Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 A Bit Uneven

I liked The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, the fourth and last installment of the Hunger Games movies.  I will try to be as spoiler free so I will not tell you who lives, who dies, who loves, and or how it all comes together.  If you've read the books, you already know.  The movie centers on the completion of the revolt against District 1 and the evil president/dictator Snow, the growth and burden that must be born by the Mockingjay, Katniss Everdeen, and on the recovery of her lost friend and broken warrior, Peta Mellark.

The movie has the return of all the characters we came to love or hate in the first three movies.  The cast of actors from Jennifer Lawerence, Donald Sutherland, to Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson and Julianne Moore all turn in their usually strong performances. I must admit it is a bit hard seeing Phillip Seymour Hoffman and knowing this subtle and talented actor was taken from us too soon.  That all said Mockingjay Part 2 is the weakest of the four movies and the reason is really quite simple.

I have not yet read the books, but I am told that Part 2 is the most faithful to the novels. It is also, as one reviewer I read put it, the problem.  Mockingjay should have never been split into two movies.  The second part is a good enough finale for the series, but it is unevenly paced and overly long in parts. It struggles to carry the weight of a full-length movie.  If it had been a more judicially edited addition to a longer version of Part 1, making the two movies one, it would probably make for a much stronger movie.  I am also told by those who have read the book, Mockingjay also suffers from the same uneven pacing.

What makes The Hunger Games series including its fourth installment work is that it captures a complex story.  This is a failing of the host of wannabe Hunger Games like the Divergent, Mazerunner, and The Giver.  While I know The Giver is a wonderfully nuanced novel, the movie misses these undertones.  This movie along with  Divergent and Mazerunner comes off as evil governments or politicians who use the youths for some unknown purpose.  We do not get that in Hunger Games.  The writers have captured the feel of the characters and the people of Panem.  They have also captured the undercurrents of the machinations of those driven by power.  Snow is not pure evil.  We come to know, despite the loss of the actor, that it is Plutarch Heavensbee who is the true Gamemaker in more ways than just one.

Mockingjay Part 2 shows us the damage not only to property the war brings but also how it war turns even the innocent into combatants on both sides when they shouldn't be.  It causes damage to even the victors.  The Games gives the audience a single insight into the people and the warriors.  No one leaves the games unscathed.  Mockingjay Part 2 is not just a vengeance of stopping Katniss stopping Snow.  It is the story of politics, power, and subterfuge.  It comes at a great cost.

While the movie suffers a bit from it having the last novel divided into two parts, I guess it is understandable since the weekend box office take was the lowest in the series and it still brought in $100 million.  Hollywood is, after all, about money too.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 does capture and maintain a feel that was established in the first three.   I liked it well enough; it just isn't as strong as the previous three.  Still we are reminded, in war no one ever really wins The Hunger Games.  "May the odds be ever in your favor."