Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

Refer to this for my review of the first part.

Mockingjay Part 2 is the conclusion of the series which started with Hunger Games. If you haven't seen the previous films, you'll be completely lost, as it picks up right after the conclusion of Part 1 and makes no effort to reintroduce anything.

I'm a fan of the Hunger Games books and movies - while the first movie earned relatively low placement from me, Catching Fire ranked #2 of 40 in 2013, and Mockingjay Part 1 ranked #3 of 40 in 2014. Mockingjay Part 2 is the movie it needs to be in order to conclude the story by following the books, and it has moments where it is powerful. Unfortunately, it is hindered by weak source material.

Yeah, that's what I said. I was working at Barnes & Noble when the Mockingay book came out, and I well remember the hype and then the strongly divided reactions when people read it. I liked it at the time, and when I re-read it, but many people hated it, and it took me until this movie to really understand why. The first two books have essentially the same structure, and the third does not - that's obvious, and what I pointed to as the cause of dissatisfaction. But watching the condensed film version, it's obvious that the problems run much deeper than that.

Without getting into spoilers, a large portion of the book is devoted to setting up an action that doesn't happen. I understand what Collins was trying to accomplish, and there's an extent to which it works despite the problems, but there is a harsh anticlimax before the story progresses again, and a sense in which the only purpose of the preceding action was to inflict loss on the reader/watcher.

This isn't to say that this is a bad movie, or that you shouldn't see it. If you've come this far with the series, definitely see it through. There is a great deal of fine acting, and the moral messaging of the films is more topical than ever. Catching Fire and Mockingjay Part 1 are the best in the series, though.

As a side note, this movie has a wide range of diverse, deep, and powerful characters who happen to be female. Really happy about that.

Performance: 4.5/5
Plot: 2.5/5
Production: 4.5/5
Overall: 4/5
Bechdel: Pass (A)
Mako Mori: Pass
What are these?

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