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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Cindy Prascik's Reviews of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 2 & Secret in Their Eyes

Dearest Blog, yesterday it was off to Marquee Cinemas for the depressing double-bill of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 2 and Secret in Their Eyes. Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't know from the trailers. 
 Mama always said, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." If I adhered to that advice, I'd have a free day today, but since I wasted yesterday watching these movies, it seems fitting that I waste today writing about them. 
First on the docket: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 2, the further and final adventures of Katniss Everdeen. Dear Reader(s), let it be noted that I consider myself a fan of the Hunger Games franchise. 
It doesn't talk down to its audience, and the folks responsible for bringing it to the screen have done so with genuine regard for quality, rather than just milking a popular franchise for a cash grab. 
It's a miserable premise--the sort of thing I'd never watch more than once--but to this point I've given HG full marks for execution. 
Sadly, this final installment is a real letdown. For as much as Mockingjay-Part 2 has got going on, it is insufferably slow and dull. Perhaps stretching the final book to two movies was a bad idea, or maybe they've just done a poor job of translating events from page to screen, but I was ready to claw out my eyes long before the halfway point. 
The film yadda-yadda-yaddas over at least one thing that seems pretty important, and the ending feels like the author just got bored and turned it over to a 14-year-old fan-fiction writer. On the plus side, James Newton Howard has provided his usual strong score, and there are some nifty effects. 
The acting is solid from top to bottom, and Jennifer Lawrence is no less outstanding than when she's fronting something the Academy takes seriously. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 2 clocks in at an excessive 137 minutes and is rated PG13 for "intense sequences of violence and action, and for some thematic material." 
It's not without its good points, but The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 2 is, overall, a disappointment. 
Of a possible nine Weasleys, Mockingjay-Part 2 gets five.
Next up: Secret in Their Eyes. A group of law-enforcement professionals presses the law's limits when one of their young daughters is murdered. It's clear, at some point, someone fancied Secret in Their Eyes a legitimate awards contender, The film on which it's based has already collected an Oscar (thanks, Maynard Maynard, for that tidbit!), the cast is mint, and it's a Very Serious Story. 
Sadly, it's also a tedious affair in which the twists happen exactly how and when you'd expect, and two-thirds of the decorated principals are embarrassingly bad. 
Nicole Kidman is about as expressive as a ventriloquist's dummy, which may be less about her actual acting than it is about her tinkering with her face 'til it no longer moves. On the other end of the spectrum, Julia Roberts flails through the proceedings "as if there were no such thing as overacting." (I have shamelessly poached that glorious insult from an old review of Gary Oldman's performance in Bram Stoker's Dracula!) 
Chiwetel Ejiofor is terrific, making it hard to believe he's the only one of the three who doesn't (yet) have an Oscar. 
An unnecessary romantic subplot adds nothing, and the movie seems to take it as a matter of personal pride that each storyline reaches the least-satisfying resolution possible. Secret in Their Eyes runs 111 minutes and is rated PG13 for "thematic material involving disturbing violent content, language, and some sexual references." 
Secret in Their Eyes has all the pieces of a great bit of cinema, but, unfortunately, it fails to put them together. 
Of a possible nine Weasleys, Secret in Their Eyes gets four. 
If you are visiting the cinema this weekend, and--like me--you weren't lucky enough to get Legend or Spotlight, I suggest you revisit Spectre or The Peanuts Movie, and take a pass on these two downers. 
Until next time...

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