Spared or Spoiled Film Reviews: Passengers

The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.

Passengers (Columbia Pictures)

passengers-poster

Directed by Morten Tyldum

Written by Jon Spaihts

Starring Jennifer LawrenceChris PrattMichael SheenLaurence Fishburne & Andy García

I actually enjoyed Passengers (wait for it) in a weird way. I liked the love story. And the two leads have an insane amount of appeal (sexy, funny, smart). Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt are so fucking lovable. I kind of liked the science fiction story, in theory, even though there really wasn’t much to it. Passengers is mostly just a character study of a seriously screwed-up romance that just happens to have a science fiction backdrop. The effects are spectacular. And the stars are beautiful (human and celestial). I enjoyed watching Passengers. The movie is like that pretty football player who has all the girls do his homework or the hot girl who cheats off the nerds who have crushes… except, you know, without the help. This movie is so dumb. And there are WAY too many things wrong with Passengers for me not to spoil it. I have to spoil the shit out of this Swiss cheese of a science fiction monstrosity – Oh my god the massive plot holes.

Verdict: SPOILED

passengers-cast

“Wait. What? That can’t be right.” “What is it?” “It’s just that Mel’s never not liked one of my movies before. There must be some mistake.” “What about X-Men:Apocalypse?” “Shut up.”

SPOILER ALERT

What’s wrong with Passengers you ask? Well it’s dumb as fuck. It’s not smart writing (This ain’t Arrival). There are scores and scores of plot holes, I don’t know, it’s like the movie went through an asteroid belt that it didn’t see coming. I want to forgive some of the holes because Passengers made me smile. And both actors are amazing people. When you watch them in interviews they’re smart and funny and nice. And they bring a lot of themselves to these characters. It’s a very pretty film. The effects are stunningly beautiful. It’s just that there could have been more to its plot. It could have been less predictable. And there could have been a lot less massive plot holes.

jennifer-lawrence-and-chris-pratt-in-passengers

“You think it’s me don’t you, Jen?” “I mean come on. It can’t be ME. I have like three Oscars.” “You have ONE, Jen. You have one Oscar.” “Shut up.”

Passengers is about the deep space voyage of a completely automated vessel. Humans in the future travel to inhabitable planets in suspended animation or some shit, while the insanely large computer takes care of EVERYTHING. It never fails (or so the plot suggests). But this time something goes horribly wrong, supplying our first plot hole very early in the movie. The thing that happens to the ship is extremely predictable and should have been solved by waking the entire crew (tell me why is there a crew again?) or changing course several years earlier (all that equipment and they can’t see asteroids). Movie ends. Roll credits. Over look this plot hole, if you can. I’ll understand if you can. I could not.

chris-pratt-and-jennifer-lawrence-in-passengers

“Have another whiskey, Chris. After Jurassic World and Magnificent Seven, this makes three bad reviews. I’m just saying.” “You know I’m a Marvel superhero. And Mystique is just a minor villain that Fox gave a bigger part to because the actress got famous, right?” “Shut up.”

But it’s just so pretty to look at. The ship is gorgeous. The tech is gorgeous. The stars are gorgeous. The movie is gorgeous. And you can tell that the people who edited the trailer saw this humongous plot hole and tried to hide it by teasing that something nefarious was going on. Just look at the poster tagline. “There is a reason they woke up.” Um… no there isn’t. The trailer even includes fake dialogue suggesting Chris Pratt’s character finds out why he was awakened from cryo-sleep too early. But no. It was just the asteroids. Just dumb luck. Accent on the dumb, underlined, bold.

paasengers-chris-pratt-and-jennifer-lawrence

“Why are you being so cruel, Mel? Look what it’s doing to Chris. You’re killing him. He was in Guardians of the Galaxy. Now help me get him into the sick bay that will bring him back to life but couldn’t save the deck officer. And YES I heard it when I said it. Shut up.”

Then of course the character decides to kill another passenger because he’s lonely and she’s pretty. Another major plot hole. Also there’s just one sick bay for 5000 passengers and 300 crew. The cheapest cruise ship today has at least a half-dozen for far fewer numbers. A large elementary school has more than one bed. This is yet another hole when they decide to use this pseudo-romantic plot device “One of us could go back to sleep. We could use the sick bay bed.” The ONE sick-bay bed for 6000 people? I don’t care how advanced it is. That’s like five too few. Star Trek’s main sick bay had like three beds and that was just in the Chief medical officer’s bay. There was more than one. There should be more than one. Hell, the crew should have had their own. It’s a deep space vessel with paying passengers.

laurence-fishburne-in-passengers

“What about the computer waking me up but having no way to put me back to sleep? And if you say I should have taken the blue pill, I will fucking hit you.”

Okay, now I’m getting angry. Let’s go back to saying how pretty the film was. The film was really nice to look at if not more than a little dumb. And the actors are pretty. They both have sensational personal trainers and there’s some “getting it on” to be seen (if that’s your thing… not judging) But the writing leaves so much to be desired. The dialogue and performances are light-years better than the story and that tells me the actors rewrote a bunch of crap. I enjoyed it for the actors, their chemistry, their relationship, their performances, their bodies and the beautiful special effects.

passenger-jennifer-and-chris

“You hear that? Mel likes it when we’re getting it on.” “No Jen. He may want to fuck me. But the things he wants to do to you would violate… ordinances, human decency, the laws of physics… god… man. It’s not the same.” “Shut up.”

Whatever you do just don’t think about how the computer wakes up the deck officer but has no way to put him back to sleep. The deck officer could have awoken an engineer. Trees don’t grow up unless the roots can grow down as well. Food for 5000 people for 4 weeks can’t feed two people for 90 years (do the math). Even with one cryo-bed they could have prolonged both of their lives by sleeping in it. They are travelling at near light speed but get hit by slow-moving asteroids. They’re travelling at near light speed but they can space walk off the ship. He gets un-tethered, the ship would be miles away when he blinked (and he’d be dead at less ludicrous speeds). Sling-shot around the what now… you’re already travelling at… nope that’s just dumb writing. I could go on and on. And some of these can be explained or over-looked but if you have to explain later then you didn’t do your job. And you can only ask an audience to over-look so much.

Chris Pratt; Jennifer Lawrence

“It’s okay. I mean if you read between the lines, he liked the movie because of us. He didn’t like X-Men: Apocalypse but he liked you in it. He didn’t like this movie but he liked us in it.” “So maybe I WILL win another Oscar.” “Shut up.” “I was jus…” “No. Seriously. Shut up. This is Amy’s year.”

After all that’s wrong with it, I still enjoyed Passengers. Because the pictures and the people in it are all so pretty. I just turned off the part of my brain that needs things to make sense because of them… And because I had already paid 20 bucks.

– Mel

My 5 Favorite Fictional Women in 2015 (Film & TV) Mega Post

We interrupt this broadcast to bring you a late End-of-Year list ALERT.

My Five Favorite Female Characters in Film and on TV in 2015

Everyone’s done with their end of the year lists except for me because I couldn’t think of anything I hadn’t posted already. Or anything mildly interesting or even a little different.

So I decided to stick with a subject that I know something about: Women.

Jessica Jones on the Subway

Okay that’s a joke. But 2015 has been the year of the woman in movies and on TV. So I’m surprised I didn’t think of this one sooner. Here are five lists of five women in my favorite films and TV shows from the year 2015.

And because I’m an habitual rule breaker (even my own rules), I included, at the end, a list of my five favorite real people. Some women who have kicked ass in 2015.

To the lists…

and speaking of kicking ass…

Top Five Female Leads in Action and Sci-fi Movies

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Daisy Ridley as Rey in The Force AwakensDaisy Ridley as Rey

I have to start with Rey. She was resourceful. She was tough. She was strong (with the force). She was independent. She was good-hearted (saving BB-8). And she was the best character in the best film of the year.

*Star Wars side note: Everybody’s got to knock The Force Awakens now that it’s the highest grossing and best film of all-time. It’s a sickness. “Everybody likes this thing, but I don’t, so I must be better than it and them.” Oh shut up. Or the idea of just hating something because it’s popular. My least favorite is the bad guys need to find a better way of terrorizing the galaxy besides destroying an entire planet or system. That doesn’t even make any sense. They can destroy a planet. There is no better way to terrorize the entire galaxy… except maybe destroying a star… oh wait.

I also like the way Rey knows that by removing the fuse on an electric door, it opens the door automatically. That every engineer in the galaxy would make the doors open by default when the power goes out. And to have it otherwise would be a fault in design. Because no engineer would ever make a death trap for themselves…

Ex Machina

Ex MachinaAlicia Vikander as Ava

I give this movie a hard time because of the ending but, make no mistake, Alicia Vikander deserves all the awards she will surely win for her performances in Ex-Machina and other films in 2015. She is fast becoming one of my favorite actresses (female actors). And my thoughts on the film change (slightly) when I realize that she’s the lead character. That she’s the main character. And it is essentially a movie about her. She’s the one being tested by her maker. However, I still think the ending is dumb.

Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max Fury Road Charlize Theron and Nicholas HoultCharlize Theron as Furiosa

This movie surprised me in so many ways. But the happiest surprise was Furiosa. The movie may be called Mad Max but the lead character is Furiosa; the one-armed, truck driving, sharp-shooting, bad-ass that rules the road and the wasteland. Charlize already has an Oscar, and with very little dialogue her performance in Fury Road might be over-looked by the academy, but in my opinion it was one of the best performances of the year… in an action film. Best performances in an action film.

Sicario

Emily Blunt gun SicarioEmily Blunt as Kate

I really liked this movie. It’s dark and it’s violent but it’s also tense and suspenseful. Emily Blunt makes a fine FBI agent and the realism in Sicario, as well as her performance, makes you fear for her life from the first frame. But our hero can take care of herself.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay

Mockingjay Part2

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss

If I’m allowed to drop the “Part 2” from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 then it is an excellent film. The story suffers from being split into two parts. It becomes disjointed and it ruins the pacing and the symmetry with the other two films. But what is consistent throughout the series is Katniss. The lead character in The Hunger Games played by Jennifer Lawrence is a symbol, within the movie and with out. She is pure-hearted and fearless. She is compassionate and emotional and a great leader. Showing how these traits aren’t necessarily a weakness in leadership. She should be at the top of this list. And if it were an all-time squad she would be. But Katniss comes in fifth on this list because the movie that came out this year was half a movie.

Next up…

Top Five Female Leads in Comedies, Cartoons and Musicals

Amy

Amy Winehouse Healthy and HappyAmy Winehouse as Herself

I had to put Amy first because of how much respect I gained for her after watching this found footage biography. Amy is the star of the movie. We watch her grow up and we watch her ascend and we watch her fall. But I didn’t expect to like her as much I did. It is a cautionary tale. So she isn’t the strongest female character in any of these movies by a long shot. But we see her artistry. We see her stubbornness when it comes to her career. And we see her capacity for love. And her fearlessness when it comes to putting all of herself into her words and her music. And this also makes her the strongest female character in any of these movies by a long shot.

Inside/Out

Inside Out crewAmy Poehler as Joy

Speaking of movies that made me cry my eyes out. Inside/Out is a triumph of emotional honesty. A wonderful film and my pick for best animated feature. The lead character, the emotion of Joy, ironically, is one of the saddest characters in the film. While, Sadness is one of the most content. And it’s this emotional depth and maturity that makes Inside/Out one of the best films of the year… period.

Trainwreck

Amy Schumer and Bill Hader in TrainwreckAmy Schumer as Amy

What I like about the character of Amy, in the incredibly funny Trainwreck, is not only her sexual appetite, although it is a large part of who she is. And it’s not only her wit and sense of humor, even though Amy Schumer has written (and starred in) one the funniest movies of the year, portraying an amazingly witty magazine writer. But it’s how she’s such a mess otherwise. With the drugs and the alcohol and the fear of intimacy and lack of self-awareness or responsibility. But still somehow Amy makes us fall in love with her. (and by that I mean the character and the writer). 2015 was the year of Schumer.

The Little Prince

The Young Girl from The Little PrinceMackenzie Foy as Young Girl

In the little prince we see a young girl with her life mapped out in front of her. She is already an adult at a young age. Already responsible and organized, with no room for fun or imagination. It reminds me of the little women around the world who never get to be children for… reasons. But here we have a young girl who, first chance she gets, grabs adventure by the short hairs and runs with it.

Pitch Perfect 2

Anna Kendrick in Pitch PerfectAnna Kendrick as Beca

I put this here because I couldn’t think of a fifth one. And I liked this movie. I liked the songs and the singing and Elizabeth Banks does a great job directing. And I like Anna Kendrick. But to be pitch perfectly honest, it’s because I couldn’t think of anything else.

Next up… Television

Five Favorite Female Leads in Science Fiction/ Superhero TV

Jessica Jones (Netflix)

Jessica Jones and Kilgrave

Krysten Ritter as Jessica

There was no contest. Jessica Jones is the best. All five of these TV super heroines kick much ass, and take many names, but Krysten Ritter’s Jessica Jones is the sexiest, most kick-ass, most bad-mouthiest, most likable, most enjoyable hero on TV… man or woman.

Supergirl (CBS)

Supergirl

Melissa Benoist as Kara

Am I the only one that loves this show? Because I love this show and I don’t see enough people raving about it. It reminds me, appropriately enough, of the show Smallville, and I loved that show too. In that one, the hero was trying to find his place in the world before becoming Superman. In Supergirl, she’s already… Supergirl, but she too is trying to find where she fits in the larger scheme.

She struggles to find a balance between being a sister, a daughter, a friend, a hero, a savior, an alien, a human… an administrative assistant? She struggles to find a balance between work and home and saving the day and saving the world. A balance between her emotional strength and her physical strength. Her emotional shortcomings and her physical ones. And I love it.

While Melissa Benoist plays the invulnerable pretending to be vulnerable, it’s quickly turned on its side when she puts the cape on. It’s the other way around when she’s Supergirl. It’s then when she pretends that nothing hurts her.

But maybe I’m the only one who loves this show.

iZombie (CW)

iZombie

Rose McIver as Liv

iZombie is fun and funny and cute and crazy. Our hero Liv takes on the personality of the person whose brain she eats. Oh yeah, she’s a zombie who’s also a medical examiner. And as long as she eats brains she doesn’t lose her own personality to the zombie inside her but she also inherits the personality traits of the dead person for a while.

izombie brain noodles

But my favorite part of the show is when she cooks up the brains each week. I’ve always loved cooking, and they make the food look so good. It’s a different recipe every week and I don’t know if there’s any significance to how she prepares it. But it always looks incredible and makes me want to eat some brains.

Spicy Brain arial w soup iZombie

Okay that last part is a joke but the food looks amazing. They make brains look so good.

Agent Carter (ABC)

Hayley Atwell as Agent Carter

Hayley Atwell as Peggy

Agent Carter, played by Hayley Atwell, is a little too efficient at times but what impresses me about the super agent is the sheer amount of sexism she has to overcome. And the way she does it. So it’s incredibly satisfying when she proves not only is she as good as the male agents but better. And then of course it’s frustrating because there’s always another way they marginalize her. In a weird way it reminds me of Mad Men. Early Mad Men reminded us of the sexist attitudes of the fifties. Allowed us to see how much things have changed and forced us to realize how much things haven’t changed… from Agent Carter’s time period to Mad Men… (in the seventies this entire TV list would be Wonder Woman, Bionic Woman and Charlie’s Angels and that’s it) until today where there are many more women superheroes to choose from.

The Man in the High Castle (Amazon)

man in the high castle

Alexa Davalos as Juliana

I’m obsessed with this show. The story is so good. The lead character played by Alexa Davalos is an Aikido Instructor who gets caught up in an underground film smuggling ring. The films? Nothing too racy. Just old news reels about World War II. She gets caught up in this illegal trafficking years after the war ended. Years after Germany and Japan won the war against the allied forces and occupied the United States. Dividing the country into a German state in the east and a Japanese state in the west with a lawless zone somewhere between. But what makes these illegal films so special? Well, they don’t show the war quite right. They show the allied forces winning the second world war and America dropping bombs on Japan. And… well… that’s just not the way it happened.

Next up…

Top Five Female Leads in a Drama on TV

Empire (FOX)

Empire

Taraji P. Henson as Cookie

Has anyone else noticed that while Empire started off as one thing, it quickly became the Cookie Lyon show. Although they’ve softened her a bit (she’s been out of prison for a while now), she’s still a tough Cookie (and yes I did just type that). Taraji P. Henson’s Cookie Lyon tops my list for female leads in a Drama on TV because she not only stole the show but she stole the show. Long live the queen.

Fargo (FX)

kirsten-dunst-fargo

Kirsten Dunst as Peggy

People might argue that Kirsten Dunst isn’t the lead character on Fargo but I beg to differ. Peggy is the pivotal character. She is the reason for it all, and every thing runs through her. It would be a crime if she didn’t get the Emmy. But who knows about these things?

I do. I know about these things. She is amazing. In a show full of great performances, I would sit there week after week waiting for her to come back on the screen. She was just so enjoyable to watch. Truly an amazing performance. Give her an Emmy.

American Horror Story: Hotel (FX)

American Horror Story Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga as The Countess Elizabeth

Speaking of truly amazing performances. Lady Gaga. Honestly, who knew she was this good. With one more episode to go, this season of American Horror Story has been my favorite, purely because of Lady Gaga. Like really, Jessica who? She has made me forget how great Jessica Lange was every year. The Countess is so many things at once and it shows on her face and it’s a sensational performance.

Scandal (ABC)

Scandal 2

Kerry Washington as Olivia

Okay. I like Scandal. I never liked Olivia Pope. This season, however, my opinion is changing. Seeing her out of her element. In power but powerless. It’s made me feel sorry for her. Before I was always sorry for everyone around her. The people she used. The people she hurt. The little people she trampled upon. Kerry Washington is doing a great job bringing more depth to a character that frankly I considered to be a bit of an asshole… and kind of a spoiled brat. I’m still Team Mellie (#TeamMellie) all the way but now that Olivia has walked a while in Mellie’s shoes, she’s not so smug.

Scream Queens (FOX)

Emma Roberts in Scream Queens

Emma Roberts as Chanel

The character is awful. She’s an awful person. Self-centered and vindictive. Not to mention homicidal and disloyal and… she’s just awful okay? But she’s so funny. Along with the other girls that she named after herself because why would she learn anyone else’s name, she made me laugh my ass off. And the nicknames she gives to other people are offensive and hysterical and because she has such a big personality, soon that becomes their name on the show. Scream Queens is very funny. I know I put it with the dramas but that’s because it’s an hour-long and people die. It’s pure madcap though because it’s silly as fuck. And the dialogue is so good.

And Billie Lourd (Carrie Fisher’s daughter) who plays Chanel #3 comes in a close second for funniest and best deadpan delivery. Great show.

*another Star Wars side note: I noticed while watching Force Awakens again (this time in IMAX) that nearly every time you see General Organa, almost every shot of her, there’s her daughter in the background.

Billie Lourd in The Force Awakens

In this shot we see General Organa’s back and her daughter in the background. When they show the general from the front, her daughter is still in the background. She’s in nearly every shot.

I don’t know if she plays her Administrative Assistant or something but it just struck me as funny. There’s always Leia and right behind her mini Leia. No matter the angle of the camera. Leia from the left side, there’s her daughter behind her. Leia from the right side, there’s her daughter again. Leia from the back, her daughters in front of her.

She’s always in the shot.

Next up…

Top Five Trans Women on TV

I want to make a special case for the wonderful leaps forward we have made with trans characters on TV. Only the first two are played by trans actresses (female actors), however (they just happen to be my favorite two).

Orange is the New Black (Netflix)

Sophia from Orange is the New Black

Laverne Cox as Sophia

This season there was only one Sophia-centric episode because they spent more time this year fleshing-out the other characters. Telling the back story of other women in the prison. But there was still a lot of Sophia to go around. I like the character enough but Laverne Cox is one of my favorite people.

Sense 8 (Netflix)

Nomi from Sense 8

Jamie Clayton as Nomi

Sense 8 is one of the best new shows from 2015. And Nomi was one of my favorite parts. The bad-ass hacker chick we know from all the shows. But with a gorgeous girlfriend and horrible relationship with her mother. Not to mention being a part of a cluster of unique people able to share their experiences and talents over great distances. And being a trans woman. She was very cool.

Impatiently waiting for Sense 8 to return.

Transparent (Amazon)

Maura from Transparent

Jeffrey Tambor as Maura

Amazon Prime is the new kid on the streaming block but comes into the market with a lot of cash and some talented writers. I already mentioned how much I love The Man in the High Castle. Transparent was their first major success. Award winning performances all around especially from Jeffrey Tambor who plays a trans woman who finds the courage to be her true self later in life. It is a very funny show with no shortage of LGBT representation but even as that’s what the show is about, it really isn’t what the show is about. It’s about family. Fantastic show.

American Horror Story: Hotel (FX)

Liz from American Horror Story Hotel

Denis O’Hare as Liz

There are two bad-ass bitches on AHS: Hotel. We’ve already talked about The Countess but there’s also Liz Taylor who is such an amazing character. A bartender at the murder hotel, if this season had a protagonist, and it’s hard to find one each year, I’d say it was Liz. The sweetest, the kindest, the most identifiable character on the show. And yes she’s a trans bartender who works for a vampire in a hotel full of murderous ghosts but, that’s about as identifiable as this show will ever get.

Penny Dreadful (Showtime)

Angelique from Penny Dreadful

Jonny Beauchamp as Angelique

Jonny Beauchamp’s Angelique is heartbreakingly innocent in a show full of monsters. Like Liz before her I suppose. I love a good monster mash. A bunch of my favorite shows are just a collection of monsters. From Hemlock Grove to True Blood to American Horror Story to Penny Dreadful. I love a good monsters team-up. But always there’s this flower that grows in the desolate wasteland of horrors. And always it’s heartbreaking. Penny Dreadful is a great show by the way.

and Lastly… Real People

My Top Five Female “Characters” in American Culture

Hillary Clinton: The Politician. The next president.

Hillary Clinton

For taking the constant attacks from the Right and from the media and from Congress this year. (And the attacks from Bernie Sanders). And coming through it all looking presidential and clearly more qualified than anyone else for the job. #ImWithHer

Serena Williams: The Athlete. The greatest of all-time.

Serena Williams Sports Illustrated Sportsperson-of-the-year

For being the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson (athlete) of the year and the best woman’s tennis player of all-time. And honestly they wanted them to give it to a horse. WTF

Misty Copeland: The Dancer. The trailblazing ballerina.

Misty Copeland ABT

For becoming the first African-American woman to be promoted to principal dancer of the American Ballet Theater and for being a fantastic athlete as well as an amazing artist.

Michelle Obama: The First Lady. (my boo)

Hillary Clinton And Michelle Obama Host Int'l Women of Courage Awards

For her continuous grace and strength under constant attacks from the right-wing media, even when they get personal and nasty and wholly disrespectful. And because she would be on this list every year for the last seven years.

And The Role Models:

The last entry is for the actresses who have changed the definition of Hollywood starlet to supreme bad-ass. Every generation has their young stars and up until now it’s been mostly a collection of boozers and party-ers and bad girls and really the worse of Hollywood’s spoiled brats.

Emma Watson (25) For already being a young feminist icon.

Jennifer Lawrence (24) For standing up for equal pay in an industry that some people think is already over-paid (but that’s not the fucking point).

Amandla Stenberg (17) writer, activist, all-around bad-ass. At 17. Good god slow down. You’re making the rest of us look bad.

For all three (and others.. Lena, Taylor, Kristen) for being a fearless and refreshing call to change and for actually being role models without really trying to be.

And that’s my year-end list… Women

I hope you enjoyed it.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

– Mel

X-Men: Apocalypse Trailer

I loved the original X-Men series up until the point when Bryan Singer handed the reins to that creepy dude (Ratner Ratface Something). And I really enjoyed the reboot although I liked the first movie, X-Men: First Class, directed by Matthew Vaughn, a lot better than X-Men :Days of Future Past, directed by Singer.

This one sees Bryan Singer back in the director’s chair.

It’s not that great of a trailer. And frankly it doesn’t have enough Olivia Munn for my liking. But can you truly ever have enough Olivia Munn? Maybe not.

And I think the last shot is pretty fucking cheesy.

But I’m still excited.

Not the best trailer, but it’s early. And the Memorial Day release is always a good sign. Usually a sign they think they have a hit. (I think the last two were Spring releases)

It’s good to see Quicksilver back though. (At least the X-Men’s Quicksilver or Fox’s Quicksilver, if not the Avenger’s Quicksilver or Disney’s Quicksilver or Marvel’s but aren’t they both Marvel’s… anyway one of them had to die… there can be only one)

It’s an early trailer. Nothing spectacular. Cheesy reveal at the end. Not enough Munn.

Still looking forward to seeing these characters again. Great casting. New Storm. New Jean Grey. Oscar Isaac as Apocalypse. Olivia… (okay yes I have a big crush on Olivia Munn dating back to AOTS. I was there from the beginning. Don’t judge me)

X-Men Apocalypse

X-Men was my favorite comic growing up. So I’m always excited for a new film.

Bring it.

-Mel

Spared or Spoiled Reviews: The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2

The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.

The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2 (Lionsgate)

poster-the-hunger-games-mockingjay-part-2-12

Directed by Francis Lawrence

Written by Danny Strong (with Peter Craig)  Based on Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Starring Jennifer LawrenceJosh HutchersonLiam HemsworthWoody HarrelsonElizabeth BanksJulianne MoorePhilip Seymour HoffmanJeffrey WrightSam ClaflinJena MaloneStanley Tucci & Donald Sutherland

Mockingjay Part 2 picks up exactly where we left off in Part 1. These movies could be spliced together as is, except for a two second title sequence that would seem weird right in the middle of the movie. I almost expected to hear a Katniss Everdeen voice over saying, “Previously on Hunger Games.” A good movie. However my feelings on Mockingjay Part 2 are formed by my intense hatred of the new Hollywood money grab of splitting movies into parts to get more than one admission. Whenever this happens, I will continue to skip the first one and wait for the DVD and then see the second one in the theater. I’m buying ONE ticket for your ONE movie. So this time I saw Part 2 in the theater and Part 1 at home. And I liked it, so no spoilers.

Verdict: SPARED

Katniss

My girl Katniss is a bad mother- “Shut your mouth.” But I’m just talking about Katniss.

What I like about the first two Hunger Games movies is that they start with a morality tale about politics & freedom and they end with a game of death in the arena. It’s a beautiful pattern. Mockingjay is the same. But because they had to split the third book into two movies, the rhythm is gone. The pattern is broken. Mockingjay is just the same as the others but they ruin it by having to make Part 1 about the politics & the propaganda and Part 2 the fight to the death. But without both parts together you don’t get the feel of the repetition. And I love that pattern about the first two. You get the politics and then you get the battle. It’s the same movie but it’s bigger each time. And I’m going to stop complaining about it but THEY RUIN IT with this money grab. I’m done.

Mockingjay Part2

“Show of hands. Who here was in the scouts? That many huh. Keeping your hands up, how many of you have cookies left?”

And before you think I’m knocking it. I’m really not knocking it. As one movie, Mockingjay is amazing. Except for maybe the normal problem when this happens where there is too much filler. Oh yeah, that’s the other problem when you have two movies but only one movie’s worth of entertainment. You have to add all this filler. I know I said I’d stop complaining but I’m trying to review half a movie here and it’s difficult. Being half a movie stretched to its limit, it starts in the middle, the pacing is all wrong, and there’s like five fucking endings. Now I’m done.

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“Okay. So what am I looking at?” “Well this is where we are now.” “Great so where’s the food court?” “Do you remember where we parked?”

There’s other things to talk about though. Like my other reviews all concentrate on the politics. I love the political intrigue. I love the revolution and the propaganda. The Hunger Games is an excellent story. And I’m kind of sorry I saw the movies before reading the books. (Though I may still listen to the audio books later). In Part 2 of Part 3, the politics is in full effect and the ending (the first one) the conclusion to all this madness is perfect. It is pure perfection. I thought after all this time it would be anti-climactic. It was not.

Julianne Moore as President Coin in Mockingjay Part 2

“I wonder if anyone can tell that what I really wanted was to be an X-men.”

Jennifer Lawrence is her same amazing self. She doesn’t give her best performances in the Hunger Games movies because she knows it’s not that kind of a party. Yet she still carries all four movies (THREE!!! …sorry) on her talented shoulders. And honestly, she could blow the rest of the cast off the screen if she wanted. But they’re all decent. Philip Seymour Hoffman is noticeably silent here however, and sometimes conspicuously absent. But you can’t blame the guy for dying. So there is a scene missing at the end. And you can most definitely feel its absence.

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“What do you see, Sarge? Talk to me.” “It looks like Mel’s run out of clever captions for the pictures. Everybody stay frosty. This could get ugly.”

But as a purely political movie about income inequality and the horrors of a fascist dictatorship and a state-run media and a rebellion and a revolution and the pitfalls that it creates, The Hunger Games and especially Mockingjay parts 1 & 2, without all the fantasy elements, is a phenomenally excellent example of revolution done right. Pay attention.

Katniss and Friend

“Is it true? Has Mel run out of things to say?” “I think so. He isn’t even gonna mention how this picture’s not even from Part 2.” “How can you tell?” “I’m wearing that stupid breast plate from Part 1.” “Damn it. This is serious.” “I know. Right? Stay frosty.” “You too.”

If I had to find something to criticize it would be that I assumed the arena effects were built-in to the arena. In this movie they’re in the streets and in the sewers and in the subways. Maybe I just don’t know how it works. I need to read the books. It just seems like a whole lot of construction involved to make these locations into elaborate traps.

Mockingjay Part 2

“I’m frightened, Sarge. The last two captions have just been about how Mel doesn’t know what to say. It’s all so self-referential.” “I Know. Just remember your training and it’ll all be over soon.”

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 is a good movie as long as you watch Part 1 right before you see Part 2. Mockingjay is one very good movie cut in two parts. A movie that needs to be sewn back together as soon as fucking possible.

– Mel

Spared or Spoiled Film Reviews: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (Lionsgate)

Mockingjay Part 1 Poster

Directed by Francis Lawrence

Written by Danny Strong and Peter Craig  Based on Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Starring Jennifer LawrenceJosh HutchersonLiam HemsworthWoody HarrelsonElizabeth BanksJulianne MoorePhilip Seymour HoffmanStanley Tucci & Donald Sutherland

The first two Hunger Games movies featured the spectacle of The Hunger Games themselves, front and center; The crazy contest where kids brutally kill each other instead of districts rising up and rebelling against an oppressive regime. In the first two movies the government is the obvious enemy. Economic inequality is the prevalent problem in this futuristic world. But as I suspected (because it takes money to make movies), this third film introduces a new enemy. And it looks as grey and cold as communism or socialism in the American propaganda films of the 50s and 60s. It seems we have to have this forced balance in our movies these days, right? Well, whatever. I still liked Mockingjay – Part 1 in spite of this ham-fisted attempt to make the rebellion less appealing.

Verdict: SPARED

Katniss and Gale

I love The Hunger Games movies because the hero is not a soldier but a symbol. I love these movies because Katniss Everdeen is not just a reluctant hero of the rebellion but a young woman who only wants to save the people she cares about. Her compassion is grand but unless you fall into her massive scope of caring, she doesn’t give a shit about you. I love these movies because this dystopian surreal future is not far from our disgustingly for real present. And… And I just love these fucking movies.

Castor and Cressida

In Mockingjay – Part 1, Katniss is introduced to the rebels of District 13. Most of this movie takes place underground. It has an entirely different feel from the first two films. The capital district was bright and colorful and full of technology and ostentatiously beautiful costumes and soulless people. While the outer districts were agricultural or industrial work farms that were more oppressive than prosperous and more like prisons. But in district 13, where the rebels hide, there is absolutely no color, no beauty, no light. And as one character points out, the rules are even more oppressive than in the capital. What price freedom, the movie asks? Well, I’m guessing the rebels just don’t know how to party.

President Snow

Once again the message from the capital is the same this time around, that any attempt at revolution or rebellion will be met with brutal violence and destruction. To those in power the choice is clear; leave things as they are or everybody dies. Everyone. So yeah, they’re still evil bloodsucking monsters. But in Mockingjay – Part 1, the rebels use basically the same tactics as the establishment. The same propaganda and manipulation. The same threat of mutual destruction. And the same unflinchingly self-important almost egomaniacal leadership. But from their side, it’s couched in community and freedom and justice. Oscar winner, Julianne Moore plays the rebel President Coin with a nearly menacing sense of fairness and an eerily emotionless sense of compassion.

Coin and Heavensbee

But I must admit that Mockingjay – Part 1 is my favorite of The Hunger Games movies so far. The third movie based on Suzanne Collins Hunger Games trilogy is amazing even though it’s been split in half. And I’m aware this is the new thing in trilogies and adapted film series, with Harry Potter splitting the seventh book, and The Hobbit made into three movies and so on. So I don’t fault it for the split. But my only problem with the “Part 1” of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 is that it doesn’t have an ending. I wish that when they did this thing, this splitting of the book thing, that they found a way to give the first movie a hard ending. An actual end. A full stop. Completing a story then rolling the credits. There is no need for a cliff hanger. We’re all going to see the second part. Maybe they should take a B story, that spans the entire book, and squeeze it all into the first part. I just want to feel like I got a complete story for the admission price.

Katniss

And yet I liked The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 a whole lot and yes, I still fear and believe they’ll find a way to make the rebellion’s upsetting of the status quo into a horribly bad decision. Like the notion that some people are better off as slaves. Extreme inequality and oppression has to be defeated. But the trend in movies about rebellion has been to sour their victories or to even crush them completely. When first seen, this was from trying to break into the Chinese market. They don’t allow movies with themes of rebellion to have happy endings. And admittedly it is a major movie market. And unsurprisingly, this can ruin a really good film. But also because it takes so much money to make a big budget blockbuster (it’s in the name). So at the heart of the financing sits people who are a part of this problem. Who benefit from inequality. And now we see that after a modern movie kills hundreds of less economically viable characters, it pauses to reflect at the killing of one wealthy individual no matter how deserving or unconscionably evil (Except for in the cartoonishly silly Kingsman. I laughed so hard through that entire sequence). A movie like Star Wars, today, would be injected with so much forced balance it would be unrecognizable. You can see this in the difference between the original trilogy and the later released prequel monstrosities, where the rebels are crushed and the bad guys win. But it appears I’ve gotten off track.

Katniss Everdeen

Mockingjay – Part 1 is my favorite Hunger Games movie so far because it is: The most revealing; we get to know Katniss a lot better and learn that she is far from perfect, The most emotionally mature; after two trips to the games, these are no longer children but veterans with severe PTSD, And the most heartbreakingly and politically grey. For while I see no reason the rebellion couldn’t have splashed a little color around the place, I still loved every single minute of the film and cannot wait for Part 2.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 is the fantastic first-half of the conclusion to what has turned out to be a politically powerful science-fiction action-adventure film trilogy. And I love it so.

– Mel