And just like that, the last real quality YA adaptation franchise came to an end. Have fun with The 5th Wave and Divergent, plebes.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 2
Directed by: Francis Lawrence
Produced by: Nina Jacobson, Jon Kilik
Screenplay by: Peter Craig, Danny Strong
Based on: Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins
Genre: Science fiction, war drama
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Julianne Moore, Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson, Sam Claflin, Natalie Dormer, Mahershala Ali
Plot: The revolution is winding down, and the rebel forces have the forces of the Capitol on the retreat, despite President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and his puppeteering.. Being the rebellion’s equivalent of Che Guevara in terms of marketability, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is headed to the Capitol to assist in the invasion via propaganda and such. Part of a squad that includes her Love Triangle-buddies Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and the mentally fucked-over Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), and fellow victor Finnick Odair.
Katniss’s squad must navigate their way through the Capitol, which has been loaded with booby traps and genetically-modified monsters. In addition to dealing with that, Katniss must deal with the fact that Peeta is losing his mind, which, some would say, makes him an unlikely candidate for partaking in a super-important military operation, but what the fuck would I know?
Much of the discussion surrounding the last two Hunger Games movies has centered around the decision by Lionsgate, in the interest of sucking all the money they can out of this cash cow, to split the last book of the trilogy into two different movies. Following the same route that made sense for Harry Potter and made zero sense for The Hobbit, Mockingjay doesn’t flounder as much as the latter trilogy, but does suffer because of the split, ultimately. That’s a damn shame, because if the Powers That Be could have just made one slightly longer third movie, they could have afforded to cut out the fluff that really drags the two movies down. Instead of one long great movie, we got two good movies of moderate length.
The first two Hunger Games movies were both action thrillers with some elements of political drama (And, y’know, child murder). Meanwhile, the first Mockingjay movie was a political drama with some action elements. With some exceptions in the last example, all these elements were pretty well-incorporated, aside from some love triangle bullshit that makes me want to slit my wrists. The action scenes were all great, and most of the dramatic stuff was potent and hard-hitting.
In Mockingjay-Part 2, the action segments are extremely exciting and tense. More specifically, there’s a scene in the sewers that was really goddamned excellent (Even if it did ape Aliens a fair bit). Where the movie starts falling apart a bit is, not-so coincidentally, is during the dramatic scenes, some of which I would’ve taken a hatchet to had this been paired as one movie with Part 1, which, y’know, it should’ve been. There’s a scene at the building involving some Loyalist refugees (Why anybody would want to side with the Capitol knowing what we see about them is beyond me) that serves almost no purpose whatsoever and was clearly just there to pad the runtime when the filmmakers realized that splitting the movie in half was kind of a shitty artistic choice. There’s a point during the ending where the movie should have finished, and it would have been an awesome ending. Instead, what could’ve been a really dark, ambiguous ending culminated in, well, not to spoil anything, but it’s a really stupid scene. I know the ending is still ambiguous in many ways, and that’s good, but that really doesn’t make the scene any less atrocious. If they had ended the movie with the scene before it, it would’ve been a terrific ending, but that last scene physically hurts me.
In addition, I am so fucking done with the Peeta-Katniss-Gale love triangle. This “Will they/Won’t they” bullshit has always been one of the weaker aspects of the series, and it’s at it’s most tedious here, featuring in what feels like a motherfucking quarter of every scene in the movie. At the midway point in the movie, I would’ve been perfectly happy with either one of the male characters (Both of whom I like, by the way) finding themselves incinerated by napalm fire.
The other major problem I have with Mockingjay-Part 2 is some shaky characterization and use of characters in general. Not to say they’re portrayed poorly, the performances have always been a stronger suit of the series. Jennifer Lawrence is great as always, Hemsworth, Hutcherson, Moore et al. are all solid, and Donald Sutherland is delightfully evil, as always.
What I mean is that some of the characters, specifically Gale and President Coin, have moments that seem really out of character considering their actions in the other movies. Others, being casualties of the aforementioned split, get little to no screentime. Elizabeth Banks, Jena Malone, the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman (In his final film role) and Woody Harrelson make very few appearances. If your movie is structured in such a way that Woody Fucking Harrelson and Philip Goddamn Seymour Fucking Hoffman don’t get their fair share of screen time, that’s a crime against humanity.
Overall: While the decision to split the last book into two is still a blatant money-grab and ultimately works against this movie, it’s still very good, being tense and exciting, providing a satisfying conclusion to the Hunger Games saga.