November 19, 2015

CINEMA | 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2' Flames Out

"It's so frustrating when she goes rogue."
Jennifer Lawrence | The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

The Hunger Games franchise has been a high watermark for, not only young adult entertainment, but complex human drama for all ages. Unfortunately, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 is easily the weakest of the bunch as it fails to adequately stretch the third and final Suzanne Collins book into a suitable finale. While Mockingjay – Part 1 felt somewhat incomplete, its insular focus on Katniss' internal struggle was a welcome development as its fine acting and dialogue shined through any inconsistencies.

The second half of this two-part film never quite comes together or stands on its own. Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen is fine, continuing to embody grief in her face and body language, but feels oddly out of place as she quickly goes off on her own shadowy journey. Her arc has no bearing or apparent consequences to the outcome of the war or its human story in general.

The side-story nature of the film as the all-out war of the districts never fits in with the earlier world-building. The unusual story framing and its first part does no favour to paramours Peeta and Gale, played by Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth, who go through the motions, either. The film just peters along as it tries to half-heartedly wrap up threads here and there while every memorable character from past films shows up in little bits to say goodbye.

Even Donald Sutherland as the deliciously evil President Snow feels neutered and is barely there as are Julianne Moore, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman (clearly missing from a crucial final scene), Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Natalie DormerJena Malone, and many others. None of these actors or their characters have particularly anything at all meaningful to do. Because of the two-film story split, there's absolutely no momentum within the film as energy never builds scene to scene and the many different endings just happen instead of fully culminating into any kind of satisfying conclusion.

Mockingjay – Part 2 never lives up to its successful predecessors as it awkwardly fills in holes and wraps up a stilted two-part story and four-film journey. Instead of being the natural culmination of the series, it feels much more like an overextended epilogue and a needlessly grim one at that. It also lacks any real drama, so well executed previously, and wastes another fine performance by Lawrence as the titular symbol of hope.

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