Parts 1 & 2 – 2014 & 2015 (3D)
DIRECTOR: Francis Lawrence
May contain spoilers!
The Hunger Games (2012) and Catching Fire (2013) were both bold, ambitious and genre warping movies, both proving that you can make a genre film within a genre, rather than just a simple box ticking exercise.
The tone of the first movie was subversive and dark, setting children upon each other and managing to show this without showing too much whilst the second, took the plot a step further but my fears were realised with Mockingjay, Parts 1 and 2.
I felt that the story was going nowhere, destined to take us down a generic revolutionary route with few surprises and in many ways I was right. But I was also wrong as by the time this franchise concludes, characters are not quite where we would expect them to be, some are dead, some have moved on and others, such as Katniss Everdeen are effectively left with a happy ending, though clearly bitter sweet.
But my problem with Mockingjay is that we have suddenly been torn away from the story we knew, that of the Capitol’s depravity and The Hunger Games themselves, into a seemingly action lead, war/revolutionary tale, one in which there can be only one winner.
The twists revolve around District 13, the heart of the resistance lead by President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) who seems to lead a communist style district, someone who is set to depose the overtly capitalist President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and his District 1.
The twist is that it is not Communism vs. Capitalism at all, just another leader intent of taking control and falling into the same perilous and corrupt traps as Snow.
But that aside, the slow pacing which worked so well with the first two movies, feels just slow and plodding in these finales, dragging every thought, repeating conversations, looks and plots as if to drag out the story over a four and half hour run time. And Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) herself has changed. Always been somewhat unlikable and aloof in the early films, here we are told that she is unlikable yet her character is somewhat more sympathetic and with this artificial change, Lawrence’s performance suffers.
Then there is this constant and infuriating love triangle between Katniss, Peeta (Josh Hutchinson) and Gale (Liam Hemsworth) which is just dragged kicking and screaming into every possible scene, leaving us somewhat uninterested as who she chooses by the end, as is her constant wining, moaning and irresponsible insubordination.
Face of the resistance or not, she is clearly a liability from start to finish and I was just hoping that someone would shoot her by the end and give the resistance a chance. But as it turns out, they did not need to as they win without her anyway.
Yes, she may have inspired them but since the film was about her mission to assassinate Snow, she fails to even get close and her failure is all her own. She is simply not up to the job and I fail to see how or why we are expected to get behind her. She is not a hero.
And the contrivance of having the Game-Makers set traps in the Capitol was just ludicrous and not particularly satisfying either. All in all, Mockingjay is the embodiment of a high concept which had nowhere to go and ends up treading water until we stop paying for it.
Well, it is over and after a flying start it parachuted back to earth, safely but without any flair, real substance or the attitude of the first two films. And I have no doubt that if this ubiquitous two-part finale had been made as just one two and a half our film, then it would have been much, much better.