Cinematic Releases: The Hunger Games - Mockingjay Part 2

The Hunger Games saga comes to a poorly paced conclusion this weekend. 

"I hope this thing takes us to where
this movie is as good as the last.
Nope. Didn't work."
After several years, The Hunger Games comes to a close with a confused, lackluster entry that may tarnish the good name of this young adult movie franchise. Centered on the dystopian adventures of Katniss Everdeen and a band of rebels, Mockingjay Part 2 is a far cry from the quality of the past three entries. With stilted dialogue, bad timing, a droning conclusion, and scenes borrowed heavily from numerous other movies, this finale is way too long and way too impressed with itself. Taking into account how good the last three movies were, with Mockingjay Part 1 being the best of the entire series, Part 2 lacks a heavy presence of action, skims over important plot points, and never really takes off. Once it actually does start moving, it becomes a thematic mess that loses focus on story while trading a succinct conclusion for the longest series of endings we've seen since Return of the King. Peaking at a lengthy two and a half hours, Mockingjay Part 2 wastes not a minute, picking right up where Part 1 left off but falters in its ultimate delivery. 

Throughout the movie we see familiar faces such as Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore, Elizabeth Banks, Jeffrey Wright, Natalie Dormer, and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. Rumors that the remains of Hoffman's scenes were to be CGI'd were not followed through on. Following his overdose, he had two remaining scenes and instead of butchering his physicality and talent, director Francis Lawrence decided to divide his lines between the other cast members. Lawrence stated she was very happy with the decision, “He was one of the greatest actors, I think, of all time and I just think to try to fake a Philip Seymour Hoffman's performance would have been catastrophic and I would never want to do that, I just think this was the best way to be able to get around such a horrible thing”. Sadly for Hoffman, the scenes which were added in posthumously are quite evident and don't add anything to the already strange flow of the film. 

"I'm just gonna sit here and snack
on my Peeta bread."

In this final entry, Katniss is joined by her team to assassinate President Snow, and end the war between the Districts for good. With the help of her friends and protectors, she makes her way to the heart of the capital and has her skills and mentality put the test. One of the reasons the series has triumphed is because it means so much to people in so many different ways. It's about war and peace, love and bullets, friendship and lies. It's about one girl shoved into a role to fight for her family and city. Collins, who wrote the books, says she took her cues from reality television, the Iraq war, Roman gladiator games and the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, and then filtered her influences through a heroine who embodies the adage that it’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees. Katniss was great on paper and carried right over to screen where powerful female characters can get put on the sidelines. Despite the continued powerful presence of her character, Mockingjay Part 2 doesn't live up to the spirit of The Hunger Games, Catching Fire or Mockingjay Part 1. 

Having read the books, it was quite pleasant to see the film stay true and put most of the important details on the screen. Yet, the main hindrances to the quality of Part 2 is its exceedingly long conclusion, poor lighting, not enough action, and characters that weren't given enough attention. There are a few jump scares that will definitely freak out younger audience members during scenes that are obvious tributes to horror films like Alien and The Descent. The (little bit of) action was good but was very much kept at a PG-13 level with some disturbing death sequences and the loss of emotionally vested main characters.. The musical score was typical for these films, yet seemed less emotional than the last. The lighting overall was decent but there were quite a few dingy scenes that needed more detail. 

katniss everdeen
"This look means you're about to
get shot with an arrow."
Mockingjay Part 2 will definitely make some fans happy. It will also be way too boring for non-followers of the books. While Jennifer Lawrence still puts her everything in to completing the circle of the Everdeen story, something was obviously amiss about the production of the film. This feels too romantically unrealistic, too melodramatic,  too long, and falls short of what we expected. Going out on a lower note with a less than stellar conclusion may ultimately alter the way people view this series. 

Earlier in 2015, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer said he was actively looking for prequel and sequel possibilities for the Hunger Games franchise. It is quite understandable why one would want to continue the trilogy, having the average world-wide box office take for the individual films has been around $750 million, but finding a worthy story either before or after the present events would be difficult. Katniss has already gone through her young life to adulthood and succeeded in most of her endeavors, finally finding some sort of comfort, though she may not completely ever be able to rest easy. Some hero's stories are meant to tell the tale and that's that. She never asked to be the Mockingjay and I'm sure she wouldn't ask for anymore spotlight. Let the "girl on fire" extinguish her flame and rest her wings.


-Kirsten Anderson

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