The Hunger Games returns for its last and final installment in the franchise, as we are reunited with Katniss Everdeen and the rebel army as they ready for all out war against the Capitol. Becoming the Mockingjay continues to burden Katniss, as her propaganda work overshadows her ability to contribute to the fight in more tangible ways. With Peeta returned psychologically distressed and President Alma Coin controlling her every move, she must find away around her adversities and get to the larger problem at hand; taking down president Snow.
It was no secret that Mockingjay – Part 1 was considered a complete cash grab. On a business standpoint it was an inevitable move, considering the cash the previous two films made. But on a film going stand point, it seemed to stale the momentum coming off an exciting film like Catching Fire. Mockingjay – Part 1 is not necessarily a bad film. In fact it put the franchise on a pleasantly mature course, exploring themes that seem very relevant to today. With hindsight, it became easier to understand and forgive the direction they took, as long as Part 2 made up for the stalemate that was initially experienced when watching Part 1 in theater’s.
Unfortunately, Mockingjay – Part 2 may be just as big of a disappointment as its predecessor. Which is hard to confess as I really wanted to love this film. What it suffers from is creating this massive build up of expectation and anticipation for this all out war against the Capitol. The contempt for President snow is palpable, as we’ve had three films to develop this hate, and we empathize for the districts, as we’ve seen them be treated as pawns for the Capitols entertainment. Ultimately, we want to see these Capitol ass-juices go down! What we end up getting is the equivalent of wanting to watch a Shia LaBeouf film, but upon putting the Blu-ray CD in your Blu-ray player, you are greeted with a video of Shia LaBeouf watching the Shia LaBeouf film that you desired to watch! For some, that might be a welcome surprise, but in the case of Mockingjay – Part 2, it was quite frustrating.
At its core, this is a war film. Which is why it was disappointing to be deprived of any visual representation of it throughout the film. Talk about blue balls… Perhaps we’re given that prompt when we briefly see the rebels bomb the crap out of a mountain containing a bunch of the Capitol’s artillery from the perspective of Katniss. But this only fueled my need to see more of this destruction even further.
Perhaps without the films conscious social commentary about war, there would be little redeemable about this film. Just like Part 1, the themes of war and propaganda is what transcends the franchise away from the stereotypes of young adult films. Throughout Mockingjay – Part 2, we are compelled with dialogue exploring the morality and ideologies of war, taken from multiple perspectives. Questions are asked and discussed, such as, how can war possibly have a good side? especially if collateral damage is considered a worthy excuse for taking innocent lives. Just before viewing the film, a friend and I were discussing the atrocities that have afflicted our world of late. How a rational reaction to a tragedy is usually to strike back, with bigger weapons and no consideration of the implications of those decisions. How can one be better than the other, when the damage is almost identical. It’s a sad thought, but the film arouses such contemplation’s.
In that respect, the film is aware enough, not to let the Pearl-Harbor-esque love triangle story become the forefront of the narrative. Especially when there are bigger political injustices at hand. Nevertheless they subtly add it in the film here and there, just to remind us that Gale still exists. I mean what does he even do! I haven’t read the books, but from the apparent “team Peeta vs team Gale” obsession, I can only imagine that the film doesn’t do his character much justice; because I never once questioned my loyalty to team Peeta… I mean, he’s a damn good guy… For the most part anyway. That being said, the difference between Mockingjay – Part 2 and Pearl Harbor is that the latter redeems itself with high octane action sequences amongst all that icky love triangle pandering. Which raises the question, Jennifer Lawrence vs Kate Beckinsale, who would you most rather go through all that love triangle BS for? Trick question. Ben Affleck. Batman beats all!
Despite the film lacking in thrills, the two action sequences the film does have, are genuinely amazing. The sewer chase will undoubtedly be one of the most memorable moments in film for me this year. mixing tension with terror as we see these impeccably CGI-ed monsters chase our heroes through a dark, wet sewer. But then that is all we get for the remainder of the film… All this film needed to take it to “epic” film territory, was one or two more action sequences. What originally made this franchise fun, was seeing our protagonists overcome adversity and challenges that were set in front of them; a reason why Catching Fire was one of my favourite films of 2013; a film that made me actively wince!
It’s easier to forgive Mockingjay – Part 1 because that film is deeply rooted in the politics of war, and the set up for this movie. Nevertheless it only intensified the hope that this film would return to the sensibilities of the first two installments and even top them in terms of thrills. If it achieved those expectations, it would have been a cracker of a finale to a franchise that has surprised many like me, who aren’t particularly interested in the young adult genre. You can thank Twilight for my pessimism.
Mockingjay – Part 2 is ultimately a good film undone by high expectations. Admittedly much of the film is hard to criticize. Jennifer Lawrence returns with another strong performance in the series, but Josh Hutcherson arguably steals the show as a mentally tortured Peeta, battling the war in his mind. It is filmed with beautiful precision as we’ve come to expect with Francis Lawrence, ever since he took over the franchise since Catching Fire. And the story offers enough twists and turns to entertain throughout its run time. Although disappointing in some aspects, it remains a satisfying conclusion to a widely successful franchise. Lets hope they wait at least 10 years before rebooting the damn thing.