Tag Archive | "The Hunger Games"

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FLICKS: Creed & The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

Posted on 03 December 2015 by LeslieM

By Dave Montalbano


Fatherhood is a strong theme of the movie Creed. While this film is the first Rocky movie I saw without my dad, it is also the first Rocky movie Sylvester Stallone has made since the loss of his son, Sage Stallone, who died of a heart attack in 2012.

In this sequel, Rocky Balboa is a supporting character to Adonis Johnson Creed (Michael B. Jordan). A child of foster homes and reform school, young Adonis grew up without his father, who was legendary fictional heavyweight champion Apollo Creed. Apollo’s widowed wife, Mary Anne Creed (Phylicia Rashad ), takes in the angry boy and raises him as her legitimate son. The lure of the boxing ring remains in his blood, despite the cushy lifestyle he has achieved as a successful business executive.

Adonis seeks out his father’s old rival, Rocky Balboa, who still manages his deceased wife’s restaurant and is lonely since his sidekick, Paulie, died and his son Robert moved to Vancouver. (Note: the picture of Young Rocky and son is that of Sylvester Stallone and his real life son, Sage.) Adonis and Rocky form a partnership that extends beyond the blood, sweat and tears of the boxing ring.

Creed is about growth and passing the torch to a next generation that is willing to receive it. The beauty of this movie is the marriage of old traditions with new ideas. While Rocky may be befuddled by an Apple iPad and the Cloud, the old man can still teach his prodigy the importance of understanding one’s own heart. Creed is a must-see.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 is the strongest box office champion since James Bond’s Spectre opened. This Hunger Games sequel is a worthy conclusion to author Suzanne Collins’s young adult novels about a dystopian future. The producers do not skimp on the production values. Mockingjay Part 2 opens slowly, but explodes into breathtaking and violent action.

With the ensemble actor’s participation, The Hunger Games movies will grow in stature thanks to Oscar winners Jennifer Lawrence, Julianne Moore and the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman. There are political themes within as ancient as Aristotle and echoing lyrics from the classic rock band, The Who – “Won’t get fooled again.” The four movies comprising The Hunger Games are pure literary cinema.

Both Creed and The Hunger Games:Mockingjay Part 2 are serious movies that are pure popcorn-eating entertainment. See these films with family members and friends, for the values presented in both movies are worthy of discussion around the dinner table.

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FLICKS: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1 &The Grand Budapest

Posted on 18 December 2014 by LeslieM

By Dave Montalbano


Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games literary trilogy has been stretched out to four separate stories on the cinematic big screen. This practice of stretching out the final book began with the Harry Potter series (worthy) and continued with the Twilight series (unworthy). Mockingjay is a 400 page young adult novel, which means that The Hunger Games: Mockingjay –Part 1 is full of exposition that should lead to an epic big screen grand finale.

In the previous motion picture, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) challenged the federal status quo with an act of public defiance. Mockingjay opens with Katniss adjusting to her new role as a rebellious public symbol – the Mockingjay. Her new title is a creation of rebel leader Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) and her agent Plutarch (the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman). Katniss, Alma and Plutarch are in direct conflict with ongoing villain President Snow (Donald Sutherland).

In her previous act of defiance, Katniss lost track of her beloved Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), her ally (and possible love interest?) from the government sanctioned Hunger Games. Now, President Snow uses Peeta as a government propaganda pawn to confront the growing rebellion. Katniss is put in an emotional vice as she tries to separate her public obligations with her personal needs.

Director Francis Lawrence does an excellent job presenting this conflict for Katniss. It helps that Jennifer Lawrence is the perfect conduit for audience empathy, for much of this story is told through her eyes. We have watched young Katniss age in the past two years; the stress and betrayals are revealed on her face. With this type of emotional connection, the well-directed action scenes take on more depth and one eagerly awaits the grand finale with part two next year.

As we wrap up 2014, mainstream critics are presenting their top films of the year, with The Grand Budapest Hotel being consistently nominated. By the end of the month, this film will be on cable. Much like his previous motion pictures Rushmore, Moonrise Kingdom and The Royal Tennenbaums, The Grand Budapest Hotel is another peak into the vision of Wes Anderson. With high brow cinematography and low brow comedy, this film tells the tale of M.Gustave (Ralph Fiennes), a legendary concierge with contacts everywhere. Art theft, international intrigue and the onset of a world war … this film has something for everyone.

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