Cinema Corner: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

Despite the long title, the latest entry into the Hunger Games franchise did not fail to entertain and inform the audience. The movie was darker than its predecessors and it delved deeper into that effect that a single person can have on a group of people. The movie follows Katniss Everdeen as she recovers in the underground District 13 and her ongoing battle to bring down President Snow and the Capitol. I would be giving my review of the movie and laying out my pros and cons as well. Be wary of minor spoilers as I would try not to reveal as much details as possible. Let’s get it on.

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May the odds be in her favour

Like previously mentioned the movie opens with a recovering Katniss has she is still visibly shaken by the events of the previous movie. Her actions at the Quarter Quell were a powder keg that sparked a fire of rebellion in other people across the districts. Katniss is then approached by Plutchard Heavensbee(with the amazing late Philip Seymour Hoffman reprising his role) and the new addition to the cast, President Alma Coin played Gunther gorgeous Julianne Moore. They notice the beacon of hope that she has become to the people due to her various selfless acts and intend to use her as a spark to led the revolution by making her the titular Mockingjay. The movie really shows the amount of facade that both sides of a war a willing to play in order to prove their points. Katniss was been used by the District 13 folks while Peeta was been used as the weapon by President Snow to placate Katniss from leading the rebellion. Most of the supporting characters return as Effie Trinket(Elizabeth Banks) and Haymitch Abeynatch(Woody Harrelson) reprise their roles in gearing Katniss up for the responsibility as the icon of the people. The movie felt more like a war movie than a young adult movie which was really impressive as this allowed the themes to be taken more seriously and not all young adult movies are romantic fests.

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"Pfff I wanted a red rose to go with my mockingjay outfit"

The propaganda videos made by the guys at District 13 with Katniss leading the rebellion were also a nice reference to how actual wars in our times now are fought. Through the use of videos and pictures, most countries win wars psychologically before the physical altercation even begin. Never underestimate the power of the masses as a political weapon in winning a war, as it was shown in various districts that started rebelling against the guards and destroying important sources of power to the Capitol. Another really powerful moment in the movie was the scene that showed Katniss visiting the now demolished District 12, which was intended to ignite her rage towards the Capitol as she was feeling reluctant to lead the rebellion. The scenes were particularly well shot as you could see the destruction and desolation of the district. The tension rose more towards the end of the movie with a particularly interesting scene after a huge rescue that really came as a surprise. Overall this was a strong improvement over Catching Fire, which was a movie I quite enjoyed as well. Although as a two part finale, I couldn’t help but notice how much of a filler this movie was as it is setting itself up for the second part.

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"My beanie makes me look artistic"

PROS
-Mature tone: The movie did it’s best to highlight pivotal points in a more mature way
-War empathy: Through the propaganda videos, we were shown how a rebellion can be perpetuated just like in our real world.
-Solid performances: Strong acting from lead characters like Jennifer Lawrence, Julianne Moore and Philip Seymour Hoffman and the other returning cast.
-Engaging plot: We were never really aware of what was coming as the movie hooked the audience on a thrilling ride.

CONS
-Excessive focus on Katniss: Even though she was the lead actress, the entire movie didn’t really show enough of the other characters or districts.
-Filler scenes: This is a minor con, but as a first part, some scenes were noticeably dragged on in order to extend the movie.
-Cat scene: A particularly annoying scene involving Katniss and her sister.

Altogether this was an interesting movie and a good first part to the upcoming sequel next year. The war themes were well done and were reflective of our current society. I would give this movie a 7.5 out of 10. A stellar cast and engaging story only hampered by a couple of filler scenes. I look forward to the last part next year and hope it can bring the series to a well concluded end. Let me know what you think of the movie if you have seen it. Feel free to comment below. Which other young adult novel would like to see adapted for the big screen? Till next time. Szia.

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Cinema Corner: Gone Girl

Still recovering from the epicness of the Video Games Live concert, I decided to treat myself to David Fincher’s new psychological drama title Gone Girl, which stars Ben Affleck as a young husband who searches for his recently missing wife. The movie looks plain at first, like a regular mystery but then the movie delves deeper and gets more twisted and brilliant, this has to be one of my favorite movies of this year. Today I would be giving my review of the movie, I would highlight my pros and cons and try as much to be spoiler free.

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The movie’s atmosphere brimmed with Fincher’s signature all over it. The foreboding unrest in the characters were present from the very beginning. Ben Affleck plays a nonchalant husband who doesn’t seem to affected with the disappearance of his wife as much as the media would expect him to be. Rosamund Pike delivers a riveting performance worthy of an Oscar nomination as I would originally hesitant on her casting, I was not a big fan of her from her previous works in movies like Wrath of the Titans and The World’s End. Another really strong aspect of this movie where the supporting cast, Carrie Coon who is known for her tremendous work on The Leftovers plays the sister to Ben Affleck’s character. Neil Patrick Harris unhooks his Dougie Howser persona to reveal a creepy character which he played to the teeth. A pleasant surprise for me was Tyler Perry, his role as a sharp talking lawyer caught me by surprise and really left me jaw dropped as I had never seen him portray such a character before. The movie was also able to tap into the moral streams of the audience as most of the issues that were addressed are very relatable to issues in the real world like marriage problems, media coverage and manipulation.

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Like I said previously, this was a David Fincher movie, so he was never hesitant in showcasing some really graphic and dark scenes which helped in conveying the message more to the screen, like a particularly gruesome box cutter scene which I won’t spoil. The movie also delves deep into media perception and how the media can be used as a weapon for and against an individual just like we are experiencing on a daily basis. It shows how easily swayed the media can be simply based on the appearance of a story. It also reflects on the beauty as well as the frailty of a marriage if it’s not properly tended to by both partners. The movie also shows the psychological toll that high expectations can cause on a young child as shown with the children books that were written based on Rosamund Pike’s character by her parents, setting an unrealistic bar for one’s kids can be very dangerous as it could push the kid to extreme mental stress. The movie paints a very detailed mental picture of the things we go through normally in our lives. It was very relatable and parallels most of the common issues around, that’s what makes this movie one of my best movies this year. I just had a little problem with the ending which was pretty abrupt in my opinion. But that’s just me, some others liked it, that’s the beauty of movies, it’s very subjective.

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PROS
-Strong leading actors: Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike delivered one of the best performances this year.
-Impressive supporting cast: Carrie Coon, Tyler Perry and Neil Patrick Harris provided well appreciated supporting roles.
-Moral themes: The movie dealt well with everyday activities that happen in the real world without beating you over the head with it.
-Justifiable dark scenes: The violent scenes were well executed and not gratuitous.

CONS
-Abrupt ending: A rather sharp and ambiguous ending that left me wanting

Overall I would give this movie a solid 9 out of 10, I was engaged from the beginning to the end, and it left me thinking about the parallel ordeals in the movie that mirror current events in our world. I strongly recommend this movie to any one who hasn’t seen it. For those worried about Ben Affleck as the new Batman, he looked buff as hell in this movie, combined with his acting, I have no doubt that he would portray a very convincing Batman. Let me know your thoughts for those who have seen it. Feel free to air your thoughts on the comments section below. Please don’t forget to like and subscribe for more entertaining news. Till next time. Szia.

Video Games Live: My Experience

Last week Sunday had been one of my most anticipated nights in a long time. A concert was held in Budapest which was none other than the flamboyant Video Games Live concert which for those who are unfamiliar with it, is a live orchestral symphony that incorporates the soundtracks from different popular videogames and mixes them with videos and engaging light magic. The night was spectacular has the Hungarian virtuoso symphony played some of the best videogames soundtracks both from old, nostalgic games and the new, popular ones. The event lasted about 4 and a half hours with a 20 minutes intermission in between. I would give a step by step detailed description of my experience. The show was helmed by none other than the energetic Tommy Tallarico who has been the one in charge since the inception of the video games live for over 13 years. He never failed in keeping the audience alive with his electrifying performance and unbeatable charisma. Another dazzling personnel was the gorgeous and celestial Riva Taylor who I would get into later in this post, her ethereal voice lifted the hearts of many in the audience.

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The orchestral hub of magic

The show started with Castlevania, playing some of the games most popular music while showing the evolution of the game itself on a wide screen. The performance was followed up with the classic tune of Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid which was introduced by Hideo himself via recording. Sonic the Hedgehog followed as the soundtrack evolved as the different versions of the game were shown chronologically. A nice surprise followed in the form of Monkey Island, which was a nice nostalgic moment. The classic tune of The Legend of Zelda warmed my heart as the band showcased it. The next soundtrack came from one of my favorite adventure games, Uncharted 2. It was played in parallel with some amazing visuals from the game. The next two performances made my eyes swell with tears as Shadow of the Colossus and Journey were played respectively, Riva Taylor then added her celestial voice to the Journey soundtrack for a more chilling performance. League of Legends followed with its brilliant CGI trailer playing in the background with perfect rhythm. Then another nostalgic curve ball was hurled at the audience as Earthworm Jim and Mega Man were next in the performance. Final Fantasy 8 followed and ended the first half of the evening’s festivities as we went on a 20 minutes break while the band prepared for the next half of the show which was aptly titled Act 2.

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The gorgeous and celestial Riva Taylor

Periodically during the first half and the second half of the show, short hilarious videos were played to warm up the crowd as various video game characters were pitted against each other in a duel which resulted in the superior character decimating the other. For example, Sonic the Hedgehog vs Pac-Man, Contra vs Duck Hunt, Mortal Kombat vs Donkey Kong, Chuck Norris vs Angry Birds etc with the former destroying the latter. The show resumed with a tribute to Walt Disney and tons of Disney characters and movies from Fantasia to Aladdin. World of Warcraft followed with its epic soundtrack and amazing trailer. My favorite sci-fi game followed suit, as the grande soundtrack from Mass Effect lit up the audience. The crowd went nuts during the performance for Skyrim, as the Dragonborn soundtrack was being played. Riva Taylor came back on stage to present her song which she composed for the new Assassin’s Creed Unity, accompanied with an awesome music video in the background. The haunting music from Silent Hill 2 preceded and kept everyone on the edge of their seats. As if the night couldn’t be any better, Halo comes on the screen with its pious-military soundtrack bringing back awesome memories. Another trip was taken down memory lane, as Street Fighters 2 was next. A epic tease followed and Final Fantasy 7 was dropped on us. This signaled the end of the astonishing night as Tommy Tallarico returned to the microphone, everyone was sure it was over before an all too familiar soundtrack from a beloved JRPG ensued, Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross were so unanticipated that they got an excited uproar from the crowd. The event finally closed with Riva Taylor’s performance of Still Alive from Portal. There was a press junket after which gave me the chance to meet Tommy, Riva Taylor and the grand conductor in person.

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The energetic and highly charismatic Tommy Tallarico

Overall the event was breathtaking and astounding beyond belief, I couldn’t believe that I was so lucky to attend a Video Games Live concert. There was some awesome cosplay as well at the event. I hope to catch up to them at a later venue. It lived above my expectations. There were a couple other songs I was hoping for them to play like Battlefield 3 and Deux Ex. What do you think about Video Games Live and have you ever heard about it. I employ you to check it out if it’s taking place around you. You can follow Riva Taylor on Facebook or Twitter @IAMRIVATAYLOR for some really amazing and mind blowing music and Tommy Tallarico @TommyTallarico to learn more about Video Games Live. It’s great to see an event that can blend two of my favorite media of entertainment perfectly. I would later post my top ten favorite soundtracks later. Please don’t forget to like and subscribe for more entertaining news. Till next time. Szia.

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Some heroes decided to join the party