Film Review: Allegiant

Film Review: Allegiant (Divergent Series #3)

Release date: 10th March 2016

Director: Robert Schwentke

Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Octavia Spencer, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Zoe Kravitz

Runtime: 121 minutes

Genre: Science-Fiction, Dystopia, Action

Watched in: 2D

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Allegiant is the third film in the Divergent series. Allegiant is the third and final book in the series put as per the popular move at the moment it is being split into two films, the first titled Allegiant and the second titled Ascendant (slightly different to calling them Part One and Part Two I suppose). At the end of the previous film the people of Chicago received a message from the outside world inviting them to go beyond the wall. Former leader of the Factionless Evelyn has essentially taken over and stops people from going over the wall. Tris, Four, Christina, Peter, Caleb and Tori get past Evelyn’s defences and go over the wall to find what is left of the rest of the world.

The book was undoubtedly my least favourite in the series. I felt it went massively downhill in quality from the first two books and was quite disappointed by it. So, unusually, I was happy for them to make changes to the film in the hopes of making it better. The film was fairly similar to the book, though with some changes obviously.

One of the best aspects of the film was the set designs. The design of the future world outside the wall was amazing and really imaginative. Unfortunately though it felt like a step down from the previous film, which itself wasn’t quite as good as the first film. I can’t quite place my finger on why it wasn’t as good. Perhaps it was the acting that wasn’t quite as sharp in this one. And obviously they had a flawed novel to work from, although I think they took a lot of the better aspects from the book to use in the film.

My confusion lies in where they are going with the fourth film, Ascendant. The third film was pretty similar to the book in terms of the plot arc, concluding in a kind of similar yet also different way to the book. So I’m not entirely sure where they are going with the fourth film. It will have to contain new material, as they have used up almost all of the book.

Overall I enjoyed the film but it wasn’t spectacular. It could have been better and although I really liked some of the things they added I felt they also left some important ideas out. I’m most intrigued to see what they will do with the last film, and to look back on this film once the last film has been released in terms of their adaption of the final book in the series.

Film Review: The Hunger Games – Mockingjay Part 2

Release date: 20th November 2015

Director: Francis Lawrence

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Julianne Moore, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks

Runtime: 137 minutes

Genre: Science-Fiction, Dystopia, Action, Thriller

Watched in: 2D

Rating: 4/5 stars

Mockingjay Part 2 is the final instalment of the series and the second part of the final book. My expectations were high for this one, as the previous films had been so good and so well adapted from the books. I went in not really being able to remember much of the book as it was a while ago since I read it. So it was nice to be able to sit and watch without waiting for what I knew was going to happen the whole way through (like sometimes happens when watching book to film adaptions).

I’m not sure how well splitting Mockingjay into two parts worked. I think it would be much more impactful watching them together. I like that it meant all the major things that happened in the book got to go into the films. A lot happens and if it were one film it might have felt a bit butchered. Yet somehow I think the plot progression would be more effective over one film. Although it would have had to be a very long film to fit everything in, so maybe two films was the right path.

This film reminded me why I love this series so much. There are so many twists and turns which are so unexpected so that the first time you read the books or watch the films (having not read the books) you’re on the edge of your seat. I like that there is no binary of good and evil. You realise that’s a model which isn’t really realistic.

The acting was top notch once again and the costumes and effects were brilliant. I’m going to have to watch it again though as I didn’t take in much of the first fifteen minutes as the kids in the row in front of me were talking so much.

A great end to the series, though I’m sad it’s the last time I’ll see a Hunger Games film in the cinema.

Film Review: Spectre

Release date: 26th October 2015

Director: Sam Mendes

Starring: Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomi Harris

Runtime: 148 minutes

Genre: Action

Watched in: 2D

Rating: 3/5 stars

Usually at the beginning of my film reviews I provide a quick synopsis of what the film is about. In this case, I’m not really sure what to say. It’s your typical Bond affair really.

For all the hype surrounding this film I found it disappointing. The opening sequence in Mexico was the best bit, but it went downhill from there. I was expecting the tension/suspense and excitement to build but the whole thing just stayed very flat. I’m not saying this was a bad film, it was good, but I didn’t exactly come out saying ‘oh wow that was great!’.

I’m not a fan of the theme for this film – Sam Smith’s ‘Writings on the Wall’. It lacked the same oomph and impact a James Bond theme usually does. It wasn’t exactly a stand out tune and not at all memorable.

The plot was okay but nothing new, just the same old stuff really. The one thing I did very much like about the plot is how they tied it to the previous Daniel Craig films, linking them all together. I thought that was clever and liked that aspect of it. There were a lot of allusions and nods to older Bond films which was a nice touch. There were also moments of greatness glimmering through and moments of humour that were good.

Some of the acting was better than others. Ben Whishaw as Q was great and Lea Seydoux was also quite good. I’ve not been the biggest fan of Daniel Craig as James Bond so maybe that didn’t help my impressions of the film. The writing wasn’t as strong as it could be. It felt like the script needed more work before they started filming.

Overall for me it just fell short and I’m not sure why. It just didn’t have the same ‘wow’ factor or impact that Skyfall had. It’s almost like they were trying too hard to make it better than Skyfall and it didn’t come off as well, at least in my opinion anyway. I didn’t feel excited, I wasn’t on the edge of my seat. This one just didn’t come together for me I’m afraid.

Film Review: The Scorch Trials

Release date: 11th September 2015

Director: Wes Ball

Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Aiden Gillen, Giancarlo Esposito, Patricia Clarkson

Runtime: 131 minutes

Genre: Science-Fiction, Dystopia, Action, Thriller

Watched in: 2D

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is the second film in the Maze Runner series, based on the book by James Dashner. It is very different to the book, diverting from the plot quite substantially, although this isn’t necessarily a bad thing anyway.

The film carries on moments after the first film finished as Thomas and the survivors from the Glade are rescued from WCKD by a mysterious alternative group. After discovering a truth about their rescuers the Gladers escape from the compound they have been taken to into the Scorch – outside where the world is like a desert and Cranks (basically zombies, at least in the film anyway) try to attack them. Their aim is to reach the Right Arm (a rebellion group in the mountains).

Once I got over the fact that it was very different to the book I read (something which is probably a good thing to accept when going to see any film based on a book to avoid disappointment) I enjoyed it and found it very exciting and gripping. The Cranks were done extremely well and were absolutely terrifying, and would have been even more scary if I hadn’t been anticipating it from having read the book! All of the CGI/special effects stuff was very good.

The acting was good, considering what the actors had to work with – in the book the characters aren’t fleshed out that well.

Although it didn’t bother me too much that the plot was quite different to the book, the end section didn’t make much sense and ended in a completely different way to the book, meaning I’m not sure what they’re going to do in the last film.

It was a good film, but I preferred the first one, which isn’t that surprising as I preferred the first book to the second book. If you haven’t read the book then it’s an exciting film, and if you liked the first one you’d like the second one. Though I would avoid it if you’re getting tired of YA dystopia film adaptions…

Film Review: Spy

Release date: 5th June 2015

Director: Paul Feig

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Rose Byrne, Miranda Hart, Jude Law

Runtime: 120 minutes

Genre: Comedy, Action

Watched in: 2D

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

I wasn’t sure if this film would be my sort of thing as I wasn’t a fan of McCarthy’s Bridesmaids (though I haven’t seen any of her other films) but being a massive Miranda fan thought I would check it out if only to see Miranda Hart on the big screen. In Spy McCarthy’s character, the deskbound CIA analyst, has to head out into the field when their field agents covers are blown and prevent the sale of a nuclear weapon.

A lot of the time comedy films are chuckle-worthy but not laugh-out-loud-worthy. This film was absolutely hilarious though and at times I couldn’t stop laughing. It was thoroughly entertaining but it also had a great plot to carry it as well. It was pretty fast paced and there wasn’t a dull moment at all. It was so packed full of action and laughs that I want to see it again! The digs at classic spy films such as James Bond are great too.

The acting was excellent. McCarthy was very funny obviously and Miranda Hart was great too. At times I thought Melissa McCarthy was a bit over the top though in the delivery of a couple of her funny lines and the use of the f word was a bit over the top too which is why I docked a 0.5 off my rating but for the most part it was very funny. From the sounds of it she plays a pretty similar role to previous things she has done but I haven’t really seen any of her other films so I can’t judge on that. The big surprise though was Jason Statham who was amazing. Typically I associate him with action films in which he plays a serious/dark character so I was quite surprised to find he would be in a comedy film. He was great at it though, his character was so funny and possibly my favourite character of the lot.

This is another short review as I can’t think what else to say because I loved it so much! It really was excellent and full of laughs. Highly recommended!

Film Review: Insurgent

Insurgent (Divergent Series #2)

Release date: 19th March 2015

Director: Robert Schwentke

Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Jai Courtney

Runtime: 119 minutes

Genre: Science-Fiction, Dystopia, Action

Watched in: 2D

Rating: 4/5 stars

I’m kind of late posting this review. It’s taken me a while to get around to it and then I thought I’d posted it but obviously I didn’t. And now the film isn’t in cinemas anymore. Oh well.

Tris, Four and their friends are now on the run from the leader of Eriudite, Jeanine, who is hunting down the Divergents. They discover that Tris’ parents died because they were protecting something, a piece of information that has been kept secret, which will reveal the real past of the Faction system.

As someone who has read the books I can say that the first half is fairly accurate to the book, with some minor details missing, but as with the first film the ending is quite different. What they added though wasn’t necessarily bad. It still kind of made sense. If you haven’t read the books though then you will enjoy it.

Once again there’s a lot of snazzy CGI and action scenes going on. But what I like about the way they’ve done the films for this series is that in including all the snazziness they haven’t sacrificed the emotional element and the character development.

Once again the acting is great. Shailene Woodley’s performance of a broken Tris was excellent, she really shined in this one, presenting Tris’ inner conflicts really well. The rest of the actors also did great jobs, though I’m still questioning the casting of Evelyn as almost everybody else who read the books has.

The very end, what happens after all the action, is very different from the end of the book, so I’m wondering where they’re going with it. As the last book was so awful I’m expecting they’ll change it quite a bit, so maybe altering the ending of the second one is leading into that. We’ll just have to wait and see.

If you haven’t read the books it is great! If you have, you will notice many differences and lack of development of characters such as Marlene which was a shame, but it is still a good adaption and worth watching.

Film Review: Mockingjay Part 1

Release date: 20th November 2014

Director: Francis Lawrence

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Julianne Moore, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks

Runtime: 123 minutes

Genre: Science-Fiction, Dystopia, Action, Thriller

Watched in: 2D

Rating: 5/5 stars

 

Mockingjay Part 1 continues from Catching Fire as Katniss Everdeen finds herself amongst the rebellion in District 13. Distraught at the Capitol’s capture of Peeta, Katniss must battle with herself to bring herself back from the darkest places of her mind. A propaganda war ensues as President Snow attempts to quash the rebellion, and District 13 hope to rally the districts to their cause with Katniss as their symbol – the Mockingjay.

It is firstly important to say that this review is coming from someone who has read the books, and is a massive fan of both the books and the films. Yet again, the film is very close to the book. A few small changes have been made but arguably for the better. One example is that Effie has a much larger role in the film than she had in the books, which I don’t mind because Elizabeth Banks does such a great job at playing her character.

To people who have not read the books Part 1 may seem a little slow. I’ve seen a lot of people commenting on how they found it boring. That may be because it isn’t as explosive as the first two films. All the books are split into two parts, and if The Hunger Games and Catching Fire had been split into two, people would think the ‘Part 1’ films were boring. That’s just the structure of the books, the way they work. Mockingjay Part 1 does a very good job of building up to Part 2. There is still a lot of action and suspense in Part 1 and there are plenty of twists and turns to keep you interested.

You get a much better insight into the characters in this film. They have gone through so much, now we get to see how they deal with it. There is a lot of character development in this part, especially with Katniss and Finnick. One thing that wasn’t so good was Gale. He just sort of floats around, still the same as he was at the start, I feel like they could have done more with his character. There is one scene when they are in District 12 in which he describes how it was destroyed which gives us a glimpse into him. I just feel they could have done more. Overall though the acting continues to be stupendous. Julianne Moore does an excellent job with President Coin.

Overall, yes go see it! If you read the books then definitely see it (I expect that’s a no brainer though). Some people think it’s boring, but if you think that then bear in mind it will be worth it for Part 2!