They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me
dr_phil_physics

The Hanging Tree, Broken Concrete and Skulls

And the big late fall/Christmas blockbuster season begins.

Freezing rain was supposed to roll in about 4am and be replaced by regular drizzle around nine. When we got up at ten, it was already about 40°F and considerable dripping off the roof had begun. At one point, we thought about going to see Mockingjay 3.1 on Thanksgiving, but then I saw that The Theory of Everything biopic on Stephen Hawking is going to open locally on Wednesday, so our plans changed. Weather stayed drizzly and it wasn't very slippery where we were. Helped that I had the brakes adjusted on the walker yesterday -- and Holland 7 did a perfect job of clearing their sidewalk and wheelchair ramp.

12:15pm and as headed south on US-31, I saw the headlight and ditch lights forming a triangle in the trees, signalling a northbound unit coal train. No point in turning around to chase it, the train was already almost at the cutoff -- or since this was a shorter train with two CSX locomotives instead of the longer newer consist led by BNSF diesels, it might have been going on to Grand Haven. No time for complicated chase maneuvers. Another time. The weather was poor for shooting anyway.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I [PG-13]
Holland 7 Theatre 5, 12:45pm, 2×$7.25

And now it gets real.

The first two Hunger Games movies surround the artificiality of the 74th and 75th Hunger Games. But that's over now. It's Katniss and the Districts versus President Snow and his corrupt Capital.

As in the previous installments, the plot elements shown follow the books closely. Beautiful tech, convincingly rendered, and great set design. This is first-class movie making. And the cast? Brilliant.

The Gamesmaster played by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman we now know to be a good guy. But he's sublime and still playing on propaganda and maneuvering. Nice scene of him whispering along with the District 13 President's speech with the words he wrote. We saw Toby doing the same thing in The West Wing.

BTW, did you notice how all these dystopian YA stories feature women leaders who are righteous and in love with their power? There are at least three in the Divergent series alone, plus Mockingjay, The Giver, The Mazerunner... Is it that subconsciously we distrust women of power? Or that we don't notice the same treachery in the men in these same stories, because we expect it?

James Wright's Beetee, the black genius Victor who helped engineer the collapse of the force field in the arena in Catching Fire, is still resourceful and brilliant - and still much more human than he sometimes appears. Don't shoot the red ones in here. (snicker) Introvert techies rule!

We don't see much of Caesar, the over-the-top emcee of Stanley Tucci. There is no huge audience to fire up. This is more intimate, broadcast over the air, and the hair/makeup/suit is now dramatic and somber, rather than flamboyant. But his getup is lightyears ahead of Effie and other refugees from the Capital. As much as she complains, Effie's arc is becoming more humane -- well done.

It is, of course, Jennifer Lawrence's movie to win or lose, and for my money she does great between falling apart at the crumbling of her old awful reality by a new awful reality, punctuated by pulling it together when it really counts. The two "boyfriends" are as different as they could be and contribute to Katniss feeling she is being pulled apart. Woody Harrelson has less screen time than in the first two installments, but by now we know how rock solid his character really is. The sad eyed and terribly competent little sister is an excellent foil to Katniss' uncertainties.

The Mockingjay's whistling call is still here, but now we have a new anthem, the Hanging Tree old sounding folk song. They end the credits with that, and the theatre's cleanup crew was singing it as the credits rolled, as was a young man being helped back into his wheelchair by his family. Rarely do we get a singable song to leave the theatre with, and even rarer in the third movie of four movie project. Well played.

If I had one complaint, it's that we see two instances of rebellion in the district, both between the faceless Peacekeeprs and the rebelling workers. There is this odd feeling that we're watching a choreographed musical number -- the chimney sweeps in Mary Poppins keeps playing in my head. No heart to go with the drama. And no sense of any consequences to their defiance.

No glamour gowns for Katniss Everdeen here, though she gets one more good outfit from Cinna. Indeed, our last look at Katniss is far from glamour. Eyes red from petechial hemorrhaging and wearing a neck brace.

This is a good place for an intermission. The book similarly turns a page here, too.

Oh, and the big scruffy orange cat still hates Katniss.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Trailers: Perfect Pitch 2, implies there was a Perfect Pitch 1. Sort of a Eurovision meets Glee but with sex. I guess. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies looks good. Not as definitively classic as LOTR, because Jackson's Hobbit movies have all had overblown action and fighting scenes, which feature the overblown, whereas LOTR featured seriousness. Purists continue to quiver their chins at Jackson's expansion of the slender volume, but unless something radical changes with the Tolkein family, this is going to be it for Middle Earth on the big screen. Some Art Heist Comedy Thing With Gwyneth Paltrow and Johnny Depp. Depp is strange and quirky, Paltrow is strangely aggressive and elegant. Can't imagine paying money to see this on a big screen unless the reviews really say something. The Woman in Black 2, implies there was a Woman in Black 1. Guess it's an English haunted house franchise. Don't live in the haunted house in an isolated area. Pass. Finally, we get the first trailer for Insurgent, the second movie in the Divergent series. We really liked the first one -- this trailer is another mind control dreamscape, so it reveals absolutely nothing other than ‎Shailene Woodley's shorter haircut. With its May 2015 opening, we'll have quality dystopian YA SF movies running well into 2016.

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