Monday, November 23, 2015

The Final Hunger Games.....

"Happy Hunger Games....and may the odds be ever in your favor," will no longer be catch phrases in the dystopian society of Panem. I will not provide any specifics about part 2 of Mockingjay, but I will say that it all ends, although in my opinion rather anti-climatically. The Capital defends itself viciously against an encroaching rebel army in part 2, and we see how the downfall of President Snow occurs. Aside from that and typing up loose ends, that essentially sums up the film minus of course a few surprises that could shock many, but I wasn't surprised at all by them. I'll just come right out and say it, I didn't care for the film that much; I felt that it was lacking something that the other films possessed. I'm working on a theory that films that are split into 2 parts, the final part tends to be the weaker than the first. This I found true for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Mockingjay Part 2 I found to be the weakest of the four films, due to I think it lacking an overall story structure as the other films had, and poorer writing than all the other films. It didn't feel like the end to a climactic rebellion, and even the very end felt...hollow. There wasn't really any new cast members of significance, and all of the cast members from the previous films did great. Honestly, I wasn't impressed by anyone's performance, and nothing stood out at all like moments from the other films despite all of the crying and hardened looks that this film had. I'm actually trying to think, and really the only person's performance that I enjoyed was Donald Sutherland's as President Snow, which was small unfortunately. Oh wait, I forgot about Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark, and he did fantastic, but it didn't seem like they gave him a lot of good material to work with. Liam Hemsworth as Gale was so flat; that man can't act, at least as a genuine, dynamic character. The action sequences were okay, but nothing really spectacular or interesting. Honestly, there wasn't anything remarkable about this film that I can recall, which is a real shame considering all of the films that came before it were very well done. It was an entertaining film, but honestly it's not something that I'd want to see again, or often. They should have just made one film rather than splitting it into 2 parts; they would have then had a stronger finale instead of merely stretching it out just to make more money, even though they will say it's to provide more details and a richer adaptation, which I don't believe is true. The film brings everything to a close, but not very well. I would only advise it to be seen just to finish off the series, but that's about it.

Mockingjay Part 2 interviews

Mockingjay Part 2 clip

Zootopia trailer (this made me laugh so much)

Modern Educayshun
(came across this short film and found it quite fascinating; food for thought)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Kite Dancing in a Hurricane.

About a week ago I saw the latest James Bond Film Spectre and had a lot of high hopes and high expectations for the film, but my initial impression was of great disappointment and honestly I expected so much more. James Bond is hunting down a lead that "M" (Judi Dench "M") gave him before she died, and it leads him through a tidal wave of intrigue that circles all the way back to the events of Casino Royale. During this investigation he comes across the organization Spectre which seems to be at the center of many of his previous enemies and the cause of many deaths as well. There is no denying the excellence of Daniel Craig as James Bond, though not in my opinion his best of the four he has now done, though there was a lot of potential for it to be one of the finest. Actually now that I think about it, there wasn't anyone in the cast that really stood out in my opinion. Granted Christoph Waltz was the villain and he was good, but he didn't really have enough screen time to really stand out and define himself as an excellent character. Ralph Fiennes as the new "M" wasn't that impressive, but I think that had more to do with the writing, and Naomie Harris as Moneypenny was okay as was Ben Whishlaw as "Q". The Bond girls that Monica Bellucci and Lea Seydoux played were also okay, but nothing really interesting or special, although I wish that Ms. Bellucci's character would have had more depth and prominence as her character was far more interesting, but what can you do. Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy) was a secondary villain, but didn't say a word; he was pretty useless. The remainder of the cast was good, but as I mentioned none of them really stood out.
Now Bond films are usually action films, and there was plenty of action in this film, but I think that it generally sucked across the board. There were a lot of foot chases and car chases sequences, as well as shooting sequences and running sequences, but I cannot recall any of them being dynamic or interesting all I was thinking of was..."oh goody, another car chase..." and then it was back to drama and dialog which were not written very well. All of this is what directs me to my perception of the film being mediocre at best after the initial viewing, but who knows perhaps I will grow to like it....possibly. Honestly, I just didn't really care for the direction that Sam Mendes (the director of this film and Skyfall) took in regards to the Bond franchise. Personally, I think Casino Royale is the finest of this series of Bond films; excellent dialog and characters, good writing, dynamic action sequences, original, and it retains that balance of new Bond with old Bond quite well. I may have to watch all of the Bond films again, but Casino Royale and Tomorrow Never Dies (first Bond film I ever saw) I think are the finest Bond films of the ones out there. Anywho. It was entertaining, and if you like action and James Bond then you'll love this, but if you don't see then don't worry you aren't missing a whole lot.

Sam Smith's Bond song "The Writing's on the Wall"

Daniel Craig on Spectre

Gods of Egypt trailer (could be good potentially.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

"Fear Became the Ultimate tool of this Government...."

"Remember, remember the fifth of November, the gunpowder treason and plot. I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot." -V

Good evening. Today once again is one of my favorite holidays, Guy Fawkes day. It is what I commonly like to consider as a reminder that any people can tear down their government and replace it with a new one if it becomes corrupt and no longer serves the majority of that population. All over the world more and more governments are clamping down little by little individual rights of its citizens in the name of greater freedom and security. China, North Korea, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Belarus, Myanmar, Syria, Vietnam, Zimbabwe, Cuba, and Venezuela are what I would consider countries where human rights and civil rights are either severely curtailed or nonexistent. In these countries, dictators and iron fisted governments reign uncontested and unopposed without a measure of control or accountability irregardless of what they want people to think. Russia, Egypt, Turkey, and Indonesia are countries where civil liberties and human rights are really beginning, or have been, trampled on with more sure to follow. The United States is not immune to this either, as we have seen our civil liberties severely stomped on; NSA spying on citizens, the Federal Government dictating to the states, increased usage of presidential executive authority usurping authority from Congress, and a slow chipping away of free speech and the right to bear firearms (both of which are guarantees in the US constitution). What everyone should watch out for from their government is when they try to eliminate freedom of the people through use of fear of what could happen if the people do not surrender their rights. Governments that use fear to motivate and rule their people are dictators and places like Russia and China (i.e. China's now defunct population control plan). Governments should be protecting and empowering their citizens to govern themselves always, after all that was a large part of the American Revolution. Unfortunately, even when revolution happens people have trouble forming a new government (Iraq, Libya, Russia, China, and Iran) that functions properly and serves the people while retaining the revolutionary ideals. I won't get into what is necessary for rebuilding a country and it's form of government, but I will say that it takes work and everyone working together. As I always try to say, be watchful of your freedom as oftentimes it slips away slowly, bit by bit and then before you know it you are left with nothing. Good luck everyone and remember, "people should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people.."

V's Speech to London

Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman interview

Sunday, November 1, 2015

"Would it Help?"

So there were a couple of standout items in the news this past week, one of which was China disregarding it's one child policy in favor of a two child policy due to their declining in age population and a smaller workforce unable to adequately meet the needs of the apparently booming Chinese economy. Which is probably too little too late with how many decades it will take their population to recover. The other bit of news is that President Obama is sending US soldiers to Syria to....well, I'm not really sure to do what, or if the general public really knows what either. I was never for that, and think that it is a grave tactical error currently as well. I'm not certain what the current solution should be to solve the mess of the crisis in the Middle East, but I doubt that it should be that; too little, too late. Speaking of crises, I watched the film Bridge of Spies today and received an interesting, if not pop cultured centered education in life during the early part of the Cold War thanks to the film directed by Steven Spielberg. Once again he showcased his talent as a fantastic director in all of the usual areas; I wouldn't say that this film stands out in any particular way, but it was definitely worth seeing and was well done. It is about an attorney who defends an accused Soviet spy and receives a lot of negative attention because of it, but then he becomes wrapped up in prisoner exchange involving an American pilot who gets captured. He then has to navigate the treacherous politics of Soviet tactics in East Berlin and carefully reach his objective without getting himself killed or anyone else. Tom Hanks who plays the main character, James Donovan, does masterfully. He comes off as genuine, competent, empathetic, yet has a sense of depth to his character as well; definitely not static. However, it wasn't that impressive of a character either; basically in his repertoire nothing that would really stand out. Mark Rylance, who played the spy Rudolf Abel, was a fun character that I would have liked to see more character development from, but he did really well with what was there. He and Tom Hanks together in scenes were awesome. Those two were really the main attraction of the film, but Alan Alda, Amy Ryan, and Dakin Matthews had some nice roles as well, none were very large but it added to the overall high quality of the cast present. The writing of the film was well done by Ethan and Joel Coen, as well as Matt Charman, but I'm not not entirely certain about the screenplay. It seemed fragmented; like a one man show, and I'm not certain how well that plays out as opposed to something that could have included more drama between a few more characters. The music by Thomas Newman was a huge surprise as I feel this is the first Steven Spielberg film in over forty years that he hasn't used John Williams, and that's all I can say about that as I have never cared for Thomas Newman's music. The cinematography was well done by Janusz Kaminski, but seemed like it lacked a certain edge to give it that dark, spy like feel. It was a good film, and a pleasant watch and it is something that I would definitely watch again.

Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks interview

Bridge of Spies scene