Archives for posts with tag: Jennifer Lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence is back as Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt. 1.”  Rescued by the rebellion at the end of “Catching Fire,” Lawrence isn’t given much time to heal mentally as she is needed to galvanize the districts into fighting tyrannical President Snow (played by Donald Sutherland) and the Capitol.  Reluctant at first to be the voice of the rebellion, Lawrence realizes the power that she wields: the power to help end Sutherland’s savage and depraved rule, and thereby hastening the rescue of her special friend, Peeta (played by Josh Hutcherson). Lawrence volunteers to go to the front lines of combat in order to show the people that she is still alive and incite them into action against Sutherland.

One of my memorable moments of this movie is the scene when Lawrence sings “The Hanging Tree,” a creepy song that would give many the chills if it were listened to in the dark and the lyrics are paid attention to.

Another scene of “Mockingjay 1” that made my memorable, movie moments list is the one where the rebel soldiers fast rope into the Tribute building to rescue Hutcherson.  This is something I expect from a Jack Ryan movie — I was pleasantly surprised and very impressed.

Top place for my most memorable, movie moment of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” is the scene when Tribute Finnick (played by Sam Claflin) describes how “desirable” Tributes are sold by Sutherland to upper echelon fans for sexual exploitation.  If a Tribute refuses, a relative of the Tribute would be killed by the government!

If the “Hunger Games” movies were alcoholic beverages, “The Hunger Games” would be a wine cooler, “Catching Fire” would be a beer, and “Mockingjay Pt. 1” would be a shot of vodka.  The third part of the “Hunger Games” movies, “Mockingjay Pt. 1” is the most serious and intense of the first three; but surprisingly it was the least engaging to me.  Whereas the first two movies often showed children fighting for their lives and dying in brutal fashion, “Mockingjay 1” is clearly an adult fight.  Sure, kids dying are mentioned, and there is a scene of a “hospital” where wounded children are shown; but this is a far cry from child-Gladiator arena combat in movies 1 and 2 that shocked most of the audience and had us asking so many questions and hoping Lawrence and the little kiddies would somehow survive the games.  “Mockingjay 1” is a good movie, nonetheless, and it is a logical third step in this four-movie series that won’t disappoint the fans.

— M

The best X-Men movie I’ve seen: “X-Men: Days of Future Past.”

The future of mutants and the humans who help them fight to attain their freedom and equality is very dark.  Under the guidance of a scientist played by Peter Dinklage, robots called Sentinels have the ability to adapt to mutant powers they encounter, thereby allowing the Sentinels to be very effective in killing mutants.  The only hope the few remaining mutants have is to send the consciousness of Wolverine (played by Hugh Jackman) to his body decades in the past in order to alter an event that is crucial to how the future of mutants plays out.

Jackman’s mission is almost an impossible one.  For starters, his future body is under threat of being killed by Sentinels.  If his future body is killed, his consciousness will leave his past body; and if that happens before he accomplishes his mission, his chance to alter the future is over.  Second, the “past” X-Men that Jackman encounters is a broken group.   James McAvoy (playing a young, professor X) is suffering from depression, anxiety, and is addicted to a drug that allows him to walk but takes away his mutant powers; Michael Fassbender (playing a young Magneto, and whose help Jackman needs) is in a non-metallic prison;  Jennifer Lawrence (who plays Mystique) is out there somewhere, about to commit the act that will solidify the nightmare future of all mutants, and neither McAvoy nor Fassbender knows where she is.  Third, many of the X-Men from “First Class” have been captured and experimented on and killed by the U.S. government, so Jackman won’t get any help from these corpses.  Last, Jackman’s past body is pre-adamantium, so his bones are regular bones that can break.  That last part leads us to…

One of my most memorable moments of this movie is the scene when Jackman’s future consciousness wakes up to his past body and gets into a beef with a couple of big gangsters.  Jackman unleashes his claws, only to see that they are not the razor-sharp, virtually indestructible, adamantium claws he’s used to seeing.  Oops.  Ever carry a weapon on a regular basis, and then trouble happens and you reach for that weapon and realize that you forgot to bring it with you?  Yeah, I know how Jackman felt in this scene.

My most memorable, movie moment of “X-Men: Days of Future Past” is the first battle scene at the opening of the movie.  It’s set in the future, the Sentinels have found a few X-Men, and the mutants put up a vicious fight to stay alive as the robots absorb the mutant powers and use it against their targets.  No longer are mutants at the top of the food chain.  They are now flyweights fighting heavyweights, and a knockout is imminent.

Director Bryan Singer (who failed at the screenwriting level of “X-Men”) and the screenwriters of this movie did an amazing job of raising the stakes from the previous X-Men movies and giving the mutants a worthy enemy; and by doing so they have given the audience a movie worthy of our time and money.

–M

Part 2 of “The Hunger Games” movies is “Catching Fire,” and it is one of those rare sequels where it’s better than the first movie.  Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss) and Josh Hutcherson (Peeta), survivors of the previous Hunger Games, are now paraded around the Districts to be shills for the government that oppresses them.  To make things worse, Donald Sutherland (President of the Capitol) is still stewing about how Lawrence and Hutcherson survived the previous H.G.  You see, there should only be one survivor; but Lawrence and Hutcherson made a daring move to kill themselves instead of one having to kill the other…supposedly for love.  Public outcry forced the hand of the Capitol to alter the rules just this one time, and have 2 survivors.

Too bad that Sutherland doesn’t believe in all that love crap.  Plus he sees the final actions of Lawrence and Hutcherson in the previous H.G. as a big “F.U.” to the Capitol and everything tyrannical that it stands for.  And he’s right.  Fearing that the unwashed masses will be emboldened by what they have seen in the final moments of the last H.G., Sutherland threatens Lawrence’s family and psuedo-boyfriend (Liam Hemsworth) to force Lawrence to prove to all the people that what she did was for love, and not some rebellious act against the government.

Well, it’s hard to fake love; and rebellion has already taken hold like wildfire, regardless of the shilling Lawrence and Hutcherson do.  Sutherland, naturally, gets pissed off, and decides to take it out on Lawrence and Hutcherson by putting them in the upcoming Hunger Games.  Yeah, yeah, the previous winners are supposed to be excluded from the Hunger Games “lottery,” but once again, the Capitol has changed the rules.  All players of the upcoming Games are now previous champions.  And adults.   And experienced killers.  And this is one reason why “Catching Fire” is better than the first movie.

In the first movie, some of the players (called Tributes) were little kids.  Many of the younger kids were getting slaughtered easily and early in the Hunger Games.  It’s not that I have a big soft spot for kids — I actually don’t like rugrats.  It’s that there wasn’t much of a challenge for a six foot teenager weighing 180 pounds to beat to death a 100 pound, 5 foot tall girl.  Sure, they get a chance to snag some weapons, but many of the fights were seriously lopsided.  “Catching Fire” gives us fights that are more evenly matched.

Another thing that makes “Catching Fire” superior to the first movie is that once the Tributes are in the arena, there is very little interruption of the arena sequences.  In the previous movie, we’re bombarded with the audience, sponsors, family members of Tributes, and the coaches of the Tributes watching the H.G., slowing the pace and reducing the intensity of the Games.

One intense part of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” is one of my memorable moments of this movie.  It is the sequence when Lawrence/Hutcherson and another Tribute ally are surrounded by vicious baboons — I think they were baboons, but they could have been U.S. Senators/Congressmen on the hunt for young interns.  The tributes do a fighting retreat, and the slightest mistake could mean a painful death by being ripped apart by dozens of 5 inch fangs.

My most memorable, movie moment of “Catching Fire” is the scene when an old man quietly holds up his hand to form a symbol of respect for Lawrence.  This hand gesture is now seen by the Capitol as a symbol of rebellion, and the old man is violently pulled aside by soldiers and shot.  The old man probably knew the ramifications of his action, yet he still did it.   One spark among many that would ignite a full-fledged rebellion.

For those who think you can’t change the world because you’re just one person, keep this in mind: when one person stands up and says “no,” governments tremble.  One small act of defiance could light the world on fire.

–M

No, this movie isn’t about Somalians sitting around a campfire watching each other get skinnier, waiting for the next one to drop dead from malnutrition.  “The Hunger Games” is about a nation that takes a young man and a young woman from each of the 12 districts and places them in an enclosed area where they fight each other until only 1 survivor remains.  Why?  Those 12 districts, many years ago, waged war against the government.  The 12 districts lost the war, and in order to make the districts remember their actions against the government, each region has to offer 2 of their children as sacrifice to the annual Hunger Games.  Well, it’s more than a remembrance, really.  It’s also a show of power for the government, and a way to entertain the masses who love blood sport.

Jennifer Lawrence ends up having the “honor” of representing District 12 after she volunteers in order to save her younger sister who was the first pick in the lottery.  Lawrence has the better odds of surviving the Games, as she is a hunter, an expert with a bow, and she’s mentally tough.

Lawrence’s counterpart from District 12 is Josh Hutcherson, a guy who works in his parents’ bakery store, and who has a secret crush on Lawrence.  But instead of having the guts to say he likes her, he simply tosses a piece of burned bread to a starving Lawrence as she is cuddled up by a tree during a rainstorm years ago.  Who needs diamonds to say “I love you” when you can use burnt bread?

In the weeks prior to the Games, the “tributes” from each district are treated to lavish meals, expensive clothing (the fashion and hairstyles are grotesque and laughable — like something from a gay man’s LSD trip), and training in fighting and survival tactics.  It’s disturbing to see the disparity in ages, size and ability of the tributes.  Some teens are the size of large men, while others are little girls.  But weapons are available during the Games; and it’s not just about strength.   Intelligence, knowing when to hide or fight, how to build a fire, set traps…they are all part of the fight.  Also, tributes who provide the most entertainment are usually rewarded with gifts from “sponsors” in the form of medicine, soup, weapons, etc.

“The Hunger Games” will probably disturb some people because of the depiction of children fighting to the death.  But keep in mind that the majority of the tributes are played by men and women; and these adult actors are the ones who are given the most gruesome deaths.  As for me, I give no greater weight to a child’s death in movies compared to an adult’s death in movies.   If I don’t care about a character, child or not, I couldn’t care less.  Plus I don’t like kids, anyway.  What?  Kids are our future, you say?  Well, then we’re all f*@!ed, I say, because our future will be littered with people who have lost the art of writing and proper speech; people who are so connected to their electronic devices that they don’t pay attention to what’s happening in front of them, even when they’re driving; people who would rather live in a virtual world than in the real world.  Anyway…

“The Hunger Games” is a solid piece of storytelling that makes a commentary on how a government can control and manipulate the masses through television entertainment.   Case in point: The United States.  How many of you know about the numerous laws passed since the 9/11 attacks that strip you of your civil liberties?  How many of you know who your Congressman is, and how to contact him or her to voice your opinion?  Not many, I’m willing to bet.  How many of you have memorized the offensive line of your state’s football team, or who Justin Bieber is currently dating, or the favorite color of Lady Gaga?  Many, I’m guessing.  Open your eyes, people, and see the prison bars that the government is slowly building around us.

Lawrence knows well how her government controls the people in “The Hunger Games,” and she fights not only the other tributes, but the government itself.  One act of defiance is my most memorable, movie moment.  Spoiler alert!  The government decides that 2 winners (both from the same District) can live, and those two turn out to be Lawrence and Hutcherson.  Then the government says that it changed its mind.  Only 1 winner can survive.  Well, Lawrence refuses to play the game anymore, so she decides to eat poison berries to end her life, and Hutcherson decides to kill himself in the same manner.  It’s a powerful scene.  When one is a slave, freedom can be had through victory or death.  When one person stands up and says “no,” sometimes the entire world hears it.

M

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