Time to wave bye-bye to plucky Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and her unstoppable blood-lust to bring down evil President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and the mighty city of Panem where the yearly Hunger Games originated. Can you say, “Obsessed much”?
Picking up immediately from 2014’s Mockingjay–Part 1 where Katniss was nearly strangled to death by a brain-washed Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), she started her war campaign against Snow along with President Coin (Julianne Moore) and propaganda minister Plutarch Heavensbee (the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman) who are leading the rebellion. She also has help from her hometown bud Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) and the new level-headed Commander Paylor (Patina Miller).
Katniss not only wants Snow’s head on a platter, she wants to do the carving herself, so Coin and Heavensbee send her off to lead a small rebellion in District 2, but after she’s nearly killed, Katniss decides she’s got to do this alone, Ronin-style. She hops aboard a transport and goes to where a huge rebel advance force is about to march on Panem and Snow’s Capital home. But Snow’s got a few tricks up his evil sleeve as he devises thousands of booby traps everywhere as sort of a deadly obstacle course. But Katniss finds she’s not alone when a small army of friends joins her, including her beloved Gale, a potentially dangerous but recovering Peeta, and the newly married Finnick Odair (Sam Clafin).
En route they’re met with explosions, fire cannons, a ghastly oil-ocean, albino zombie-thingys, and other nasties until only Gale and Katniss make it to the Capital, along with fleeing Panem refugees. After Katniss is nearly blown up and is on the mend, the war is quickly over, Snow and the Capital are captured, and President Coin is in charge… and Katniss is hailed a hero! However, if you’ve ever seen any movie about thirsty, power-hungry political figures like in this one (Woody Allen’s Bananas, anyone?), you can easily predict where the ending goes from there and the anti-climatic ending that follows.
With the same screenwriters (Peter Craig, Danny Strong) as Part One, plus original book author Suzanne Collins, this movie is alot like Kill Bill Vol. 2, not much action, but more talking and a chance for character development. But unlike the brilliant conversational writing of Tarantino, this Part Two drags with boring small talk, forced angst between Katniss and her “lovers”, long dull spells of nothing until something does happen and then you get some decent action, care of director Francis Lawrence, who doesn’t disappoint in his grand scale of film making. Still, an easy 15 minutes could have shaved off in this 2 hour and 17 min conclusion.
We get only a smidgen of favorites Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) and her weirdo hair and clothing and TV show host Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) to remind us of the oddness of this whole Hunger Games world, although there is bizarre Tiger-faced Enobaria (Meta Golding).
Lawrence’s Katniss has nicely grown into a killing machine, bent on utter revenge against Snow, but still holding on to a vestige of humanity inside her and she really pulls it off in her performance better than Part One. Once again, many of the best characters are in the ensemble. Jena Malone as Johanna Mason is pure joy to watch, Mahershala Ali as Sgt. Boggs delivers a perfectly nuanced role, and Eldon Hendon is terrific as the mute Pollux brother.
I’ll be honest, I never liked the first Hunger Games movie. I thought it was pretentious, silly, and a blatant rip-off of Japan’s 2000 Battle Royale. Part two, Catching Fire, was slightly better, but was pretty much a re-hash of the first movie. It was part three (Mockingjay–Part 1) when the script changed dramatically, got all revved-up, and became really good. It’s just a shame that the conclusion to all of it was so lackluster and trite.
The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1974)
Navigating a dangerous and life-threatening obstacle course to get to the bad guy is nothing new, just ask Sinbad the Sailor! In one of the better franchise movies, John Phillip Law plays the turban-headed swashbuckler whose out to save the Grand Vizier of Marabia (Douglas Wilmer) who wears a golden mask to hide his disfigured face. It seems that the kind Vizier is heir to the throne, but lacks one piece of a golden puzzle. When joined together, the pieces will reveal a map showing the way to the Fountain of Destiny, giving it’s owner “youth, a shield of darkness, and a crown of untold riches.”
BUT! Prince Koura (a pre-Doctor Who Tom Baker), an evil magician, wants those puzzle pieces for those goodies (and the throne) and will stop at nothing to get them. Sinbad, on his trip to the island of Lemuria where the Fountain is, takes a drop-dead gorgeous slave-girl named Margiana (Caroline Munro) and Haroun (Kurt Christian), the lazy son of a wealthy shop owner for trip money and comic relief.
Not only is the trip to Lumuria fraught with danger (the ship’s figurehead comes alive), but Sinbad and company must endure one bizarre narrow escape after another. A lethal six-armed Kali idol that nearly slices them up, a giant one-eyed centaur with a massive club that wants to smash them, a huge griffin that has anger issues, and THEN Sinbad has to face off against Koura and his magic!
Written by Brian Clemens (related to Samuel Clemens–Mark Twain–and writer for The BBC’s TV series, The Avengers) with the story by Ray Harryhausen, the story was fun enough for kids, but adventurous enough for adults; working on all levels.
Law, sadly, did only one Sinbad movie, but did him perfectly, keeping the character real and grounded without going into a cartoon caricature. The stop-motion animation for all the creatures were, naturally, the work of the great master himself, Ray Harryhausen.