Well folks, it’s finally over. The franchise that launced Jennifer Lawrence into super stardom and started a whole trend of dystopian young adult film adaptations finally comes to a close with Mockingjay Part 2. This film proves to be even more underwhelming than Part 1, but at least it’s the last one.
Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is even more desperate to enact revenge against President Snow (Donald Sutherland) after she encounters the changed Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). However, President Coin (Julianne Moore) is hesitant to put her in the front lines of the battle for the Capitol, believing her to be more useful for propagandistic reasons rather than military ones. She goes from trailing the main action to fighting her way through it on her way to assassinate President Snow. Once she reaches the presidential mansion, the stakes seem to have changed once again.
The one good thing to be said about this film is that it does deliver on the premise of Part 1. While that film felt bereft of action, this one has a more than enough. Unfortunately, that doesn’t necessarily make the film more interesting. This film doesn’t feel like much more than a tiresome trade off between action scenes and “rousing” speeches. The action is okay and the speeches are all things we’ve heard before, no matter how passionate they may be delivered. It’s a very long slog until Katniss finally makes it to Snow.
Once that finally does happen things get slightly more interesting as we realize that even though the districts have taken the Capitol, the war is not necessarily over. Obviously I can’t say too much about it, but at least we get to see Katniss interact with the grand scheme of things again. Because this movie is so much more about the rebellion itself, we don’t get much in the way of what was the most interesting thing about The Hunger Games in the first place, and that’s the idea that this society is built upon the enjoyment of others’ suffering broadcasted on television. There’s a bit of that in the Capitol’s broadcast of the fighting, but not much. Not that we return to it in the end, but we do have to watch Katniss make some tough decisions.
It mostly comes down to the decision to break the the books up into two movies, but had that not happened I still think Catching Fire found the balance between all of the elements the series is dealing with. The first one was a bit too isolated and just focused on Katniss’s survival, but it was appropriate as an introduction to the series. Catching Fire continued in the vein of the first film but broadened its scope to have you feel the bigger picture. Mockingjay went to the logical conclusion, but of course by the time it gets there it seems pretty foregone, as if the franchise has run out of things to say and is just running on autopilot.
The last complaint I have is more personal. Remember when blockbuster franchises were fun? The Hunger Games has always been dark, but at least in previous films we had a bit of comic relief. This one is so unrelentingly gloomy that it makes me wonder how any of these characters are carrying on fighting. Before you at least got some comic relief from Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) or Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci), but I guess there isn’t any room for it anymore. I get that all the characters are really traumatized and everything, but I’d say you have a problem if the evil dictator gets the only funny line in the picture.
The Hunger Games’ latest installment comes up more than a bit short. It doesn’t really engage much with its most compelling ideas anymore and doesn’t provide really any fun at all, so you’re not really left with much of anything. But at least it’s over!
“We’re very familiar with each other’s screams.”
Long story short: 2/4 stars
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