The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
Classic Elsternwick - Sunday 22 November 2015, 10:00am
Running time: 137m
Country: United States
Classification: M (Mature themes, violence and horror sequence)
Release date: 19/11/15
Cost: $10 (Optus Rewards)
Rating: 5/10 (ME 2/5, DP 3/5)
Still feeling peckish?
The latest and last instalment of the Hunger Games saga, brings to an end the story of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and the rebellion in Panem against President Snow (Donald Sutherland) in the Capitol. It picks up almost immediately after the last film ends, with the rebellion gaining momentum and Katniss continuing to serve as the face of the movement in a carefully choreographed and filmed PR campaign. Katniss is dubbed 'The Mockingjay' by the rebellion leaders, headed by Julieannne Moore (with a hairdo even more bizarre than the one she wore in Freeheld) as President Alma Coin from District 13. Katniss is also an absolute whiz with a bow and arrow and feels she carries the weight of the rebellion on her shoulders, even though she never asked for it in the first place, while at the same time she is caught up in a peculiar and not entirely convincing love triangle with trusty sidekick Gale Hawthorne (The Dressmaker's Liam Hemsworth) and traumatised Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson).
This is a film with fairly dark themes, including the role of wartime propaganda and the considerations of 'collateral damage', so it is by no means a feel-good experience. Standout performances are delivered by Jennifer Lawrence, as the heroine of the piece, and Donald Sutherland as the delightfully and decadently evil, yet still jovial, President Snow. Elizabeth Banks is also notable as the wonderful and exuberant Effie Trinket, in her disappointingly few scenes. There are some rather good action sequences, particularly as the elite squad of rebels fight their way up 75 blocks of the Capitol to the Presidential Palace with the ultimate goal of assassinating President Snow. The streets of the Capitol are peppered with 'pods' (individual and elaborate traps - boiling oil, flame throwers and machine guns anyone?) that can be pin-pointed with a very specifically programmed 'holo' (hologram) device and we also meet the truly horrifying 'mutts', providing the feeling that the squad is progressing through one huge and controlled gaming arena. We also encounter one of the most bizarre sequences of the film, as Katniss and her crew seek refuge in the whimsical costume shop of Tigris (Eugenie Bondurant), who could perhaps best be described as a rather devoted fan of Jocelyn Wildenstein. In another scene we were only a rousing chorus of 'Can you hear the people sing?' away from the Panem production of Les Miserables as the downtrodden rebels surged toward Snow's palace, pushing the elaborately costumed elite citizens of the Capitol to the side as they march.
In the absence of any knowledge of the preceding Hunger Games films (or the books upon which they are based), The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 might feel somewhat disconnected, or worse, somewhat meaningless without context. It can be quite confusing, with a web of interconnected characters, talk of a complex network of Districts at war and constant references to people, events and places from the earlier films. It does a serviceable job tying up many loose ends in the saga and tosses in a few twists here and there to keep things interesting. If you haven't seen any of the other films, at the bare minimum a quick Wikipedia update is essential. We had watched Part 1 only twelve months ago and at times still struggled to remember much of the story and comprehend what was really going on. This is a film that is enjoyable at times and will satisfy the appetites of fans of the books and the preceding films. (DP)
My appetite has gone
Agreed, there are some very exciting moments in Mockingjay 2 and the visual effects have the grandeur you'd expect from a big-budget blockbuster, but there are also long sequences where there is little happening to progress the plot. Katniss and her friends sat around and reflected on previous events (in case you'd forgotten) or talked about their fears (again) or how bad that awful President Snow is. The film has a predictable rhythm; when our heroes sit down and start talking you know you've got enough time to go to the candy bar (spending a week's worth of pocket money on enough popcorn to fill a phone booth) and return to your seat in time for something interesting to happen. It's a shame the story was split into two slow films rather than a single well-paced one, but I'm sure all the extra box office revenue will make up for any loss of artistic integrity. (ME)