“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1”
This recipe has been attempted over the past few years, but for some reason, it can’t be replicated successfully.
Both “The Hunger Games” book series and the movies consists of ingredients you’ve seen before – equal parts feminist fight song, young love, love triangle, media manipulation, dueling political parties, the have versus the have-nots and good old-fashioned revolution.
The other component is strictly Hollywood – splitting a trilogy into four films to drain the audience for all it’s worth. But they seem to have found a logical stopping point. Jennifer Lawrence found her franchise that makes her a hero among teenagers while showing her range. Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth once again work as a polar dynamic. Julianne Moore and Donald Sutherland draw hard party lines. Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks continue to throw veteran support. And it’s worth the price of admission just to see the great and departed Philip Seymour Hoffman say new lines of dialogue – worth a watch.
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“Horrible Bosses 2”
Sometimes a comedy exists solely on chemistry. There’s just something that fits when you put Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day together in front of a camera. Some real gold comes from the three of them riffing with other comedians and serious actors. Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston and Jamie Foxx all return. And dramatic actors Chris Pine and Christoph Waltz sign up for a goofy-go-around as the three misfits try on kidnapping, instead of murder, this time.
Sean Anders, the screenwriter of “Dumb and Dumber to” and “We’re the Millers,” takes on writing and directing duties here. Anders manages to keep the same tone as the original. They draw from some of the old gags, while creating gaggles of new ones. This one earns its R rating. It’s raunchy, and no one gets dirtier than Aniston. This isn’t a horrible sequel – worth a watch.
Oscar-winning actor Tommy Lee Jones goes for the trifecta by writing, directing and starring in this story of a ne’er-do-well and an ambitious woman transporting three insane women across the frontier to get help.
This is Jones’ second feature film. His first, “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada,” dealt with transporting a body back to its home for burial. Needless to say, there’s always a lot of traveling in a Jones film. But he brings along Hilary Swank for the ride. He shows his clout by bringing in some A-list cameos with Meryl Streep, James Spader, Tim Blake Nelson, John Lithgow and Hailee Steinfeld. Swank and Jones deliver a nice push-and-pull performance. The film is dark and gets darker the longer it goes on, but Jones pushes through as a writer, director and actor with a veteran’s verve – worth a watch.