Movie Review – Allegiant

Allegiant

Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, Jeff Daniels, Zoë Kravitz, Ansel Elgort, Miles Teller, Daniel Dae Kim, Maggie Q, and many, many more.

Directed by: Robert Schwentke Screenplay by: Noah Oppenheim, Adam Cooper, and Bill Collage Based on the novels by: Veronica Roth  Cinematography by: Florian Ballhaus Music by: Joseph Trapanese

Premise: Though Chicago has been freed from the tyranny of Jeanine’s rule, all is not well. Johanna asks Tris to step in as a leader, but Tris has other things on her mind. She desperately wants to follow the message which played after the box was opened and go outside the wall. But it won’t be easy – not when Evelyn has decided no one gets to go outside the wall. Tris will find a way. And when she does, matters beyond the wall won’t be quite what she expects. (Rated PG-13)

Review:

1) Acting – Total Thumbs Up: Shailene Woodley and Theo James bring forth good performances as their characters continue to evolve in this third installment of the Divergent Series. Jeff Daniels is smooth and deceptive as David. Ansel Elgort gets to show more of what he’s made of as Caleb starts seeing the truth of things.

2) Special Effects – Total Thumbs Up: The special effects department truly outdid themselves on this one. Awesome little touches that took some of the effects to a new level.

First was the awesome work on the wasteland just outside the city. The color variations, the maze of half exposed warrens, the red rain falling from the sky; all making a truly unique tableau for the characters. The neat half leaning spires with rings (they looked super cool though we never do find out what they are!). The whole effect on the tainted area was rad.

Second was the creation sequence of the Tris’ mother’s memory area when Tris is submerged into it. The way things came together like falling strings and draping tarps looked fantastic. The destruction sequence of memories later on was pretty darn cool as well.

Third were the lovely Bureau of Genetics spires and later the city of Provenance. Some truly lovely work. The decontamination sequence was also really cool.

And they had so many awesome gadgets! The three disks, the wall of globes, the Director’s ship – lots of new gear to love! 🙂 And the visuals for the immersion of those using the spy globes was totally cool.

3) Plot/Story – Thumbs Up: I wasn’t so sure I wanted to see this film, but since I’d seen the other two, we took the plunge. I’m glad I did, as the special effects were superb. The story didn’t have as many issues as the previous films (if you don’t look too hard), which helped a bit. And they actually tried to get the audience up to speed at the beginning – not just drop us off in the middle of the Ocean as they did for “Insurgent”.

They did hold up figurative signs screaming of what was about to happen next a time or two. This tendency Hollywood has to have huge pauses right before they kill someone off is a trend I do not understand. The deaths aren’t surprising if you stretch and stretch the moment as you figuratively jump up and down so we know it’s coming. If you shine such a bright light on it – we won’t be surprised! Just disgusted. Duh.

A ton of questions are not answered. David speaks of how everyone must make sacrifices, as he points out the cramped quarters of the non-pure, but they never actually say why he needs all these people! (Or why a man who looks twenty, is in memories from 40 years before and looks the same, while David actually aged. For a while, I thought they might be using genetic material for clones, but nothing ever came up to explain the weirdness.)

I did like how they dressed Tris differently from the others once they were at the Bureau. Not only did it separate them by class, but it also made Tris start to resemble Jeanine.

4) Stunts – Total Thumbs Up: The film has a number of fights, explosions, and more. Some nice Four hand-to-hand combat. And the entire wall escape sequence looked great!

5) Locations/Cinematography – Total Thumbs Up: At the beginning of the film they do a gorgeous, slow sweep of Chicago to remind the audience of the devastation of old and the true state of the city as new scars now plague it’s face. With the playing of the recording from the holographic projectors on several of the buildings, it made a great backdrop for giving the audience a quick reminder of what’s been going on. Kudos!

As I stated in the special effects section – the regions outside the wall were awesome! We get some super cool overhead shots of the pockmarked surface and the weird discolorations of the ground and the stagnant pools and red creeks. Truly brought home the fact the Earth has seem some super bad times in the past.

All the view shots for the Bureau and Provenance showed both places beautifully. The central building of the Bureau is utterly fascinating!

6) Costuming/Makeup – Total Thumbs Up: Like I mentioned earlier, they did some nice subtle things with Tris’ clothes for some nice subtext. They also did fabulous work on coloring the characters’ hair and skin from the red rain.

The burn marks imprinted on one of the side character’s face and neck were lovely. And the scars on Johanna were also well done. What I did not see, though, were deformities or sores or other issues on the faces of the people living in the fringes. Since that whole area is toxic, I would have expected more visible damage on the people living there – but they all actually looked rather healthy. 😛

Conclusion: “Allegiant” makes up for a lot with the fabulous special effects and inventiveness brought to the third film in the series. Don’t look too closely at the plot, and you should have a nice viewing experience. 🙂

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)

Movie Review – The 5th Wave

The 5th Wave

 

Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Nick Robinson, Alex Roe, Ron Livingston, Zachary Arthur, Maika Monroe,  Liev Schreiber, Maria Bello, Gabriela Lopez, Matthew Zuck, and more.

Directed by: J Blakeson Screenplay by: Susannah Grant, Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinker Based on the Novel by: Rick Yancey Cinematography by: Enrique Chediak Music by: Henry Jackman

Premise: The Earth is attacked by an unknown and unseen alien species. Their attacks have come in the form of waves – world spanning EMP fields, mutated virus, floods, drones. A fifth wave is eminent, but no one knows the form it will take. Separated from her little brother Sam, Cassie struggles to make her way to him, even as unbeknownst to her, Sam and many other human children are being trained to fight. But more is going on than any of them realize. (Rated PG-13)

Review:

1) Acting – Total Thumbs Up: Chloë Grace Moretz does a lovely job as Cassie Sullivan. Watching her transition from normal high school girl to determined survivor was fun to watch. Nick Robinson as Ben Parish/Zombie also did a nice job. Loved his understated demeanor making the ‘zombie’ nickname have more than one level of meaning. Alex Roe will definitely make teenage girls swoon as the helpful yet mysterious Evan Walker. I totally loved Maika Monroe’s performance! Her character Ringer was a lot of fun.

2) Special Effects – Total Thumbs Up: The film has special effects in bursts, so you’ll tend to forget how much there’s actually has in it. Which would be a crime as they do a great job. I absolutely loved the main alien ship, especially when seen at night. Really would have liked to have gotten a closer look at one of the scout drones. The visuals on the infected humans were enticingly creepy.

The effects for the water attack were phenomenal. The tidal waves and back panned destruction came out great. I was especially impressed with the added touch of the woman in the stairwell. And the view Poundcake sees of the flooded city from the top the building really brought home the devastation.

Late in the film we get a lot of explosions and other forms of chaos. Nice!

3) Plot/Story – Thumbs Up: I’ve not read the novel this film is based on, so can’t say much as to how close it matches the book. I will say, however, that all the teenagers in the audience seemed quite happy with it – at least all the Evan Walker parts. 😛

There are a few bits that might give you a ‘huh’ feeling as the film progresses – most of these are actually hints rather than mistakes. I won’t go into it, though, for fear of spoiling things for you guys. But I will say if it smells, there’s likely a reason. 😛

That being said, however, the plot does have a lot of the typical young adult book tropes (love triangle, good alien, etc.). Happily though, there was also the occasional surprise here and there.

One thing the film does suffer for, however, is the lack of a real reason/need for the aliens to take some of the steps they decide to take for the invasion. Showing off their ship for ten days before actually doing anything being but one of them. For creatures that seemingly don’t believe in feelings, they sure like posturing and tormenting their targets. With their technology and what they already shown they can do, some of the steps they decide on later don’t make any real sense as a next step.

4) Stunts – Total Thumbs Up: The stunt peeps did some great work. Some great people/tidal waves stunt moments. There’s also a couple of hand-to-hand fight scenes and gun battles.

5) Costuming/Makeup – Thumbs Up: I was worried for a while that even the apocalypse wouldn’t mess up Cassie’s hair, but they made up for it later. Great touch having Cassie’s hair look longer and less styled once she’s out on her own. They even put some dirt on her! 🙂 And kudos for not having her running around in heels!

Conclusion: The 5th Wave has some lovely special effects and good acting. Plot could have been a little more diverse, but wasn’t bad. Watching Evan Walker fight is a definite highlight (the lake scene was pretty darn nice as well – for the ladies!) 😛

Rating: 3.25 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)

 

**Sorry everything is shifting to the right! Never should have updated the theme! Ack!**

Movie Review – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore, Elden Henson, Wes Chatham, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Willow Shields, Sam Claflin, Elizabeth Banks, Mahershala Ali, Jena Malone, Jeffrey Wright, Paula Malcomson, Stanley Tucci, and more.

Directed by: Francis Lawrence Screenplay by: Peter Craig and Danny Strong Based on the Novel by: Suzanne Collins Cinematography by: Jo Willems Music by: James Newton Howard

Premise: With the 13 districts united, the rebels turn their focus to the capitol. Katniss struggles with what’s been done to Peeta and also what to do about Gale. Worse, President Snow decides to turn a large chunk of the capitol into a new Hunger Games. And Katniss learns President Coin might soon no longer have a use for her. (Rated PG-13)

Review:

1) Acting – Total Thumbs Up: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth give great performances as the odd love triangle spins, gets even more complex. and eventually comes to a resolution. Donald Sutherland and Julianne Moore were a lot of fun as the opposing presidents. Elden Henson and Wes Chatham added some nice depth to the story as Pollux and Castor.

2) Special Effects – Total Thumbs Up: The special effects team does a superb job in the film. The scene where everyone is cut off and the black water comes, and then when we see the black water in action and chasing after them, was awesome. Loads of explosions and heavy gun fire. The close range explosions from the arrows looked great underground. The 50+ caliber guns and the devastation on the columns from the bullets looked very real. And wait till you see the special surprise the group is given by Snow’s team in the sewers. My only problem was that the marketing department gave away all the good traps in the previews! Boo! (Hubby was displeased!)

3) Plot/Story – Thumbs Up: It really would be nice if films that have multiple parts or have sequels with years in between, the movie makers would deign to remember not everyone will have rewatched the previous films before seeing the new release and give a recap. Especially for side characters! While remembering the principal people was easy, there were several side characters who’ve been in several of the films who weren’t as memorable for whatever reason and therefore it was hard to realize who they were and what their backgrounds were to get the audience to care when bad things happen to them. Jena Malone’s character Johanna Mason was one of these. I adored her performance in Part 2, but I was hard pressed to remember anything about the character at all. And not remembering anything, makes it very hard to care. (This was a major suffering point for the film “Insurgent” earlier this year.)

Aside from not knowing who some of the people were, however, I very much enjoyed the direction they took with the film. Talking with my daughter, who read all the books, I know they changed a few points for the ending, but these were improvements to the plot rather than issues. They also continued to show that actions have consequences and will affect people emotionally as they had in the previous films.

The major theme this time played with duality and perceptions. Katniss comparing Peeta and Gale. Peeta comparing remembered and altered memories. Gale and the way he viewed enemies as things rather than people and how this comes back on him. It even applied to President Snow and Coin.

Another theme they had fun bandying about pertained to hubris and pride. Also how your enemy can be your friend and vice versa. And both themes tie in to the ending at the capitol, which was well played if a little transparent.

Only thing I wished we’d gotten a little more on was Snow’s reactions when he thought Katniss was dead and then found out she was alive. Totally unexpected reaction, but it spoke back to that duality theme I mentioned before. Heh heh.

4) Stunts – Total Thumbs Up: The cast and the stunt team did some great work in Part 2. The fight in the sewers was especially well done – lots of hand-to-hand combat goodness. Between the traps and several explosions during the film, people get thrown all over the place.

5) Costuming/Makeup – Thumbs Up: While the departments did a great job as usual, there was one thing missing. A section of this film happens at the capitol. Several meetings even occurred in Snow’s mansion. But for the most part all the outrageous clothes and makeup were nowhere to be seen there. In a scene with actual citizens running to and fro, there were still no true funky clothes and hairstyles. Tigris definitely had both, but she’s just one person, and an extreme case at that. Even Effie was toned down. Seeing these people in their wild getups and makeup was half the fun in the previous films! 😛

Conclusion: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 was worth the wait though they would have benefited from a recap or releasing this one close to Part 1. Gritty and emotional and a fun ride.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)