The film is directed by Francis Lawrence, and is the last film of the series.
The makers of the Hunger Games, based on the book series by the same name, had split the final book (as is the norm these days, started by Harry Potter franchise, just so that the makers can milk more money!) into 2 parts. The first part came last year; now let's check out if the second film gives the series a proper conclusion...
What's it about
Part 2 continues from where Part I ends with Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) after barely having survived being strangulated by a brainwashed Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), finds herself embroiled in the political machinations of President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and the rebel leader, President Coin (Julianne Moore). After the rebels evacuate District 2 of Capitol loyalists and Katniss gets shot at in the ensuing melee, she decides to go for President Snow once and for all. She unofficially joins a team of ragtag rebel officers, including her on-and-off paramour Gale (Liam Hemsworth) that is ready to infiltrate into the Capitol. However, her presence in the team allows Coin to make it a propaganda rally, with Boggs (Mahershala Ali), Finnick (Sam Claflin), Cressida (Natalie Dormer) and her crew Castor (Wes Chatham) and Pollux (Elden Henson) joining them. They are told to trail behind the rebel invasion and be the face of the rebellion, while getting inside the city. As they infiltrate into the Capitol, they are faces with deadly traps set by Snow to curb the invasion. Katniss loses several members of her team and friends before she manages to reach the heart of the city where Snow lives. As she and Gale proceed to assassinate Snow, a HUGE shock awaits her at the steps of Snow's mansion!
The best aspect about the film is that the series is finally able to reach the conclusion, though the excitement that the first film gave us has tapered to the point of annoyance and boredom. Though the film lacks the intense action sequences we loved in the first two parts, the liquid tar scene was brilliantly done. However, unlike Star Wars - the prequel trilogy, the political undertones of the film are actually far more interesting and enrapturing than the action bits here. And that's thanks to the scenery chewing performances of veterans, Julianne Moore and Donald Sutherland. Julianne Moore as the silver-haired and silver-tongued Coin embodies various shades of manipulations and cunning, that we almost want to call this movie, 50 Shades of Grey just for her. Donald Sutherland is brilliant once again, whose scenes we just can't get enough. His Snow is despicable in his actions, yet we can't help but admire the man for his incredulity thanks to Sutherland's performance. His greenhouse conversation with Katniss just before the climax is one of the rare best scenes in the film. Among the younger lot, it is Jena Malone who impressed me the most as the sarcastic yet heroic Johanna Mason; unfortunately, she is given very little to do. Sam Claflin also gets to shine as the enigmatic Finnick Odair, and so does Natalie Dormer. This is Josh Hutcherson's best performance in the series and he finally gets a few moments to bask in glory outside Jennifer Lawrence's towering shadow. Speaking of Jennifer Lawrence, here's an actress who has become bigger than the movie itself, what with the multiple Oscar nominations and a win. She doesn't need a Hunger Games to prove she is a HUGE star, but that doesn't stop her to give her best in what was becoming a totally one-note character. Even though her character becomes less sympathetic, it's her honest performance that makes us invest in the film. Also, it was a truly emotional moment to see the great Phillip Seymour Hoffman and his enigmatic smile for that one last moment...We will miss you, sire!
Unfortunately, like last week's disappointing SPECTRE, even Mockingjay Part 2 test our patience to no end. The film drags too much with its length of nearly 2 and a half hour, most of which are confined to Katniss' facial expressions and flaring nostrils. The Katniss-Peeta-Gale love triangle still bores us even when the film provides the solution to this long-drawn entanglement. It's like the Twilight saga all over again, with the same smoldering glances and stolen kisses, but a lot less preposterous. Being one of the few who haven't read the books, I still can't fathom the idea of putting the main players in yet another booby-trapped maze only to reach a conclusion where none of their travails mattered. The climatic portions do have its moments, but not enough to salvage the film. Inspite of the length, several important characters of the series are given the short end of the drift, the main victims being Woody Harrelson's Haymitch and Elizabeth Banks' Effie Trinket, while Stanley Tucci is only visible for one scene. However, the worst to suffer is Katniss' little sister, Primrose, the main reason why Katniss even entered Hunger Games. The eventual fate of her character should have been a powerful scene, but it actually lacks impact here. Even Gale as a character is not given a single scene to shine, despite it being such a important role, and Liam Hemsworth fails to bring any gravitas to the role as well. The last scene between Gale and Katniss, again, should have been empowering due to its shades of betrayal, but is utterly unconvincing here. Every character motivation is easily predictable (Except for Gale's, which looks totally forced...). Even the conclusion leaves us asking more than actually solving anything. We don't mind grim endings, but at least tell us what exactly is happening out there. Has the world of Katniss Everdeen changed for the better? Has her sacrifices did something good for others? At least Harry Potter film series, even if quite inferior to the books, had a proper conclusion that gave satisfying answers. And why do every Young Adult adventure series has one zombie-chasing scene? In the Maze Runner: Scorch Trials, we had Crankers that looked like leftover zombies from World War Z. Here we have Mutts, that creepily looks like those fiends in The Descent mated with Spiderman 3's Venom!
What to do
Mockingjay films have lost whatever bright promise the first two films have given the viewers. Though compared to both Maze Runner and Divergent series, it still hold its head high, thanks to some superlative performances and big names in the star cast. But we only wish the makers would have given the series a far better, gripping and satisfying conclusion it truly deserves. Nevertheless, watch it if you only have the desire to complete the series.
2.5 out of 5
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