Winter Movies 2015-16

Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

I was disappointed, at first, that they strung the last book out into two movies and had feared they would dwell too much on Katniss’ mental state, making it too melodramatic (and possibly boring). But I actually thought they did a good job on Mockingjay Part 1. There was an awful lot that happened in the second half of the book, so I’m confident the second movie will move along at a brisk pace and everything important will be included.

With the nation of Panem in a full scale war, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) confronts President Snow (Donald Sutherland) in the final showdown.

Teamed with a group of her closest friends โ€“ including Gale, Finnick, and Peeta โ€“ Katniss goes off on a mission with the unit from District 13 as they risk their lives to stage an assassination attempt on President Snow, who has become increasingly obsessed with destroying her.

The mortal traps, enemies, and moral choices that await Katniss will challenge her more than any arena she has faced in The Hunger Games.

Release Date: November 20, 2015
Starring: Jennifer LawrenceNatalie DormerJulianne MooreSam ClaflinElizabeth BanksJosh HutchersonJena MaloneLiam HemsworthPhilip Seymour HoffmanStanley TucciWoody HarrelsonRobert KnepperDonald SutherlandToby JonesJeffrey Wright
Genres: AdventureSci-Fi
Directed By: Francis Lawrence
Studio: Lionsgate
MPAA Rating PG-13


I have no idea why, but I’ve been a sucker for Peter Pan all my life. It’s only recently that I actually read the book and was disappointed. It wasn’t what I expected at all. That’s not to say it isn’t a wonderful book, and from a historical perspective it’s interesting, but the style is difficult to read as a twenty-first century adult. The story was quite different than I imagined too. I haven’t seen the original Disney movie since I was a child, but Robin William’s Hook was a favorite when my kids were growing up, and I adored (and still do) the Universal/Columbia version and count it as one of my all-time favorite movies. Another “origin” movie, Neverland, I found very enjoyable too, though highly improbable as a prequel. I’m not really expecting that much from this movie (Rotten Tomatoes critics give it 45%), but I think it will at least be entertaining.

An origin story of Peter Pan, Pan tells the story of an orphan who is spirited away to the magical Neverland. There, he finds both fun and dangers, and ultimately discovers his destiny โ€” to become the hero who will be forever known as Peter Pan. (Just to set the record straight, Peter Pan, the original character, is not a hero.)

Hugh Jackman stars as Blackbeard, Garrett Hedlund stars as Hook, and newcomer Levi Miller stars as Peter Pan. Joe Wright, the British director of Hanna, the 2005 Pride & Prejudice (starring Keira Knightley) and Atonement, directed the movie Pan.

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Amanda Seyfried, Rooney Mara, Garrett Hedlund, Levi Miller
Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Family, Fantasy
Directed By: Joe Wright
Studio: Warner Bros.
MPAA Rating PG-13

The Last Witch Hunter

I’ve only just found out about this one. I have to see it because, well, Vin Diesel. That’s all.

The modern world holds many secrets, but the most astounding secret of all is that witches still live amongst us; vicious supernatural creatures intent on unleashing the Black Death upon the world. Armies of witch hunters battled the unnatural enemy across the globe for centuries, including KAULDER, a valiant warrior who managed to slay the all-powerful QUEEN WITCH, decimating her followers in the process. In the moments right before her death, the QUEEN curses KAULDER with her own immortality, forever separating him from his beloved wife and daughter in the afterlife. Today KAULDER is the only one of his kind remaining, and has spent centuries hunting down rogue witches, all the while yearning for his long-lost loved ones. However, unbeknownst to KAULDER, the QUEEN WITCH is resurrected and seeks revenge on her killer causing an epic battle that will determine the survival of the human race.

Release Date: Oct 23, 2015
Rated: [Rated pg-13]
Runtime: 1 hr. 46 min.
Genres: Action/Adventure
Director:Breck Eisner
Cast:Vin Diesel, Elijah Wood, Rose Leslie, Michael Caine, Olafur Darri Olafsson.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Episode VII)

This is certainly my most anticipated movie. I was standing in line on opening night of the original movie (Episode IV), it was the first movie I felt compelled to see multiple times in the theater, and the first movie I ever insisted my dad had to see. Yes, I took him. I am and always will be a die-hard Star Wars movie fan.

A continuation of the saga created by George Lucas set thirty years after Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983). Enough said.

In case you’ve been in a galaxy far, far away for the past thirty years, or perhaps just want a refresher course, here’s the story so far:

EDIT: I almost forgot about Unbranded. I’m seeing it on Thursday and will so a post on it later. ๐Ÿ™‚

What movies are you looking forward to?

Writing: TGJ Book 2, Chapter 30.
Listening: TGL Book 2 soundtrack.
Reading: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente.
Watching: Movie trailers.

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All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012-2015 B B Shepherd and China Blue Publishing.

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Movies: Winter 2014

I don’t get out to the movies that often for a variety of reasons, but there are quite a few I’m looking forward to this winter season. Top of the list is The Hunger Games: Mockingjay.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay

I have to admit I was disappointed when I learned Mockingjay was being made into two films. This seems to be the trend now. I thought the beginning of the book slow, spending too much time on Katniss’ state of mind after her rescue from the dome and after learning of Peeta’s capture. And that seems weird for me to say as I love the exploration of what makes people tick, but I wearied of it. So I’m a little worried they might have made Part 1 too drawn out and melodramatic. Still, I have to see it, of course. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it if you’ve seen it already (no spoilers for those who haven’t read the book!) I’ll probably see it within the next week or so.

And I guess the same could be said about The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. I had never read The Hobbit until last year and admit I am much more a fan of the movies than the book, iconic though it is. But that Jackson has padded the original story out (and added superfluous characters and romance) is undeniable. I’ve heard that he wanted to include some of the background material Tolkien included in the The Silmarillion (which I haven’t read), but it still seems like it’s being drawn out purely for commercial reasons. Oh well. I’ll be going to see it anyway. I have a crush on Kili.

I became somewhat familiar with Into The Woods, the broadway show and its soundtrack, while I was studying vocal music in college. I never got to see it live and, while I’m not a huge Broadway fan, it’s one of the shows I would love to see. So I’m looking forward to seeing the movie. The cast looks strong and the production good. Pluses: Johnny Depp and Chris Pine.

I’ve tried to see Big Hero 6 a couple of times but it didn’t work out, so I hope to see it while it’s still in theaters. If not I will definitely be buying it on DVD as soon as it comes out. Everyone I know who has seen it has loved it and it looks adorable.

And finally, I’d like to see Exodus: Gods and Kings. It appears that Scott has been more faithful and respectful to the epic story than Aronofsky was to Noah. Interestingly, according to Rotten Tomatoes, Noah had a critics rating of 77% with only a 43% rating from audiences. So far Exodus has only a 41% critics rating but 97% audience interest. From all I’ve seen, it looks like a bigger, more epic, and more CG and effects laden Ten Commandments. That’s neither a positive nor a negative. So we shall see. I’m not sure I can believe Christian Bale as Moses – that just seems weird for a lot of reasons to me – but he’s one of my favorites, so I’m willing to suspend belief just for him!

Have you seen any of these yet? If so, what did you think? Are there any others you recommend?

The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at

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All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012-2014 to China Blue Publishing.

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Review: Mockingjay


Death. Destruction. Mayhem. Just another day in Panem.

This is the first time in I can’t remember how long I felt that I HAD to read the end of a book, just to make sure somebody was okay. And not just “okay” but that the book ended satisfactorily. Now, cheating and reading the end of a book is close to sacrilege to me, like sneaking peeks at presents days before Christmas (no, I never have). I had become so invested in one particular character, however, that if they didn’t make it, and if there wasn’t closure, I was going to throw the book away. Seriously.

I found Mockingjay much harder to read than the first two books. I believed The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. I had a much harder time suspending disbelief for Mockingjay, but I’m not sure why. It felt a little too slow at the beginning, but once Katniss and the others began their forays out into the other districts, it didn’t stop. One of the things I found most difficult to read were the continuous deaths.

There was plenty of death in the first two books, of course, but that was mostly individuals during the games. This is brutal war and torture. There is a LOT of violence in this book. It’s not that it’s too graphic–I didn’t find it any more graphic than the others–but it just seemed over the top to me, and at one point Ms. Collins was killing off so many characters that I had a suspicion that EVERYBODY was going to die. It seemed to be heading in that direction. Which is why I had to cheat.

If you loved the first two books (which I did), of course you must read this one. If you struggled through them because of the violence, this one’s worse. Was it worth reading? Absolutely, and I’ll read the trilogy again. But not for a while. And yes, I’m looking forward to the movie immensely!

I had been holding off writing this review hoping for a real movie trailer, but there is none yet. (I’ll come back and add it later.) In the meantime, Radioactive by Imagine Dragons always reminds me of The Hunger Games in general (the lyrics, not the video) so I will leave you with that for now.

And now there’s at least a teaser!

The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at

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All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012-2014 to China Blue Publishing.

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Review: Catching Fire

Catching Fire

Katniss is back in District 12 and trying to settle into the Victor’s Village. Although Peeta lives nearby, she never sees him, and her relationship with Gale has drastically changed. She’s trying to figure out how to carry on when she becomes aware of the unrest growing among some, maybe all of the other districts. And she and Peeta are probably to blame. President Snow makes it very clear that, while on their upcoming Victory Tour, they will need to be convincingly in love–and not just convincing to the public; convincing to him.

The tour does not go as smoothly as planned and rumors of rebellion are growing. Soon it’s time for the next Hunger Games, but this time it’s special, the seventy-fifth anniversary – the Quarter Quell. Katniss and Peeta should only have to be sponsors, but all the old rules are off. This time, everyone is agreed; Peeta must survive.

At first I thought this second book was going to drag, the beginning, back in District 12, seemed to take time to get going. But it didn’t. And once “The Tour” kicked in, it was non-stop drama (the good kind) and action. And this book completely sold me on Peeta. In the first book, although I liked Peeta, I wasn’t too attached to either guy. But I was in complete agreement in this that, if anyone was to survive, it had to be Peeta. Of course things couldn’t be that simple and Peeta’s got his own ideas.

In Catching Fire we meet new characters and have to live through another arena spectacle. This one certainly has a twist though and will have you reaching for the next book. I’d have it on hand if I were you. I was stubbornly waiting for the paperback to come out.

As for the movie, I wondered how they were going to do some of it, how much would they have to change. But once again, I thought the movie was amazing. The only thing I was aware of missing was Peeta’s paintings. For the tour, they’re supposed to exhibit their “talents.” Katniss doesn’t have any beyond her hunting prowess and “borrows” from Cinna. But Peeta is an artist. I would have liked to see that explored a little. And I don’t think there was anything in either movie about the Avoxes, but I guess they have to cut something. I’m not complaining.

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Review: The Hunger Games

Hunger Games

Yes, I’m extremely late to the party, I know, but I’m going to weigh in on this series anyway. I’ll just go ahead and credit this book with fueling my new interest in young adult literature and I don’t mean that in a genre sense. I’ve tried reading some of the traditionally published ‘genre,’ and have been severely underwhelmed to the point that I can’t bear to waste time finishing them. Nothing had really impressed me since Harry Potter. But this book–indeed, as I’m finished with the final book I can say the whole series–is so well written, well paced, and with such strong characters, I want to read anything Suzanne Collins has written no matter the genre or target age group. It is also the first book I’ve read in first-person present tense that I thoroughly enjoyed. I generally don’t care for it as it’s seldom well-done, but as I said, the writing is so strong, it could be in any voice and I’d love it. I also need to say that I have since found other authors/books in this category well worth reading, but I’ll review them later.

I doubt if many people are ignorant of the premise for the story, but if you’re here seeking out a review at this point, perhaps you are: In a brutal future United States where the privileged few live extravagantly and wastefully in the “Capitol,” the average citizen lives in one of twelve districts. Each district has it’s specialty–mining, cattle, agriculture, etc.–but most barely scratch out an existence while the best of everything is sent to the Capitol. Why don’t they rebel? Well, once upon a time there were thirteen districts. 13 rebelled and 13 no longer exists–at least as far as anyone knows. To commemorate the occasion and remind the districts of what can happen again, each district gives up one boy and one girl each year to the Hunger Games, a brutal arena free-for-all where only one winner can survive. Katniss Everdeen, something of a tough loner who would do anything for her sister, becomes the girl for District 12.

The Hunger Games is certainly brutal and violent but not over the top. Some parts were unpleasant but never so graphic as to make me want to skip parts (I have my limits for blood and guts). The violence is a part of the story and propels it forward. Yes, there is certainly a love story, but it never becomes too sentimental or steamy. It’s a very clean read in that perspective which I liked. The motives for everything, including the love interest, is what I found the most appealing.

And I’m glad that I read the book first, but the movie is truly excellent. Considering I had read it recently, I wasn’t aware of anything important missing and felt myself right back in the story. That’s pretty amazing. It sets just the right tone at the beginning, the rural and impoverished District 12 looking like something out of 1940s Appalachia. In contrast, the Capitol is all high tech, high fashion, and wanton wastefulness. Presiding over all, though not conspicuous is the president of Panem, Snow, well played by Donald Sutherland. I don’t like Donald Sutherland, never have, but kudos to the casting directors. He’s perfect. Actually that’s one of the best things about the movie–its cast. They nailed it. Even Lenny Kravitz as Cinna is perfect. No, really! If they ever make a movie/movies out of my series, I want them to cast it. (I can dream!)

Verdict: Go see the movie, but read the book first!

The Glister Journals: Bronze can be purchased through any bookseller, or purchase now at

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All original text and materials by or commissioned by B. B. Shepherd are copyright 2012-2014 to China Blue Publishing.

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