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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2

The “Hunger Games” franchise grew on me with each successive movie. I expected the first one to be a tepid knockoff of the great, shocking Japanese flick “Battle Royale” – and it was, but it was entertaining all the same.  The second added dimension to both the characters and the world, and the third film, while relentlessly grim, was also gripping.  But when I reviewed Mockingjay, Part 1, I said this:  “Part 2” better pull us up out of the dark in spectacular and heartwarming ways, or I’m going to feel like this trudge through the mud wasn’t worth my while.”  Well, friends, I’m feeling pretty muddy and disheartened at this point.  Not only did “Mockingjay, Part 2” fail to warm my heart, it is easily the worst of the four films, and leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth.  I was planning to read Suzanne Collins’ books after watching this movie; now I’m not so sure.

Tired of being nothing more (or less) than the mouthpiece of the rebel movement, Katniss decides to take matters into her own hands and kill President Snow (Donald Sutherland.)  It’s not clear how she thinks she’ll get to him before the rest of the army that’s attacking the capital, but she heads out anyway, because one of the main points of this movie is that Katniss doesn’t think before she acts (until the very end, when she does.) When things don’t go the way she planned, or failed to plan, she finds herself teamed up with Peeta and mos of the other recognizable faces from the other movies (Natalie Dormer, etc.) and in position to make other poor decisions, culminating in walking right up to the gate of the Presidential Mansion disguised in nothing more than a hooded cloak (“My face is the most recognizable in Pan Em… maybe nobody will recognize me if I wear a hood!”)  But then, during the confusing climax, a key character (who’s been on screen for about twenty seconds in this movie) dies, and everything changes, except not really.  Then, after that oops-this-isn’t-the-climax-after-all, Katniss decides to act like someone completely different from the protagonist we’ve been rooting for since “Hunger Games.”

If there’s one thing we know about Katniss, it’s that she speaks from the heart and shoots from the hip.  This movie makes it painfully clear that she doesn’t think about what’s going to happen next; after all, she thinks she can walk right up to the door of the Presidential Mansion wearing no more disguise than a hood.  So then why, all of a sudden, is she playing her cards close to her chest, plotting against the new President, shocking everyone with her final act of bravery?  It just doesn’t make sense.  But it needs to happen to bring resolution to the movie, so it happens.  This is bad storytelling.

In hindsight, “Catching Fire” is clearly the pinnacle of the series, and it’s just downhill from there.  This movie is the worst of the lot. Is it a bad movie because it’s based on a bad book?  Were the filmmakers saddled with a terrible plot, and tried to make the best of it?  You probably know, but I don’t.  I do know this: in the movie, Katniss Everdeen makes one poor choice after another, demonstrating a profound lack of foresight and ability to think strategically.  And then, at the final moment, she makes a completely dumbfounding choice that runs completely against everything this series has told us about the character.  What the heck happened?

 

Random Notes

–I feel bad for the actors here, because they really are doing their best with bad material.  Jennifer Lawrence is reliably gritty, and Josh Hutcherson works hard to give us something resembling a character arc.  This movie (really, this whole series) would’ve been better with more Jena Malone (why isn’t she a superstar yet?) and Natalie Dormer is completely underused. It takes more than a good cast to make a good movie.

–The underground fight scene with the “mutts” is a highlight; in fact, I’ll call it one of the best action sequences of the year (so far.)  Then again, maybe I like it because it’s clearly borrowed from one of my favorite horror flicks, “The Descent.”

 

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Posted in All Reviews, by Will Krischke.

2 Responses

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  1. Rikker said

    Willie — I was also disappointed in the movie. Various girlfriends have dragged me to each of the 4 movies and you are right… they weren’t too bad until last year. (Going in, I asked the girl I was dating, “How does she shoot down a jet fighter with an arrow?!”)

    This film seemed to borrow all its interesting ideas from other films. (Maze Runner anyone?) The scene you mentioned as being borrowed from The Descent was tense and scary… and totally disconnected from the rest of the series. (Where did they get zombies?!)

    I annoyed my girlfriend during the scene at the gate by actually yelling at the screen: “They were JUST at the home of a lady who changed her appearance to a cat! Why is she only wearing a cloak?!”

    The finally shooting was predictable, and as you said, totally out of character for Katnip. I also didn’t buy the scene where she chose Peeta over the Bad Boy. Peeta had an arc. She didn’t. Their “happily ever after” at the end felt totally sterile, and one of their children was obviously Asian, so Peeta better figure out where in Pan she’s been!

  2. “How does she shoot down a jet fighter with an arrow?”

    You know, the same way James Bond shoots down a helicopter from a speedboat with a pistol. Magic.

    Thanks for reading and commenting, Rick.

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