Speed review: 3 decent movies in theaters right now

During Thanksgiving break I was able to sacrifice enough of my hard-earned free time to watch not one, not two, but three new feature films in theaters right now.

I’ve also used said free time to briefly review these movies. So without further ado, here are three decent movies you can watch in cinemas near Athens or your hometown.

THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 2

An overall satisfying conclusion to the series 

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via moviepilot.com

Mockingjay Part 2 is the fourth and final Hunger Games installment and is a thoroughly enjoyable action film. After seeing all the previous Hunger Games films each previous year, it’s safe to say this film was a satisfying conclusion to the series. But it really had to be after last year’s Part 1, which felt unnecessarily split. The franchise made like Harry Potter, Twilight and The Hobbit by splitting its final film into two movies. Yet while the previous film felt devoid of plot and action, Part 2 was full of it. The film contains many enjoyable action sequences perfect for popcorn-munching blockbuster fun. The plot moves along quickly and never slows down until the movie’s conclusion.

Jennifer Lawrence is a great actress and does a great job portraying Katniss once again, but the same can’t be said for the film’s other actors. Though this film is an adaptation of a novel, it seemed like it kept adding random characters the audience really doesn’t care about and isn’t emotionally invested in. On top of that, after four movies, the “love triangle” with Gale and Peeta seems very forced. The only other thing I disliked about the movie was its ending. It seemed that it adopted the Return of The King ending disease in that the film’s ending dragged on and on. This is a *spoiler*, but the final scene in the meadow with Peeta seemed like way too much of a cliche “happily ever after” ending for something that’s trying to be a dystopian political film. Regardless, Mockingjay Part 2 is still a very enjoyable movie and, all in all, a satisfying conclusion to the series.

This film receives 3/5 Athens bricks.

 

THE PEANUTS MOVIE

A well-done homage to the beloved comic strips and cartoons

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via peanutsmovie.com

I went into this movie as a diehard Peanuts fan with high expectations, and left extremely satisfied with what I had seen. I read the Peanuts comic strip all the time growing up, and the Halloween and Christmas holiday specials are an annual tradition in my family. When I saw the trailer for the film, it looked like another cheesy adaptation that ruins its beloved source material. However, in this case, I was proven wrong.

The Peanuts Movie is an extremely well-done homage to Charles Schulz’s original comic strip. Though you might expect that the classic feel of the comics and classic animated specials would be lost with 3D animation, it actually worked pretty well. Though the movie is in 3D, most of the scenes are set up like an actual comic strip because much of the movement is two-dimensional. For me, the film really had the look and feel of reading the comics. Besides aesthetics, however, the story was sufficiently entertaining. It combined several popular storylines from Shulz’s comics into one cohesive movie. The plot is centered around Charlie Brown trying to impress the little redheaded girl, and combines the stories of other well-known characters, such as his dog Snoopy, who embarks on a love story of his own. If you go into this movie looking for nostalgia, cuteness, and classic humor, you won’t be disappointed.

This film receives 4/5 Athens bricks.

 

THE NIGHT BEFORE

An extremely hilarious comedy that will get you in the Christmas spirit

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via rollingstone.com

I’m a sucker for raunchy comedies. For most movies, I’ll be trying to analyze it as much as I can to come to some kind of conclusion. But with hilarious, inappropriate comedies I get distracted and can only conclude that such movies were very, very funny. The Night Before was one of those movies. Though it’s definitely not the funniest movie I’ve ever seen, nor has is surpassed Elf in the world of Christmas comedies, it was still thoroughly entertaining.

The film follows the antics of three friends (Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon Levitt, and Anthony Mackie) who have an annual tradition of fooling around in New York City each Christmas Eve. Seth Rogen’s character was particularly hilarious. He plays a Jewish father-to-be whose wife gives sample of literally every drug as a Christmas present, and he proceeds to be insane for the rest of the film. This happens in most movies he’s in, but “Seth Rogen on drugs” never fails to be funny, in my opinion. The film’s themes of friendship and growing up stay pretty consistent throughout the story, which serves as a satisfying Christmas tale. If you’re looking for a laughter-inducing holiday comedy, this movie is right up your alley, but certainly isn’t anything groundbreaking.

This film receives 4/5 Athens bricks.

At the Athena: Goodnight Mommy review

Runtime: 1 hr. 40 min. | Rated R | $6.50 at Athena Cinema

As the summer draws to a close, two twin boys finally get to live with their mother again.  She’s been away for awhile, recovering from extensive surgery to her face.  She arrives bandaged up — she acts differently. She doesn’t seem like the old mom.  Is it someone else? Is it even human? Or are the boys’ imaginations running wild.

Goodnight Mommy is a foreign horror film out of Austria that received critical acclaim when it released last year. It has been in the states since Sept. 11 and is currently being shown at the Athena Cinema.

It’s hard to argue with the critics on this one.

This film is mysterious — tasking the viewer to put the creepy puzzle pieces together. It’s suspenseful and dread-inducing. As the boys get more suspicious of their mother(?), they do more sneaking around. The heightened suspense comes from the fact that you don’t know for sure what that thing that came home is. She could reveal her true form at anytime and things could get ugly in a split second.

It is a horror film by definition, one that pairs disgusting images with a feeling of unease. It is also, at times, hard to watch but not in a way you’d expect. It’s understated. It’s believable. It feels real.

Thirty minutes before the film ends, you may be confused. You’ll be forced to watch some disturbing things and you’ll want it to be over as badly as you want to know what happens next. Then, the twist ending arrives and it all makes sense. The movie’s ending pays off in a big way and instantly made me want to see it through again.

The film felt like an extended, modern episode of the ’60s television series “The Twilight Zone” — lauded for its pacing, minimalism and its proficiency at inducing dread. One of Rod Serling’s iconic monologues would fit perfectly following the twist ending of Goodnight Mommy. I suppose it would have to be in German though.

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Like this…only way darker – image provided by theredlist.com

Some people may not like to read subtitles but that’s not something that has ever bothered me. Its European setting — with its beauty and inherent creepiness — elevates the movie.  It wouldn’t be the same without it and having subtitles is so much better than any alternative.

Goodnight Mommy is a unique horror film that has superb pacing, performances and cinematography. The worst parts of  horror films are jump scares — they’re cheap and unsatisfying.  This film has largely avoided this practice. There are loud noises at times but the film is scary and suspenseful because of its disturbing images and a turn you won’t see coming.

See it at the Athena (plays daily at 9:50 p.m. with 7:30 p.m. shows on Tuesday & Thursday) while its still there or find a way to watch it on a streaming service —  if it ever gets there. Maybe play it safe and see it at the Athena.