Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014)

Mockingjay - Part 1

After the action-heavy drive of the previous instalments, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 is decidedly sober and contemplative in comparison, but no less thrilling. Bunkered down in District 13 after being saved from the Quarter Quell, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) reluctantly concedes to become the face of the rebel uprising. Her reluctance quickly turns to intensity, however, as President Snow (Donald Sutherland) continues his tight dictatorship, using Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) as bait.  Continue reading “Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014)”

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Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

Catching Fire

The Hunger Games managed to achieve what the entire Twilight series had tried so hard, yet failed to do: appeal to critics and audiences, while also satisfying the loyal fan base of its adored source material. It had its fair share of impediments though, and was weighed down by the fact it skimmed over many of the bigger issues in favour of displaying a sparkly fantasy tale. Thankfully, with The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the second instalment in a four-part film series, those complications are been ironed out to an impeccable degree by new director Francis Lawrence. Continue reading “Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)”

Review: The Hunger Games (2012)

In a world torn apart by war, drought and famine, there lies Panem, a society split into a Capitol and twelve separate districts. To compensate for past rebellions, each district must annually offer up two “tributes” to take part in the Capitol’s “Hunger Games”: a televised fight to the death. When her sister is chosen as one of the “tributes”, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), a strong-willed teenage girl, volunteers herself to take her sister’s place. Alongside her male counterpart Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), a lowly baker’s boy, Katniss enters The Hunger Games, only for them to find themselves in a situation like no Continue reading “Review: The Hunger Games (2012)”

Review: The Eagle (2011)

Adapted from Rosemary Sutcliff’s novel The Eagle Of The Ninth, The Eagle is an historical adventure film directed by Kevin Macdonald.

Set in Roman-ruled Britain, The Eagle tells the story of a young Roman soldier (Channing Tatum) who endeavors to honour his father’s memory by finding his lost legion’s golden emblem.

A simple story, perhaps, and nothing original in terms of narrative elements, but the opening act is intelligent, fast-paced and engaging enough to maintain the audiences attention. At the halfway mark, however, the narrative shifts a gear, its pace changes and it suddenly becomes a chase film, ending in an uninspired way that somewhat ruins the polished opening setup.

Relying massively on standard cinematic methods as opposed to often cheap and fake-looking state-of-the-art CGI effects, the battle sequences are given a commendable sense of visceral realism. This works in Macdonald’s favour.

The aforementioned sequences are occasionally brutal and bloody, but not overly so. Moreover, aside from one or two mild profanities and the obviously simmering homoeroticism between Marcus and Esca, the film is, to its merit, refreshingly devoid of unnecessary sexual content.

One of the films major flaws is that Macdonald, and screenwriter Jeremy Brock, are too afraid to let the material be about what it should be: violence. Instead, they try too hard to make it into a more intimate character piece, which ends up feeling all too superfluous.

While he may seem like an odd fit, Channing Tatum rises to the occasion and fills the role of Marcus Aquila admirably – as does his co-star, Bell, in his. The dynamic and tension between their characters is outstanding. By combining their individualistic personalities and working together, the audience is allowed a better understanding of their motives, no matter how nonsensical they are.

The performances from the supporting cast – including turns from Donald Sutherland, Mark Strong and Tahar Rahim – are competent enough, but they’re all too disposable to make much of an impact on the overall narrative.

As an historical epic, The Eagle falls short. But as minor escapist fare, with fun, engaging and bold ideas, it unexpectedly succeeds.