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.”
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