Francis Lawrence returns to direct the final cinematic adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ best-selling novel series. From literary phenomenon to enormously popular blockbuster series, The Hunger Games have become a staple of the cinematic calendar, just as enduring heroine Katniss Everdeen and lead actress Jennifer Lawrence have become household names. Once a face in the crowd, Katniss has become a liberator of a revolution and a wielder of enormous responsibility. Her strong will, integrity and selflessness when faced with life-threatening stakes has made her a source of inspiration for many. A refresh of the events in Part 1 are not supplied here – the story continues immediately – so it is recommended that you familiarise yourself before delving into the finale. Unfortunately, the over-attenuated Mockingjay Part 2 will likely serve as a satisfying resolution for die-hard fans of the novels, but for those who have enjoyed the films and are eagerly seeking closure, it possesses the same issues that plagued Part 1.
In cinemas this week: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, 99 Homes, The Secret in Their Eyes, Absolutely Anything, The Crow’s Egg.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 – Realising the stakes are no longer just for survival, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) teams up with her closest friends, including Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and Finnick for the ultimate mission. Together, they leave District 13 to liberate the citizens of war-torn Panem and assassinate President Snow, who’s obsessed with destroying Katniss. What lies ahead are mortal traps, dangerous enemies and moral choices that will ultimately determine the future of millions. Part 1 wasn’t earth-shattering – it is half of a film, with no beginning and end – but unfortunately Part 2 suffers from similar cumbersome length and pacing woes despite a few excellent action sequences.
99 Homes – A desperate construction worker (Andrew Garfield) reluctantly accepts a job with the ruthless real-estate broker (Michael Shannon) who evicted him and his family from their home. Faultless performances from Shannon and Garfield anchor this timely drama that has an unnerving emotional intensity. Bahrani is a wonderful director, and aside from a few script hiccups, his direction is impeccable. I saw it at SFF, where it ended up being one of my favourites. Thoughts at the link.
The Secret in Their Eyes – Rising FBI investigators Ray (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Jess (Julia Roberts), along with Claire (Nicole Kidman), their district-attorney supervisor, are suddenly torn apart following the brutal murder of Jess’ teenage daughter. Thirteen years later, after obsessively searching for the elusive killer, Ray uncovers a new lead that he is certain can permanently resolve the case and bring long-desired closure to the team. But no one is prepared for the shocking and unspeakable secret that follows. This is a re-make of the excellent Argentinian winner of the Best Foreign Language Oscar. Very skeptical about this – are they actually going to try and replicate ‘that’ scene?
Absolutely Anything – This film follows a disillusioned school teacher (Simon Pegg) who suddenly finds he has the ability to do anything he wishes, a challenge bestowed upon him by a group of power-crazed aliens, watching him from space. As he struggles to deal with these new found powers and the events that subsequently arise, he calls upon his loyal canine companion Dennis to help him along the way. Mishap after mishap finally leads him to the ultimate conundrum that all men dread and at which many have failed…should he choose the girl…or the dog…?
The Crow’s Egg mines the wide open territory between Tamil social realism and Bollywood escapism. Big Crow’s Egg and Little Crow’s Egg — the name comes from their favourite scavenged food — are two poor kids from the slums of Chennai. They have one burning ambition: to taste a slice of the wondrous new global consumer food, pizza, from the glossy new franchise in their neighborhood. Their enthusiasm is undiminished by the fact that a slice costs more than their family’s monthly income. This is a film that manages to have its heart and its head in the right place.
Weekly Recommendation: We were disappointed by the final Hunger Games instalment, so we recommend 99 Homes.