REVIEW: Mockingjay, Part 2

Photo: Lionsgate

Photo: Lionsgate

Chris Luckett

Any time a popular book series is adapted to film, changes are always necessary. Such changes, though, do invariably yield a different experience for the movies than their literary sources.

For Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy, the single change that’s had the most effect on the movie franchise has been shifting the focus from the first-person point-of-view of the books — in the novels, the reader never sees anything Katniss Everdeen herself doesn’t — to the multiple perspectives that allow for cross-cutting to Seneca Crane’s control room or President Snow’s office or the barracks of District 13.

That alteration, however seemingly unimportant, has created a different animal than Collins depicted, for better and for worse. The stories have been more spectacular on screen, but never as intimate as the books, for that very reason. Continue reading

REVIEW: Mockingjay, Part 1

Photo: Lionsgate

Photo: Lionsgate

Chris Luckett

When it was announced in 2008 that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows would be split into two movies, such an idea for a franchise’s climax seemed odd and alien. While many cynical moviegoers cried studio greed, it was seen by many as a strong creative decision, considering how much material was in J.K. Rowling’s ultimate book.

In the wake of Harry’s two-parter ending, though, more and more movie series have decided to follow suit, from the Twilight saga’s Breaking Dawn to the recent announcements that the Divergent and Avengers trilogies would become 4-parters. Moves like these feel more studio-driven and motivated by dollars rather than fan satisfaction, and it the very thing that hurts Mockingjay, Part 1 the most.

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REVIEW: Non-Stop

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Chris Luckett

Liam Neeson was once considered anything but an action hero. Oh, sure, he did the occasional Star Wars or Batman movie, but he still was no Jason Bourne or anything. Then came Taken in early 2009. The A-Team followed in early 2010. Then Unknown the year after. Then The Grey. Then Taken 2. As the opening months of 2014 wind to a close, Neeson once again returns to the big screen, gun in hand, in Non-Stop.

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REVIEW: Carrie (2013)

Photo: Sony Pictures Releasing

Photo: Sony Pictures Releasing

Chris Luckett

As blasphemous as it is to say, 1976’s Carrie is not a great movie. Most of the acting is either wooden or exaggerated, its symbolism is overtly obvious, and it takes a long time for much of significance to happen. The one thing it does fantastically, though — so well, in fact, that many call Carrie a masterpiece — is deliver an emotional payoff. Continue reading

REVIEW: Don Jon

Photo: Relativity Media

Photo: Relativity Media

Chris Luckett

Generally, first-time writer-directors who began as actors fall into two categories: ones that seem accomplished from the get-go and ones that truly feel like first-time writer-directors. Ben Affleck, Zach Braff, and Robert Redford all managed to dazzle with their very first efforts, for example. Unfortunately, Don Jon is no Gone Baby Gone, Garden State, or Ordinary People

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