THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY - PART 2
Starring Jennifer Lawrence,
Philip Seymour Hoffman,
Directed by Francis Lawrence
Written by Peter Craig, Danny Strong
Based on the novel by Suzanne Collins
Runtime 137 minutes
The Hunger Games saga concludes.
In keeping with Hollywood’s disturbing trend of stretching a book into a 2-part film, Mockingjay – Part 2 has the same slow pace that dragged down The Hobbit and impaired the 2-part finale to the Harry Potter series. The sheer greed shown by breaking up the story and making everybody have to wait for six months or a year means the story loses steam. The pacing gets all thrown off, and we have to sit through airy stories inflated artificially. This means huge tracts of film that properly should have been edited wind up comprising too much of the movie.
That said, other aspects aid.
Upshot: Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence), reluctant face of the rebellion, leads a squad to the Capitol to assassinate President Snow (Sutherland).
What makes the first movie, The Hunger Games, the best of the four films in the series is the freshness of the high-concept idea: representatives of fascist districts required to fight to the death and a young archer heroine. Catching Fire keeps that momentum, but by the time we reach Mockingjay, many of the best elements have been replaced with other things that we’ve seen too often.
High marks for the film’s star. None of The Hunger Games would work at all if Jennifer Lawrence wasn’t perfect for the part. She’s just totally believable. She exudes dignity by seeming fairly careless of her beauty and focusing instead on a strong moral center. The interior life conveyed through her eyes usually pushes each scene.
As Peeta, Josh Hutcherson also delivers an amazing performance. It’s a tricky role, because it seems like Katniss is always saving Peeta. We could easily dismiss him in this role-reversal, but we recognize that his character has just as strong of a core as hers.
In addition to the acting, interesting characters gird the film. One such character can’t stand Katniss until she learns that Katniss plans to kill Snow, another is a mute who spent five years underground never once seeing the sun. As the rebel president, Julianne Moore shows varied facets, praising Katniss to her face, and at other times proving more revealing.
The journey from District 13 to the Capitol in order to oust the dictatorship is beset with dangers in the form of pods, traps peppered everywhere and containing nasty video game-like surprises. The occasional activation of these pods provides the movie’s most memorable action. Ultimately, if the filmmakers had taken the best of Part 1 and the best of Part 2 and made one solid movie, both the franchise and the audience would be better served.