The Girl on Fire

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire improves on the games in every way. A big reason being the change in directors that meant no more shaky cam and a stronger focus on emotion. Francis Lawrence brought Suzanne Collins’ world of Panem back to life in a way I wasn’t expecting. I was already on board with The Hunger Games, but now my brother joined me for the sequels. Catching Fire deepens the trauma felt by Victors Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark. While at the same time addressing the love triangle between her and loyal District 12 friend Gale. A relationship made more complicated by the constant lense put on the “Star-crossed lovers.” Jennifer Lawrence just won an Oscar, but she’s still fully dedicated to the “Girl on Fire.” Her hair is appropriately darkened and Buttercup is actually an orange cat this time. Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson both make the choice between romantic leads a lot more convincing. Unfortunately, Katniss’ problems are just beginning when President Snow drops by for a visit. They share their first of many honest conversations with thinly veiled threats. Katniss, Prim, their mother, and Peeta are now staying in a nicer part of District 12 where Haymitch also lives. He continues to mentor them when their “Victory Tour” comes up. Effie also returns to coach them on how to speak to each District, but they both go off script.

Catching Fire increases the threat of the so-called peacekeepers by making them a much more evil faceless presence. They control the citizens and execute anyone who steps out of line. The tour does bring Katniss and Peeta closer together due to their shared experiences. It finally ends in the Capitol where they meet the first of many new characters. Philip Seymour Hoffman is another respected actor more than up to the task of mysterious new Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee. He convinces Snow to make life worse for the Districts while at the same time giving attention to Katniss’ wedding. Until an incident with a peacekeeper ignites the rebellion even more. Since the 75th Hunger Games are coming up, that means the use of a Quarter Quill. A change in games that occurs every 25 years. This year all Tributes are selected from a pool of past Victors. All in an effort to kill Katniss and stop the uprising. She can’t even say goodbye to Prim before being whisked off to very familiar places. There’s still the chariot ceremony with Cinna’s patented fire outfits, but now the special effects look so much better. The problem this time is the legion of experienced killers they’re up against. Haymitch runs through most of them, but only a few of them are worth remembering. Sam Claflin makes the strongest impression as handsome trident equipped secret keeper Finnick Odair. Same with Jena Malone as the unhinged and outspoken Johanna Mason. Other crucial Tributes are the scientifically proficient Wiress and Beetee played by Jeffrey Wright and Amanda Plummer. Their beloved status in the Capitol makes the rule change especially controversial when Caesar’s interviews come around. Katniss makes the strongest impression by burning her wedding dress to reveal a Mockingjay underneath.

Something that cause the first death of a major character outside of the games. SPOILER ALERT! Cinna is killed right in front of Katniss as she prepares to enter the new jungle themed arena. Tributes must swim to the island Cornucopia. Katniss and Peeta form an unlikely alliance with Finnick and his elderly fellow Tribute Mags. They encounter a much more lethal Hunger Games with a lot less cutting back to the outside world. Peeta is nearly killed by the force field, poison gas kills Mags, and they’re all attacked by vicious mandrill Mutts. They do at least obtain a water spigot from a sponsor and Johanna joins them along with Wiress & Beetee. They’re tortured by a flock of loved one imitating jabberjays, but they do formulate a plan that tests each of their loyalty. They survive using the clock configuration of the arena and use the perfectly timed lightning bolt to their advantage. Katniss questions her teammates, but ultimately makes the right decision to electrify the force field with a shot from her bow & arrow. Causing her to be picked up by the book accurate hovercraft. It turns out Haymitch, Heavensbee, and Finnick were all in on a rebellion that lead to Peeta being captured along with Johanna and Finnick’s lover Annie. As well as the dramatic destruction of District 12. Catching Fire may mostly be a set up for the sequel, but its vastly improved presentation is well worth it. “May the odds be ever in your favor.”

3. Catching Fire

Katniss and Peeta in the Hunger Games

Preceded by: The Hunger Games & Followed by: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

I Volunteer as Tribute!

The Hunger Games presents a future with a disturbing amount of plausibility. Author Suzanne Collins originally envisioned the dystopian world of The Hunger Games after channel surfing. She blended the idea of America’s current war with reality TV and included parallels to Greek mythology. Specifically the story of Theseus and the Minotaur. The intense YA themes of the 2008 book made it a must read among my generation. The Hunger Games was actually on my summer reading list for my Junior year, but I was still a lazy reader at the time. So I went to see the movie by myself instead.

2012 was the year of the bow & arrow and knew I couldn’t miss another budding YA franchise. Like most living authors of a popular book series, Collins had a lot of input in the Lionsgate adaptation. An all-star cast of acclaimed and/or rising actors were chosen and well-regarded director Gary Ross took over production. The Hunger Games had a difficult task of depicting children killing each other on-screen and still retaining a PG-13 rating. Although the over reliant shaky cam was a bad decision, it did open up a larger audience for the intense competition. The Hunger Games did justice to its source material without compromising its message…

1. The Hunger Games

Katniss salutes

The Hunger Games became a phenomenon exactly how I imagined it would. I may not have read the book, but I could tell it was a very faithful adaptation with the usual amount missing or added. The Hunger Games was exactly what young adults needed. Especially after Twilight ended. Unlike Bella Swan, Katniss Everdeen was a great role model in a story that anyone could envision. Although she intended to stick with small productions, Jennifer Lawrence was perfectly cast as Katniss. X-Men: First Class was already a push towards blockbuster film and she was about to win an Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook anyway. Lawrence may have been older than 16 and definitely not starving, but she dyed her hair brown and pulled off Katniss’ maturity and strength of character. While at the same time managing her cleverness with a bow & arrow.

The Hunger Games is set in the futuristic dystopia of Panem. North America is separated into 12 (formally 13) Districts that supply goods for the wealthy totalitarian Capitol. District 1 (Luxury), District 2 (Masonry and defense), District 3 (Technology), District 4 (Fishing), District 5 (Power), District 6 (Transportation), District 7 (Lumber), District 8 (Textiles), District 9 (Grain), District 10 (Livestock), District 11 (Agriculture), and District 12 (Coal). District 13 (Nuclear Weaponry) was destroyed during the first rebellion and the Hunger Games was established 74 years ago. Katniss lives in the impoverished District 12 along with a whole cast of unusually named characters. District 12 was shot in a real abandoned shanty town. They captured the poverty and Katniss’ need to hunt, but they couldn’t get something as simple as the breed of their cat right. Turning Buttercup from an orange cat to a black cat. At least the rest of the cast is pitch perfect.

The hunky Liam Hemsworth nabbed his first long-term role as Gale Hawthorne. Gale is a close friend of Katniss who helps the Everdeen family anyway that he can. Although he’d be an obvious love interest, Twilight unfortunately needed to force another unnecessary love triangle. With her father deceased and her mother out of it, Katniss cares for her 12 year old sister Primrose. She gifts her with the all important symbol of the Mockingjay, but it’s not enough to protect her from the Reaping. Every year a boy and girl from the 12 Districts are chosen by random to compete in the Hunger Games. Elizabeth Banks makes an impression as the purple clad Effie Trinket. Her outrageous style reflects the Lady Gaga-esque look of the Capitol. Effie is an escort who calls the names and takes her Tributes to their game related appointments.

Prim’s name is called, but Katniss utters her iconic line “I volunteer as tribute!” Taking her sisters place in the games. Peeta Mellark isn’t quite so lucky. Josh Hutcherson may be really short, but he captures Peeta’s charm and strong build. Their departure is signaled by the famous three finger salute. As they board the train, Katniss and Peeta are greeted by the only surviving Victor and mentor of District 12. Haymitch Abernathy is sort of a drunken embarrassment, but he’s the only person who tells it like it is. The role only boosted Woody Harrelson’s popularity. You’d think getting to the Hunger Games would be a quick process, but there’s a whole lot of work that needs to be done. Some of which needed to be expanded from the book. Donald Sutherland was inspired casting as the evil President Coriolanus Snow. The ruthless way he views the games are presented with the equally fleshed out Seneca Crane. Wes Bentley puts the pointy beard Gamemaker in positions Katniss never witnessed in the book.

What Katniss does experience is a beautification done by the stylists of the Capitol. Katniss is pretty standoffish, but she does make friends with her personal stylist Cinna. Someone only a rockstar like Lenny Kravitz can pull off. He helps Katniss and Peeta make an impression at the traditional chariot ceremony. Katniss becomes the “Girl on Fire” when their outfits catch fire and impress the crowd. Then each tribute trains with and/or intimidates their competition. Until they’re each individually evaluated on their individual skill set. Katniss’ archery goes by unnoticed, so she shoots an apple from the conference room instead. Katniss accidentally gains further appreciation that she uses in her personal interview with the very eccentric Caesar Flickerman. Effectively played by Stanley Tucci. Katniss stands out more with her flaming dress, but Peeta steals the show with his declaration of love. Something they both have to use in order to survive and gain life saving sponsors in the competition.

Tributes are finally given a tracker, arena appropriate outfits, and sent up a tube with a farewell from their stylist. The control room is given explicit detail along with how the Districts view the games on a projector. A final ominus countdown appears and a horn signals the start of the 74th Hunger Games. Since every game understandably starts with a bloodbath, the entire scene is made to look as disoritating as possible. All weapons and important supplies are deeper into the central Cornucopia that Tributes either run towards or away from. Katniss barely makes off with supplies like a rope and cantina. The forest arena is fraught with danger that makes it even more difficult to survive. When killed, Tributes receive a cannon and are memorialized at the end of each night. Although it seems implausible in a life or death game, alliances are always formed as well. Usually between the more bloodthirsty career Tributes of District 1 & 2.

Alexander Ludwig, Isabelle Fuhrman, Jack Quaid, and Leven Rambin are plenty remorseless as Cato, Clove, Marvel, and Glimmer, but they’re all a victim of circumstance. So it’s difficult to celebrate any of their deaths. Peeta gains their acceptance, but most of his survival is thanks to his ridiculously implausible camouflage painting skills. Katniss gains an advantage (and a bow) when she drops a tracker jacker hive on the careers. Another interesting part of the games are the scientifically bred animals made by the Capitol. Muttations range from deadly to non-lethal. The hallucinatory tracker jackers knock Katniss out, but she’s quickly saved by District 11’s 12 year old Rue. Amandla Stenberg is so convincing that I knew her inevitable death would be tough to get through. They bond and communicate with the signature Mockingjay whistle. Katniss gains a further advantage by blowing up the remaining food, but Rue is lost when Marvel attacks. Rue’s death sparks a riot throughout District 11 that ignites an uprising.

When Crane has Snow agree to a rule change, Katniss and Peeta are given a chance to survive. Peeta is in bad shape, but her mostly unconvincing romance helps him survive a bit longer. Until she’s forced to travel to the Cornucopia for a feast. District 11’s Thresh kills Clove for Katniss and she in turn saves Peeta. Leaving Thresh, Cato, and the very clever Foxface as the remaining Tributes. Poison nightlock berries outsmart Foxface and dog-like Mutts take out Thresh. Leading to the big finale where Katniss and Peeta are forced to battle Cato atop the Cornucopia. The victory is bittersweet, but it’s made more complicated when the 2 Victor rule is revoked. They try to eat the berries Romeo & Juliet style until both are declared the winner instead. They may have won the battle, but the true consequences of the game have just begun. The Hunger Games may have drawn comparison to Battle Royale, but there’s really nothing else like it. There’s no way I’d ever want to be in a situation like this. Society’s obsession with violence and reality TV are why it seems so plausible. The Hunger Game made an entertaining spectacle out of a horrific reality. “May the odds be ever in your favor.”

2. The Hunger Games

Katniss takes aim

Followed by: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Prom Tonight!

Not Another Teen Movie is the answer to the non-stop teen movies made around 1999. Since I absolutely love cheesy cliché filled teen movies, I knew I needed to see Not Another Teen Movie. Even though modern parody movies are usually terrible. It’s a guilty pleasure that’s better if you marathon all the major teen movies being spoofed like I did. They cleverly call out clichés and assign a different teen stereotype to each character. While at the same time relying on raunchy jokes and toilet humor. Similar to Scary Movie before it. The main parody is She’s All That. Chyler Leigh is Janey, the clearly attractive uniquely rebellious girl who wears glasses and a ponytail. Chris Evans is Jake, the popular jock dealing with football problems.

That’s where Varsity Blues comes in. With Billy Bob himself spoofing his own character. Jake’s other friends are the blonde jerk and token black guy who spouts catchphrases. Janey’s father is a poor alcoholic like in Pretty in Pink and her brother Mitch mostly parodies American Pie with his friends. Since they’re all trying to lose their virginity before prom. Mitch’s crush parodies Can’t Hardly Wait complete with house party. Janey’s desperate weirdo friend parodies 10 Things I Hate About You. Jake’s sexually charged blood related sister parodies Cruel Intentions. Jake’s ex is a mean girl cheerleader that parodies Bring it On. Complete with more obviously stolen dance moves.

A much older woman parodies Never Been Kissed. Along with a more disgusting parody of the Cruel Intentions kiss. The raunchiest joke is the sexy foreign exchange student being completely naked. The most memorable joke will always be Chris Evans doing a gender swapped parody of the whipped cream scene from Varsity Blues. Future Captain America everybody. The strongest part of Not Another Teen Movie are the unexpected cameos. Including Paul Gleason doing a humorous recreation of The Breakfast Club and “Teen Queen” Molly Ringwald calling out her own clichés in an airport. I can do without the gross out gags, but the rest of Not Another Teen Movie really understands ridiculous teen movies.

Not Another Teen Movie

Jake attempts to seduce Janey

Gangsta Bot

Chappie is director Neill Blomkamp’s obvious attempt to rekindle the success he had with District 9. Unlike Elysium, Chappie is once again based on a short film, set in Johannesburg, South Africa, and stars Sharlto Copley. All that wasn’t enough to keep Chappie from being a complete embarrassment. Now Blomkamp’s excessively cynical directing style (that I was already on the fence with) was clear to everyone else. I was interested in the robot story and thought it might have warranted a PG-13 rating, but Chappie is just as gratuitously R rated as Blomkamp’s other movies.

In another alternated future, robot scouts built by Tetravaal aid police during a crime wave. The only Hollywood actors are Hugh Jackman as the militarized engineer of a heavily weaponized robot, Sigourney Weaver as the company’s CEO, and Dev Patel as the programmer who achieves artificial intelligence. The CGI used on the robots is impressive, but I don’t think I could take them seriously with their friendly faces and bunny ears. Copley is hidden under the artificially intelligent robot affectionately named Chappie. His childlike development might have worked better with literally any other director.

Instead Blomkamp and Copley turn Chappie into a foul mouthed robot taught to be gangster by a band of South African criminals. They seriously turn Ninja and Yolandi of the hip hop group Die Antwoord into primary characters in the movie. Their acting isn’t awful, but their presence is more surreal than a gangsta robot covered in chains. I’m really not sure what the deeper theme was supposed to be other than maybe the effect of law enforcement on society. With no new projects made since 2015 and that Alien sequel failing to materialize, Chappie really feels like Blomkamp lost his spark for thought-provoking science fiction.

Chappie

Chappie packs heat

The Space Border

Elysium is way more on the nose than District 9. Its sociological themes mixed with sci-fi elements aren’t nearly as creative as they could’ve been. Elysium is way more Hollywood than District 9 and director Neill Blomkamp himself didn’t like the final product. Elysium is actually the first R rated movie my brother and I saw by ourselves in theaters. I’ve been regretting it ever since, because any problem I had with Blomkamp’s harsh directing style is much worse in Elysium. In the year 2154, humanity is divided between the wealthy elite and the impoverished.

Elysium is a space station floating above Earth where the wealthy have unlimited access to Med-Bays that cure all diseases. The rest of humanity lives on a desolate Earth policed by robots. The most desperate humans risk their lives just to cross the invisible border into Elysium. The immigration and health care themes are obvious, making the choice of lead actor even more confusing. Blomkamp wanted to go with unconventional “actors” like Eminem or Ninja (more on him later), but instead he went with Matt Damon. Another Hollywood presence is Jodie Foster putting on a truly terrible undefinable accent as one of the heads of Elysium.

The only Spanish presence is Alice Braga trying to bring her character’s sick daughter to Elysium. Damon’s character Max is given 5 days to live after being exposed to radiation on the job. So he’s implanted with an advanced exoskeleton in order to break into Elysium himself. The only trace of Blomkamp’s South African roots is Sharlto Copley as the villain Kruger. An overly sadistic agent who guards Elysium with the rest of his drones. The constant danger involving children was a big reason why I couldn’t get into the story. Elysium has impressive futuristic technology, but that’s not enough to win me over with its execution.

Elysium

Max locks and loads

No Humans Allowed

District 9 puts a science fiction spin on “illegal aliens.” Based on the short film Alive in Joburg, first time director Neill Blomkamp sought to make an alien invasion as realistic as possible. By using themes of xenophobia and segregation. Along with parallels to South African Apartheid. Although Peter Jackson produced District 9, his original intention was to make a Halo movie. When that didn’t work out, weapons were recycled and Blomkamp decided to expand on his short film instead. District 9 has a very unique portrayal of aliens landing on Earth.

Instead of America, Prawns land in Johannesburg with the sole intention of seeking refuge. So they receive it in the Prawn only slums of District 9. The cast of unknowns and documentary style is so convincing, you’d swear Prawns were real. Prawns are unsightly cockroach-like aliens that love cat food and speak in clicks that humans are somehow able to understand. Although humanity is meant to fear them, the Prawns are more sympathetic than any human in the movie. Blomkamp’s buddy Sharlto Copley plays MNU alien affairs agent Wikus. He’s mostly indifferent to the Prawn struggle, but all that changes when he’s exposed to alien goo.

Wikus has a very unexpected mutation that makes him the target of cannibalistic Nigerian gangs and rogue mercenaries in District 9. Wikus is still kind of a jerk, so I connected with Prawn scientist Christopher Johnson and his son a lot more. Christopher’s primary goal is to fly up to his spaceship and save his people, but he does promise to cure Wikus (in 3 years!). The Prawn weapons are impressive and lead to an explosive conclusion that I’m still waiting to see a sequel for. While District 9 was definitely worthy of a Best Picture nomination and underrated compared to other 2009 alien movie Avatar, the rough South African style can get really uncomfortable. Exactly what makes District 9 so effective.

District 9

Wilkus evicts a prawn

Girly Man

Just One of the Guys is Twelfth Night if it were set in the 80’s. Unlike the 2006 She’s the Man, Just One of the Guys doesn’t use any of William Shakespeare’s original names. I’m a fan of crossdressing comedies, but that wasn’t my reason for seeing a movie I probably would’ve never heard of. I heard it had one of the more famous PG-13 nude scenes. Just One of the Guys centers on high school student Terri. She’s an aspiring writer who disguises herself as a boy when her writing isn’t taken seriously enough to win a publishing job.

With the help of her overly sex-crazed brother, Joyce Hyser becomes a mostly convincing guy. The usual hijinks ensue. Guys pick on her, girls unknowingly flirt with her, awkward things happen in the boy’s locker room, and she falls for a guy while in her disguise. Leading to even more hijinks when her college boyfriend drops by unannounced. Eventually they sort of forget about the writing thing in favor of male bonding turned high school romance.

Things take a turn at the prom where Terri decides to reveal herself the only way she can. By opening her shirt for a few seconds. I’m actually surprised the movie didn’t get an R rating. There’s a lot of crude sex talk and a whole bedroom covered with naked woman. Everything else is standard teen movie fair. Complete with very over-the-top nerds and William Zabka as the bully. Apart from the fun crossdressing part, Just One of the Guys is just one of several similar 80’s teen movies.

Just One of the Guys

Terri (left) checks someone out

I’m Allergic to Cinnamon

The Game Plan opens the playbook of love. Fatherly love that is. Before his acting career really took off, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was starring in kid friendly family movies. The Game Plan was his first family comedy, but last movie to include his wrestling name. It was apparently the last Disney movie under the Buena Vista name as well. I didn’t watch The Game Plan when I was younger since I wasn’t a fan of football or the “Tough guy cares for child” trope. It’s cute, but not something I would’ve enjoyed when I was a kid.

Joe Kingsman is a player on the field and off. He’s an Elvis fan and star quarterback with a carefree bachelor lifestyle. The Rock does his best to maintain his charisma. He’s gonna need it when the scene stealing daughter he never knew winds up on his doorstep. Peyton is adorable, but Disney star Madison Pettis isn’t always convincing. Even by precocious kid standards. They get into the usual father-daughter antics.

She puts his bulldog in a tutu, bedazzles his stuff, and humorously gives him an allergic reaction to cinnamon. Joe teaches Peyton all about a football game plan, but there’s actually not much football in the movie. More time is spent on Joe learning ballet for his daughter. The Game Plan is a bit overly long and gets pretty serious near the end. If you’re fine with a predictable playoff, then The Game Plan may still be a game for the whole family. ❌⭕❌⭕

The Game Plan

Joe celebrates his big win with Peyton

spɹɐʍʞɔɐᗺ ƃuᴉʌoW

Tenet is the most excessively cerebral film Christopher Nolan has ever made. More than even Memento or Inception. While I was at least able to comprehend those films, I still don’t get Tenet. I closely examined the nearly 3 hour mind bending spy film and still found myself lost. Nolan worked on the script for nearly a decade and it shows. Since his films are always big screen spectacles, Nolan was determined to release Tenet in theaters no matter what. Even if that meant releasing it in the midst of the pandemic.

I didn’t go to the theater for Tenet, but I doubt that would’ve made me understand it better. Important dialogue is either hard to hear through loud (well orchestrated) music or difficult to understand through multiple accents. John David Washington is the protagonist named… The Protagonist. Neither his race, nor any part of his personal life is important since he’s a spy with a secret mission to stop World War III. The palindrome Tenet has one of two meanings. It refers to the spy organization and the inversion technology that they use.

The extremely complex inversion is a form of time travel that moves objects backwards as long as that person has already done what’s about to occur. At least the cast was as lost as I was. Nolan mainstay Michael Caine is joined by new well tailored celebrities including other Batman Robert Pattinson as the Protagonist’s handler. Along with the very tall Elizabeth Debicki as an art appraiser married to the abusive Russian oligarch intent on destroying the world. Since I could hardly follow any of that, I focused on the brilliant time manipulating set pieces. Inverted people are moving backwards, catching bullets, and breathing their own oxygen. It doesn’t always make sense, but Tenet is better as a visual experience anyway.

Tenet

The Protagonist drives with Niel

Battle of Your Dreams

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 finally put a steak through this endless vampire romance. Satisfying Twihards and giving general audiences a collective sigh of relief. Bill Condon is the only director to do more than one Twilight movie and Stephanie Meyer even received a producer credit for the finale. A finale that I knew I needed to see in theaters. I just knew it would be the main topic of conversation in high school. The Twilight Saga may have been loved by teenage girls everywhere, but Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner had to live with the consequences. Although Twilight was always a favorite at the MTV Movie Awards, it was also a Razzie darling. It wasn’t until Breaking Dawn – Part 2 that they finally won Worst Picture. Kind of like how Return of the King won the top spot for its franchise. At this point it was just fun to laugh at how ridiculous everything became. Part 2 picks up immediately after Bella becomes a vampire. The obvious point to divide the films. Her transformation is just as over-the-top as I expected with Stewart continuing to give her worst performance. Bella’s vampire power is shielding herself from other vampire powers. The reason Edward was never able to read her mind.

Since baby Renesmee is a fully aware half-vampire they had to use CGI. The most horrifically awkward CGI imaginable. Although they try really hard to justify him as a loving protector, Jacob imprinting on Renesmee is the thing that ends the forced love triangle. Still somehow creepier than a hundred year old vampire falling in love with a teenage girl. Although Bella being a vampire does mean they can be as intimate as they want. Jacob just makes it more difficult when he reveals his werewolf form to Charlie. Even more difficult when they have to hide Renesmee’s unusually rapid aging. But Charlie still has his daughter, granddaughter, and a happy ending with Harry Clearwater’s widow Sue. Mackenzie Foy plays the child version of Renesmee. She’s young, but just as poorly acted as her parents. It all seems perfect, but bitter vampire Irina brings Renesmee to the Volturi’s attention. Mistaking the half-vampire for an immortal child. In order to fight the accusation, the Cullens have to assemble an army of vampire witnesses from across the world. Narration really speeds through characters that are likely more complex in the book. There are so many mostly forgettable vampires from the already established Denali coven to places as far as Egypt, Ireland, England, and the Amazon. With powers ranging from electricity to mental projection. Future Oscar winner Rami Malek actually has the power to control the elements.

Jacob trains his own wolf pack, but still receives help from Sam’s pack. Rosalie cares for Renesmee and Emmett protects the family, but Alice and Jasper mysteriously leave in the middle of recruitment. Leaving clues that block out the mental intrusion of the Volturi. Bella secretly receives passports from J. Jenks in order to ensure Renesmee’s future. Aro, Jane, and the rest of the Volturi are met with a large assortment of vampires and werewolves as they arrive at a snowy field. Michael Sheen really hams it up with big bad Aro having a hilariously out of nowhere laugh. Renesmee uses her power to show Aro her memories of growing as a half-vampire. Irina is burned as punishment, but Alice and Jasper return before further bloodshed. Alice’s visions aren’t enough to prevent a full scale battle that had the entire theater erupting with shock. Since a physical battle was never in the book. SPOILER ALERT! Aro actually decapitates Carlisle, Alice is forced to watch Jasper die, Seth is killed as a wolf, and Leah dies saving Esme. It’s traumatizing, but at least Jane, Alec, and the rest of the Volturi are killed in the most satisfying way possible. Ending with Bella and Edward killing Aro before the unexpected twist that it was just Alice’s vision. I should be mad that none of it mattered, but I have to applaud the clever deception. A Native American half-vampire convinces the Volturi that there’s no threat. Ending with an optimistic future for Jacob, Renesmee, Edward, and Bella. “A Thousand Years” caps off the saga with a unique credits sequence that includes every actor in the series. Breaking Dawn – Part 2 will forever remain a guilty pleasure.

5. Breaking Dawn Part 2

Bella, Edward, and Jacob protect Renesmee

Preceded by: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1