Tag Archives: part 2

‘Hunger Games’ Ends on a Whimper

Mockingjay_Part_2_PosterThey say all good things must end. In the case of the “Hunger Games” franchise, the mediocre must finish, as well.

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2” (gosh, that is a pain to type) is the fourth and final film in the “Hunger Games” franchise (until they decide to give it a prequel/sequel/reboot, because, money). It again stars Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, the reluctant face of a revolution. She must lead the remaining rebels on one final assault against the corrupt Capital, led by President Snow (Donald Sutherland). The film also stars Julianne Moore, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth and Philip Seymour Hoffman (in his final role) and Francis Lawrence directs.

Unlike a lot of people, I actually enjoyed “Mockingjay – Part 1.” I thought all the behind-the-scenes political and propaganda of a revolution was very interesting, and thought it was building up to something great. I was wrong, though…

The biggest problem with “Mockingjay – Part 2” is that it really feels like an unnecessary movie. Hollywood has this notion that the final book of a series needs to be broken up into two movies, but in reality it does nothing but add a few extra hundred million dollars into their pockets. Harry Potter was able to get away with it because everyone loved that series, but Part 1 was arguably the worst film of the franchise. I only saw Part 2 of Twilight’s finales, but I really doubt those are books with enough content to break into multiple films. And of course The Hobbit was a 300 page book broken into three overlong films that really no one wanted, but each made over $900 million, so Hollywood is just laughing at us. But I’m getting off track.

Much of “Mockingjay – Part 2” feels like forced dialogue or action for the sake of action, both to try and justify a second film (it clocks in at an inexcusable 137 minutes). Some of the fight sequences are appreciated and well-done; there are tiny nuggets throughout the film that are what have made the “Hunger Games” series fun, or what we have been promised. But all too often the film is just walking around and repeating plot points, like how they don’t know if they can trust Peeta because he is still brainwashed by the Capital. That is a topic of conversation about seven times.

Lawrence is again the star of the show, but Katniss is again a borderline unlikable heroine that you really don’t care about her besides the fact she’s Jennifer Lawrence. Woody Harrelson and Philip Seymour Hoffman (RIP) give two short but nuanced performances, and some of the revolution storylines are interesting.

It really is hard (and in a way, pointless) to review a film like this because you likely won’t see it if you haven’t seen the other ones in the series, and if you have seen those films then you already know if you’re going to see it or not. So if you were planning on seeing “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2” then you should know there is a lot of sitting around, then a lot of running, and almost none of it is interesting. By the time (I thought) the film was wrapping up it really drags on, and well outwears any welcome the previous films had bought it.

It is a disappointing ending to a decent franchise, and I seeing as its Thanksgiving week, let’s just say I’m thankful I won’t have to endure any more of this overstretched series next November.

Critics Rating: 4/10



‘Mockingjay – Part 1’ Best Hunger Games Yet

MockingjayPart1Poster3They say the third time’s the charm. While that is usually not the case with movie franchises (give me one third film that eclipsed the first two which is not named “Return of the King”), the saying does ring true with “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1”, which is the best film in the series.

Picking up right where “Catching Fire” left off, Katniss (fan-favorite Jennifer Lawrence) is now in District 13 and has become the symbol of the rebellion against the Capitol, led by the love-to-hate-him President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Liam Hemsworth and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman return as Julianne Moore joins the cast. Francis Lawrence returns in the director’s chair.

The first two Hunger Games films both served their purpose, but I never felt any real connection to the characters, even Katniss. I’ve honestly always found her extremely unlikable and hard to root for, a claim she herself has pointed out on numerous occasions so it isn’t exactly like I’m grasping at straws. However “Mockingjay – Part 1” replaces the PG-13 shakycam action with well-acted scenes involving propaganda and the sparks of a revolution and that is why it is the best entry in the Hunger Games series to date.

The direction in the film is what makes it so good; without director Francis Lawrence, the film would not work. He utilizes fantastic production value and impressive CGI to immerse us in a world that is dark, both in tone and visuals. Whether it is the remains of a bombed district or a secret underground bunker, he knows exactly how and where to place the camera to get the most from every shot. There is also one incredibly impressively executed raid scene inside the Capitol that is as entertaining as it is nerve-wrecking.

Hoffman yet again shows why he was truly a rare talent, and we lost one of the all-time greats. Playing a master of political propaganda, Hoffman has some moments of humor and makes a few fantastic points about society, and he plays well off of the stubborn Katniss. Woody Harrelson once again is the comic relief, and at times stands as the voice of reason for the audience. Southerland is the best he’s been so far as the sinister Snow, and one monologue gave me chills just by the pure evil in his eyes.

Now “Mockingjay – Part 1” isn’t for everyone. There are no kids-killing-kids this time around, and Katniss only shoots her trademark bow and arrow once. It is certainly the slowly burning wick at the start of the exploding powder keg, so there is lots of talking and almost no action. But what that does is make the action scenes that do take place hold even more purpose and weight, and make you even more excited for the epic finale that awaits.

If you open a history book, the American and French Revolutions are some of the most interesting and exciting time periods you can read about. This holds true for “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1”, as it is tense, emotional and leading to something grand. Does it warrant the final book being broken up into two separate movies? Probably not, but time will tell. Who woulda thunk that the best film in the Hunger Games franchise would be the one that doesn’t even feature the Hunger Games at all?

Critics Rating: 7/10