Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

Year: 2015
Director: Francis Lawrence
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone

Plot: Katniss Everdeen's final confrontation with President Snow is preceded by battles, traps, more deaths and the demise of a love triangle.

Review: After 3 years we are finally given the opportunity to say goodbye to The Hunger Games, which had its moments, but felt like it was drawn out too long to make its point, and even then, it ends weakly.

So the final film's plot goes as follows: Katniss is more determined than ever to end President Snow's control over Panem, but doesn't care much about District 13 President Alma Coin's initiative to rally all the districts together to take the Capitol. So she attempts to make it to the Capitol on her own, and soon gets a small team of escorts made up of familiar faces, and Peeta Mellark, who almost crushed her larynx the last time we saw him. But the many traps set in place by Snow will test this small group of rebels greatly, and there are deaths to be had.

For the first two thirds of this final instalment, I was sort of digging what director Francis Lawrence was going for. There's some solid buildup and an intense second act where Katniss and company take on the many obstacles in their path, the best of which is a sewer fight against creatures that seem inspired by the vampires in Paul Bettany's Priest. At the same time the group has to be wary of Peeta, who is still psychologically damaged from Snow's brainwashing, and could turn against them at any second.

And then the film takes a twist in the third act, and I must say, if this is what happened in the books, it must have worked better on paper. This turn of events pretty much killed whatever momentum that came before it, not just this film but the other instalments as well. Just think about it; the story was always about Katniss building up towards facing the one enemy that tormented her all this time, and not only did they take the wind out of that face-off, they killed a key supporting character to do it. To make matters worse, they used it to end the much ballyhooed love triangle between Katniss, Peeta and Gale. Overly convenient for my liking.

The best thing about Mockingjay Part 2 though, is Jennifer Lawrence, who is in almost every scene. She pretty much carries the entire film on her shoulders, even at its worst moments. Josh Hutcherson comes a close second as Peeta, while Liam Hemsworth is still terribly bland as Gale. The other supporting characters don't get much time to shine, except Donald Sutherland as Snow, still stealing every scene he's in. Sam Claflin does alright as Finnick, but I saw his fate coming a mile away. Jena Malone returns as Johanna for a couple of scenes with Lawrence, but doesn't get much else to do otherwise, which is a damn shame. And how much did they pay Gwendoline Christie and Robert Knepper for their five minutes of screen time? A terrible waste of two talents here.

As the film sputters towards a pretty weak ending, I had to ask: are there only three people left from District 12? It just seems so strange that there are a handful of questions still left unanswered, and how certain characters' fates and reactions seem muted.

After all this I can finally be happy to close the book on The Hunger Games, and turn my attention to other potentially better YA adaptations, like The Maze Runner for instance. Watch this just for closure, and nothing else. (6/10)     

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