So ‘The Hunger Games’ series comes to a very unceremonious end with ‘Mockingjay Part 2’ and even powerhouse actress Jennifer Lawrence can’t save this poorly lit and staged, dreary, plodding mess of a film. Perhaps it was the decision to split the final chapter into two drawn out segments when the subject matter didn’t warrant it, or perhaps it was the matter itself that wasn’t very compelling. The larger world-building beyond the games themselves never really panned out – there’s something interesting here to be said about the balance of power and the human condition that perhaps the book coaxes more out of, but on screen these themes are overshadowed by murky effects and a drab anti-love story.
‘Part 2’ reintroduces a recovering from brain-washing Peeta (Josh Hutcherson, again weak and whiny, his character most interesting in the previous film as a symbol of Capitol propaganda), and it is his love-hate relationship with Katniss that is the driving underlying force of this film. The love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale (Liam Hemsworth, again relegated to the sidelines, has become a bland soldier who seems to have lost his sympathy for others despite experiencing the oppression of the Capitol’s Peacemakers first-hand) has always been the weakest element of this series, so it is surprising that this storyline becomes the focal point of the conclusion. In fact, the way Lawrence plays Katniss with inner strength and a sensitivity to the plight of others, it is surprising that she would even choose either of these guys..
Ultimately, the film fails to support the acting prowess of its’ star with anything worthy of the dedication Lawrence brings to the character. The supporting actors around her are all extremely capable, but there is not much for any of them to do in this movie (blink and you’ll miss ‘Game of Thrones’ Gwendoline Christie). The screenplay is lifeless. The challenges of the booby-trap ‘pods’ placed around the city in the siege that makes up the majority of the film are poorly staged and rendered CGI, circumvented with little excitement by the tediously trekking troupe as they make their way to an unsatisfying conclusion at the mansion of President Snow (Donald Sutherland, the only spark of villainous life in this bland production). Throughout the series, Katniss has been a compelling character because she never asked to be a symbol, and perhaps that is the point of this last film, but there is nothing satisfying about it . . .
Directed By: Francis Lawrence
Written By: Peter Craig & Danny Strong
Running Time: 137 min.
* 1/2 (out of 4 stars) -OR- C-