Katniss Everdeen’s journey comes to an end as the final battle moves to the Capitol.
The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins has gone from book to blockbuster with the final chapter in the extended four film run in cinemas this week. So how does this finale fare?
Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) has been having a pretty tough time since she first nominated herself as tribute at The Hunger Games back in 2012, and this is certainly her grimmest adventure yet. As the second half of the final book, Mockingjay Part 2 is concerned with a final assault on the forces of the evil President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and no one emerges unscathed.
What that means for the audience is an opening act that’s full of dire warnings and dark pronouncements. And while that may end up being accurate it certainly does make for electrifying viewing.
Mockingjay part 2 is actually kind of dull, especially as the opening hour moves at a glacial pace. The plot barely moves and everyone just sits around moping. Blockbuster event series are supposed to be entertaining, surely?
It improves in the second half as our remaining victors are thrown into an extended run through the Capitol, besieged by traps at every turn. It’s breathless and even exciting stuff, with a horror tinge that recalls some of the moments in director Francis Lawrence’s I Am Legend.
The ending is going to cause problems with some viewers. Partly there’s the issue of sensitivity to the recent events in Paris, with some fairly harrowing scenes actually shot in the French capital in 2014. More than that though is the lack of a satisfying ending.
While it may follow the events of the book (more or less) there’s a distinct lack of bombast in how the final moments are relayed on screen. It might feel fitting in the more subtle confines of Collins’ novel but after so much spectacle in the theatrical adaptations it feels like a bit of a damp squib. And it also doesn’t capture the really bleak aspect of the original ending.
At least the performances are decent, with Lawrence in particular feeling more animated this time around. It’s really her show and unfortunately that leaves next to no room for other characters that we’ve grown to like – with the near absence of the likes of Woody Harrelson’s Haymitch and Elizabeth Banks’ Effie most keenly felt.
That leaves the film lacking any sense of humour but also much of its personality as it marches grimly past the two hour mark. And the pacing also robs us of moments of significant drama, racing past major deaths without a moments pause to wring some emotions from the audience.
Still there are merits to be found, particularly in the way the script deals with notions like propaganda and terrorism and the technical specs are superb – when did CG become this photo-real? I also very much appreciate the lack of tacked on 3D these days.
Ultimately, the slow but clever Mockingjay Part 1 and darkly dreary Part 2 could easily have been rolled into one effective movie, exactly as the story exists in the book. It would have provided a real contrast in the two halves of the story and given this character a proper send off, after some serious fat was trimmed.