The Hunger Games franchise has lit up the cinematic conversation towards films directed for young people and women as an untapped market for large blockbuster films. Thanks to the surprisingly well done performances from Jennifer Lawrence across the board and some worthy direction by Constantine director and every Hunger Games film except for the first, Francis Lawrence (no relation to Jennifer), this franchise has tapped into the aforementioned market and made the series increasingly watchable for fans of these types of films. And after saying all of that, I should tell you that I have not enjoyed any of the prior Hunger Games films, nor gotten more than half an hour into the prior Mockingjay film. But I will also say that I was in for a surprise as to how much I found interesting in the final instalment.
The second part continues directly after the first with Katniss (Lawrence) waking up with severe bruises around her neck caused by a brainwashed Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). With Katniss as the face of the resistance against the capital led by the vile President Snow (a fun performance by Donald Sutherland), she must face her feelings between being the face of a resistance that may be using her for their own interests and following her heart between Peeta and childhood friend, Gale (Liam Hemsworth). Francis Lawrence, by no means, tries to pretend that this isn’t a film that walks the line between soap opera and light science-fiction, but it’s what he is able to get away with in the subtext of the film that’s truly impressive.
Within the young adult adaptations,The Hunger Games films have always had a sense of self importance that carries into this one as well. The inherent silliness comes with all of that as well, which gives it a hokey melodramatic feeling, but Francis tries to keep that on hold when he wants to get into the more important things on his mind with this film. War is a game with no winners and the direction of the film will throw that in your face if you don’t already know that. Mockingjay Part 2 is equal parts melodrama, and anti-war film, neither of which are particularly subtle, it still manages to be engaging on both fronts almost without overstaying its welcome.
The director must be mandated by the studio and source material that he slaves over to try and make you care about certain characters and their drama. The ongoing love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale is still apparent and annoying, but thankfully isn’t mentioned as often. There’s a very tedious wedding in the film that foretells the clichés of what must happen immediately after. Mockingjay is a film that’s made for the children and other demographics, yet doesn’t manage to succinctly interest any of them enough to make an entertaining film out of its material.
If there’s anything that feels incredibly bothersome, it’s the ending(s). There is absolutely no reason for the denouement of any film to be this long. Yes, I made the obvious comparisons to The Lord of the Rings with friends, but despite the fact that this series is 4 films, not every little story has to have a neat bow tied around it. If war is hell, I don’t want a five minute scene showing how she gets over it like it’s the common cold. The film was able to coherently show how Katniss was able to get through the battles and numerous deaths of her friends, but we need to show how there will always be a happy ending? That’s what I call bullshit.
I don’t find myself hitting myself over the head for having seen this movie. But I don’t find myself particularly happy about it either. Mockingjay Part 2 is a good ending to a mediocre series of films. Jennifer Lawrence is what carried these films through their massive box office draws, now it’s time to see if she can do it with another franchise.