The time has come. The Mockingjay is in full flight and taking every desperate soul with her in Pt. 2.
Completing a franchise always come with the heavy burden of expectation and anticipation. Done wrong and the entire franchise could collapse on itself. Done right and it could solidify the franchise for years to come. I’m not one to sit on the fence but Mockingjay Pt. 2 really does come somewhere in the middle.
It does enough to prevent a complete collapse but it never comes close to the retaining the close proximity of The Hunger Games, or for that matter, Catching Fire.
Obviously the final two parts of the franchise were always going to be different. For starters there are no actual ‘Games’ and instead a war of propagandistic attrition takes over, with the Mockingjay leading the resistance in revolutionary fervour.
After Peeta strangled Katniss within an inch of her life in Mockingjay Pt. 1 the credits rolled much to the annoyance of all in attendance. There’s nothing worse than an anti-climax (I’m looking at you Deathly Hallows Pt. 1). But we shouldn’t have expected anything different, we know how movies work these days and in true British spirit we turn the upper lip, suck it up and wait a year for Mockingjay Pt. 2 to dispel any hard feelings.
Naturally those hard feelings were first to rear their ugly head at the opening of Pt. 2.
With a suitably bruised neck, swollen vocal chords, and the first signs that this war is taking its toll on the girl on fire Pt. 2 reminds us why we waited a year to see her stick it out to brutal end. Thankfully the action promised by Pt. 1 lives up to expectation.
In their first act to put pressure on the Capitol the rebels neutralise the weapons cache in District 2 and force the Capitol loyalists to surrender. In all the excitement Katniss is shot but suffers no serious injuries, only pride and her sway over President Coin.
To avoid any further risk to Katniss’ life Coin instructs her to stay in District 13 and carry out her Mockingjay duties behind closed doors. To our surprise Katniss agrees and soon finds herself dancing at Finnick and Annie’s wedding, out of place and out of sorts. Of course, Katniss has other ideas and with the help of Johanna boards a supply ship leaving for District 2 that same evening.
With their feet firmly on the front lines Katniss, Gale and Finnick are soon enlisted in an elite squad to film the rebellion after the rebel forces have made their way through the Capitol. With the aid of a Holographic map Squad 451 have to traverse the Capitol mine field which has been rigged with booby traps, called pods, by the remaining gamemakers. As Finnick wryly puts it,
"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the seventy-sixth Hunger Games."
Yet the same proximity honed in THG and THG:CF isn’t captured to it’s full potential and everything feels a little bland. The concrete Capitol jungle reminiscent of the Soviet Eastern Bloc during the Cold War could be to blame but despite the stakes being so high the atmosphere is never harnessed completely.
In this confusing maze of barbarism President Snow’s tyranny stinks and it’s not long before numerous members of Squad 451 are slain, including Boggs, Katniss’ trusty confidant and friend. But before he suffered at the hands of the barbaric gamemakers he opened Katniss’ eyes to a revealing trait of President Coin’s, of which you’ll have to see for yourself. I’m no party pooper.
Fleeing from waves of killer ooze, flamethrowers, and mutts Katniss and Squad 451 make their way across the Capitol to the front steps of Snow’s mansion where Coin shows her true colours.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt. 2 has some great action sequences but is let down by the constant anti-Snow rhetoric and cringey love triangle that Peeta and Gale have a good ol’ chat about, why? we’ll never know but it appears Lionsgate didn’t want to take all the ‘teen’ out of this teen fiction.
Despite sticking to Suzanne Collins’ teen fiction Francis Lawrence takes good care of his headlining cast including a final posthumous appearance from Philip Seymour Hoffman who even in death manages to steal every scene he is in. Julianne Moore annoys me in everything so the less said about my bias the better. Having said that, she does make a convincing Alma Coin and frankly couldn’t have been cast better. Elizabeth Banks as Effie is inexcusably absent throughout despite her conquering role in THG and THG:CF. With the remaining supporting cast rounding out the roster in style.
Jennifer Lawrence puts in another infallible performance as Katniss and Josh Hutcherson is a convincing maniac with a complicating inferiority complex as Peeta. But they have good chemistry and bring an otherwise fatigued script to life.
Overall, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt. 2 was Worth my Time to see the franchise out to the brutal end but I don’t think I’ll be in HMV when the blu-ray is released.
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~ May the odds be ever in your favour ~