The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015)

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Katniss and a team of rebels from District 13 prepare for the final battle that will decide the future of Panem. (IMDb)
A perfect continuation of the devastating commentary on war from Part 1: uneasy scenes of sinister battle plans and shady propaganda politics intertwine with suspenseful ones of terrifying, exhausting, fruitless warfare (see Katniss’ response to her brief captor) to lead to a fitting anti-climax; there is no joy in victory, only lingering suspicion and pain and further violence simmering beneath the surface (slightly cheesy final scene aside). A satisfying conclusion to a dark dystopian tale.
8.5/10 (Amazing)

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014)

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Katniss Everdeen is in District 13 after she shatters the games forever. Under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss spreads her wings as she fights to save Peeta and a nation moved by her courage. (IMDb)
Grim, ghastly, great. Could’ve capitalized on the momentum of the simple and effective good rebels vs. bad Capitol set-up of the first two flicks, but instead chose to sit in the darkness underground for a while and meditate on media manipulation and the horrors of war that exist even when you’re fighting evil: a remarkable pre-climax storytelling maneuver that sits better the more you stew on it. Well-shot, scored (Lawrence’s “The Hanging Tree” is truly haunting), and acted, as always.
8/10 (Great)

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

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Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark become targets of the Capitol after their victory in the 74th Hunger Games sparks a rebellion in the Districts of Panem. (IMDb)
The first act is superb as rebellion brews and Katniss and Peeta deal with the complex aftermath to the previous Games. I wish it lingered here longer instead of rushing to the next Games though; the plan to taint Katniss’ image was dropped rather quickly, for example. Still, emotional scenes abound in the familiar plot structure of the next two acts (see Katniss and Peta’s powerful presentations to the sponsors; Katniss’ dress reveal), and the bounty of new supporting characters are memorable.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

 

The Hunger Games (2012)

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Katniss Everdeen voluntarily takes her younger sister’s place in the Hunger Games: a televised competition in which two teenagers from each of the twelve Districts of Panem are chosen at random to fight to the death. (IMDb)
Captivating from the get-go thanks to the intimate, hand-held camerawork, bittersweet landscapes of poverty and natural beauty, and ethereal, haunting soundtrack. As the last two acts dive into the deep end of the disturbing dystopia while keeping these elements it becomes even more so; social commentary on class disparity, reality entertainment, and desensitization to violence intertwine to make numerous powerful scenes and a poignant lingering sense of despair and rebellion amidst victory.
8/10 (Great)

 

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012)

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Sean Anderson partners with his mom’s husband on a mission to find his grandfather, who is thought to be missing on a mythical island. (IMDb)
Better than its awful predecessor (despite a more annoying Sean–now an arrogant and angsty teen), thanks mostly to superior visuals (the slow-motion was a nice touch; see the helicopter crash), but also a script that actually builds some suspense (see the devastating cliff collapse) and hints at decent character work (see Alexander’s brief moment at the campfire) amidst its still rushed adventure plot (they get to the island very quickly) with poor dialogue and failed attempts at humour.
5/10 (Poor)

Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008)

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On a quest to find out what happened to his missing brother, a scientist, his nephew and their mountain guide discover a fantastic and dangerous lost world in the center of the earth. (IMDb)
I got a jolt of giddiness when Trevor starting reading the cryptic notes in Verne’s novel, setting up the adventure to come, but unfortunately, the execution falls flat on its face: Besides the science being under-explained and far-fetched, the action scenes are childish and riddled with cheesy CGI, and the downtime is full of lame one-liners (“Welcome to the 21st century”), bland sentimentality (the kid-conflict is resolved after one scene), and shoddy acting (kid Hutcherson especially).
3.5/10 (Awful)