I read the Hunger Games books a while back and suffice it to say that I at least found them much better written and far more compelling than some other “young adult” fiction that’s out there these days-I’m looking at you, Twilight. That’s not a particularly high bar, but it’s worth something. For my money, though, if you want good young adult fiction you’re best off checking out Heinlein’s works which are more complex and thought provoking than most “all grown up” adult fiction these days. But I digress. The story of the Hunger Games is the most basic kind of silly. It’s the deplorable 1% versus the doe-eyed 99% and the idea translates well to the screen in its simplicity. There aren’t many layers to the life and times of Katniss Everdeen. She’s persecuted by an oppressive government by virtue of a winner takes all gladiatorial contest, only to overcome and be the face of a revolution all while juggling a forced romantic triangle. There are no hidden motivations-or at least none that aren’t wildly apparent from the start. Everyone is good or evil. Both love interests are hunky and sweet, with only levels of brooding to differentiate them. There is little to get in the way of the action-The action being the games themselves- which works wonderfully in the first two films. Then came Mockingjay Part 1. Without the games, filmmakers were finally forced to focus on things like character and motivation. Unfortunately when those things are as shallow as puddles even in the source material it leads to a pretty dull finished product. There are a few nice action set pieces and a couple nice moments of speechifying, but little or no real substance. It certainly doesn’t help that Hollywood had to wring more money out of the franchise by stretching its paper thin finale into two full length movies. Will The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2 (talk about a mouthful) bring the franchise back to its exciting roots and send the series off on a high note?
Mockingjay 2 picks up where the last film left off and if you haven’t caught the first three films (why are you here?) then get ready for spoilage. Our intrepid hero Katniss is still recovering from the Greg Hardy treatment would-be paramour Peeta threw her way after the President Snow had his brain washed up real good in The Capitol. She wants to try and help him and then inexplicably doesn’t want to help him at all a short time later-but hey, she’s 17 years old! Julianne Moore’s President Coin (leader of the resistance) wants to hold Katniss back from The Capitol while the rebel alliance wages its war and closes in on victory, but Katniss is determined to make Snow pay for everyone he’s hurt with an arrow to the forehead, so she stows away to the front lines to join the action. She and her sweet commando squad make their way through the city towards the final confrontation with Snow that is definitely going to happen because that is what we’ve very obviously been building towards this whole time, correct? Meanwhile, Snow has had his Game Makers litter the city with Hunger Games traps that make little to no sense but afford lots of time for killer action and effects. Also, there are monsters. No joke.
The action in MJ2 is pretty spot on. There are some legitimately pulse pounding moments in the middle of the film. If I were to give some advice to whoever ends up remaking these movies in 15 years or so, I’d say never stop actioning. Always be actioning, never be not actioning and make with the actioning already. Because once the action stops, people start talking. MJ2 is full of great acting wasted on horrible writing. It can’t be helped. Like I said, every character is razor thin. When you start talking about romance, it’s clear that there is no wrong call for our heroine so it’s going to take some arbitrary nonsense to inform her ultimate decision. When you start talking about what people hope to achieve, you are forced to acknowledge that the only real goal anybody has is to get to the end of this whole ordeal and be done with it. And I don’t even want to get into that ending, but at least we’re definitely going to see the showdown between Everdeen and Snow that the franchise has been telegraphing for over 8 hours of screen time so far, right? Totally.
I can’t fault the actors their performances. Everybody here buys in, most of all Lawrence, who shows why she’s Hollywood’s It Girl these days by immersing herself so completely in a character who has very little room to breathe. Harrelson, Banks, Moore and Hutcherson, heck even the hunky Hemsworth that isn’t Thor-all lend considerable talent and no shortage of commitment to the proceedings. And Donald Sutherland? Sutherland is a treasure, proving himself as delightfully capable of chewing scenery as any of his contemporaries. Alas, they just can’t help this poor material enough. This script is clearly hampered by the source material-a book that just couldn’t hold the steam of the story that preceded it.
Ultimately, fans of the series so far will probably end up satisfied with MJ2. It may not deliver everywhere, but it wraps the story. It tugs at the heart strings and finds a conclusion, even if the climax isn’t all it was hyped up to be. The action is strong and that should be enough to keep your attention even if the corniness and has you rolling your eyes enough to miss entire swaths of scenery. It’s a pleasant enough escape, but it might leave you feeling like it could have been more.
|The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2|
|Release Date:||November 20th, 2015|