“Mockingjay Part 2”: Girl on Fire Burns Out, Fades Away

Mockingjay 2!

Even in dystopia, there’s always time for handheld gaming.

At long last, the 1853 book series that was turned into a beloved but unfinished 1970s film series has reached its long-forgotten conclusion! That’s how long it’s felt since this franchise started, anyway.

It began with The Hunger Games, which brought Battle Royale to the West, adding shaky-cam and subtracting sex. It escalated in Catching Fire, in which the adult characters had to bring their A-game because the Games themselves no longer mattered. In Mockingjay Part 1 it paid homage to Wag the Dog, went behind the scenes at a post-apocalyptic marketing firm, and basically felt like one of those all-talk episodes of The Walking Dead where the stunt crew takes a week off while the characters sit around exchanging feelings so their eventual, horrible deaths will mean something.

And now, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 is here to wrap up the character arcs for anyone who didn’t read the books, to finish adapting the remaining 213 pages of the 390-page novel that concluded the original trilogy. Closure is here for one and all, especially for DVD fans waiting to buy the eventual Hunger Games Quadrilogy set for cheap on some future Black Friday.

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Yes, There’s a Small Thing After the “Mockingjay Part 1” End Credits

Mockingjay Part 1!

From the Hollywood adaptation trend that brought you all the Part Ones of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Hobbit, and Twilight, it’s split-sequel time once again with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One. Its lean running time of 123 minutes, which includes roughly 15-60 minutes of visual-effects end credits, would suggest the complete finale to Suzanne Collins’ world-famous trilogy could’ve been translated into a single, epic-length film if dozens of pages’ worth of thinking, feeling moments had been deleted from the screenplay. Sure, why not whittle it all down to a more economical 154 minutes, the average run time of Michael Bay’s four Transformers movies? Less talk, more rock!

Meanwhile, the two-hour Fargo is adapted into a ten-episode TV season, and no one reacts with a facepalm. Critics find it in their heart to forgive and bestow glowing approval upon it.

Making extra movies doesn’t have to be a sin in and of itself. The question is, can they make the extra space worth our time and money? Or would you like to be the fussy producer who tells director Francis Lawrence, “I’m sorry, but we only want one film, so you’ll need to give us less Phillip Seymour Hoffman”?

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“Catching Fire”: And They All Lived Fearfully Ever After

Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Katniss and Peeta practice their strained banter for their next gig hosting the PanEm Oscars.

In the more engrossing and less shaky-looking sequel, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, we’re told “The Games mean nothing.” In fact they’re not even the central plot; they’re the extended climax appended to a more interesting, feature-length coda in which the quote-unquote “victors” of PanEm’s 74th Hunger Games receive their “rewards”, learn about their new responsibilities, and figure out for themselves that sometimes victory is only as meaningful as your handlers allow.

Continue here as The MAN tries to extinguish the Girl on Fire…

Our C2E2 2012 Photo Archive, Part 1 of 3: the Movie Tributes

We’re now two weeks away from this year’s C2E2, the fourth installment of Chicago’s up-‘n’-coming comic-book-’n’-entertainment convention that hopes someday to achieve the size and reach of the San Diego Comic Con if enough of us Midwesterners support it.

Every C2E2 has plenty of activities for the hobby enthusiast: entertainment guests signing autographs; popular comic book creators speaking at panels, holding Q&As, and likewise autographing for fans; aspiring young creators gathering in Artists Alley and hoping to sell you on their own proud efforts; comic-shop owners and SF collectors selling vintage back issues, rare toys, and bargain-box oldies by the pound; booths representing the major comics publishers, including Marvel and DC; and — most noticeable of all — fans attending in costume, resplendent in their creativity and/or audacity.

Part 1 of MCC’s C2E2 2011 retrospective has a much longer intro with more information about the con and its history. As with that two-part miniseries, the following photo collection, to be curated and presented here in three parts, was previously shared elsewhere online last year, two weeks before Midlife Crisis Crossover was born. (Someone should remind me sometime to tell the story of how C2E2 was indirectly responsible for MCC’s creation in the first place…) For the sake of bringing my works under a single, unified creative banner, it’s my pleasure to present to you, the Viewers at Home, this memory parade of our second time at C2E2.

We commence with the wider-appeal characters first to stress that the ‘E’ in “C2E2” stands for “entertainment”. Comics are a major part of the proceedings, but there’re more to most comics fans’ interests than graphic storytelling alone. Exhibit A: the outlandish stylings of Effie Trinket and Caesar Flickerman from The Hunger Games.

Effie Trinket, Caesar Flickerman, Hunger Games, costumes, C2E2

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My 2012 Movies in Retrospect, #15-8

In part one of our three-part miniseries, I reminisced about my least favorite theatrical experiences of 2012, works that other viewers may have liked a lot more than I did. Part two, then, is a veritable middle-ground parade — movies that weren’t a waste of my time, some even eligible for eventual addition to my library, but were a few steps removed from instant-classic status according to my recondite guidelines.

The countdown advances:

Jeremy Renner, The Bourne Legacy15. The Bourne Legacy. The way my mental math works out, this section of my list contains this year’s zestiest popcorn flicks — action yarns that propelled me along despite nagging storytelling flaws. Jeremy Renner’s two-hour overseas vacation video neatly fits that slot. Though the extended chases pale before the emotional stakes and the intricate cat-and-mouse games of the second and third Bourne chapters, Renner is fun to cheer on anyway as a plainspoken everyman upgraded to an outnumbered battle machine. In that sense it’s the spy-genre equivalent of a Rocky movie, albeit without a satisfying Ivan Drago analogue.

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“Hunger Games” Sequel Renamed to Avoid Sounding Like Manly Gun-Battle Flick

Crowds who flood to theatres next year for the follow-up to this year’s second-largest event movie should note the reworked title that will take up twice as much marquee space. Lionsgate announced today the rechristening of the largest event film of 2013 as The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, as a kindness to those of us who keep their DVDs alphabetized and still struggle over whether to file The Dark Knight under ‘D’ or ‘B’.

No word yet about whether this change was strictly the fault of the marketing department, or if any input was welcomed from incoming director Francis Lawrence (I am Legend). Fans fervently hope the title format is the only element of the series to be even remotely inspired by Twilight.

Ten other new titles may or may not have been under consideration:

Katniss: the Hunger Games, Part 2
The Even Hungrier Games
Hunger Games 2: Hunger Harder
Hunger-Catching Firegames
Katniss Everdeen and the District of Secrets
HG2: Tributes United
The Hunger Games, Episode 2: Catching of the Fire
Peeta: the Hunger Games, Part 2
Panem Has Always Been at War with Eastasia
Hunger Games II with Last-Minute Slapdash 3D Conversion

Also worth noting is the best of the rejected poster taglines:

“No more games. The hunger just got REAL.”

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