Tuesday 24 November 2015

The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2 - Review by Carleton Rutter

Directed by: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson and Donald Sutherland
Genre: Adventure, Sci-Fi, War
Strapline: "The Fire Will Burn Forever"

So, in a nutshell?
After being symbolized as the "Mockingjay", Katniss Everdeen and District 13 engage in an all-out revolution against the autocratic Capitol.

So, what are my thoughts?
The Hunger Games franchise for me falls in with the same crowd as The Maze Runner and Divergent series' of movies. Not on the obvious point that they are all adaptations of Dystopian teen novels, but inasmuch as I never caught the first installments at the cinema. So in preparation for this last chapter,  I caught the three previous entries at home at the start of September. 

The were good if unremarkable. I happen to catch the Divergent films first though, this was unfortunate as many parallels can be drawn between the two franchises,  i.e. a gifted and gutsy heroine front and centre who becomes a symbol of hope against an autocratic government. The Hunger Games of course came first, so in retrospect this is the order in which I should have seen them.

Anyhoo, Jennifer Lawrence did well in the lead, but again parallels in real life can be drawn with Shalene Woodley in the Divergent series in the sense that an entire franchise seems to rest singularly on their shoulders. Both though, are more than up to the task.

So here we are with the inevitable last part of the final book, which has been the norm now in Hollywood for sometime, Harry Potter, The Hobbit and Divergent being just three examples. Only with The Maze Runner has it been decided will keep the last book to one film. 

Of the three first installments on balance my favourite was probably Catching Fire with The Hunger Games clearly being the set up movie and Mockingjay Part 1 being too much talking and not enough action. 

This last installment certainly readdresses the lack of action in Mockingjay Part 1, but to be honest little else. Mockingjay part 2 is a dark final chapter as one would expect. However I did not expect it to be so boring, flat and predictable. I really wanted Part 2 to rise above the relative mediocrity of the series thus far, but alas it does not. 

The first issue I have with the movie is the pacing, it's all over the place. The first act is a real slow burn as it seems to take ages to distance itself from the pacing of Part 1. This portion of the movie could have been expedited and we would have been none the wiser. The second act where Katniss and her crew commence their assault on the Capital and President Snow is the movies best part, but it was rushed! As for the last act, I found this to be very disjointed, to the extent I was thinking, "Have they cut out scenes here?" I found it also to be frankly predictable and boring. 

As I say the best part of the movie is the middle act, as our band of rebels do their best to navigate the Capital as the games makers throw obstacles in their path called "Pods". These pods take the shape of several things such as a wave of tar, underground monsters known as "Mutts" and a wall of fire. All very nice I'm sure but not really original and rather bland. It's very much the case of the best bits are in the trailer.

My other issue with the movie is the cast. Jennifer Lawrence front and centre provides another strong central performance but at this stage in her career the role offers her no real challenge so she kind of phones in the performance. Josh Hutcherson is good in support as the troubled Peeta, but the two have zero chemistry. 

All other central returning characters like Gale, Finnick, Cressida, Ross and Henson get their share of screen time as does newcomer Michelle Forbes (Star Trek's Ro Laren) But the big hitters are woefully brushed over. Donald Sutherland's deliciously evil President Snow is rendered impotent in this movie, his gravitas is missing. This trend of under using the main returning actors does not stop with Sutherland. Woody Harrelson, Jeffrey Wright and Elizabeth Banks all fall into this camp. Finally, as for Stanley Tucci's brilliantly creepy TV host Caesar Flickerman, he is literally just shoehorned in for a few scenes. 

My Rating  

Far from the rousing finale, Mockingjay part 2 is a let down with a very anticlimactic ending. It features a descent series of action sequences in the middle chapter but that's all really. Jennifer Lawrence continues to hold this franchise together with sticky tape. I was very disappointed with the under utilisation of the major players in particular President Snow. If you've watched the previous entries then you might as well see this last chapter. However for any of you thinking of checking this one as a movie in its own right, avoid it. It's more lukewarm than flaming hot. 

Review by Carleton Rutter