Friday, December 4, 2015

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 Review

"I have a feeling that the reception for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is going to change drastically once the final film is released, when it becomes apparent that the somewhat methodical pace of the first act was actually a perfect lead in to the chaos and tragedy that rears its ugly head during part two."

Forgive me, I know it's probably lame, but I quoted myself to start a review. After I got back from seeing The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, the first thing I did was pull up my thoughts on the previous film and read them again. It was this section above that made me laugh a bit and shake my head, because my gut feeling a year ago was technically correct but for different reasons entirely. 

I really enjoyed the first part of Mockingjay and I appreciate it even more now because it pulled off a feat I didn't dream was possible: it took the slow first half of its source material and managed to make it more interesting and exciting than the action packed second half.

To be clear, I liked the final film. I did. I thought it was reasonably good with a lot of positive qualities, like strong-ish performances from segments of the cast and incredibly entertaining sequences that thrilled and unnerved, like a sewer system assault that felt inspired by Aliens. No, it isn't nearly as good as anything in the Cameron classic, but at least director Francis Lawrence had a wonderful handle on allowing tension to build and the claustrophobic setting to sink its teeth into the audience before blasting our asses with chaos.

A bit of a bummer though that the final chapter of a story that seemed destined for an epic conclusion ended up being the worst film of the four. 

How the hell did a film based on half a 400 page novel, not to mention the fact that it is the action packed second half that wraps up the entire saga, end up being kinda boring? It was the one word I never expected to associate with this movie. In fact, I was a tad concerned going in that the decision to split the two pictures would result in a part 2 that was so frenetic and exhausting that it would lack a compelling narrative. There is so much fat that could have been trimmed off the bones here, character introductions that are meaningless and irrelevant and dumb dialogue about the love triangle that unfortunately takes center stage on a few occasions, putting the far more interesting political propaganda and war drama elements on the back burner. Peeta or Gale? Who gives a shit? Give me the media manipulation and political posturing of both Presidents over the romance angle any day.

I was also a tad disturbed by the completely unappealing aesthetic featured throughout every damn frame of this film. I understand and appreciate that a story based on war is meant to feel gritty and dark and cold, as well it should, but couldn't they fit one scene in with a crisp and refreshing appearance. Even when the Capitol is featured before the rebels had arrived for combat, a scene that should feel lavish and pop with color still feels burdened by a sense of grey bleakness, which I guess reflects the mood of the entire film but it could have used a less morose moment or two visually. 

What's weird is that almost this entire review is me taking a shit on a film that I honestly thought was good. The problem is, the stakes were raised with the release of the absolutely great sequel The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, so the closing chapter being merely "good" is a letdown. If the next movie from the Divergent series were as well made as Mockingjay Part 2, I would be over the moon. My score would be the same but the tone of my words would be completely different. The Hunger Games proved they are capable of being better than this. 

Oh, one last gripe: they screwed up the ending. When I finished the books I said, I really hope they don't include the extra ending. We don't need the visual verification of what the future holds. Not everything needs to be wrapped up with a pretty little bow. 

My wife said they would include the extra scene. She was right. 



*This is the last film of the career of Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of the most brilliantly gifted actors of a generation taken far too young. He passed away nearly two years ago already but he didn't really feel gone until now, knowing he will never again steal a scene on the screen. We will always have Scotty J., Brandt, Allen, Phil, Lester Bangs, Truman Capote, and Lancaster Dodd. Rest in peace.


  1. Again, a very accurate review, I enjoyed reading it. I totally, totally agree... While I remember leaving the cinema after Part 1 LONGING to see the second, this one did nothing to me. It was a good movie, and that is as far as it goes, really. The whole finishing story, after the president gets shot, was just a quick and easy way out. Like they've made their money now and there was no need for any extra effort, because there would be no more films. And that extra ending... Oh, puh-lease. I knew they would, and I knew I wouldn't like it. It ruined the book for me and it ruined the movie.

    1. Yep, we see eye to eye Monika. I didn't hate this film, but it was sort of a bummer.

      Haha glad I'm not alone on the ending. I rolled my eyes when it happened because I knew they would use it, but I didn't want them to.