Sunday, November 22, 2015

Movie Review #343: "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2" (2015)

Movie"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2"
Director: Francis Lawrence
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 17 minutes
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The rebels continue their assault on the Capitol as they unite more and more districts under the Mockingjay. Meanwhile, Peeta (Josh Hutchinson) must go through rehabilitation for the psychological torture that President Snow (Donald Sutherland) put him through to turn him into a weapon. Now, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) has only one goal left: kill president Snow at all costs. 

After four long years, "The Hunger Games" film franchise has finally come to an end. We have cried, we have cheered, we have been angry, and now, it is done. Now, we wish we could say this final installment was the best in the series. We wish we could say it contained the grand, epic finale filled with fire, fighting, and flawlessness we fully went in expecting, but unfortunately, that's not how we feel, though our reasons are different than most. While this film is very good, for us, "Catching Fire" still sits steady at the top of the heap when compared to the other movies in this series. It is hard to judge "Mockingjay - Part 2" on its own merits because it is really just the second half of a much larger film. It's incomplete without the first portion, and as a stand-alone movie, it obviously lacks a lot of what we have come to expect from these split-series movies: the aforementioned epic battle and a strong, worthwhile finale. Just because this doesn't exist in "Mockingjay - Part 2," doesn't mean we disliked it as a whole because we quite enjoyed it.

Just in case people haven't realized it yet, "The Hunger Games" is an extremely dark series that often deals with some surprisingly complex political, philosophical, and psychological issues. The entire premise of the books and its subsequent films are based on the notion that the government appoints and sanctions child murder every year...not exactly the proper subject for a dinner table conversation, right? So, when the series comes to its conclusion, moviegoers should not expect some super uplifting and cheerful message in the wake of the franchise's previous 3 films worth of slaughter. In fact, know you probably should expect something a little more somber and cynical, not a Disney fairytale ending where everything turns out okay in the end. Unlike most of the world, we relish in dark, depressing endings and appreciate them because they happen so rarely in a cinematic climate where movies are content to churn out cookie-cutter happiness and expect us all to believe that's the way the world works. Given the tone of the series as a whole, it really couldn't of ended any other way than it does here, and we actually liked how it ended. While the acting is still as good as it has ever been, even for a rather propaganda-powered and molded, sort of unremarkable character like Katniss Everdeen, played for the final time by Jennifer Lawrence, many of the characters who were built up over time have become footnotes in this second potion of "Mockingjay" to allow Katniss time to extract her revenge on Snow and the Capitol. With many of her allies and friends already dead and gone by this point, Katniss has always been the star of the show, even if she doesn't want to be. People have died for her, and she simply wants the killing to stop, be it in her name or not.

As we mentioned above, this is a great film, though it's not the best in the series. The real error came in the choice to split "Mockingjay"  into two separate parts for little less than an attempt to suck as much money out of moviegoers as possible. We are all too aware of the studios ploys to squeeze every last bastardly dollar out of us poor, unsuspecting saps, but everyone should know this is the case by now. There's really no excuse for this from an audience member's standpoint. If these two parts were combined into a single, slightly above average time wise movie, we can't help but think that the result would have been much more compelling, less weak, more thought out, engaging and in depth, concise, and filler-less. A book with less than 400 pages does not constitute a split between films, in our opinion, and we would have preferred it to be one nearly 3 hour movie instead of two 2 and a half hour ones. There is some good action, but there's not as much as many expected there to be as Katniss and her small team of allies navigate the Capitol through blocks and blocks and blocks and blocks of traps all meant to kill them in spectacular fashions. With no major climactic ending, we can see why "Mockingjay - Part 2" will leave some people disappointed and hoping for a lot more than what they got, particularly considering this franchise has been 3 years of build up in the making. We did enjoy the film's different, grim, less formulaic approach, but then again, we thrive on newness and difference when we have been saturated with the same damn boring thing time and time again, especially in the young adult novel movie adaptation genre. Most have called this film a slog time-wise, but we never felt this way about it and thought it was really well paced and didn't feel tedious or long, especially when compared to something like "Transformers: Age of Extinction," which is 30 minutes longer than "Mockingjay - Part 1" and infinitely less meaningful and enjoyable.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~70%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!
To see our review of "The Hunger Games," click here.

To see our review of "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," click here.

To see our review of "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1," click here.

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