Film, OldVenue

Review – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part Two

When Part One was released, there was definitely a sense that Mockingjay, the final instalment of Suzanne Collins’ young adult series, should have remained as one movie. Pervaded by a great deal of padding and a lack of strong action sequences, it certainly felt that Part One was hanging around for the real story to occur later on. Part Two could have gone in two directions: keep dragging along and continuing to prove that the source needed fewer films, like The Hobbit, or crank up the action and excitement for an excellent conclusion, like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part Two.

Regrettably, Mockingjay – Part Two falls into the dragging category, proving to have a lot of filler; it’s less padded than Part One, but it still features many scenes that are extraneous to the grand scheme of the plot. No clearer is this evident than the love triangle subplot. Whilst present throughout the series, it really rears its ugly head again and is painfully irritating. You know how it’s going to end, and there is a sense of weariness as it keeps trying to distract you from what should be an epic war effort. Additionally, there are plenty of other scenes that drag on and take away from the story, with the epilogue in particular going on far longer than it needs to be. Splitting the movie into two parts proved to be a bad decision.

Unfortunately, even if the movie was one part, it wouldn’t change its disappointing anti-climax. It’s astonishing that, despite the slow pace of some scenes in the film, it rushes the most important parts. A number of important character deaths take place, yet their scenes are hurried through, reducing the emotional impact of the film. The final action climax sequence proves to be the worst offender in this area, being over far too quickly and feeling very predictable.

For the most part, the action is very well done (with the exception of the ending) and makes up for the previous movie’s drudging lack of it. The second act is essentially an extended action sequence, presenting an unofficial ‘Hunger Games’ within a gritty urban setting. Tense and unpredictable, this act keeps you on the edge of your seat through an intense sewer battle. Sadly the creatures sent to kill the protagonists during this scene look like poorly rendered albino xenomorphs. The storming of the Capitol proves to be a gripping action sequence that brings a suitably grim tone to the finale.
The acting is solid throughout. Jennifer Lawrence proves her mettle once again as Katniss Everdeen, mixing stoic leadership qualities with the vulnerabilities that make her a well-rounded lead. Josh Hutcherson is also good as Peeta, capturing the character’s internal conflict stemming from the previous movie. Liam Hemsworth is bland as Gale, though he seems to be short-changed by the fact that his character exists mostly to fuel the banal love triangle. Actors such as Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, and Jena Malone are strong, as ever, though they feel rather underused, as does Julianne Moore as President Coin, the leader of the resistance who may have ulterior motives. Stealing the show once again, is Donald Sutherland as President Snow, who brings a mixture of coldness and smirking smugness, making him highly enjoyable to watch.

It’s a shame that the writing undermines the film’s strengths and stretches what started as a promising franchise far past its shelf life, trying to squeeze out more money from the target audience. Instead of being a glorious conclusion, it feels like a lumbering race to the end, and ultimately proves that Mockingjay should have been one film.

Is it worth watching?

+ Strong Action
– Pacing all over the place
– Anti-climactic

Diehard fans will love this, but the scattershot Mockingjay Part Two brings the once promising franchise to an end with an unsatisfactory whimper.

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Watch the trailer for Mockingjay Part Two
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August 2021
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