The Quick and Dirties are back. This time, we're taking at ladies who had themselves quite the adventure. Let's get right to it.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
(2015)Finally, it has all come to this. By this I mean that The Rebellion, led by Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) is going to make their big push to overthrow The Capitol and it's corrupt, inhumane government, led by President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Of course, the good guys are unified by the carefully crafted image of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), aka the titular Mockingjay. Katniss also wants to get rid of Snow, but in a much more direct way. She decides to go rogue and try to assassinate him herself. Of course, she's far too famous to get anywhere by herself and winds up with a team from whom she conceals her intentions. As if there were any doubt, Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and the recently rescued Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), both of the guys that have been vying for her love throughout the series, are on that team. The dangerous twist is that Peeta is dealing with having been brainwashed and might still be controlled by The Capitol so he might snap at any moment and try to kill Katniss. Even more dangerous than that are the various booby traps waiting for them as they maneuver through the Capitol City. This closing chapter in our saga is a step up from the previous entry for one simple reason. Things actually happen in this version. We move along swiftly enough as Katniss and her team face all sorts of obstacles on their path to Snow's mansion. These obstacles are just flat out hellacious, if occasionally nonsensical. The underground segment that culminates in the huge battle with the "mutts" might be the best action sequence the franchise has to offer. For the most part, this film avoids the bloat that sank Mockingjay Part 1. It does until very late in the game, anyway. It gives a predictable, but well earned twist, the resolution of which should serve as our immediate conclusion. Instead, the film goes the Return of the King route and drags on for an additional fifteen or twenty minutes giving us scene after scene that could serve as our ending before mercifully throwing up the closing credits. Drawing out this portion of the film aside, I enjoyed this one far more than it's immediate predecessor and possibly more than the original, also an unnecessarily long movie. Mockingjay Part 2 is not a great film, by any stretch of the imagination, but more than adequate enough to serve as the series finale.
The Age of Adaline
(2015)Way back in 1937, a twenty-nine year old Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) is driving during, oddly enough, a snowstorm in San Francisco. Since Californians have no earthly idea how to drive in snow she swerves off the road into a freezing lake and dies. Luckily for her, much like Jason in Friday the 13th Part VI, Adaline is revived when she is struck by lightning and manages to climb out of the water. As the narrator explains with a lot of bad movie science, not only did this bolt from above revive her, it completely stopped her aging process. Understandably, it takes her a few years to realize this. When she learns that some important people are getting suspicious of her, Adaline adopts the practice of relocating every ten years, practically to the day. When the film settles into the present, we find Adaline still the same and nearing her next big move. Her daughter Flemming (Ellen Burstyn), who was born before the accident and does not have the same condition, is in the neighborhood of eighty years old and now passes herself off as Adaline’s grandmother. Adaline meets and is pursued by Ellis (Michiel Huisman), a guy who really is about twenty-nine, and looking for love. Much of the rest of the movie involves Adaline being none too pleased to be doomed to immortality and fretting the fact she might be falling in love with Ellis.
The film just kind of moseys along for quite a while as we watch Adaline do a lot of hand-wringing over her predicament. Much of that takes place during the scenes with her daughter, which are the most intriguing in the film. The rest of the time is spent hurrying us through a whirlwind affair with Ellis. He is most certainly under the spell of love at first sight. She does not appear to be in love, but rather suddenly decides she is just because Flemming said she should, more or less. This is one aspect of the film that bothered me. I didn’t really buy that Ellis’s feelings were truly being reciprocated. Another is Blake Lively’s performance. It’s incessantly melancholy and seems to lack any other emotion. There was also the big reveal. I’ll not call that a spoiler because this film practically screams at you there is going to be one from the jump. The way it plays out is the most anticlimactic and unbelievably easy moment in the history of film. Think of that time someone was late meeting you. Not that one person who is always late, I mean the one who is always on time. When that person gets there, he/she tells you about the alternate route they had to take because of all the traffic. You will likely shrug your shoulders and say something along the lines of “that makes sense,” accept it immediately, and not think too much about it. That’s kinda how it plays out here. Finally, the biggest issue is how long it takes to actually get to something happening. It starts late in the movie with the appearance of Harrison Ford who, unsurprisingly, steals the show with a great turn. This part of the film was genuinely compelling. However, our intrigue is short-lived as we are rushed off to the film’s big moment. Sigh. Every now and again, I’m truly baffled by all the praise some film receives. This is one of those times.
(2015)Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) is a teenage girl blessed with eternal optimism and boundless curiosity. Unfortunately, these traits create the circumstances by which she comes to be arrested. When released on bail and having her belongings returned to her, she finds a special pin in with her stuff. Whenever she touches it, she finds herself in some strange, futuristic place. The pin runs out of power, so she begins her quest to "get back there." Casey's activities cause Athena (Raffey Cassidy) to show up on Casey's doorstep and deliver Casey to the doorstep of Frank Walker (George Clooney). Turns out Frank was once a child prodigy wherever "there" is and knows how to get back. During all this androids keep showing up to kill our three heroes because of Frank's ability to "get back there," and Casey's perceived ability to "fix it," whatever it is. The Matrix for children ensues. After the introductions of and meetings between these three, we embark on an extended chase scene, highlighted by some wonderful visuals and some surprisingly violent sequences for a Disney flick aimed at kids. It's pretty fun to watch as it rolls by us. The drawback is how vague it is about what's going on. What our heroes are trying to accomplish is a complete mystery until very late in the proceedings. When we find out it's a rather simple message about how important kids are to our collective future. It can be argued that letting on any sooner and the movie would come across as heavy-handed. Some have claimed it is, anyway. Still, it can be frustrating when the main character has no clue what she's there for and everyone seems to be going out of their way to keep it from her, and us. Anyhoo, Clooney gives us a Clooneyed-up version of Morpheus. He believes Casey is 'the one,' but he's all sarcastic and snarky about it. This makes Casey our Neo. She's more curious and pro-active, therefore less of a blank slate than Neo, though. This is fitting given what she is tasked to do. To round out the trio, Athena gives us Trinity. She fulfills the same role, sans being a love interest. This movie even has its own version of Agent Smith in the form of the faceless androids the keep popping up everywhere to trying to kill and/or apprehend our heroes. Obviously, I find it derivative, but it's fine for kids. I'm assuming that most either haven't seen The Matrix, or won't make the connection. Overlooking that aspect, I'll just repeat that it's fun, but frustrating because it's so needlessly cryptic. It's not worthy of all the vitriol that's come its way, but I won't champion it, either. Tomorrowland is just another movie that's decent, but probably should've been better.