Saturday, November 21, 2015

Movie Review: “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2”

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

*** out of 5
137 minutes
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and for some thematic material

Article first published at The Reel Place.

Long story short, it took four films — culminating with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 for me to realize this film series, simply isn’t meant for me. I wasn’t a huge fan of the first film after having read and thoroughly enjoyed Suzanne Collins’ young adult novel. But director Gary Ross’s sluggishly paced big screen adaptation just left something unfulfilled.

After a change in director, to Francis Lawrence, Catching Fire proved that the series could live up to both fans and the average moviegoer. So far, it’s the best film in the series, period.

After a disastrous of an end in Mockingjay – Part 1, how does Part 2 stack up? Well, as a series finale it mangles any chance of redemption with what has to be the most anticlimactic capper seen in awhile. I can’t imagine watching both films back-to-back. Nothing happens in such a long runtime.
Judging by my wife’s reaction to me feeling underwhelmed, the fans will eat it up. And that’s all that really matters, right? Is it even really worth spending time on a full review that’s as critic proof as this? The only other film this year that might be even harder to justify reviewing — whether it’s fantastic or not — would be Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Resistance is futile with a rabid fan base that couldn’t care less whether or not Jennifer Lawrence gives a surprisingly weak performance, or that Donald Sutherland is almost unintentionally hilarious. And there’s the action. The film plays out like a video game: get the characters from point A to point B and then they sit in darkness, waiting to move on to the next plot point. Peter Craig and Danny Strong’s screenplay suffers from extreme bouts of being episodic. Even if you haven’t read the book, or know anything about foreshadowing, you will see the film’s twists coming from a mile away.

I’m not trying to rake the film over the coals, it just could have been so much more. Had Part 1 and Part 2 been whittled down to even just a three hour runtime, this really could have been a fantastic finale. But as it stands, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 sends the series out not with the bang, but with a whimper.

Maybe there’s hope for the announced spinoffs, because there is a world of interesting ideas Collins has set into motion with her books and films. They need to be fully tapped. Maybe with some creative license, Lionsgate can keep the franchise going — even if mostly in name — and they can find someone to deliver another entry that lives up to the greatness of Catching Fire. Until then, all I could think walking out out of this was, “They made us wait a whole year for that?!”

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