The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 • Horrible Bosses 2
November 27, 2014
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 (**)
The trend for the last several years is to break a popular film series’ final installment into two films and The Hunger Games franchise is no exception to this rule. The problem is that rarely does this type of thing succeed as intended for the casual viewer. In most instances all but the die-hard fans are left with an unmistakable feeling of bloat doggedly looming over the proceedings. This was the problem with the final installments of the Harry Potter and Twilight franchises and it’s a problem that constantly hangs over Mockingjay, Part 1. In fact, Mockingjay, Part 1 may be the worst offender of them all as the film rarely rises to the occasion that the rousing second installment did. It even proves to be inferior when compared to the initial Hunger Games installment, which wasn’t a good film in the first place, but was certainly better than Mockingjay, Part 1.
The film’s target audience will lap it up like a dog chewing on a tootsie roll but it’s a long slog for the rest of us and admittedly led this viewer to doze off not once but twice during the film’s first hour.
The film picks up immediately where the previous installment, Catching Fire left off as Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is reluctantly thrown into the role of revolutionary.
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss in Mockingjay, Part 1
One would think this would lead to some big action set pieces but instead what we get are interminable scenes featuring the lead heroine crying, moping, and, even at one point, staring out across a lake and singing (yes, you read that correctly).
The film’s one big action scene, wherein the revolutionaries blow up a dam, seems to be over in the time it would take to blink one’s eyes. And, yes, there’s another scene featuring Katniss shooting down a bomber of some sort with a bow and arrow but it’s hardly worth the price of having to sit through two plodding hours of this stuff. You can see it in the trailer and save your money for the second part of Mockingjay, which is certain to be superior to this.
Of course there are the usual cast of well-compensated actors filling the supporting roles. The late Phillip Seymour Hoffman (the film is dedicated to him), in one of the most subdued performances of the actor’s career, returns along with Julianne Moore, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks and Woody Harrelson. Unfortunately, few of them are given much of anything of interest to do except to sit around and emote in long expository speeches that are guaranteed to bore all but the most undiscriminating Hunger Games devotee. To put it in perspective, there’s not even enough plot in the film to fill an average episode of The Walking Dead.
The saddest thing about all of this is that it just reeks of an excuse to pick the pockets of the American moviegoing public and I’m sure it will succeed at that. Unfortunately, it doesn’t succeed as rousing cinematic entertainment and for movie fans that’s what really counts.
Horrible Bosses 2 (* ½)
I know it’s been a little over three years since I had the experience of seeing the original Horrible Bosses but if memory serves me correctly, I don’t recall the thought of ‘Boy, I can’t wait until there’s a sequel to Horrible Bosses.’ Anyone who’s seen the 2011 original can tell you that it wasn’t exactly the type of thing that lends itself to sequels, but of course when a summer comedy returns over a hundred million dollars in domestic grosses, studio heads do tend to take notice. One need only look to The Hangover sequels to see that it’s not always a good idea, from a quality standpoint, to add future installments to films whose stories don’t necessarily lend themselves to that sort of thing.
And so it goes with Horrible Bosses 2, a sequel that no one really wanted or needed. Nevertheless the film has arrived and it’s further proof of the law of diminishing returns. The film reeks of desperation and by the midpoint I was just ready for the blasted thing to end, having disconnected myself from the film somewhere just shy of the one-hour mark, once it became apparent that the film had nowhere to go but downward as far as laughs were concerned.
The film gets off to a bad start right from the word go with a gag involving silhouetted figures doing something that looks seemingly perverted. This looks as if it were taken directly from an unused Austin Powers script, except that in this film, there’s no mention of Mike Meyers in the credits, which should constitute some legal action on his Meyers’ part, but never mind.
The gang’s (sadly) all there in Horrible Bosses 2
Soon thereafter we learn that the three characters from the first Horrible Bosses (Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis) have quit their jobs and have now gone into business for themselves with some sort of an invention known as a Shower Buddy. The trio attempt to get a wealthy CEO (Christoph Waltz) to invest in their invention so they won’t have to bankroll the promotion and distribution of their product. The CEO offers them a sweet deal, a cool $3 million for the first 100,00 units, which ultimately proves to be not such a good thing when it’s revealed that the wealthy investor is actually just attempting to put the trio out of business and reneges on the deal.
At this point they have no legal recourse but decide to take matters into their own hands and kidnap the CEO’s son (Chris Pine) and hold him for ransom as a way to get back in control of their investment. If this sounds awfully thin that’s because it is.
The film reeks of desperation so much so that the filmmakers opt to bring back Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Spacey from the first film. Instead of welcoming their return, viewers will instead be reminded of the original film and wishing they were watching that one instead.
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