Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

2015 Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland

The final installation in the Hunger Games film franchise and this time its war.
With evil dictator President Snow cowering in his mansion, the 13 districts prepare there troops for the final assault.

One word a come use to sum up this end chapter is 'heavy', really heavy. Probably the darkest out of all the current teen fiction flicks and the 12A rating is highly deserved. The sense of loss and desperation in this film was almost overwhelming at times, I went into the the cinema tense and came out feeling like id fought the war alongside our heroes! The grimness is broken up by really elaborate and flashy action sequences that looked gorgeous on the big screen. The multiple traps called 'pods' laid out to slice, maim, burn and drown the soldiers were really well thought out. There is a fantastic sequence in which the heroes transition seamlessly from just barely escaping a hot oil pod to straight into a car park fire fight with dozens of Capital guard. All of this exploded from a great dystopian backdrop and accompanied by a booming musical score.

The acting was mostly solid, brilliant performance from Jennifer Lawrence and the final few moments had me fighting the tears (not ashamed!). However I did take issue with the smaller characters being spread extremely thinly. Effie Trinket, a usually vibrant and witty character was almost not seen at all and her inclusion in the film I felt was purely to remind us she was part of the story. I feel that this entry in the series really did cater to the book crowd and may have left ones that hadn't read it scratching there heads.
Overall Mockingjay Part 2 is a solid addition to the series, however it's sombre tone and final act make it a difficult film to enjoy per say and an even harder one to recommend.

The Verdict

Mockingjay Part 2 is an exhausting and emotional ride but a ride worth experiencing never the less. Fans of the series who have not read the book may feel the film lose speed in certain parts, but a strong central cast, heartfelt acting from its leads and gut wrenching final scenes will keep the fires of rebellion burning well into the new year.


Thursday, 12 November 2015

Review: Howl

2015, Sam Gittins, Rosie Day, Eliot Cowan

I am always eager to watch anything that comes from the British horror scene, not just to support my own country but because of a brilliant track record both recent and old. With the likes of 28 Days Later and Eden Lake, can 2015's Howl cement its place amongst the greats?

Our story begins when a bored and frustrated train attendant is forced to work a double shift on the last train home travelling across London. He and his work colleague (and potential love interest) knuckle down for the long haul when the train collides with something on the track, stranding the couple and the train's passengers.

There have been quite a few train themed horror films, Creep being one of the more successful. these films are effective because there is a crushing sense of claustrophobia once something out of your control happens, you a stranded with strangers and are then forced to form alliances.
Watching these alliances form between the small but varied cast of characters was a big highlight for me. Some of the characters started out very stereotype but surprised me in a big way when they did something really clever or brave. This was definitely intentional on the director's part and kept me glued to the screen. It is always enjoyable when you can really get behind a character and root for them to survive, equally satisfying is waiting for potential villain's demise!

The creatures themselves, which you can probably tell by the title are Werewolf like, were spectacular for the film's budget! We are introduced nice and slowly but when the first on is revealed in all it's terrifying glory I actually muttered an audible 'wow' such a pleasant surprise!
The creatures are shown advancing on the train from the woods and the eerie effect of them standing on hind legs with eyes glowing was an image I couldn't shake for the rest of the film.

The Verdict

Howl is a thoroughly well crafted British indie horror flick! The diverse cast of interesting and well developed characters coupled with some great practical creature effects make a it a bloody good time.