The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
The final chapter comes to a close on Katniss, and rarely has anything more anti-climatic been viewed in theaters. The surprisingly captivating abilities of the first two movies are utterly abandoned here, and while that would be bad enough, the result is that the film comes to a close with a ridiculous rush toward something that it feels it would rather avoid.
Jumping in after the sudden end of Part 1, which gave us a Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) who was turned into a weapon to kill Katniss, it’s time to sew up all the districts, and launch an attack on Snow. Katniss isn’t fond of the extent to which Coin, and Gale (Liam Hemsworth) are willing to make virtually any move to win, but she’s determined to kill Snow, even if it means doing it on her own. In line with the book (this movie is basically the last third), Katniss will succeed and fail to outmaneuver Coin and/or continue her plan to go it alone numerous times.
While much of the action works at least as well as it did in the first three efforts, this one has nothing to tie it together, or keep you invested. Faced with the nearly insurmountable difficulty of filming a book that is largely filled with conversation and internal struggle, Mockingjay opts to simply avoid trying to do it at all. It’s hard to argue that Part 2 has a story at all, which is perhaps partially excusable, depending on your theory of “to be continued” filmcraft, but it takes the drive out of the overall effort. That makes it boring, no matter what black slime is after you, and that’s a problem this genre can’t afford to create for itself.
After all the highs and lows of the first two films, which pulled as much emotion out of the books as audiences could hope for, the culmination of events, which manages a legitimate point in the books, and is legitimately surprising, is slopped together in this film as though no one involved understood why Katniss’ final act worked as a statement. Not a statement to the residents of Panem, but to the reader. Again, Mockingjay (as one film, or two) has an uphill battle if it wants to relay the intricacies of Coin that develop her character in just the right way, and since Part 1 didn’t really devote any time to it, Part 2 has all the more work, but it shrugs it off completely.
Instead of developing a realistic character with something that at least resembles a point of view someone might get behind (as Gale does), Part 2 decides it wants to make her evil in the five minutes it’s willing to allot her, so she twirls her mustache, and we move on. Katniss’ final act then becomes something that isn’t an actual decision, a YA statement on politics and government at large, but a foregone conclusion. When Part 2 comes to a close, the film is as bored with what it needs to wrap up as the audience, and it’s a rare and disconcerting effort that delivers its world-altering climax without mustering more enthusiasm than, “and then whatever.”
The film still has its moments, though one wonders if many of them were not filmed prior to the decision to split this into two films (especially as some of the best involve Philip Seymour Hoffman), and that’s part of what makes the failure here so surprising. We have largely the same cast and crew, and they knew what they were doing at one point. This time, Jennifer Lawrence is largely wasted, unfortunately, because she isn’t given the chance to do much beyond putting on a sour face, and raging at political viewpoints made ludicrous.
It’s hard to bring down a behemoth like this franchise, and Part 2 has enough of the characters we’ve grown to love to keep things moving just enough, but it adds another level of disappointment to the viewing when it forces you to realize that in the future you’re likely only to revisit the first two.
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WritingPeter Craig, Danny Strong
CastJennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth
SynopsisThe blockbuster Hunger Games franchise has taken audiences by storm around the world, grossing more than $2.2 billion at the global box office. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 now brings the franchise to its powerful final chapter in which Katniss Everdeen [Jennifer Lawrence] realizes the stakes are no longer just for survival – they are for the future. With the nation of Panem in a full scale war, Katniss confronts President Snow [Donald Sutherland] in the final showdown. Teamed with a group of her closest friends – including Gale [Liam Hemsworth], Finnick [Sam Claflin] and Peeta [Josh Hutcherson] – Katniss goes off on a mission with the unit from District 13 as they risk their lives to liberate the citizens of Panem, and 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 faced in The Hunger Games.