Thursday, 10 December 2015

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

I had been waiting with a degree of excited anticipation in hope that the fourth film in the trilogy [sic] would make good the shortcomings of the previous offering. I was so disappointed. This film grinds relentlessly towards a dull and laborious conclusion with little excitement and no inventiveness in terms of plot, character or narrative development. Poor. I can't remember the last time I wished for the film to stop so that I could read the book to get to the end more quickly! At 2:17 this film is way too long - particularly when you consider it is half a book!

The earlier films set up the narrative arc of the trilogy nicely and we all knew what Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) had to do - it was simply a case of how would she do it. In the end the climax is so predictable and at the same time unfulfilling. Yes, there is lots of action and the bloodiness of close combat urban civil war is portrayed with gruesome and graphic brutality. The action sequences, CGI and creativity of weaponry and adversaries of war were all very good.

For me there are two areas that fail to fulfil their dramatic potential. Firstly, the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and Gale (Liam Hemsworth) is devoid of energy, warmth and, essentially, passion. What had previously been a central part of the story seemed to be a shadowy side line in this concluding film. Secondly, the manipulation of Katniss by Snow (Donald Sutherland) and Coin (Julianne Moore) to achieve their own self-centred ends seems nothing but a mirror of Color Force and Lionsgate's manipulation of Lawrence to extract maximum dollars from movie goers as the franchise is milked beyond dry.

The one redeeming bright light in the film remains the thing that sets Katniss apart in the whole story - her moral compass. When those around her seem unable to exhibit objectivity and compassion, Katniss steps up to the plate and scores a series of home-runs. Most notably among these is the way she assassinates the President. Her attitude to Peeta - willing him to recover - is also commendable.

The acting in this film is strong - but the script and lumbering plot mean the characters are always held back from reaching their potential. Philip Seymour Hoffman's Plutarch Heavensbee is a strong performance - sadly his last. Sutherland's menace is convincing as President Snow and I loved Woody Harrelson's Haymitch Abernathy.

I was disappointed with this film - as you may have gathered. For die-hard devotees of the Hunger Games it will be essential viewing. For anyone else, it exposes the folly of stretching a trilogy into four parts simply to make money - artistic and creative product suffer in order to deliver a bottom line. If you can, wait for the boxed set to be released on disc. At least at home you can switch if off or skip chapters when it gets too boring! I'll give it 6/10.

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