Friday, March 3, 2017

Movie Review: The Hunger Games - Mockingjay Part 2

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Moments of acting, good conclusion
Cons: Seems to skip some important scenes to story; acting seems bland overall
The Bottom Line:
Climatic movie
Skips parts of the climax and
Skips best punch as well

Epic Saga Comes to an Emotionless End

I really had intended to get to The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 sooner.  In fact, I made a point of watching the previous movies in time to catch the climax of the saga in the theater.  It didn’t happen, but I have finally watched it, and I must say I found it anti-climatic.

This movie opens moments after the previous one ended as Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is reeling from the attack on her by Peeta (Josh Hutchinson).  Peeta has been brainwashed by President Snow (Donald Sutherland) to believe that Katniss is evil.  It’s all part of Snow’s attempt to take down Katniss and all she stands for.

As a result, Katniss begins to not only embrace her role as a symbol but act as a leader of the rebellion.  To that end, she heads to the capital on a secret mission to break into the president’s mansion and assassinate him.  But with a city filled with traps, will she succeed?  Will Peeta recover from his conditioning?

Now before we go any further, I want to be perfectly clear on one thing.  I don’t think the problem was breaking the book into two movies.  There was more than enough material for two movies.  There are some intense and fun action scenes.  There are some good twists to the story.  And the ending is satisfying.

The problem comes from how the story is told.  A few key scenes happen off screen.  Okay, is it realistic for Katniss to be in every part of the war?  Not really.  But this is fiction, and we read it to see our hero save the day.  Instead, she seems to pass out at very opportune times for large pieces of action to pass without her for her to be told about later.  And even one of those, we don’t find out about for another two scenes after she is told.

The other problem I have with the movie is the acting.  I know that Jennifer Lawrence especially has made choices to play Katniss as overwhelmed by all she has experienced and shell shocked.  I’ve felt that made her acting too one note at times, but here it takes the movie down as some of the rest of the cast begins to adopt her performance strategy.  The scenes that call for her to react to something are wonderful, and the final scene is absolutely pitch perfect.  You want a scene of wonderful acting?  Watch that last scene.  But much of the rest of the film she and others in the cast just seem lifeless.  I’m not sure what it is that doesn’t connect with me, but it doesn’t work.

Am I sorry I watched these films?  Not in the slightest since The Hunger Games have been a big part of our culture.  However, Mockingjay Part 2 did not send the series out on the climatic note I expected.

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