Thursday, November 26, 2015

Carnage To Catharsis The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 Is A Dismal End!

The Good: Moments of theme and performance, Special effects
The Bad: Unlikable or under-developed characters, Plot oscillates between predictable and undeveloped, Resolution
The Basics: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 puts to rest a series that managed to get produced at the right time . . . but will not satisfy serious film buffs.

When it comes to The Hunger Games, the truth is, the franchise did not particularly grab me. I was pretty much repulsed by The Hunger Games (reviewed here!) and while I liked Catching Fire (reviewed here!) well-enough, Mockingjay - Part 1 (reviewed here!) pretty much lost me. I just don't care about Panem. So, I was in no rush to run out and see The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2. But, with it being a holiday and me being on the road alone, I figured it was time to pay my Hunger Games dues and take in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2.

Right off the bat, I've not read the books upon which the films in The Hunger Games Saga were based. This is a pure review of the film and the movie confirmed what I suspected the moment I saw The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1: Part 1 should have ended the moment the rescued Peeta Mellark reached up and began struggling Katniss Everdeen. Instead, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 begins with the potential of a young woman literally finding her voice and then rising up to raise a rebellion; instead, it is a movie about a mediocre woman using violence to solve her problems. Katniss Everdeen is supposed to be the hero fans root for, but Finnick made more substantive leaps in exposing the corruptions of President Snow, tyrant leader of Panem, in the prior film. Katniss does not follow Finnick's example in using logic, truth, and helping to turn the people of Panem against the corrupt President; as in the prior films, she mopes around until she shoots her problems away with her bow.

Having rescued Peeta from the Capitol, the rebels in District 13 are horrified to see how he has been brainwashed into an animal, intent on killing Katniss. Katniss, however, fights to keep Peeta alive and she is eager to end the conflict with Snow by getting support from other Districts. Her first attempt to shoot a propaganda film amid revolutionaries and refugees ends up with her getting shot. With the rebellion apparently crumbling, President Snow starts to weed out those close to him who might be political rivals, using poison like Finnick previously revealed. Despite being loathed now by Peeta, Katniss tries desperately to save him and be close to him, even though he is still violent from the venom that was used on him by the Capitol.

After Annie and Finnick marry, Katniss joins the squad being sent into the Capitol to disarm the traps that Snow has set. En route to Snow's mansion, Katniss and her companions are beset by creatures, weapons, and obstacles - much like the victors of the Hunger Games encountered during the games - and from Peeta's inability to control himself or overcome his programming. But as the resistance nears victory, Katniss gets information that suggests to her that Snow might not be the only villain in Panem and when someone close to Katniss is murdered as part of political theater, Katniss decides she alone must end it.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 failed to do what I've been waiting for in all of the films in The Hunger Games Saga: it did not make me care about the characters or Panem. Yes, oppression is absolutely terrible, but Panem in the films of The Hunger Games is a fiefdom of Districts serving the Capitol at a cost of two lives per District per year (one for the victor's district). The system has been working for 74 years at the beginning of The Hunger Games and, substantively, it is analogous to an unrestrained Capitalist system with an authoritarian government, so it was a hard dystopia for me to get into or care about (we have it as bad in real life; we just get to go to the movies and get a new smartphone once in a while). The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 fails to make the viewer invested in the world of Panem.

Even worse, in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 it is almost impossible to care what becomes of the film's protagonist. There is no allegory in the film, so Katniss heals until she acts, mopes until she rages and the journey is unsatisfying . . . especially when one considers it without the "wow" factor of the special visual effects. Add to that, the love triangle where Katniss's heart is pulled by both Gale and Peeta is expanded in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2, which feels like a time drain in an already packed film. The love triangle could have been left out and perhaps a scene could have been put in where Katniss sees evidence of the film's other primary villain, as opposed to simply taking other people's words for it.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 is notable in its underuse of performers Jena Malone (who, frankly, I can always stand to see more of in films) and Stanley Tucci. Elizabeth Banks plays Effie Trinket with less of an annoying quality than in the prior installment, so at least her talents are not as wasted this time around.

Ultimately, though, the time is wasted. Who lives? Who dies? It doesn't matter, so long as there's an Evangelical-friendly scene to cap off the movie with utter denial of the initial characterizations of the characters the corniest summing up of the events of the Saga. That, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 absolutely has.

For other films currently in theaters, please check out my reviews of:
Bleeding Heart
Hotel Transylvania 2


For other movie reviews, please check out my Film Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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