Monday, June 27, 2016

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! So, was a pizza the prize in the Hunger Games?  I'll be honest, I haven't been paying attention at all with all these films.


The Hunger Games:  Mockingjay – Part 2 – 4 out of 5

Okay, so my history with The Hunger Games films has been rocky at best.  I didn’t care for the first one and found it a tad silly.  The second one I enjoyed much more but was less than thrilled with the first half of Mockingjay—hell, I’ll just say it, I was bored with Part 1.  So, I’ve finally got around to watching The Hunger Games:  Mockingjay – Part 2; the last film in the franchise, and how does it compare to the rest of the series or even the first half of this story?  (Like I always say when I pull this type of question:  Just pretend you didn’t already see the score.)

What the what?!?  Brienne of Tarth is in this?  I love her!

The Girl on Fire; Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence),  is still the symbol of rebellion and the revolution still seeks to use her to inspire all the Districts to turn against the evil President Snow (Donald Sutherland).  She wishes to be utilized on the front lines but rebellion leaders—especially Alma Coin (Julianne Moore)—thinks she will accomplish more as a media image than an actual fighter.  So, armed with a camera crew, a childhood friend and fellow fighter; Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), fellow Hunger Games winner; Finnick Odair (Sam Clafin) and some nameless soldiers, they set out to inspire the populace on the battlefield.  Also along for the ride is the man Katniss has confused feelings for; Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson).  Peeta was recently reprogrammed by the enemy and it’s unclear if he’s out to help the woman he says he loves or kill her.  Can Katniss lead the armies to overthrow the tyrannical rule of the system or will she fall?

Yep, he looks like he's about to give the old "We're not so different, you and I" speech.

One of my biggest complaints about Part 1 was the seemingly fact it felt like they were actively deciding to not show any action.  It made the film feel like it was dragging too often and made the entire feature feel like it was just an extra-long first act and partial beginning to a second act.  This time around, the film does not hesitate on the action (well, it does sometimes) and the set pieces that it delivers on are intense and immensely satisfying—except for when the film kills off one of my favorite characters.  WHY?!?  You leave Peeta alive but not him?

I don't know if I can forgive this movie for what it did to Finnick Odair.
He was my favorite character, you monsters!  This isn't Game of Thrones, for
crying out loud!
All the residents of the Capitol are trying to get
tickets to Hamilton.
This brings me to my next point:  I still don’t understand the appeal of Peeta.  One constant I’ve had throughout this franchise is the fact I don’t feel anything but contempt for this character.  I’ve asked my friends who have read the books and questioned if he is better portrayed in the novels and so far all I’ve heard is that he is.  For me, Peeta has always felt like Katniss’ physical manifestation of weakness.  All I’ve seen is him holding her down and make her weak in resolve and even weaker on the battlefield.  Her feelings for him have always felt forced or felt like a complete mystery to me and, in this final installment, my questions over Peeta have not been made clear and he still feels like an anchor weighing down the potential of a truly badass character.  It sorta feels like the writer is saying that Katniss can’t be a great character without someone to love because that’s what females do.  Things are only complicated by the fact that Peeta was reprogrammed and is now a potential threat to Katniss.  I had a hard enough time buying the feelings she had for this character before and matters are made only worse when I took into consideration that I have no clue how she would ever feel truly comfortable around the man.  You never truly know if he's reprogramming is now gone.  Ultimately, though, I’m not entirely sure if my troubles with this character come from the way he is written or by weak performance of Josh Hutcherson.

I will never understand this character or why he matters!!!

On the performance end, the cast is all doing a great job—with a few notable exceptions.  I’ve never been too fond of Hutcherson’s performance and once again found him to be “meh.”  I was also a little disappointed with Jena Malone in this film.  Normally, I’m a big fan of Malone but I found she was laying it on pretty thick in this one.  She looks a tad cheesy.  Finally, Jennifer Lawrence was doing fairly well for most of the film but there were definitely times where she didn’t look too committed to the scene.  Was she tired getting tired of this role by this point?  I don’t know but there were definitely times where it felt like she wasn’t caring.

You know who was clearly caring very much about their job?
Whoever did her make-up.  That is on-point!

Like any film set in a very rich and established universe, there always comes a time when you find that you have a lot of characters—maybe even too much.  Mockingjay Part 2 does suffer from this to a small extent as you get the usual nameless soldiers who act only as potential body bag fillers for the story but there are characters that get introductions that make you feel like they are going to play some role in the goings-on.  Sure, you still know that they are just around to die but there’s still a sense that gives you the sense that they might be developed in some way. Sadly, they aren’t.  This isn’t exactly an issue and didn’t really kill any entertainment value but it definitely felt like a cliché issue that is seen in a lot of big franchise features.

God dammit.  I miss you, Philip Seymour Hoffman!

Mockingjay - Part 2 is very entertaining and a fairly decent conclusion to the story.  There’s some great action, it gets terribly dark at times but not needlessly so (it felt warranted, not dark-for-being-dark’s sake like BvS), and I really enjoyed the way the story showed the use of media and propaganda to sell the war.  The way both sides would showcase Katniss as either a hero or a menace really made for something that was beyond the usual tween dystopia story that involves the “chosen one” taking down the oppressor.  However, the biggest issue I had is the fact the ending just doesn’t feel satisfying.  It already suffers from the same curse that The Return of the King suffered as it has several endings as it attempts to tie off all the loose ends that the films established but none of these endings really felt like it was that satisfying of a conclusion or really solidified why this journey was warranted.  While the hero achieves her victory, the blandness that is just sorta lethargically produced on the screen as the final moments twirl down really made for an ending that was just sorta okay.

The franchise may be done but I'm still open to the idea of a spin-off that's
entirely about Haymitch Abernathy.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Hunger Games:  Mockingjay – Part 2.  I had some issues with it and was pretty luke warm with the ending but it was still a very exciting and entertaining film.  It’s pretty crazy that I came around on this franchise the way I did.  I mean, I gave the first film a 2 out of 5 and here I am giving the finale a 4 out of 5—even after I admitted I didn’t care for the ending.  I’m growing as a human being, I guess.  Not all heroes wear capes.  I'm not saying I'm a hero but I'm not NOT saying I am...but I'm totes a hero.

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