I’ll say this right away, if you’re going to split a book into two parts do not wait a year to release them. Fanbases don’t keep up any kind of momentum for that long, and its highly likely that everyone else will have forgotten most of part one, especially if part one is moody character studies featuring people waiting around in campsites.
With that out of the way, it remains to be seen whether this final instalment in the young adult dystopian series was worth waiting for.
After having spent the previous film in an underground bunker Katniss Everdeen is finally ready to take revenge on the Capitol and upon President Snow, in particular for the trauma conga line she’s been afflicted with in the previous films. As her journey progresses it becomes clear that the rebellion, spurred on by President Coin, are teetering on a slippery slope of their own. Soon Katniss is grappling with the ethics of warfare and revenge as well as having to finally pick which of the two hunky boys that she’s been saddled with for all these films that she wants to settle for.
This time last year when I reviewed the first part of this film I mentioned that I’d never got into The Hunger Games. I’m not sure the series has grown on me any more, but this is definitely my favourite film in the series. The action is at its best and the strong art design, that never really got a chance to shine in the previous films, is on full display here. Jennifer Lawrence inhabits the role so completely that it’s sometimes difficult to remember that she’s an actress who can play a variety of roles; it’s the kind of performance that an entire film could be based on. And the supporting cast are at their best here as well, there doesn’t seem to be any flat notes among them (some viewers might name Juliane Moore as a possible weak link, but I’m pretty sure her character is supposed to come off as unconvincing and hammy). Granted, it’s because all of the actors were given juicy material to work with.
The logistics of Panem are still nonsensical and will get in the way of your enjoyment of the film if you let it (like how in the hell did they booby trap every single corner of the city in a handful of days and without killing most of the residents?), but the commentary on warfare and the narratives that dictate it are sound. I also have to applaud the decision of the film makers to shift the focus from reality TV in the books to franchise marketing in the films, especially after it culminates in a finale that makes it clear that this film is more critical about its marketing than any critic ever could be.
It’s a relentlessly bleak movie mind; this isn’t exactly a popcorn muncher, and I was struggling to decide whether this or Jessica Jones was more depressing to watch. But it’s not pointlessly bleak, and it’s all in service of the greater point being made.
Of course there are problems with the film and I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t derive some dark delight in talking about them. I’m still not sure whether this should have been divided between two films, they don’t really work without the other. The first movie was just slog to get through, similar to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and possibly similar to Breaking Dawn, except that I have no desire or patience to suffer through those movies, so I couldn’t say for sure.
The climax suffers from too many endings; it feels like the film should end long before it does, to say nothing of an underwhelming resolution. And speaking of underwhelming resolution, the love triangle doesn’t really end in the explosive or emotive fashion that I would have expected given the build-up it had received across the series, and it felt like a distraction from the real meat of the story every time it was addressed. And that is kind of a problem considering the fact that it forms the emotional heart of the entire film. Though again, this might be my own distaste for the conventions of The Hunger Games that many of its fans adore.
At the end of the day, if you were on board with the rest of films you’ll be on board for Mockingjay Part Two. It’s got everything that works about the series, from its metatextual commentary to its cast full of accomplished character actors, and for others who could never really get into the series, at least console yourself with a handful of hammy performances and some fun action.
I would say that you could take heart in this being the end of the series, but it looks like The Maze Runner and Divergent are keen on taking its place.