"My dear Miss Everdeen, make no mistake, the game is coming to its end."As I already said in my review of the entire franchise ‘The Hunger Games’ seems to be ending rather more quietly than we first thought it would, based on the success of that first film. After all ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2’ became the third highest grossing film of all time upon its release perhaps it is being overshadowed by every other franchise this year, amid the James Bonds and the Star Wars is there a place for this franchise any more, should we care about its conclusion? Regardless three years after we first met Katniss Everdeen, we have reached the end. So how does it stand up?
If you don’t know the plot by now then it’s a lost cause to join here. But for the sake of normality I shall try. With her forces gathered at the gates of the Capitol, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) leads the Districts in a final assault against President Snow (Donald Sutherland). But even outside of the arena, dangerous games await….
It is difficult to know how to judge this, should we treat it as simply a chapter in a larger story or as a singular film? I ask this because sadly there is no denying that as a singular film, one that should stand on its own and act as an individual triumph, ‘Mockingjay Part 2’ is deeply flawed. After that statement I would say I have about half an hour before hundreds of devoted fans rip me apart, so I won’t waste any time.
Before you grab your pitchforks, can I first say that there is still a lot to like in this finale? Firstly there are some truly astounding performances on show, it would have been easy to phone in whatever style of acting they wanted, but these actors are still just as devoted to finishing this series as they were to starting it. Lawrence is given opportunities to be subdued emotionally as well as dramatically enhanced, that may sound idiotic but my point is that sometimes actors in a blockbuster don’t have the chance to be quiet and display their emotions in a subtler manner, which is a shame as we have a fine example here of how sometimes that can be infinitely more powerful, as if their grief is beyond emotional display (if you have read the book, or seen the film or spoiled it for yourself or had it spoiled by others you know what I mean).
However there is a slight sense that she has outgrown the role by now. For me Katniss was at her most interesting in ‘Catching Fire’ and since then she seems to have been stuck at the same stage of development, conflicted about her role in the rebellion, and that is pretty much how she stays.
This grief felt by Katniss is felt throughout the entire movie. Once again I have to send praise to the film for actually repressing a lot of hopeful and happy thoughts that could have permeated the franchise (it’s a story about kids being forced to kill each other, how could anyone make that happy?). But perhaps the grit and toughness has been lost in the process, it may be sombre in terms of its emotions but not necessarily in its action.
The action in question can be a bit jarring when transitioning from what is mostly a dialogue driven film. When you have such a modicum of seriousness throughout the rest of the film, extravagant set pieces and horrific creatures appear a bit out of place and juxtaposed to the world we are in most of the time. It is only made worse by how slow certain scenes in the film are as well.
This is precisely why you should not split books of this size into two films. At least with ‘Deathly Hallows’ we were finished with the slow camping scenes in Part 1 and were then allowed to witness the ultimate destruction and culmination of the series. ‘Mockingjay Part 2’ however makes you notice the dragging of the source material, it feels like each scene was extended five minutes longer than it should have been. The result is a pace that distorts a good deal of what we are witnessing and slows down the plot to nearly a standstill, drawing out every conversation, every plot detail every event. By the end of the first hour the movie has hardly moved.
The simple fact is this, ‘Mockingjay’ should have been one film. So at the risk of breaking a few hearts, the finale to the series is not quite as stellar as it should be.