The story that lit the fire of young adult dystopian films has come to its epic conclusion.
At this point, you have surely either seen the previous three films, or read the books if you care about this review, so I can probably forego any detailed explanations. Suffice to say, part 2 of the final chapter in Katniss’s (Jennifer Lawrence) tragic tale of revolution picks up right where the last film cut – Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) is a dangerous brainwash victim and Katniss wants nothing more than to end this all – which means ending Snow (Donald Sutherland).
If you’ve read the books, you know what’s going to happen – this, unlike so many recent movies, is an incredibly faithful adaptation of the source material. Almost to a fault, but we’ll get to that later. Seriously, only one scene comes to mind where I said to myself “that’s not what happened!” and it really didn’t bother me too much because it still stayed true to the spirit of the story. Sure there are small changes here and there, but they mostly have to do with truncating long sequences and making things work onscreen in the world that has been built by the previous films.
Fans are going to be extremely pleased with the way this, the best of the four films, turned out. The series has been nothing if not devoted to the fans of the books, and they will notice that almost every word that comes out of the mouths of the many talented actors is directly lifted from author Suzanne Collins‘ pages. Wait, did I just say this was the best of all four films? Yes, yes I did. An incredible feat considering that the book is widely considered to be the weakest of the trilogy, with an ending that fails to do justice to the rest of the story.
I mentioned that not much was changed onscreen. This is true. A lot is cut, however, or at least viciously pruned. And this is a good thing. It seems like the filmmakers very deliberately excised the majority of what is disliked by fans. Namely, we are not left to deal with a self-pitying heroine who drifts through a fog of confusion, depression, and drugs half the time. Everything that those things were caused by is dealt with, but quickly and without turning into a slog.
The most mature of the films, it feels like they finally really hit their stride with the tone of the movie. The world feels more lived in and has a sense of urgency about it that wasn’t quite there at times before. Some of the action sequences are straight out of Resident Evil and I mean that in a good way. Relying on dialogue originally written for the page means the characters stay true to who they are meant to be, but at times can drift into melodramatic territory.
Sutherland is genius once again and proves to be the perfect evil President Snow at this crucial point. The late Philip Seymour Hoffman shines as Plutarch despite not having a lot of screen time. Lawrence is as stoic as always as the reluctant revolutionary who doesn’t think much of herself. Some may say she acted tired/bored of the character, but those who know Katniss know that she was tired of herself the whole time, and it shows.
Buttercup. Not Rue. The most emotional part of the entire series features every fan’s favorite mangy cat. Just when you thought the movie pulled the emotional punches in the name of a PG-13 rating, Lawrence swings a knockout. There are punches pulled, however, due to ratings. I realize it’s not reasonable to expect, given the audience for this film, but an R rating would have really hammered home the brutality that is so crucial to bringing the emotions and message of this film home. It still manages well enough, but it could have been better.
Deliberately paced, the two hour plus film takes full advantage of only having to tell the story of half of a book. It doesn’t every feel superfluous or tedious with useless filler. If anything, it could have used even more filler – I would have loved to have gotten to know Finnick (Sam Claflin) and Annie better, for instance. In the book, their wedding is a huge deal, but it’s underplayed here.
A strongly made sci-fi revolutionary war movie, Mockingjay Part 2 hits so many of the right chords and brings to vivid life a story loved by many.
There are weaknesses, to be sure. Some inherent to the genre and intended audience. Could it have been better? Sure – character development is still not its strongest point, but all in all, fans could scarcely ask for a better ending to their beloved franchise. Like Katniss’s arrow, it flies true.
Mrs. Hamster says:
“They cut out the whiny Katniss sections that are the bad parts of the book.”
(subtract one hat if you are not already enamored with the series, this film probably won’t change your mind)
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 burns up 4,000 theaters, including IMAX, November 11