Wednesday, 18 November 2015

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2: Film Review

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2: Film Review


Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Hemsworth, Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson
Director: Francis Lawrence

The end is nigh for Katniss Everdeen in the final part of Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games franchise.

At the end of Mockingjay Part 1, the effects of the revolt were starting to be felt and Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) had found herself an initially unwilling pawn in the face of the Revolution between Panem and the Capitol.


But with President Snow (Sutherland) severely upping the ante in the fight to crush her and with Peeta traumatised, the odds weren't in her favour....

So, deciding once and for all to seize her own destiny and stop being a pawn in a propaganda war, Everdeen sets off to kill Snow and end the conflict.

It gets dark in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2.

There's the endless atmosphere of solemnity that hangs over the finale and makes part of it feel like dystopia's been washed over with a relentless grey tone. And it certainly wins the prize for some of the darkest material in a YA series that's been committed to screen; one sequence that demonstrates the horror of war and the lengths rulers will go to to achieve victory stands alone as the blackest witnessed on a screen. (Particularly in a week that terrorism's hit the headlines, viewing this through the prism of Paris is an odd experience)

As ever, Lawrence gives a great turn as the wounded veteran of The Hunger Games, the Quarter Quell and the ongoing battle to make her the martyr the cause needs; but even she can't sell some of the moments of the story with a surprising emotional scene failing to hit the mark it needed to. There's a grit and determination to Lawrence that's seen her Katniss' resolve evolve through the run of films and there's definitely a feeling of an arc that's been undergone.

Learning from the relative lag of part 1 where there was much talking about a revolution, director Francis Lawrence delivers some great action sequences, chiefly during a Call of Duty: Panem: The Hunger Games version which sees Everdeen and a squadron of troops trying to make their way through a massive minefield. Equally, a tunnel chase section crackles with a kind of claustrophobic horror seen in Aliens and the Resident Evil game and a trap is brilliantly executed earlier on, there are moments that transcend the ongoing debate and ruminations of the effects of war, which are starting to grow weary as the series ends.

Unfortunately, it's not all gold in this Hunger Games film.

Inconsistencies with Josh Hutcherson's Peeta and his post-war behaviour mar parts of the film, and the love triangle that's grown with Liam Hemsworth's Gale and Peeta simply melts away, making your investment in it over the course of four films simply feel limp.

Also, supporting characters get very short shrift as the series wraps up - and at least one death which is supposed to resonate more, fails to generate the required emotive response. Equally, the denouement of the film with its multi-endings feels too quick leaving the conflict way too swiftly given how events have transpired.

The Hunger Games franchise has always worked by way of its dystopian background, its discussion of war propaganda and its examination of people as pawns. There's been plenty of debate throughout the previous films that have coursed richly through this series' veins giving it a more adult feel than simply its love triangle.

That said, it's a shame that despite the darkness, grittiness and endless talk of how war damages our young and the dissection of post traumatic stress syndrome, there is an awfully out of place pat happy ending that feels like Suzanne Collins short-changed her characters' more mournful journey towards salvation.

While the film's to be commended for never sanitising its message and staying true to its series, the overlong The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 certainly lacks the emotional heft a finale should have.

Rating:



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