The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015)

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
Director: Francis Lawrence
Writer: Peter Craig, Danny Strong
Based on: Suzanne Collins’ novel (the second half)
Sequel to: The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald SutherlandPhilip Seymour HoffmanJulianne Moore, Stanley Tucci, Sam Claflin, Jena MaloneWillow ShieldsPaula Malcomson, Mahershala Ali, Jeffrey Wright, Natalie Dormer, Gwendoline Christie
Seen on: 22.11.2015

Plot [with Spoilers for everything up until this part]:
Still reeling from brainwashed Peeta’s (Josh Hutcherson) attack on her, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) has no chance of really gathering herself. Instead she shoots promo videos for the rebellion and their cause. As outright war with the Capitol becomes ever more likely, Katniss decides that she has to put an end to things and the only way it will end is if Katniss kills President Snow (Donald Sutherland).

My expectations were pretty low for this final installation in the series since the second half of the last book was the weakest part of the series by far and that was the only thing that was left to bring to the screen. But Mockingjay Part 2 turned out to be better than I expected.

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Wet Hot American Summer (2001)

Wet Hot American Summer
Director: David Wain
Writer: Michael Showalter, David Wain
Cast: Janeane Garofalo, David Hyde Pierce, Michael Showalter, Michael Ian BlackMolly Shannon, Paul Rudd, Christopher Meloni, Ken Marino, Joe Lo Truglio, Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper, Elizabeth Banks, Kevin Sussman, Judah Friedlander
Seen on: 7.9.2015

Plot:
The last day of Camp Firewood puts the various councelors under stress to complete their open business that they’ve been pushing off for the rest of the summer. And camp director Beth (Janeane Garofalo) has to try and keep everything together. Which is easier said than done when you’re dealing not only with various romantic entanglements, a cook suffering from PTSD (Christopher Meloni) and a deadly piece of NASA equipment hurtling towards them. Oh, and of course, the talent show that is planned for the end of the day.

Wet Hot American Summer is a loud, silly and enjoyable movie with a cast that parodies everything that doesn’t get out of the way fast enough. I had fun.

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Magic Mike XXL (2015)

Magic Mike XXL
Director: Gregory Jacobs
Writer: Reid Carolin
Sequel to: Magic Mike
Cast: Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Kevin NashMatt Bomer, Gabriel Iglesias, Adam Rodriguez, Amber Heard, Jada Pinkett SmithDonald GloverStephen Boss, Andie MacDowell, Elizabeth Banks
Seen on: 8.8.2015

Plot:
Mike (Channing Tatum) is hard at work, trying to get his construction business off the ground. But so far, it hasn’t quite paid off. When he is visited by his former stripper colleagues Richie (Joe Manganiello), Tarzan (Keven Nash), Ken (Matt Bomer) and Tito (Adam Rodriguez), he first declines their invitation to come to Stripper Con to make one big, last splash in the business. But he finally does give in and they are on their way. But one difficulty after the other hits their road trip and since they are all out of money, fortunately most of their problems can be solved by dancing.

Every once in a while, Magic Mike XXL has moments where it is exactly the film I wanted it to be. Unfortunately, for the most part it consists of dreary dialogue scenes and has some of the worst pacing I’ve ever seen in a film.

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Love & Mercy (2014)

Love & Mercy
Director: Bill Pohlad
Writer: Oren Moverman, Michael A. Lerner
Cast: Elizabeth Banks, John Cusack, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Jake Abel, Kenny Wormald, Dee Wallace, Joanna Going, Brett Davern, Erin Darke, Graham Rogers
Seen on: 21.6.2015

Plot:
Melinda (Elizabeth Banks) works as car saleswoman and one day, a guy (John Cusack) strolls into her shop, interested to buy. Turns out, he is Brian Wilson, formerly of The Beach Boys. Brian seems a little off and is accompanied by two bodyguards and a doctor – Eugene (Paul Giamatti). Nevertheless he manages to pass on a message, a cry for help, to Melinda. Even when he was young, Brian (Paul Dano) has had mental health issues, but now he seems completely under Eugene’s control – and apparently not doing very well.

Love & Mercy has an interesting structure and a cast that absolutely shines. I was completely immersed in the story. Yet it is also interesting to think about what has been left out of the story.

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Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)

Pitch Perfect 2
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Writer: Kay Cannon
Sequel to: Pitch Perfect
Cast: Anna KendrickHailee SteinfeldBrittany Snow, Rebel Wilson, Skylar Astin, Ben PlattAdam DeVine, Alexis Knapp, Ester Dean, Hana Mae LeeChrissie FitBirgitte Hjort SørensenFlula Borg, Anna Camp, Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins, John Hodgman, Snoop Dogg, David Cross, Keegan-Michael Key
Seen on: 31.5.2015

Plot:
The Barden Bellas have been quite successful for the past few years, when a new catastrophe hits: their by now huge show falls completely apart, right when they are performing for the President. Banned from college competitions afterwards, their only chance of making up for the massive blunder is by winning the World Championship of Acappella. But that won’t be easy: the championship takes place in Europe, where everybody hates the USA, Beca (Anna Kendrick) got an internship at a music studio which takes up a lot of her time and the formerly strong friendship between the women is crumbling.

Pitch Perfect 2 was completely disappointing. I really enjoyed the first film (even with a couple of hesitations) and I even re-watched it before seeing this one, but unfortunately PP2 enhanced all the worst parts of PP and didn’t improve anything else.

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014)

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
Director: Francis Lawrence
Writer: Peter Craig, Danny Strong
Based on: Suzanne Collins’ novel (the first half at least)
Sequel to: The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald SutherlandPhilip Seymour HoffmanJulianne Moore, Stanley Tucci, Sam Claflin, Jena MaloneWillow ShieldsPaula Malcomson, Mahershala Ali, Jeffrey Wright, Natalie Dormer

Plot: [WITH SPOILERS FOR THE PREVIOUS BOOKS]
After the dramatic ending of the last Hunger Games, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) wakes up in the rebels’ headquarters in District 13. She discovers that Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) did not make it there – he was captured by President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and the Capitol. But with Katniss are Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and her family (Willow Shields, Paula Malcomson) – who made it out of District 12 right before it was completely obliterated – and a few other Hunger Game victors. While Katniss tries to make sense of the new world order around her, the rebels try to convince her that she should become the Mockingjay: the official symbol of the rebellion.

Mockingjay Part 1 was a very satisfying film, but it did leave me worried for Part 2, since there is not much left of the story that still worked for me in the book. But we’re not there yet, and this film, despite the occasional lengths, does very well.

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Little Accidents (2014)

Little Accidents
Director: Sara Colangelo
Writer: Sara Colangelo
Cast: Boyd HolbrookElizabeth BanksJacob LoflandJosh LucasChloë Sevigny
Part of: Viennale

Plot:
Amos (Boyd Holbrook) is the only survivor of a coal mining accident that wreaked havoc in a small town. Among the victims that didn’t survive was Owen’s (Jacob Lofland) father. Owen and Amos both are desperately trying to make sense of things and go back to normal, Amos despite his injuries and the fact that the decision about re-compensation hinges on his testimony. Also on the line is mine manager’s Bill Doyle’s (Josh Lucas) career, another strain on his marriage to Diane (Elizabeth Banks). When their son JT (Travis Tope) goes missing, it is unclear whether there is a connection to the disaster.

Little Accidents was a beautiful and touching film with a few weaknesses, but only very few.

little-accidents

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The Lego Movie (2014)

The Lego Movie
Director: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Writer: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Cast: Chris PrattElizabeth BanksMorgan FreemanLiam Neeson, Will ArnettNick Offerman, Alison BrieCobie Smulders, Jonah HillChanning Tatum, Will FerrellWill Forte, Charlie Day, Dave Franco, Jake Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal

Plot:
Emmet (Chris Pratt) is an ordinary lego worker, spending his days joyfully building things, though he is also a bit lonely. Everything changes though, when he sees Wildstyle (Elizabeth Banks), gets identified as the most extraordinary person and involved in the rebellion against Lord Business (Will Ferrell) whose main goal is to have everything in its place, chaos and with it diversity be damned.

The Lego Movie was a whole lot of fun, stitched together from references and meta jokes that nevertheless manage to form a coherent role with a rather surprising end, even if it sometimes runs a bit empty.
lego

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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Director: Francis Lawrence
Writer: Simon Beaufoy, Michael Arndt
Based on: Suzanne Collins’ novel
Sequel to: The Hunger Games
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald SutherlandPhilip Seymour Hoffman, Toby Jones, Lenny Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright, Amanda Plummer, Sam Claflin, Jena MaloneWillow ShieldsPaula Malcomson

Plot (with SPOILERS for the first one):
With the way the Hunger Games ended Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) has definitely upset the system. So before she, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and their entourage travel from district to district on their victory tour, Katniss gets a visit from President Snow (Donald Sutherland). He lets her know without a doubt that rebellion of any kind on her part will not be tolerated – and that she has to make this clear to the districts as well, where unrest is brewing. Since it’s not only Katniss’ life that he threatens, but also that of her family and friends, Katniss complies as well as she can. And then the rug is completely pulled from under her when she and Peeta are drawn back into the 75 year special edition of the Games.

Where the second book was slightly worse than the first book, I thought that the second film was even better than the first. It’s a fantastic sequel, great adaptation and a wonderful film.

catchingfire

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Re-Watch: The Hunger Games (2012)

The Hunger Games
Director: Gary Ross
Writer: Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins, Billy Ray
Based on: Suzanne Collins’ novel
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland, Wes Bentley, Toby Jones, Lenny Kravitz, Amandla Stenberg
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
The USA don’t exist anymore. In its place are 12 districts and the Capitol that has the districts under its thumb. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) lives in district 12, where at 16 she’s basically taking care of her mother (Paula Malcomson) and sister Prim (Willow Shields). Which means that she breaks the laws daily to go hunting with her best friend Gale (Liam Hemsworth). But Katniss’ life changes radically when the kids for the Hunger Games of that year are reaped. In the Hunger Games every year 24 kids, 2 more or less randomly chosen from each districts, are pitted against each other in a battle to the death until only one remains standing. And in this year 12-year-old Prim is chosen. In desperation Katniss volunteers to take Prim’s place. And so Katniss travels to the Capitol together with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) the baker’s son – to certain death for at least one of them.

Despite actually getting the story for the third time, I was completely into it again and it made me cry. Again.

The-Hunger-Games

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