Movie News & Reviews

‘Mockingjay’ reflects an artistic misstep

Jennifer Lawrence stars as Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2.”
Jennifer Lawrence stars as Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2.” Special to The Bee

Strong women are a driving theme in this week’s new DVD releases.

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2” ( 1/2 ): Katniss Everdeen faces one last showdown with President Snow. Jennifer Lawrence stars. Splitting the final book in the popular series into two feature films created a bloated feeling to the story. Instead of the heart-pounding tempo that made the first two movies so entertaining, the slow grind of the finale is less compelling.

It made financial sense, not artistic sense.

“The Letters” (): Film from director/writer William Riead reveals that even the woman whose grace, compassion and work have earned her consideration for canonization by the Catholic Church had her doubts.

Mother Teresa’s concerns about the loneliness and darkness she felt in her life, plus an abandonment by God, were only revealed through a series of letters written to her spiritual adviser, Celeste van Exem (Max Von Sydow).

Mother Teresa’s life was so inspiring that even a film that tells her story at only about 75 percent of its potential still delivers a heavy spiritual punch.

“James White” (): Director and writer Josh Mond shows unflinching faith in Christopher Abbott, star of “James White.” Mond knows this story of a 20-something on the verge of a variety of breakdowns works only if the audience can feel every spark of anger, frustration, hope, disappointment, love and loss that White feels.

This is accomplished by a stripped-down production that puts all of its potential power in the performances. It is so engaging that there are times when it becomes almost overwhelming. But that is a glowing sign of how well the movie is acted and put together.

“Daddy’s Home” ( 1/2 ): Stepfather (Will Ferrell) battles biological father (Mark Wahlberg) for the attention of two children.

Will Ferrell again resorts to his over-the-top style. But there is no counterbalance from Wahlberg, who looks bored with the project. The result is a film that has a good heart but no strong humor.

Also new on DVD and streaming March 22

“Freaks and Geeks: The Complete Series”: The short-lived TV series is now available on Blu-ray.

“The Royals”: Wicked look at the Royal Family starring Elizabeth Hurley.

“Fear the Walking Dead: Season 1”: Drama that explores the onset of the undead apocalypse through the lens of a fractured family.

“Noma: My Perfect Storm”: Documentary about celebrated chef René Redzepi.

“American Experience: The Perfect Crime”: In 1924, the murder of a 14-year-old boy by two wealthy college students shocked the nation.

“Perry Mason Movie Collection: Volume 5”: Includes “The Case of the Killer Kiss.”

“Midwinter of the Spirit”: Series based on the novel by Phil Rickman.

Nature: Moose: Life of a Twig”: Documentary looks at one year in the life of a moose calf.

“All Hell Breaks Loose”: Murdered groom tries to save his wife’s soul.

“NOVA: Life’s Rocky Start”: Look at how life started.

“Disturbing Behavior”: Something sinister is happening at Cradle Bay High School.

“Maude: The Complete Fourth Season”: Bea Arthur stars in the comedy from Norman Lear.

“Monster High: Great Scarrier Reef”: Splash into a new Monster High world.

“Mystery Science Theater 3000: Vol. XXXV”: Includes “Teenage Cave Man.”

“Turn: Washington’s Spies: The Complete Second Season”: Contains all 10 episodes from the second season of the series that reveals the true story of the turncoats.

New on digital HD

“The Revenant”: Foundation story of the American West starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Alejandro Inarritu.

“Twinkle Toes Lights Up New York”: Girl tries to make her dreams come true on Broadway.

Rick Bentley: 559-441-6355, @RickBentley1