By Shane Sellar
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
Ironically, the tweens who grew up with the Hunger Games are now young adults struggling with their own eating disorders.
Mind you, the titular famishment in this sci-fi movie is more of a metaphor.
Determined to overthrow the Capitol and kill its president (Donald Sutherland), Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) aligns herself with an all-star squadron (Natalie Dormer, Sam Claflin) that also includes her boyfriend Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and ex-partner Peeta (Josh Hutcherson).
Behind enemy lines, the team trots through booby-trapped and mutant infested sewers, losing friends along the way.
Meanwhile, the love triangle between Katniss, Gale and Peeta comes to a head.
The fourth and final chapter of this dystopian series, Part 2 is a satisfying conclusion to this respectable franchise. Peppered with plenty of surprises and noteworthy performances, this dark and dire instalment is likely its best.
Furthermore, this finale means archery-related injuries amongst girls are sure to decline.
The upside to being a stepparent is that you can ditch out right before the kids’ college tuition is due.
Fortunately, the replacement dad in this comedy has lots of time to decide.
The unabashed stepfather to his wife’s (Linda Cardellini) two children, Brad (Will Ferrell) is living out his paternal dreams. But his ongoing bonding with his new kids is interrupted by the arrival of their bad-boy birth father: Dusty (Mark Wahlberg).
Initially welcoming, Brad’s hospitality quickly turns to hostility when he feels Dusty encroaching on his territory. But can the bumbling Brad outwit the alpha male interloper?
While its progressive plot could have been playful, this re-teaming of Ferrell and Wahlberg in familiar comedic archetypes struggles to make the awkward family situation seem all that humorous, original, or even somewhat realistic.
Incidentally, the best way to get rid of the birth father is to bring up child support.
The toughest part of being in a same-sex relationship is deciding who has to sleep on the couch after an argument.
Fortunately, the Sapphic socialite in this drama is likely to have a really comfy one.
Manhattan shop girl Therese (Rooney Mara) becomes smitten with a sophisticated older woman, Carol (Cate Blanchett), who invites her to spend the holidays with her.
But Carol’s ex-husband (Kyle Chandler) and Therese’s boyfriend (Jake Lacy) are adamant against their forbidden affair.
So much so, that now the court is threatening to take Carol’s daughter from her because of her alternative lifestyle.
An unexpectedly optimistic lesbian love story set in the ridged 1950s, this handsomely shot arthouse adaptation of the gay-lit novel from the same era honours its iconic backdrop with sets and costumes as alluring and nuanced as its May-December leads.
Thankfully, nowadays, society would only have a problem with the lesbians’ noticeable age difference.
The easiest way to tell which sister is the crazy one is by asking who the oldest is.
And while this comedy doesn’t analyze the lucidity of birth order, it is about siblings going crazy.
When their parents (Dianne Wiest, James Brolin) sell their family home, reckless Kate (Tina Fey) and responsible Maura (Amy Poehler) host one last house party.
Inviting their friends from high school (John Leguizamo, Bobby Moynihan, Samantha Bee) and their new neighbour (Ike Barinholtz), they try to recreate their glory days with booze, drugs and debauchery.
But a conflict concerning Kate’s daughter drives a wedge between them.
Despite the zany premise and comedic talent of both leads, Sisters is an unfunny foray into the sad-sack realm of female adulthood that’s unceremoniously seasoned with unsavoury dick and fart jokes.
And just because your parents move out, doesn’t mean the new homeowners don’t want a 40-year-old in their basement.
The Big Short
The best part of homeownership in the early 2000s was if your house ever burnt down, you still had two left over.
While no one saw this as a problem, the suits in this dramedy did…and made millions.
When rogue hedge fund manager Michael Burry (Christian Bale) uncovers what will eventually become the housing bubble, he predicts its eventual collapse, and despite ridicule from every bank he meets with, he bets against it.
His credit default swap scheme, however, ends up intriguing a trader (Ryan Gosling), an investor (Finn Wittrock), another hedge fund manager (Steve Carell) and an ex-banker (Brad Pitt), all of who want in.
Clarifying the complexities of the financial crisis and defining the convoluted terminology involved with elucidatory side vignettes, this layperson adaptation of the non-fiction novel is frightening, facetious, and keenly insightful.
Incidentally, with all those subsequent foreclosures, smart traders would’ve invested in cans of squatter spray.
In the Heart of the Sea
The key to being a successful whaler is attaching a large sign to your ship’s port that reads: Whale Watching Tours.
However, the underwater leviathan in this drama would never fall for such chicanery.
When Herman Melville (Ben Whishaw) convinces an innkeeper (Brendan Gleeson) to disclose to him his time aboard a whaling vessel, the young novelist learns of how its crew (Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker, Cillian Murphy) contended with a malicious marine mammal that left them marooned.
The old codger’s account of treachery, anthropophagy and an angry sperm whale inspires Melvin to pen his own epic whale tale.
While it does offer up some edifying tidbits on extricating whale oil, this adaptation of the inspiration behind Moby Dick doesn’t have Melvin’s narrative to support the bulk of its digitized predator or Hemsworth’s lumbering performance.
Luckily, nowadays, we have a more humane way of extracting oil from whales called fracking.
With all of his talents, Dr. Frankenstein could have made millions as a Beverley Hills plastic surgeon.
Unfortunately, as this horror movie demonstrates, he still prefers to use his gifts on the physically dead.
Rescuing a hunchback (Daniel Radcliffe) from the circus and putting him to work in his laboratory, Doctor Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy) is poised to reanimate his dormant creation.
But when he’s expelled from school for dabbling in the dark arts, Victor must seek funding from an old friend (Freddie Fox) who wants to mass-produce his monster for military use.
Elsewhere, Igor romances a friend from the circus (Jessica Brown Findlay), to Victor’s chagrin.
An action-packed re-imaging of Mary Shelley’s novel, Victor Frankenstein’s dreary cinematography, derivative script and dismal creature design make-up a patchwork corpse as lifeless as one of Victor’s cadavers.
Incidentally, the only things you need to defeat an army of carcasses are…ravenous buzzards.
The Peanuts Movie
The reason behind Peanuts’ long-running success is that fans always felt sorry for that kid with leukemia.
However, this animated adaptation affirms that Charlie Brown’s baldness is not from chemotherapy.
The eternal milksop Charlie Brown must put aside his insecurities if he hopes to get the new Little Red-Haired Girl at school to take notice of him.
To catch her eye, he enlists the aid of his beagle Snoopy to help him win her over using talents he does not posses, in academics, choreography and stage magic.
In between Chuck’s failed attempt, Snoopy bangs out a book about his alter ego the Red Baron.
With its psychoanalytical take on childhood, familiar score and even more memorable supporting cast, this keenly animated adaption of Charles Schulz’ beloved comic strip pays respect to its origins by sticking to its innocuous formula.
Furthermore, Charlie Brown’s soulmate will forever be fellow comic-strip loser Cathy.
The reason why retired boxers don’t do colour commentary is because their concussed brains see four fighters instead of two.
Surprisingly, the archaic pugilist in this drama has contracted a non-boxing ailment.
Determined to make a name for himself in the ring, Adonis (Michael B. Jordan), the son of Apollo Creed, seeks out his father’s old rival and friend, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), to train him.
When the media gets wind of Adonis legacy, he quickly lands a landmark bout.
But his shot at the light heavyweight championship is endangered when his mentor is diagnosed with cancer.
A refreshing addition to the Rocky anthology, Creed is as much homage to the original as it is an update of the mythos, with knockout performances, kinetic direction, and rapid-fire editing all aiding in its inspirational yet unconventional sports movie trajectory.
Conversely, retired ringside cutman can always get seasonal stitch-work with the NHL.
The Danish Girl
Most men only want to be female so that they can cry their way out of speeding tickets.
However, the dude in this drama actually identifies with the feminine gender.
When asked by his wife Gerda (Alicia Vikander) to model nylons for a portrait, Einar Wegener’s (Eddie Redmayne) secret desire to cross-dress is finally sated.
Encouraged by Gerda to go a gala as his alter ego Lilli, Einer attends the event in drag and attracts the eye of a bachelor Henrik (Ben Whishaw).
Later, Gerda’s paintings of Lilli begin to sell, while Lilli herself undergoes a procedure to become a permanent woman so she can marry Henrik.
Although its transgendered subject matter is certainly timely and Redmayne’s performance is utterly transcending, most of the facts of this fact-based biography are bent to better its provocative love story.
Incidentally, a telltale sign if a woman was once a man is their level of flatulence.
To catch child abductors, the police should be staking out Home Depot’s sex-dungeon department.
Unfortunately, the captor’s enclosure in this drama was preexisting.
Raised by his mother, Joy (Brie Larson), in a backyard shed belonging to the man who abducted her when she was a teenager, five-year-old Jack (Jacob Tremblay) is completely unaware of life beyond the room where she and he are imprisoned.
After a successful escape, the two try to acclimate to outside life. This includes reconciling with Joy’s now-divorced parents (Joan Allen, William H. Macy) and dealing with the media’s victim shaming.
One of the most frightening yet life-affirming films in years, this character-driven adaption of the novel will resonate with viewers, not only for its brave performances, but also for Jack’s alien-like viewpoint of the world we take for granted.
Ironically, the shut-ins discovered that everyone in the outside world was being held captive in a virtual prison.
He Flies Under the Gaydar. He’s the…