There has been a palpable sense of dread as yet another franchise has been stretched beyond its necessary running time. After the dismal Hobbit trilogy left us all wondering whose accountant was getting a bonus this year, The Hunger Games serves up an unnecessary Part 2 to its concluding book adaptation of Mockingjay, the Suzanne Collins series which has taken over the tween world. Aside from the obvious, there is so much to loathe about this film. The poor workarounds after the death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the constant plot exposition and false starts and the cheesy forced acting coming from some people we really know can do better.There will be an audience that eats this film up, but it is garbage and lets down the rest of the franchise in so many ways.
We left the last film on a cliffhanger of sorts as the rebels had rescued a brainwashed Peeta from the capital only to have him attack Katniss. From there we pick up on Katniss attempting to complete her mission to bring down the tyranical President Snow as the president in waiting Alma Coin prepares the districts armies for an attack on the capital. While the stage is set for an epic conclusion to the franchise, what we get is 90 minutes of conversations and wandering. To have come so far in the previous movies, Mockingjay Part 2 is like hitting a brick wall and only just limping away. If you are invested in the fate of the districts and Katniss and her love triangle with the handsome quiet one and the whimpering arty one, then there is still enough to get you through the elongated running time.
Mockingjay Part 2 maintains the same stylish elegance and cinematic scope of the franchise.The shining towers of the capital are closer to ruins but the majesty and balance between the highs and lows of Panem are still visible. We are taken through each of the locations with cleverly framed shots and the film is still visually engaging while quite dark in parts. There are enough fireworks to distract the kids and some of the adults from the soulless interior on show.
There is an entire wing of the internet dedicated to ripping apart movie logic and errors and they will have a field day with this film. From overdone plot devices and hollow emotional draw to consequenceless tension and convenient exposition, Mockingjay is just lazy filmmaking. While the first films take inspiration from other source material (and there does need to be some focus on the book series obviously), this final installment feels like a cobbling together of ideas in the hope that it will all be resolved with the obvious ending. Characters enter and leave the story without consequence unless it’s for an emotional trigger. While there is the occasional attempt at fresh concepts, within minutes we find ourselves back in slow expositional dialogue heading in the same direction we were on from the first minute. The scandalous reveals are obvious, the characters are interchanged at will and the acting doesn’t help.
You know a movie isn’t cutting it with an audience when the most emotionally harrowing scene in the film is met with riotous laughter from a full house on the opening weekend. At multiple times in the film I found myself rolling my eyes, dismayed at the shambles that was in front of me. I realised I was not alone as Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss breaks down emotionally over a death and starts screaming and crying. The fact that this was met with laughter demonstrates an audience that wasn’t getting what they wanted from the film.
Goodbye to The Hunger Games, may the odds of another sequel or reboot be never in your favour. If you have money to spend on a film outing this week. Spend it elsewhere. This film is only an essential for the most diehard teenage gladiatorial combat enthusiasts. RIP PSH.