3 Best Movies of the Weekend: ‘The Hunger Games…’ and More

There are plenty of notable new films set to hit the big screen this week. Can’t decide which option to buy tickets for first? Here are our staff’s picks for the top three flicks to check out in theaters this weekend.

1. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2

It seems like just yesterday that the first Hunger Games movie debuted in theaters, slingshotting Jennifer Lawrence into blockbuster superstardom. Three years later, and the saga is finally at an end. Lionsgate, having opted to split the final book into two movies, will have to find a new cash-cow franchise to capitalize on in the wake of this. Rumors have floated around that a prequel series may be in the works, but at least for now, Mockingjay — Part 2 is the last we’ll see of the Hunger Games universe.

In terms of critical reception, this installment ranks somewhere decidedly in the middle for the franchise. Its 72% Rotten Tomatoes score puts it just above Mockingjay Part 1‘s 65%, and just below the 84% and 89% scores for the debut Hunger Games film and Catching Fire respectively. General consensus seems to agree that it’s a fitting conclusion for the series, and fans of the books (and subsequent films) will likely find themselves satisfied when it’s all said and done. Mockingjay Part 2 will have almost a full month to rake in money before the new Star Wars debuts, so nows the time to see it before The Force Awakens takes over every major screen in the universe.

2. The Night Before 

Seth Rogen has pretty much made a career off his free-wheeling writing and performing style, proved to a tee by offerings like Superbad, The Interview, and This is the End. For his latest project, we have The Night Before, a movie that’s being described as Superbad with adults on drugs rather than drunk teens. It arrives just in time for the Christmas season, bringing us Rogen’s usual brand of “dear Lord is that actually happening” comedy.

Rotten Tomatoes pegs The Night Before at a solid 67%, with The Los Angeles Times calling it “a raucous and refreshing new take on the Christmas movie.” It’s set to be a season surprisingly short on holiday-themed movies (you can thank Star Wars for that), making this the best option to get some Christmas cheer in the midst of all the other blockbuster offerings. Also starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie, it’s everything we’ve come to expect and love from Rogen’s crew of talented writers, comedians, and performers.

3. Legend

Tom Hardy has been circling around A-list stardom for awhile now, taking on strong action roles in films like Mad Max: Fury Road, The Dark Knight Rises, and Inception. This fall is shaping up to be Hardy’s coming out party as a full-fledged Hollywood elite. Legend is the first step on that road for the British actor, as he takes on double-duty playing the infamous Kray twins.

For the uninitiated, the Krays pretty much ruled over East London as crime lords in the 1950s and ’60s. They were responsible for all manner of death, robbery, arson, racketeering, and a whole laundry list of other misdoings. Hardy boldly takes on the role of both Krays for Legend, playing Ronnie, an unstable schizophrenic, and Reggie, the smooth, suave mind behind the operation. While Rotten Tomatoes has it just below the “fresh” threshold at 59%, most critics seem to agree that Tom Hardy is enough of a reason by himself to see this movie.

Follow Nick on Twitter @NickNorthwest

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