The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014)

I am pleasantly surprised at how amazing these films are. I truly loved the books, obsessed with them until all were read. As everyone says, the films are never as good as the books, which I tend to agree with. But these films… they are still extraordinary and fantastic in every way. ‘Mockingjay Part 1’ is the third film of the ‘Hunger Games’ series and it is very important to watch these in order, so find my reviews for the first and second here.

Tensions have hit a new level in the city of Panem when Katniss destroyed the Hunger Games arena she was forced into once again during ‘Catching Fire’. We pick up where we left off: Katniss wakes in the district 13 – the district believed to have been destroyed from the original rebellion 75 years prior. However, it is not destroyed, rather its people have been living underground, fuelling, preparing for the right moment to strike back at the Capitol. Soon Katniss discovers what happened at district 12 (her home district) during the Quarter Quell games. She returns to this new underground district fuelled with anger and deep sadness. Suddenly, she is propelled into being the mockingjay symbol for the revolution to take over the Capitol and stand up to President Snow.

Now this film is originally based on Suzanne Collins’ novel once again. However, due to it being the final book and a rather large one with a lot happening in, just like ‘Deathly Hallows’ and ‘Breaking Dawn’, ‘Mockingjay’ has been split across two films. We all know that the final book will be the build-up of what has been happening across the series. Just like Harry Potter and his fight against Voldemort; the final book is the revelation, the ending, the finale. What the ‘Hunger Games’ film series has done phenomenally well is that they’ve taken this last book and split it perfectly. Still expect the revelation to be in Part 2 as Part 1 is the continuing build-up to it. That does not mean that nothing happens, far from it! Instead, it just adds more detail, more tension, more thrilling moments on screen for the audience to completely delve into this dystopian life before reaching the inevitable end.

This third film is predominantly based around the chaos that many of the districts are turning to in order to rebel against their suffocated and minimalised lives diminished by the Capitol. The audience explore the havoc and the wreckage of districts who have rebelled. Katniss becomes the audiences’ viewer, as she discovers what has happened, we discover along with her. The characters on screen are fantastic and feel believable. ‘Mockingjay Part 1’ is most revolving around political propaganda and the fuelling of a revolution through the mockingjay symbol. Meanwhile, there is still a tension and constant thrill throughout the whole film. When watching the film, you become extremely sucked into this world. The soundtrack forces the audience to feel all the emotions on screen. There are many scenes which are really empowering and heartfelt. There were moments I physically gasped, shocked at the scenes – I was completely drawn into this film for the entire two hours. What more could you ask of a film?

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

The second of the Hunger Games series, after the first film my bar was set high, and if I’m completely honest, now my bar is set even higher for the third film. What a phenomenal second film of a series, absolutely fantastic! It is best to watch ‘The Hunger Games’ in order, in fact this second film follows straight on from the first. Therefore, it is important to watch them in order, the full effect of the films will not be at its potential if watched randomly, the storyline needs to be followed across the film series. Find my review on the original ‘Hunger Games’ here. This review will reveal a few spoilers from the first film.

The audience are thrown straight into the deep end, a year after what happened from the first film. Although, it seems like it could have only been a few days, nothing has been missed. Katniss is still trembling from her days in the Hunger Games, even if she now lives in Victors’ Village. Tensions are running extremely high and emotions are quickly executed from screen to watcher. Throughout the entire film, I was on edge but so drawn into everything happening. There are minimal moments where the audience can relax, however it’s done in such a clever way that you want to keep watching, addicted into discovering everything that is happening. It’s superbly executed!

After Katniss and Peeta are both announced the winners of the 74th annual Hunger Games, the Capitol is not happy. Those in power believe that it was an act of defiance on Katniss’ behalf. These star-crossed lovers are forced to continue their story of a whirlwind romance, trying to convince President Snow (Donald Sutherland) that it was not an act of defiance but instead an act of love. Meanwhile, across the districts Katniss has become a beacon of hope, she symbolises the mockingjay symbol for the rebellion. President Snow becomes incredibly desperate to control the start of the uprising and restore peace. In comes our new head game-maker, who introduces the 75th annual Hunger Games – but this one is a special game. It still follows the same idea of a technologically-made arena where the tributes fight to the death, however, this one is the Third Quarter Quell where the President and new head game-maker has unique plans for this annual game.

As I’ve already mentioned, the tension run high throughout the entire film. ‘Catching Fire’ is so thrilling to watch, every emotion is felt by the audience. What helps this are the actors on screen. Our main protagonists return from the first film: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson and Stanley Tucci. I do believe Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth become even stronger in this film; their characters seem to be more pronounced compared to the first ‘Hunger Games’. Lenny Kravitz also returns, his character is even more spectacular continuing his fashion prowess from the first film. We are also introduced to a few new characters. Replacing the game-maker from the first film is Plutarch Heavensbee, played by the phenomenal Philip Seymour Hoffman. Happily, Sam Claflin and Jena Malone also make a consistent appearance, both exciting, fantastic characters to bring to the screen!

‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ is a spectacular film. It is so extremely addictive to watch and escape into, time just disappears. I didn’t find myself bored in any part of the film, just wanting to watch the entirety with no interruptions. The action again is brilliant, this ties in with the thrilling moments fantastically. Finally, like the first film, the soundtrack is well done to make sure the audience are moved with sound and sight. Having loved reading the books so much, watching the films only makes it better!

The Hunger Games (2012)

I loved these books written by Suzanne Collins! I remember being on holiday and not being able to put them down, I was sucked into this world and had to read every last word of all three books. Happily, I believe the films to be a great representation. I don’t think they are as good as the books as there isn’t the same amount of detail, but they stand on their own as great movies.

As a first film of a series, this is a fantastic start. We are introduced to this dystopian world of 13 districts. We are told the history of these districts and their relationship with the Capitol. When a rebellion strikes and is resolved, the districts must pay their freedom in an annual Hunger Games. The Hunger Games are celebrated amongst limited districts but adored in the Capitol. The other districts have a sense of dark reality of these dreadful Hunger Games. What are they? Well, every year one man and one woman is chosen from each district; all are placed into a man-made technical arena where they must fight to the death until there is only one victor. These games are watched across all districts as those living in the Capitol bet for their chosen winners for entertainment.

On the 74th annual Hunger Games, we begin in District 12. A district suffering in poverty with lack of food and money throughout. The day of the Reaping arrives where one man and one woman are chosen. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), our main protagonist, would do anything for her family; so when the unlikely odds are against her and her sister is chosen as tribute for the deathly games, Katniss volunteers herself becoming the first volunteer from her district. We soon discover that the Capitol differs greatly from District 12 when Katniss and Peeta (our male tribute for District 12, played by Josh Hutcherson) travel to the technologically-advanced centre where everyone is bright and enthusiastic, eager for their games to begin.

As I said, this is a fabulous first film of the series. There are many stars to adore throughout. Not only are our two main protagonists Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson, but Liam Hemsworth, Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks and Alexander Ludwig make a consistent appearance. Not forgetting Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, a previous winner of the games and now mentor to the new tributes of District 12. Haymitch is a great character, he helps to explain this dystopian futuristic world to the audience along with Katniss and Peeta.

‘The Hunger Games’ is a brilliant film! We are introduced to these horrific games in such detail but it doesn’t seem overwhelming, instead addictive to want to know more and discover what happens as such an unfamiliar concept of a film. The soundtrack is fantastic, the way it moves the audience through sound is phenomenal. A lot is said not through words in this film, but instead by the use of the camera, and particularly through sound and silence. The action is also well done in the film. There are enough thrilling moments to be attached to the screen at all times, more so when the games have begun. They really can build tension well when all they have is the concept of humans hunting each other to find a triumphant winner. I would recommend this film for sci-fi, action and adventure – watch as alliances build when those are most desperate and emotions grow with political motives.

“Happy Hunger Games and may the odds be ever in your favour.”

John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is back! With this being the second film of this action-packed series, I would recommend watching the first film to begin with as this could hold some spoilers as to what happens. Find my review on the introduction of John Wick from 2014 here.

Looking sleek in his smart suit, John Wick is returning with a vengeance and he wants his car back. With the chaos that destroyed his grieving state in the first film, John is still fuelled on revenge. With a speedy, crazy beginning, we soon discover that John Wick would rather return to retirement and live a peaceful life with his new dog. But that is not what is waiting for him back at home. Instead, John is left with no choice but to make an explosive decision – he must pay his debt.

Following on from the first film, we’ve learnt that there is one important rule in this hitman life John Wick is so desperate to escape from: There is no blood shed in the Continental Hotel. This rule is still very much present in this second film. But furthering this, we are told a second rule of these deadly assassins: if you give away your marker, you must honour the debt when they come asking. This is what happens to John Wick when Santino (Riccardo Scamarcio) comes knocking with John’s marker safely in his jacket pocket.

‘Chapter 2’ is as crazy as the original film. It’s jam packed action non-stop from beginning to end. When there is little action, there is an interesting development to John Wick’s livelihood and I did appreciate this element. We learn about the mighty ability of the coin from the Continental Hotel, that can achieve almost anything; we hit the underbelly of the city; we explore the influence and power of just the whisper of the name ‘John Wick’. We even get to witness the story that everyone gossips about – how John Wick can kill someone with only a pencil.

Again, this is an action movie. So obviously, it is full of violence and a bit of gore (mostly a lot of blood splatter after shots to the head…). The action is done immensely well and the storyline is extremely simple yet still goes a long way. There is a clear development into the third film and I can’t wait to see what will happen next. So far I’ve appreciated the two first films exploring the world of John Wick; learning about his determination, his obvious skills and this underbelly life. It’s a great escapism film full of action that’s easy to follow and simple to understand. One thing after the other and John Wick really can’t catch a break…

John Wick (2014)

Well this is an action crime thriller movie through and through. From the get-go right to the end, it’s not stop action. The film is full of violence and death. This is the first movie where we are introduced to the mysterious yet dangerous John Wick, the ex-hitman, played by Keanu Reeves.

The plot: John Wick has been retired for many years, however, when his wife dies of an illness, she gives her husband a dog in her will to help him through the grieving process. Instead, the a few men come round wanting John Wick’s car – yes this is all about a car. A stupid mistake as he leaves John beaten on the floor, with a dead puppy and no car… John Wick comes out of retirement – things have gone too far. It’s really quite a quick and sudden beginning, really violent with the most adorable puppy – luckily the film doesn’t persist too much on this new friendship because otherwise I think the initial ten minutes would have me in tears, rather I was outraged and horrified.

I thought this was an excellent first film introducing the efficient, extremely deadly assassin. Throughout the whole film, there’s an essence of respect, of acknowledgement to the name of John Wick. On his revenge path, we are introduced to the Continental Hotel, a hotel which rooms assassins, although there is one rule management is extremely strict upon – one if broken becomes deadly.

John Wick is propelled by rage. He kills everyone in sight as he hunts down the man who damaged his grieving and vulnerable state. But of course, it’s not that easy. This man happens to be the son of another criminal professional, one John Wick has clearly had some sort of runnings with in the past.

‘John Wick’ was very intriguing and addictive to watch. Because of the non-stop action, the film feels fast-pace and exciting. It’s explosive and full of madness. You watch, obviously, from the point of John Wick, through car races, explosions, and a lot of gun shooting. It is a great film where the audience becomes fully emerged into John Wick’s “retired” life. John Wick is also an intriguing character – I want to know more.

Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (2003)

After the original, three years later comes the second ‘Charlie’s Angels’ with Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu. Optimist Natalie (Cameron Diaz), rebellious Dylan (Drew Barrymore) and perfectionist Alex (Lucy Liu) make up the angels working secretively for Charles Townsend, aka Charlie. The three angels are given a new mission, this mission is one of top-priority and one of many fatalities.

‘Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle’ contains more explosions, motorcycle races, fire, fights and the one thing that differs from most spies: these angels always use their feminine looks along with their skills to manipulate. Alike to the first film, we are introduced to the different women, but this film delves more into the character background of Dylan Saunders in particular. Which personally, I think is great, as she’s the best angel. The plot of this film is weaker than the original. It’s quite a messy plot with a lot going on and it’s a bit muddled how they all link in with each other. The connections could have been more cohesive and conclude a more significant reasoning for the lead villain.

I do still really like this film. I think it would have been a lot better if the villain had some good reasoning behind the actions, rather than just being evil… The first film did have a great reason and it made a big difference. Furthermore, the special effects are so much worse in this film, being three years later you wouldn’t expect it, but somehow, they are. The motorbikes and car scene at the end in particular are quite terrible. On the other hand, there are still many fight scenes that are enjoyable to watch in this action film. The angels also have a lot of character development in this film. Plus the comedy is still there, for instance the ‘Can’t Touch This’ dance always makes me smile, along with the numerous puns throughout. There is a changed Bosley in this film, played by Bernie Mac instead, however he adds his own comedy in this film, differing from Bill Murray in the original. Overall, I enjoyed this film and do think it’s got some great fight scenes. Regardless, there are still some great unpredictable twists.

Charlie’s Angels (2000)

This great trio of Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu come together as Charlie’s Angels, Natalie, Dylan and Alex. Three spy detectives living a secret identity life working for an unknown millionaire by taking down criminals. The three use their feminine lures, special skills and disguises to solve crimes. Working alongside the Angels is Bosley, the only man who Charlie contacts.

The Angels have been chosen perfectly. Cameron Diaz plays the highly positive, confident Natalie. Drew Barrymore is possibly my favourite of the three, Dylan; her sassiness and rebellious ways are classic. Finally, Lucy Liu plays the sophisticated Alex, who is quick with dismantling and controlling anything technical. Bill Murray as Bosley is brilliant, with his witty comedy, he does bring a smile to your face. Especially, when he’s stuck in the room, you’ll know the scene if you’ve seen it. All four characters are fantastic to watch and different in their own way.

The plot of this ‘Charlie’s Angels’ film is great. After a devious criminal steals a powerful voice-identification software, the Angels need to work quickly to retrieve it back before it falls into the wrong hands. They need to travel across the country, get into a few fighting scenes, defend their lives and others around them, break into a security-tight building and do some old-classic detective work in disguises by using their feminine charms to manipulate and succeed.

Now the graphics aren’t amazing, they’re really quite bad, but this was made in the year 2000. They are comically bad, sometimes making me giggle. But nevertheless, this film remains quality in its action scenes, even if the Angels are flying across the screen flailing their legs about which apparently represents martial arts. It is still enjoyable to watch and you do become invested in the characters relatively quickly. The plot is one great to escape into, easy to understand but still with a few twists to ditch the predictability factor. I haven’t seen the newest ‘Charlie’s Angels’ but this one will always be the classic three Angels on film!

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)

‘Shadow Recruit’ is the origin story of Jack Ryan (Chris Pine), the iconic character written by Tom Clancy. When an analyst spots an irregularity in US economic funds, he is sent to Moscow to hunt down the source of the issue. Fearing another attack on US soil, Ryan is thrown out of his depth when promised an office job in the CIA, that quickly turns into a field agent job.

The concept of the film is quite confusing and one I don’t fully understand. All I get is that there’s an economic anomaly found in New York from Russia hiding assets which the CIA believe to lead to a terrorist attack. I don’t really understand any of that, but basically, the CIA need to head to Moscow in order to stop a terrorist strike.

Nevertheless, this is an action film through and through. It is exciting to watch the action build to bad to worse, to much much worse. It’s an action film full of explosions, car chases, guns, sneaking around and hiding in plain sight – a classic CIA spy film. The action starts almost immediately, tension is quickly built and remains high for the majority of the film. From the middle until the end, the action is non-stop and it’s thoroughly enjoyable to watch. Even if I don’t fully understand the plot in the most amount of detail, but I really don’t think it’s that important.

‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit’ is exciting and thrilling. Chris Pine plays Jack Ryan well, although wouldn’t say he’s the best action star, he’s still decent in his portrayal. His character develops a lot throughout the film in both his work and personal life. There are also the characters of his fiancé, Dr Cathy Muller (Keira Knightley) and CIA agent Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner), who both add a lot more to the film. Finally, there’s the villain of the film, Viktor Cherevin, played by the brilliant Kenneth Branagh. The villain is phenomenal to watch on screen, as his character builds a lot of tension in his erratic and violent behaviour. As always Branagh’s portrayal does not go unnoticed.

Overall, this origin movie is pretty decent. I thoroughly enjoyed all the action and the characters are good ones to become invested in. You do have to concentrate a lot, if you want to understand the entire background story, but I still enjoy it without the full understand. The action is what sells the film, predominantly the tension built throughout the film and the exciting element of the agents trying to solve the case is exhilarating for the audience. It’s a pretty good action film and I would recommend it.

The Bourne Supremacy (2004)

The second film in the Jason Bourne series. After the chaos and escapism by the end of ‘The Bourne Identity’ (the first film), Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is living in hiding in Goa, India. Tragedy strikes fast and he is bought out from hiding, once again forced to face his own truths about himself despite amnesia blocking his knowledge.

I truly believe that Matt Damon is a phenomenal action actor and these series are full of action, well executed and are just a great set of movies. Bourne’s mind is fun to watch as you never really know what he will do next, but somehow it’s going to be something watchable to get him out of the sticky situation he’s in – and trust me there’s a lot of these moments in the film. His high speed chases, jumping down buildings, running through the street, or even the survival fights – the whole film is exciting and jam-packed with action plots. The only part of the action which is a let-down, is the extremely blurry camera at times.

As the second film in a series, ‘The Bourne Supremacy’ isn’t the best out of the collection. It has many highs and is still a great action film, but where it falls is that it isn’t really about anything. The plot is extremely loose and very character driven depending of what Bourne will do next. The film follows Bourne, obviously, but also flashes to and from the CIA and a mission that went wrong in Berlin. The whole film retreats to past events where Bourne tries to discover more about his past and a CIA agent Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) tries to uncover the truth about Treadstone. In a mass cover up, each character is just trying to understand the truth amongst lies and other secrets.

‘The Bourne Supremacy’ has some great qualities with lots of action. The mystery of what happened is interesting and keeps you watching until the very end. It’s just a shame there isn’t a stronger plot, nevertheless it’s still great with Matt Damon action.

Jumanji: The Next Level (2019)

Another Jumanji film following on from ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’. The avatars of Dr Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan), Mouse Finbar (Kevin Hart) and Professor Shelly Oberson (Jack Black) have returned.

Jumanji The Next Level 3
You would think that a sequel of students going into a video game would feel repetitive and overdone. However, ‘Jumanji: The Next Level’ is extremely clever in changing enough efficient things for this film to feel separate from its prequel. Instead of the original four, Spencer, Fridge, Martha and Bethany becoming the main four avatars in the game; Dr Bravestone is taken by Spencer’s Grandpa Eddie (Danny DeVito) and Mouse Finbar the zoologist is now embodying Eddie’s old friend Milo Walker (Danny Glover). Martha remains with Ruby Roundhouse, although Fridge ends up with Professor Shelly Oberon. Additionally, the map is completely different. The avatars find themselves once again in the forest to be then flown into a desert. This is further differed by a different map, a different villain and jewel, and different levels to be completed with even worse animals than before. The film does feel refreshingly original from the first, but still with some comic elements reflecting from ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’.

Jumanji The Next Level 1

One of the perfect things of this film has to be the actors. We are graced with some phenomenal stars on screen, the best are the ones would embody the characters we have begun to know so well. Dr Bravestone is not the same Dr Bravestone from the original film, instead he is a grumpy old man whose saying is “getting old sucks”. Mouse Finbar isn’t Fridge anymore, but now engulfed by a man who takes forever to get to his point, talking slowly and adding way too much information so the avatars die before they know what they need to about the crazed animal in front of them. Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson’s chemistry is always great on screen; this film wasn’t any different. Although, I liked that they weren’t the centre of the film as much, because the time they were on screen was comical however Karen Gillan and Jack Black were perfect at centre screen. Jack Black is brilliant as always by becoming different characters and again holds a lot of the comedic elements, but also is excellent as he sulks about the character he has become. Awkwafina also makes an appearance and her characters are magnificent. Furthermore, I do love the avatars character descriptions of strengths and weaknesses as new ones are added from the film before.

Jumanji The Next Level 2

‘Jumanji: The Next Level’ is a super sequel. It does help to the watch ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ first as some comedy values may be lost and the understanding of the changed map would definitely be misunderstood by the audience. Nevertheless, the mass of differences makes the film very enjoyable, full of comedy, action and adventure. The different levels are fun and new, the characters should be enjoyed by the audience and the steps to completing the game is only harder than before but more exciting with more action-packed plots. This film does feel a lot darker and menacing than the original, but it only adds to the idea of the game being broken and harder to complete. I would definitely recommend ‘The Next Level’ as it isn’t a let down in the slightest!