Editor’s note: This article contains spoilers.
Last year I had the pleasure of reviewing The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, so I gladly took it upon myself to review the second part of the final instalment of films based on the books of the same name. However, this review may not be as positive as the last.
Fortunately, a lot of what was said in my review for the previous instalment still stands. There were very striking, and at times dramatic, performances from the leads, Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson. These scenes usually involved heartbreaking turmoil such as Peeta coming to terms with the serious mental trauma that has been inflicted on him during part 1. Francis Lawrence’s directing is competent; there are fewer issues with shaky-cam in the action and it includes some beautifully shot scenes in the sewers when the group are attacked by ‘Mutts’. In fact, there were a lot of incredibly impressive moments in this film, but overall I can’t reasonably say it was a good film. To be honest, it’s a bit of a mess.
The biggest problem lies in the writing (and mostly producers getting their grubby hands in and messing everything up as usual). I was satisfied with last year’s Mockingjay part 1. The script was well rounded: there was a goal from the beginning, then some things happened which were supposedly necessary to achieve said goal and by the end the goal was achieved. A classic three act structure. I overlooked some of the sometimes tedious propaganda-shooting scenes because I thought it was an interesting concept that wasn’t seen often in adaptations of young adult sci-fi novels (which are being pumped out in masses these days). But at the beginning of this film there seemed to be one goal – kill President Snow – but for some reason it went back to the propaganda stuff again and…dawdled for half the film.
I was intrigued by the concept of crossing a city laced with booby traps, monsters and armed guards to get to Snow’s mansion – as Finnick calls it, “The 76th annual Hunger Games.” But this concept was never really utilised to its fullest potential, which is a shame because this is where the film’s best moments lie. First of all, the trap in the courtyard was terrifying – some weird oil that kills upon contact, made especially scary by Peeta going berserk at that moment. Then the threat of Peacekeepers armed to the teeth. Then the amazing sewer scene, where the team are sneaking away from mutts only to get ambushed by them before leaving. It was one great scene after the next, and then the filmmakers remembered they had to finish the movie and what ensued was a jumbled mess of beats hit with little to no emotional impact including a major character death which was over before it began. Then there was some verbal exposition explaining how Katniss was tricked, then someone who had very little screen time becomes the new leader of the free world and Katniss lives happily ever after. When we finally slow down and catch a breather, it’s years later in the story and I just felt myself thinking: “Was that it?” The actual events of the film were dramatic, but as they weren’t treated as such, it wasn’t satisfying.
So the verdict is, although I still managed to enjoy Mockingjay part 1 as a standalone film, Mockingjay may have been better as an epic, single, three-hour long film with less of that propaganda stuff and more of the ‘Hunger Games-y’ stuff; the action, the suspense and the romance. Instead what we got was one good film and an okay-at-best film with a very dissatisfying ending. But then, maybe I’m looking way too into it as the group of teens in front of me were screaming and crying. Perhaps I have to accept that I’m not actually the target audience for these films.
Written by Sam Packer