Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 Review

We are at an end of an era. The Hunger Games comes to an end with Mockingjay – Part 2. After four years, the most popular young adult novel franchise since Harry Potter concludes its final chapter. Does the ending justify the journey? Let's find out!
At this point, complaining about the final book being split into two parts is pointless. It happened, and now we have Mockingjay – Part 2, the final film that brings the franchise to an end. Personally, Part 1 was not a bad movie. It presented a few interesting ideas and served as a prologue of sorts so that Part 2 could focus on the finale. Unlike many, I have never read the books, so any changes to the source material are irrelevant, and I do not consider myself a fan of the franchise, but rather a casual viewer.

Directed by: Francis Lawrence
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Drama,
Release Date: November 20, 2015
Running Time: 137 minutes
MMPA rating: PG-13

The Good: Majorly intense action sequence, Effective jump scares, Peeta is likable for the first time ever, Mostly strong and poignant conclusion, Jennifer Lawrence is as good as always, Impressive CGI creatures, Finnick is cool, Grand scale and scope,

The Bad: Problematic pacing, One or two dramatic scenes are unintentionally funny, Did we ever care about some of these characters?

Plot: 8.0/10- Being a "Part 2," Mockingjay suffers from obvious pacing issues from the start. The movie opens where we left off, and continues the story towards it ultimate endgame. The problem is that it feels like the plot gets going and then abruptly stops and does that several throughout the film. The pacing is not jarring to the point of ruining the experience, but some viewers might be bored with the slower pacing. Despite being split, "Part 2" does feel like a complete film as the central conflict would be undermined if reduced to the second half of a film.

Otherwise, the plot brings the franchise to a poignant end. How the larger plot points resolve is surprisingly well executed and delivers a few unexpected twists. The film almost exclusively takes place from Katniss' perspective, even more so than previous films, which creates a sense of immersion, almost as if you are floating over her the entire film. 

The ending does drag a bit by being about 5 minutes too long, but too much resolution at the end of a story is always better than not enough. However, there are a few missed opportunities where the characters do not make the obvious and logical choice. 

Characterization: 7.6/10- Katniss Everdeen is a decent character, who is made far more likable thanks to Jennifer Lawrence. Compared to other franchise protagonists like Harry Potter or Frodo, the viewer does not have nearly as strong an emotional connection to her, unless you read the novels. With that said, she is a capable protagonist that you want to succeed and comparing the Hunger Games to those classics is unfair.

For the first time ever, Peeta is actually likable, and we finally see why maybe, just maybe, why Katniss might like him. But seriously, Peeta has character depth for the first time, because he is not just the "Nice Guy." Part 2 manages to wrap up the stories of the various supporting characters in a satisfying way, although it would have been great if Haymitch could have been involved in the finale. However, the only issue is that we, or at least I, never cared for the supporting cast nearly as much as the cast of Harry Potter, for example. When characters died, there is little emotional connection, but otherwise, the characters were solid.

Direction: 8.5/10- The streets of Panem offer the most grand and interesting backdrop of the entire franchise. The towering builds and rubble creates the perfect location for the story, and visually, it looked real. Francis Lawrence does an excellent job at directing the action sequences, or rather the one real action sequence. There is one prolonged sequence that is easily the most intense and entertaining battle of the entire franchise. It is intense, fast paced, well directed, and a little frightening. It even made little kids scream several times in the theater! My only issue with the sequence is that enemies seem somewhat out of place in the world the series setup.

Unfortunately, the other action sequences are too short because as soon as they get going, they come to an abrupt end, which is a real shame since the director seemed to finally grasp how to create an exciting action set piece.

Acting: 7.9/10- Jennifer Lawrence is all around great as expected, except during the crying scenes, which always seem a little more humorous than dramatic. Josh Hutcherson is legitimately excellent for the first time ever, as his performance adds depth to the previous boring character. He certainly wins most surprisingly good performance this year. The rest of the cast is strong as expected, with no noticeable weak points.

Special effects: 8.5/10- Without a doubt, the best looking and most impressive Hunger Games film, Part 2 delivers high quality special effects with some of the best CGI humanoid creatures to date. Even some of the best effects have a sense that the creatures are not actually in physical contact with the actors, but somehow, the CGI guys behind the film do an exceptional job. Also, the streets of Panem are very believable to the point where telling the difference between the physical sets and green screen is not easy.

Soundtrack: 6.5/10- James Newton Howard score is fine, albeit completely forgettable.

Humor: N/A- Aside from a few lines from Haymitch, Part 2 is not a humorous film.

Entertainment Value: 8.5/10- While some might be bored by the pacing issues, the story was involving, and I was invested in how everything would end, and in terms of entertainment, it did not disappoint.

Overall: 8.1/10- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 brings the franchise to an end in a satisfying way. Due to pacing issues, it might not even touch the level of the classics like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, but as a whole, The Hunger Games is entertaining series of films with interesting ideas, and thankfully, Part 2 resolves everything well enough for me to feel like the journey was worthwhile. Essentially, if you watched the previous films, watch this one; you have no reason not to finish it.

Closing comments: As far as franchises go, The Hunger Games is in the upper middle portion. None of the films fall into "Classic" territory, but, as a whole, it is an entertaining franchise that will be worth watching again at some point. 

Recommended for: Anyone that watched the previous films,

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  1. Solid review James. I think you and I are in agreement of most aspects on this one. It was a satisfying conclusion to a great series.

    1. Thanks Jordan. Indeed it was. Glad everything wrapped up well.


  2. Great review James! I pretty much agree with everything you said except two minor things -- I thought the end length was good (I love a long anti-climax), and even though the visual were great, I found Catching Fire to be more visually impressive. But, I don't think I enjoyed the movie as much as you did. Sadly, after part 1, I think I moved on from the franchise. Unwillingly, even. I really tried to get hyped for this one, but it never happened. So even though I think it is better than part 1 and a nice, satisfying end, I just wound up being disappointed anyway. Maybe someday I'll be able to re-watch the whole franchise and enjoy it though. It didn't help, of course that Mockingjay was my least favorite book (the humorlessness and depressing, droning darkness -- ugh), and they were extremely faithful to it. I guess I have to give them props for that! Anyway, I'm glad you liked it!

    1. Thanks Sarah! I didn't mind the length for the most part, but if I really had to say something about it, something was off. And I'd have to watch Catching Fire to say one looked better, but the quality of the effects in Mockingjay was better to me. Can't disagree about being disappointed. Thanks for commenting!


    2. I would say that the something that was off was probably something that originated in the book, because yeah, it wasn't a particularly amazing ending, but adaption-wise it was nearly perfect. That's true, the quality of the effects here was better, but in Catching Fire, it was all more colorful and "wow" to me.


One rule: No strong profanity. If you want to link to one of your posts, please do; I am always interested in other reviews and such.

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