Film Review: “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2”

Photo Courtesy of AceShowBiz
Photo Courtesy of AceShowBiz

Despite the odds being ever in its favor, “Mockingjay – Part 2” loses its bid to elevate the “Hunger Games” series into young-adult franchise glory.

Rating: 2.5/5
Directed by Francis Lawrence
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Donald Sutherland, Josh Hutcherson, Julianne Moore
Rated: PG-13
Release Date: Nov. 20, 2015

Social inequality, tyranny and revolution. These are all concepts that the final installment of the “Hunger Games” series fails to explore.

And it starts with the script. For the pair of “Mockingjay” films, Lionsgate Studios brought on a new writing duo — Danny Strong and Peter Craig — who simply are inept at writing a revolution. Composed of platitudes upon platitudes, their script reduces an otherwise intriguing storyline to a nauseatingly pretentious quote wall.

Furthermore, this film, supposedly about war, lacks any war. With all the talk of suffering and death, the audience is only exposed to mere glimpses of tragedy and are sheltered from the horrifying repercussions of revolution. And for a movie that had another movie whose sole purpose was to set it up, there is a suffocating surplus of setup in “Mockingjay – Part 2.”

This might have been tolerable if the filmmakers had at least made us care about the characters, but they opted to instead rely on the good faith built upon the series’ early installments. However, the studio had already trashed and cashed in on this fanfare with their decision — fueled solely by greed — to split the shortest and least-acclaimed book into two. As a result, significant characters like Prim, Finnick, Haymitch and Plutarch are cast into the background in favor of Katniss.

But even she, the Mockingjay, is rendered useless and ultimately unlikeable by a lousy conclusion to a character arc that the first two films, especially “Catching Fire,” promised so much of. The legacy of Katniss Everdeen will now be characterized by sensational decisions, motivated by selfish intentions, that not even her most dedicated fans will able to justify or understand.

Regarding those fans, however, they may be pleased by the film’s loyalty to their beloved novel. Though their plot choices were questionable, they were nonetheless refreshing among Hollywood’s tendency to purchase intellectual property rights for the sole sake of capitalizing on brand awareness, as opposed to rich source material.

That is, with the exception of the film’s finale, which does not deviate from the whitewashed happy endings typical of Hollywood movies but does depart from the book’s hollow conclusion. Despite a satisfying third act of bold and thought-provoking decisions, the movie culminates in a sugar-coated optimism absent from the novel. The series finale then sends a confusing message regarding social justice and how it balances sacrifice in a revolution and how survivors should carry on from the horror of their experiences.

Thus, there is not much to be said in favor of the film other than that it closes a series that peaked two films ago. Satisfying it may be to loyal fans of the franchise, “Mockingjay – Part 2” fails to stand on its own as an examination of the justifications and consequences of revolutionary war, even for its young-adult audience. Let us all raises three fingers and whistle in honor of the long-awaited, feeble death of the “Hunger Games.”

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SoKIqLEGhI0[/embedyt]

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