfall was — read: the villain doesn’t get his way, nobody important to Bond dies, everything is resolved, no distractions in the form of certain scenes being staged in front of monochromatic backgrounds for so-deliberate-it-seems-phony artistry — I wouldn’t mind re-watching it again.

Daniel Craig as James Bond in Spectre

Daniel Craig as James Bond in Spectre

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