TL;DR – At this point I think we are clearly one film too many in this series, so we do we get for our wait?, a kind of meh ending and a poor film
Score – 2 out of 5 stars
So here we have the conclusion of the four movies series and more specifically part two of the adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ Mockingjay. So I should start out with the proviso that while I have seen all the films, I have not read the books, so I can’t tell you how good of an adaption of the book the film is, though I am reliably informed that Part One was much better without the constant inner monologue droning on. So I should say, because I know I am not one of the target audience for these films, that I genially enjoyed Hunger Games and Catching Fire, and while I didn’t enjoy Part One as much as the others, I saw it as an interesting set up for the finale. But honestly, Part Two just annoyed me from start to finish.
Now before I go on, I should mention that there are some good things about this film, because there are some good things here, and the rest of the review is not going to be positive. The set design is amazing, and it was a good idea to film in and around Berlin and Paris to give some great backdrops for The Capital without having to resort to CGI blandness. Also, the actors are clearly trying their best and I think that really helps to make this film bearable, as well as this, some (though by far not all) of the emotion moments do hit home. Special shout out to Mahershala Ali (Boggs) & Michelle Forbes (Jackson) for trying to give some grounding to the proceedings. However, none of this makes up for the rest of the pain.
When people critique this film I’ll bet that they will say the big problem was deciding to chop the films up into two parts, and yes that is a big flaw, but it is also not the whole issue. The whole issue is not that they decided to chop the book in two, it is how they decided to do it, and with the 2nd film especially, they did it poorly. The two really big problems with this film are pacing and lazy writing (ok maybe not last, but at least easy). These twin problems permeate the film and in the movie session I was in, I was not the only one to notice it.
There was always going to be an issue with pacing in this film because as I said they cut the book in two, but it could have been overcome, unfortunately, it was not. Part Two is an interesting film in some respects because I came out of it thinking on one hand that it dragged on too long and on the other, that things happened so fast I could not keep track of them. The non-action bits drag on forever, like we are four films in, do we really need to sit here and rehash your love triangle in intricate detail again for the 4th time, in this film alone, like we got it, one’s the hunk and the other is the emotional guy and by the end of the film you are going to be picking one of them, can we move on please. Then on the flip side when we do get into the action bits scattered throughout the film, they are edited so they cut so quickly, that half the time I have no idea who just died and why should I care until a couple of minutes later when I am like oh yeah that guy/girl isn’t here anymore, oh it must have been them. Of course, also we have to sit through like three different ending, The Return of the King can pull that off, and Mockingjay Part Two cannot.
While the pacing is a real drag on the film, another key issue that may be even more problematic is the story, now as I said I have not read the books so I don’t know how much of this issue comes from the source material and how much comes from the adaptation. Now I should just say that I will be talking about the story so while I will try to do it in a way that if you have seen the film you should know what I am talking about, if you haven’t it should not be spoilery, but you know spoiler effect might be in play and you may want to skip this paragraph, you have been warned. Now the big problem with the script is that it is just annoying. On one hand we have every Young Adult love triangle cliché under the sun, on the other hand we have the film implementing The Fantastic Four School of lazy foreshadowing and it is just painfully contrived in places, I think the third time Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) wakes up in a hospital bed there was audible groans amongst the audience I was watching it with. Whole sections of this film just make no logical sense, like whole scenes where you are going ‘why would they do that’. As well as this you are just wasting so much talent in this film, you have Gwendoline ‘Brienne of Tarth’ Christie and you only have her there for two minutes to grumble a couple of lines, come on. They just smack things on the screen and expect you to go with it, like the mutts (mutants) that attack them in the tunnels, like everyone acts like oh yes of course, but there is no reference to them before. Most of the emotion beats of the film just fall flat, for example, there is one at the end, which has Jennifer Lawrence acting her heart out, yet they edited the scene in such a way that just had people laughing throughout it. And the ending well, meh.
Look as I said I am not the target audience for this film, but that does not mean it just gets a pass from critique. I did really want to like this film, and I have liked some of them in the past, it just didn’t work. Also what is the deal with the rest of the world, like does it exist? are the districts the only place with humans left, I don’t know why this annoys me but it does. Honestly I would like to see what someone can do to edit these films into a single interesting narrative (like some people have done for the Star Wars Prequels, oh JJ Abrams, please don’t mess this up like you did with Star Trek) because I think there is a good film in there, it just was not the one I saw.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Directed by – Francis Lawrence
Screenplay by – Peter Craig & Danny Strong
Based on – ‘Hunger Games: Mockingjay’ by Suzanne Collins
Starring – Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Sam Claflin, Willow Shields, Mahershala Ali, Natalie Dormer, Michelle Forbes & Donald Sutherland
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: PG; Ireland: 12A; NZ: M; UK: 12A; USA: PG-13