Messalla

Polling for New Pics

Several weeks ago, Twitter launched a new feature – polls. We noticed that Lionsgate tried it out with The Last Witch Hunter right away, so we figured it was only a matter of time before we got Mockingjay polls.

This week it begins. Poll-o-Rama. But they smartly added a little carrot to these polls. Something WE ALWAYS WANT…

NEW PICTURES. YAAAAAAAS.

Monday, they started out with a choice between the more fringe characters, Messalla or the Leeg twins. And Messalla came out on top.

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Looks like he’s in the Capitol there.

Today’s choice has a bit more fan interest.

The question is pretty moot, cause fans are voting for who they want to SEE, not their skills, but whatevs. These seem like they’ll be the official actor/character images on the Mockingjay Part 2 website, so we’ll see them all soon anyway.

The big, cringeworthy question awaits – do you think they’ll dare do a Peeta/Gale poll?

We’re laughing already at the disdain that would cause in the fandom.

JJ

REVIEW: Mockingjay Part 1 Is The Ultimate Game Changer

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** THIS REVIEW IS SPOILER FREE!**

The Hunger Games Franchise: Come for the action. Stay for the bigger, more important message.

KATNISSIf you’ve been following reviews for Mockingjay Part 1 so far, you’ve probably noticed some media outlets griping about the change of pace or fewer action sequences or the lack of the games. But The Hunger Games has always been about more than just the games. The first two films did an excellent job conveying the danger and inequality in Panem through the games, but the story cannot simply be the games, otherwise the whole message Suzanne Collins intended for her audience is lost. The franchise is about the tragedies of war but also the need to question society’s parameters and to fight against injustice, even if it comes at a personal cost. That’s right, folks– We’re moving past the “Whoa, all these people are in a bubble trying to kill each other!” pull and into legitimate political thriller territory.

Mockingjay Part 1 is a tantalizing slow burn. Its pacing, emotion, and action are different from the other films, but in the best way possible. It starts out dark, ends pitch black, and finds moments of levity, anger, sadness, and just about everything else in between. As Katniss attempts to adjust to life in District 13 and reluctantly accepts her role as the voice of the rebellion, a new story element unfolds into something much deeper. Katniss and District 13 go back and forth in the ultimate game of cat and mouse with President Snow, one in which everyone they know is a pawn. Of course, that doesn’t mean that everyone supporting her in District 13 is really truly on her side, either. The result is a harrowing journey to incite a revolution, one that featured fewer action sequences but kept us more emotionally invested than any Hunger Games movie before it.

Mockingjay-Part-1-Phillip-Seymour-Hoffman-and-Julianne-MooreThere’s a stunning tension created throughout the film by the entire cast. Jennifer Lawrence proved herself as our Katniss long ago, but earns new respect as she handles Katniss’ fragile emotional state with realism and care. Donald Sutherland is an absolute maniacal genius now that he has a chance to flex those baddie muscles. Julianne Moore is a smart, welcome addition as President Coin, who plays beautifully off the late Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Plutarch Heavensbee. The decision to keep Effie in the story was a stellar one and Elizabeth Banks is more perfectly Effie than ever before. Liam Hemsworth plays Gale with much more vulnerability and depth than recent promos have suggested– the rage scene is definitely there, but many others prior to that make it easy to see just how truly torn he is. However, if there’s a “Stepping Up To The Plate” award for this movie, it goes to Josh Hutcherson. Peeta’s transformation is gut-wrenching and visceral, the stuff that makes your breath catch in your throat every time he comes on screen because the agony and instability feels so real. It’s the first time in the series Josh has really been asked to be something beyond the caring, careful version of Peeta we all know so well and he exceeds expectations.

There is still action in this film but it isn’t scene-to-scene as it was when Katniss fought off danger after danger in the arenas. However, please don’t confuse less action with a plodding pace. This movie’s action sticks in your brain and feels much more warranted than in previous films. It is not, as the games were, for anyone’s entertainment. Even in the scenes without explosions and hovercrafts and arrows flying, there’s still plenty of things happening and for us, the entire film felt like it moved very quickly, faster than its actual run time.

mockingjay-part-1-peeta-beatenBecause this movie is a Part 1, you’re not going to get instant gratification around every turn (another sticking point for critics, it seems). But ask yourself– Did you really with The Hunger Games or Catching Fire, either? Francis Lawrence, Danny Strong, and Peter Craig used the opportunity to get more in depth with the story very wisely. Rather than being thrust into District 13, there’s a world-building that you don’t always get in film. President Snow and Plutarch in particular benefit from the books expansion into two parts, in terms of both screen time and character development. Boggs, Cressida, and the film crew are also rewarded a richer understanding than we’d expected. Random gushing: Elden Henson as Pollux was easily our favorite part of the film crew without saying a word, though everyone else played their part very well too.

For all the guessing in the world at the ending, we will only tell you this: You know the ending, but you don’t. You’ll leave the theater feeling charged up and overwhelmed, already eager for the final film.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the film is perfect. We have a few gripes but realize that in the grand scheme of things, they’re pretty minor. We’ll nitpick at a later date because to do so would be to spoil everyone. Even so, we know that Lawrence Squared and the rest of the team have delivered us a stellar film that is sharp and thought-provoking.

We can’t wait to discuss it with all of you!

Meeting Cressida and Crew

The deluge of Mockingjay stuff has begun, and it’s hard to know where to begin. Actually it’s not, because there’s ANOTHER clip, with Cressida introducing her crew to Katniss as they’re about to take off in the hovercraft.

It's time to go to work, Mockingjay

It’s time to go to work, Mockingjay

This is the first time we’ve gotten to hear Natalie Dormer speak as Cressida. As we would expect, she doesn’t have the Capitol affectation that Effie does in her speech. But there was something surprising about the way she talks.  Maybe it’s her hard, no-nonsense tone, or maybe it’s Dormer’s interpretation of a person raised in the Capitol who wants to cut all ties with the culture, or more likely it’s just me not being used to hearing Natalie Dormer with an American accent. I loved her line “We all fled on our own. For this. For you.” She delivers it with a mix of pride and condescension, but it doesn’t make you dislike her because it’s clear that they’ve all made sacrifices to be where they are today. No, Katniss, Plutarch did not rescue us. We made the decision to leave, risked our lives to escape to this completely uncomfortable life in the concrete bunker of District 13. But we did it FOR YOU. Could you please buck up and help with the cause now? It’s tough love, but it seems to fit the character.

You've had like 5 seconds of screen time and we already love you.

You’ve had like 10 seconds of screen time and we already love you.

It will be interesting to see how Cressida, and the whole crew, evolve over the next two movies. In the books, none of them are very well fleshed out as our narrator Katniss was mostly concerned with her own troubles. So these movies will give us an opportunity to see them outside Katniss’s lense.

We can’t say much about Messalla or Boggs, other than they were all business in this first meeting, but I liked to see the interaction between Castor and Pollux as they were signing to one another. Just with that little moment you could feel the bond they have, which was nice. I think we’re going to fall in love with them.

Now to watch more of the many things released today!

JJ

When Camera Crews Go Renegade

So we’ve definitely settled on the fact that the new posters are cool. Not perfect, but pretty damn cool. Still, there’s one isty-bitsy teeny-weeny fairly obvious detail that is driving us crazy…

Since when does a two-man camera crew, their director, and her assistant = BADASS WARRIOR MOTHERFUCKERS?

Observe!
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Mind you, we like the idea of badass warrior motherfuckers in general. BWMFs, if you will. But in comparison, we must admit this feels kinda forced.

While some tactical gear and even the small side guns on Castor and Pollux seem reasonable, check out the massive weapons Cressida and Messalla are sporting. That is meant for once thing: Taking out large numbers of enemies in a relatively short time period. Those are for straight up soldiers, not the people hired to film soldiers.

Meanwhile, Pollux is described as “the silent soldier” and Messalla, who seems skittish at best all the way up to his brutal end in the books, is called “the fearless renegade”. Seriously, somebody had way too much fun misappropriating these character descriptions while scripting this film!

In my initial commentary on these posters, I mentioned that Cressida and Messalla didn’t look much like Capitol defectors who, despite not agreeing with political choices, were still culturally Capitol at their core. The more we think about it… What if the filmmakers found it easier to not have them be Capitol defectors at all? The District 13 area doesn’t have many recognizable faces other than Boggs in the books, especially in what will be considered Part 1 territory. Audiences will connect with the District 8 scenes more if they see who Katniss is fighting with and what they stand for, so why not take already recognizable names and match them up with the mostly unrecognizable soldiers?

Yet we hesitate to wholeheartedly accept that theory. There is value to Cressida and Messalla being wet-behind-the-ears rebellion propo makers who don’t fully understand the dangers and implications of their work until they experience it firsthand. Their Capitol origins show that not everyone in the city is a drone supporting Snow and display tensions within the fragile alliances. Yes, it would be nice to have another kickass chick in the mix and Effie will be more firmly taking on the role of “Capitol lady who doesn’t truly get it”, but are there not shades of gray that can distinguish characters adjusting to the same situation differently as Cressida gets more and more proactive?

Maybe we’re just opposed to change.. but usually we’re not opposed to change when it seems reasonable and justifiable. We just don’t get why this group now has to be fierce soldiers. We’re hoping this pans out into something spectacular that we aren’t seeing yet, but right now, we must admit that we’re a liiiiiiittle weary!

If Camera Crews Are Now Super Soliders, Are The Original District 13 Soldiers Like.. X-Men?
The Girl With The Pearl

District 13 Rebel Reaction

IT’S MOCKINGJAY PART 1 Posterama! We got six brand spankin’ new posters of what will be Star Squad 451 minus Finnick, Peeta, and Katniss; our first official look at the crew in their gear.

And OF COURSE we’ve got lots of feelings we need to share about all this! BEHOLD!

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Oh, Hemsy! Your eyebrow game is just through the roof in this poster. We just want to brush them methodically for you (as we assume someone else did shortly before this picture was taken.) But we don’t love this image nearly as much as we should.

Book!Gale most certainly had some rage at this point in the story line. Yes, he’s finally made it to the rebels, but Katniss still describes him as intensity and fire when all is said and done. WHERE IS THAT? We all know Liam has epic emo face, but what about the other faces?! This is stern, at best. We want RAAAAAGE! He pulled that off much better in the Catching Fire character poster.

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Dammit, Natalie Dormer! Even in 1,000 layers including various padding, you still look glam! The last time we tried to look fancy, we still looked worth than that. URGH!

We’ve also discovered the new game we’ll be playing through the rest of the Mockingjay Part 1 promotional period: What exactly is the proper brightness of Cressida’s tattoo? It looked much darker and less green in the trailer, but it might have just been the lighting?

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YES! THIS! THIS FOREVER AND EVER!

If you can’t tell, we really like this poster! The image alone justifies Mahershala Ali’s casting as Boggs. Intimidating but serene, focused and powerful. The kind of guy who seems serious but has a solid sense of humor underneath it all. He definitely comes off as a leader and we are officially excited!

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Is it just us or was anyone else thinking Messalla had more of a Capitol flare?

Yes, he’s relocated to District 13, joined the rebellion, and probably toned down has look a bit. But still, we expected more than a bridge piercing and a line tattooed on the bottom lip. That modifications aren’t as “Oh so Capitol!” as we’d expected and despite not believing in the government, Messalla was still culturally Capitol. In the book, he stood out much more drastically. Why change that here?

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When… When did one of the camera guys get kinda sexy?

We understand why it was easier to make Castor and Pollux brothers instead of twins… even though it kills the whole Greek mythology reference but WHATEVS. Still, aren’t these guys the “insects”, the background characters that have their special moments but mostly kinda blend in? How are we supposed to focus on military strategy and political strife when there’s lean muscle and faux hawks in our faces?!

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Not sure how we feel about ponytail and beard combo, but we’ll let this one slide because its FULTON REED (aka Elden Henson). Pollux is a former Avox and admittedly, the styling choices give the character the look of someone who’s been worn down after seeing too many horrors in the world. Also, you can see their “insect” camera bags really well in this one ad we’re digging it!


Everyone’s Worried About Katniss and I’m like “BUT WHERE IS FINNICK?!”

The Girl With The Pearl

POSTERS! Tough Scary Sexy Badass Mockingjay Posters!

That’s right; seemingly out of nowhere more character posters have arrived!  This time they’re of the field team – Gale, Cressida, Boggs, Messalla, Castor, and Pollux all in their gear with the Mockingjay symbol behind them.

So tough. So menacing. So dark. Just the right tone, we’d say.

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We’ve got to digest on them a bit so we’ll have more on them later, but enjoy!

Katniss is next? KATNISS IS NEXT.

JJ

The Cresta and Capitol Casting

When we made that joke that we needed Annie Cresta to be cast on Sunday night, we had no idea that they’d be announcing the casting the next day… But still, we can’t help but think “Damn, we’re good!”

LOOK AT IT, DAMMIT!

LOOK AT IT, DAMMIT!

Our Annie is Stef Dawson, an Australian actress who only needed one audition to land the role. Stef is STRIKING. All of her features just scream LOOK AT MY FACE! LOOK AT IT!

It may seem like a minor detail in the grand scheme of things, but let’s face it: As much as we want Annie to be this big, really involved character like she is in our fanfic dreams, it will likely be a fairly minor role. So if nothing else, Annie will be powerful because audiences will remember. that. face. Of course, Stef is already talking about how she connects to Annie as a survivor and the character’s vulnerability, so we know she’s going to make whatever lines she has count.

The response from fans was immediate. Most were quite pleased, though others were disappointed because Stef Dawson isn’t the Hollywood starlet they had in mind, to which we say “SERIOUSLY?!” We haven’t seen anything that Stef Dawson has been in (besides tiny clips from her showreel), so we can’t possibly compare her performances to others. But we don’t think she was given the job because the Mockingjay casting director got tired and just picked someone at random. “PICK AN ACTRESS, ANY ACTRESS!” No! There were probably hundreds of women who auditioned and Stef Dawson got it because she clearly earned it.

This. Because the picture Lionsgate posted is SEVERAL years old.

This. Because the picture Lionsgate posted is SEVERAL years old.

And all of you whining because Book!Annie has brown hair… We’ve talked about your type before. YOU NEVER LEARN. You make the collective fandom IQ drop 10 points. Just.. ugh!

Of course, Stef wasn’t the only announcement this week. The Hunger Games fandom now has its Messalla, Cressida’s lovely assistant, in the form of Evan Ross! Yup, THE Diana Ross’ son! Besides an unfortunate stint on the new 90210, Evan’s career is filled with lots of interesting indie films, including a boatload of projects in the works quite recently. It’s nice to see that he’s got quite the range, because Messalla is full Capitol and thus a little too eccentric for Katniss (and probably audiences) to fully appreciate. It’s another minor role, but it’s one that can make a memorable impression with a few well-delivered looks and lines. There will also be a major physical transformation involved, so it’ll be interesting to see how this 25-year-old who still has a bit of a baby face will bloom into a frantic Capitol citizen.

Messalla also has what’s arguably the most horrific / fascinating death of any character in the entire series, so as long as that makes it into the script, Evan has won already!

Boggs Next, PLZKTHX!
The Girl With The Pearl