Published on November 18th, 2015 | by Daniel Anderson0
MOVIE REVIEW The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2
The saga comes to an end with the final chapter of The Hunger Games.
Back in 2008, Suzanne Collins released the first of a trilogy of books called The Hunger Games. The story was about a teenager called Katniss Everdeen who volunteered herself for the titular games to save her sister from a terrible fate. And then everything else kicked off.
The simple start of the story has been all but forgotten by now, especially in the big screen version which has been marketing itself as an epic cinematic event for several months now. Mockingjay Part 2 is finally here, so how does it all end?
With a bit of a whimper, sadly.
I enjoyed Collins books as stories with a bit more bite than most tween fare and the films to date have been mostly interesting – especially the action packed Catching Fire. Mockingjay Part 1 was smaller and quieter affair, with some interesting things to say about propaganda and oppression. Part 2 is a bit of a damp squib.
The main issue is that it’s all extremely bleak and dour. No one is having a good time here, and that includes the audience. I know we’re heading for a major battle and it’s likely things are going to get more than a little harrowing, but let’s not forget you’re also supposed to be making a piece of entertainment for a mainstream audience.
That tone wouldn’t be such a big problem if anything was happening. Part 2 suffers from the fact that it’s a second part – the set-up has already happened and everyone’s waiting for the payoff but director Francis Lawrence makes us wait a good hour before we even get into second gear.
The progess through the Capitol which is all over the trailers actually unfolds in a way which is decidedly lacking in drama and even when important characters start to expire it happens in the blink of an eye. There’s no gravitas, no sense of loss. Maybe this was a purposeful attempt to show the horror of war but it’s lacking the kind of payoff you expect after watching these characters for years.
That’s a problem with the film overall, it doesn’t really have much of an ending. Though it follows closely to the book the original low key finale feels like a real let down on the big screen. At the same time, Lawrence and his screenwriters (including Buffy alum Danny Strong) shy away from the truly dark elements of Collins final chapters, leaving little else to really grab hold of as the credits roll.
It’s not a total disaster. Lawrence can mount a decent action scene when he’s given the chance, and goes full on horror for a subterranean encounter with creatures which wouldn’t have been out of place in his 2007 flick I Am Legend. The effects are also impressive, and the world of Panem is vividly realised on screen.
Jennifer Lawrence gives her most robust performance yet as Katniss, with the character finally having some momentum of her own. And there are plenty of solid performers around her including Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Josh Hutcherson and Donald Sutherland. Unfortunately they all get criminally sidelined by the plot, with long stretches ignoring the presence of major characters like Haymitch, Effie and more.
This lack of attention feels all the more strange given the decision to split the final story into two halves. A savvy writing and editing team could easily have included all the major events into one jam packed film, which would have been a much better send off for the series than this poorly paced and oddly unexciting finale.
Summary: Poor pacing mars the final part in the Hunger Games series, with Mockingjay Part 2 feeling like its one movie too far for the franchise.