Movie Review — “Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2”

mock

Well, thank heavens that’s over with.

“The Hunger Games” go out with two hours and seventeen minutes in which every performance, every bored expression of sentiment, every limp action-beat suggests that phrase was the on-set mantra.

Over and done. Where’s my check?

“Mockingjay II” is a bare bones finale — a tedious two hours in which nothing at all happens, with the briefest of breaks for a zombie chase and attack and a half-hearted bit of sci-fi combat.

Yeah, I know they’re called “mutts” and not zombies in this world. A lot of gadgets, pills and what-not get their own semi-original names from author Suzanne Collins. But why remember them when these last two films all but ensure this series will be as forgotten as “Twilight” within a year or so?

The film that might have been titled “Kill Snow Part 2” is strictly for the fans. There’s no summation of the action, no recap of the last film or earlier installments.

We’re just hurled into…exposition. Lots and lots of flat-actors flatly delivering more mountains of exposition, at the very end of a very long YA film series. Not something you pile into the final act of your “epic.”

The huntress Katniss, phoned in by Jennifer Lawrence, has to recover from this or that potentially life-threatening injury, get out her bow and hunt down the evil President Snow (Donald Sutherland), who would rather slaughter the various proletarian “districts” that keep Panem running than give up power.

Very Syrian of him.

Katniss still has to decide which of two co-stars she has zero chemistry with she should fall for, the brainwashed Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) or the hunkier, more reliable Gale (Liam Hemsworth). What’s making out with Katniss like, Gale?

“It’s like kissing someone who’s drunk — it doesn’t count.”

Katniss is weary of the slaughter. First the games, then the endless and murderous civil war.

Killing someone? “It’s ALWAYS personal.”

She’s leery of the rebels’ “president” (Julianne Moore).

“You’re very…useful…to us.”

So to end all this, she must go on one last quest, break into the Capital and kill Snow, slip past the Loyalist Stormtroopers and the ingenious killing zones — “pods” — concocted by the ingenious designers of the Hunger Games themselves.

Only they aren’t. Ingenious. They’re perfunctory minefields, and for a city supposedly wholly embedded with them, there aren’t enough to stand in her way.

Characters die, and every so often enemy “propos” (TV propaganda) turn up on handy, omnipresent TVs. Those are the only times we see Stanley Tucci. Alas.

And don’t expect any fond farewell to the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, who almost certainly wouldn’t want this paycheck job in his obituary or remembered as his “final film.”

The best of these movies haven’t been all that, and in the hands of low-bidder director Francis Lawrence, three of them have been more forgettable than the rest.

It’s a pity this teenage girl empowerment series wasn’t better written, deep enough to warrant the casting of Lawrence, who has gone on to an Academy Award and the promise of winning others.

But whatever effort she made in the earlier “Hunger Games” films, she plainly checked out of this one. There isn’t a tender moment you believe, a wrenching loss that she makes you feel.

This will make a lot of money, and there’s talk of a Hunger Games theme park. But as fans and the rest of us have patiently–ever-so-patiently– waited for these movies to suddenly take flight, grow a heart and have meaning, the words used to describe the lowbrow success of showman P.T. Barnum hang over us all.

“There’s a sucker born every minute.”

1half-star

MPAA Rating:PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and for some thematic material

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore, Liam Hemsworth
Credits: Directed by Francis Lawrence , script by Peter Craig and Danny Strong . A Lionsgate release.

Running time: 2:17

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22 Responses to Movie Review — “Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2”

  1. What kind of review is this… Makes you vomit.

  2. Camilo Salguero says:

    my god how much trash and read, stupidity stupidity without valid arguments, somewhat monotonous only trying to say that is rubbish, I think this news is pure simplicity of a poor opinion and bitter someone who could not read the message communicated

  3. mtswiz101 says:

    You have a horrible taste in movies. What kind of ignorant review is this. Wow.

  4. mtswiz101 says:

    You have a horrible taste in movies. What kind of ignorant review is this. Wow..

    • Sorry, Kirk Evans Jr. When you’re old enough to shave, maybe you’ll shake your head at the crap you loved when puberty ruled. Then again, maybe you’ll never develop discrimination and taste and learn the difference between dull and perfunctory and cinema with brio and urgency.
      And BTW, there’s a special word critics have for trolls who unload their limited wit on you before they themselves have seen the movie. You’re probably not old enough to hear it.

  5. “The film that might have been titled “Kill Snow Part 2” is strictly for the fans.” Oh no, a movie based on a book respects the people who liked the story in the first place. What a terrible thing to do. I’ve learned from past experience that you are not one to have a reasonable conversation with, but suffice to say, you seem the type of critic Eisenberg had in mind when he wrote his recent piece in The New Yorker. Opinions on the film aside, your writing is also even more tedious and poorly realized than you claim this movie is. If you could come up with a single shred of evidence backing up your opinions maybe I could take you seriously, but all you manage to produce are thin, sparse, paragraphs that essentially just say over and over – “I didn’t like this movie because I didn’t like it.”

    • You misrepresent what you read, or simply misunderstood it. I have been doing this for longer than you’ve been reading, from the looks of you and your relationship to, um, hamsters. I give evidence — “flat” performances, for starters. Uninspired direction, limited action and loads of exposition. “For the fans” is a put down because every film has to stand on its own as storytelling. You’re supposed to enjoy it without having memorized, or indeed even read, the book. This is filler for people who already know the YA pablum it is based on.

      • I’ll bite – you either age extremely well or are too insecure to use a current photo if you truly have been doing this longer than I have been reading.

      • I’ve read your nicely-designed website. You read like a teenager who doesn’t understand the difference between plot summary and review, who parrots cliches from reviewers of yore to try and pass himself off as something he’s not, who doesn’t have the good sense to not name his fanboy site after a Richard Gere rumor. Film Hamster? ROFL.

  6. CelluloidFan35mm says:

    This review hit the nail on the head. It summed up how I felt about this franchise.
    Though I have not read any of the books, I gave the series a fair shot as a filmgoer but I felt that it was all lackluster but stuck it out hoping for improvement.
    I disliked the first film, Catching Fire I enjoyed from a technical standpoint. I’d consider it an improvement. It was better directed, had better cinematography, a much larger scale and exciting acting from the supporting actors, especially from the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Donald Sutherland, Stanley Tucci and Elizabeth Banks (Those four in my eyes are the real MVPs of this franchise. They were the only ones who made these movies watchable.) but didn’t get any better narrative wise.
    Mockingjay Part One was a complete bust and had no business being split in half.
    I’m sorry but Jennifer Lawrence’s acting in my eyes has never truly impressed or moved me. Just a blank slate. She never gave me a reason to root for her or to have sympathy for her plight.
    For all of the hype and hullabaloo, this is just a below average film franchise.
    Everyone has been drinking so much of the Hunger Games/Jennifer Lawrence Kool-Aid, that if you have an opinion that differs from theirs, you get called an idiot (among other things) and told that you don’t know what your talking about and it’s like that with many other movies that are deemed popular these days. It’s like some cult/lemming mentality going on.

  7. Odin says:

    Hi Roger, I agree with you that the movie was bland and not engaging. I’d give it about the same rating that you did. I did enjoy some of the action sequences. The black fluid was cool and relatively unique, although it wasn’t clear to me why it posed such a threat (was it poison or something?). The idea that any govt would spend the time and resources to deploy hundreds of elaborate death traps during a war for their survival is ridiculous, but whatever. The whole premise of the “hunger games” is also silly. I disagree that the leads have zero romantic chemistry. I think it’s more just that they lack charisma. Anyway, mainly I wanted to say that your review came across as particularly cynical and dismissive to me in its tone.. almost indignant. I get it, this genre isn’t your thing. But not even a kind word for the costume and set design? I think those have been consistently interesting and original in these movies, and I think that’s relevant because the fantasy/alternate reality aspect of YA stories is a big part of their appeal. I did think the world they showed in the movie was physically convincing. Also, why does a movie have to stand on its own? It’s clearly billed as Part 2. I’m glad they didn’t waste time recapping the events of the previous movie. Finally, some of your comments to “Film Hamster” seemed petty to me. It’s also petty of me to point this out.

    • You can be disagree and be polite, argue without being juvenile. The Film Hamster is young and brash and rude and a trifle ill-informed and ill-formed. It was a teachable moment. You think I did that to Ebert at 24? No. Though we did swap “polite” letters over several errors in his reviews, collected in book form. Disagreeing without offering evidence, name-calling. Not tolerated. Even from children who think the sun rises and sets with Katniss Everdeen.

      • Kermzie says:

        You can politely tell them when they’re being rude or that you don’t think they’re going about their response in a good way, but reacting in kind just puts yourself on the same level you’re accusing. I don’t see how that would make them more willing to respect you, and we’re still assuming that they’re a young person, as far as I know.

    • Kermzie says:

      Odin, I agree with much of what you’ve just said, and about Roger’s responses, where his current one still reflects that.

      I agree with what you’re saying about the movie to an extent, though having read the books, I actually think the second part improved those aspects of the books. I also think it’s the book’s fault, really, for the direction of its content and not the film so much. Sure, the film could have made drastic changes, and it actually deepened some problems in the beginning, but I can see why studios would avoid that for a beloved YA series. That’s what makes such book-turned-movie reviews weird: to what extent does the movie deserve criticism, positive or negative?

      Some further points: maybe you don’t actually appeal to those fantasy elements of YA stories, which is fair enough, but I would say accepting the premise of the hunger games is part of the fantasy – like a true premise (in logic, you just accept it and go forward, so on that technical level I don’t want to accept that point). It might sound silly, but there’s lots of batnut crazy stuff in the real world, which HG is meant to make an obvious mockery of (and to hit a demographic that can go as young as preteens and still understand it. Given the themes that are targeted to them, I don’t think it’s talking down to them). I can understand how a lot of YAf can feel trite, but I saw the first HG film before reading the books, having felt like I had grown out of it (still relatively young), and was pleasantly surprised. Parts like where Lawrence reacts to nursing her burn in HG1 in the tree I thought was incredibly realistic. I was convinced. I think her acting for that and Catching Fire was great. You haven’t said anything about the acting, and I mention that in reply to whoever else is reading who disagrees on that.

  8. Ben says:

    I agree with your review Roger. I found myself laughing so much at scenes that weren’t supposed to be funny. Nothing about this movie was subtle. It was mostly one big long string of cheesy cliche moments and deus ex machinas. I felt like I was watching a boring video game where they need to get from one achievement to the next. The passage of time in this movie made no sense either. I cringed at how bad and non-sensical some scenes were. Then to top it all off it took forever to end. Big budget movie that goes nowhere. To those that say Roger has a bad taste in movies, go get yourself a netflix account and watch some classics with real acting, character development and thoughtful writing.

    P.S. I read the books and enjoyed the first two but thought the third was just okay. To split it into two movies was a mistake and money grabber.

    • I am sure people who have the books memorized got more out of these than I did. But like the worst Harry Potter movies, this played like a page by page “give the fans exactly what they want” exercise. It doesn’t work or stand alone as a movie. Dull dull dull.

      • Kermzie says:

        I agree with what you say here Roger. As a reader, I can vouch for your suspicion. I still think there were many small things the film could have done to elevate the delivery of the “give the fans what they want”, which is why I would give it a middling review. In fact, the only reason I give it a middling review is because some of the movie’s themes are relevant or important, despite the fact that, yes, it’s not really the film that’s responsible for that. I was really annoyed at the splitting of the last book. That book needed streamlining if anything.

      • They had enough action beats for one movie. I wouldn’t have cared for it. Much. But there’s no excuse for boring people to tears in an action film.

  9. Jordan says:

    This movie was garbage, the acting was just shy of terrible and the plot was worse, for the sake of spoilers I won’t say too much but every scene after Gale and katniss attempt to sneak in to the Capitol is poorly thought out with various cuts to black that wash over what we actually want to see, I’m told the final book is just as bad but that doesn’t give the film am excuse, it’s a movie it gets reviewed as a movie not as a book and not as an adaption.
    4/10 effects costume design and action set pieces were brilliant

  10. Kermzie says:

    While I think this exaggerates some points, I’m okay with that being expressed. What I don’t get is this

    “a tedious two hours in which nothing at all happens, with the briefest of breaks for a zombie chase and attack and a half-hearted bit of sci-fi combat.”

    By “briefest of breaks”, do you mean to say this was a relief or respite for the film? I find that odd because that zombie fight would fit right in with the usual check-boxes of a YA blockbuster film. It’s nothing impressive, CG-laden, and a timewaster of hack and slash with fake stakes, as I’m sure you’d feel about the rest of the film. So I believe it’d go with the same sentiment.

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