I don’t like the Hunger Games books/movies for a number of reasons.
I outgrew the Young Adult Fiction (YAF from here on out) right as the franchise first made impact, I think they try too hard to be edgy and I am a firm member of the This Ripped off Battle Royale club (only one more year till I’m Grand Wizard!). I am sure that the translation from book to movie had something to do with this, but a movie’s job is to entertain every moviegoer not just the hardcore fans (which is why I now give Watchmen critics a pass).
So take that into account when I say I kind of enjoyed Mockingjay Part 2 which I think is because I’ve never seen a YAF film tackle the concept of war so well.
Rather than your typical cut-and-paste Hollywood set, the Capitol really does look it has been torn asunder by modern war. Small arms fire dot the pristine buildings with large sections obliterated by artillery fire. As Katniss’s squad darts through the city streets, buildings and eventually sewers to avoid their defensively superior foes, I couldn’t help but think that I was seeing a semi-realistic portrayal of urban warfare.
Not to mention it tackles the ideas of hollow propaganda, dirty politics and the never ending cycle of violence masterfully. Movie cliché dictates that all fantasy movies end with a “climactic battle” but Mockingjay Part 2 gets it right by emphasizing the battle after the battle. You know, the “battle” where there’s an entire political class who has been taken prisoner after losing a war and the moral conundrum of how to deal with them while still clinging to your rapidly decaying moral code?
Props to Julianne Moore for playing the part of a manipulative President Coin. Her performance is chilling and I can’t help but draw parallels to Jake Gyllenhaal’s character in Nightcrawler; always knowing the right thing to say but not necessarily caring about anyone but herself. Her acting alone carries the aforementioned “dirty politics” plot device excellently.
You know what? If they had just made a new original movie with this kind of plot, they’d have a pretty good movie on their hands. But this is a Hunger Games movie, and that kind of sucks the fun out of it.
Adolescents becoming skilled combatants through being forced to kill each other for sport? My favorite fantasy character is a billionaire who dresses like a bat because his parents died, so I can work with that. But leading a war effort? I can only really suspend my disbelief so long before it starts getting silly. I’m going to guess that this is one of the things that get fleshed out better in the book, like the camping scenes in Deathly Hallows Part 1.
Also, remember that these books were directed towards teenagers. So we have adult actors and actresses trying to read lines written for a demographic that still thinks skinny jeans should be a thing. Some of the lines are just so, SO bad. They try to bring drama and emotion to the moment only to be serenaded by crickets.
But the worst thing is that Katniss and Peeta don’t have on screen chemistry. That’d be cool, except that large chunks of extended dialogue are dedicated to their “relationship” and I heard people in the audience audibly giggle.
Ermahgod Peeta I lurvs you no leave pleaz
*SPOILER ALERT* Peeta brainwashing syndrome was an awful plot device. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but this movie officially made me team Gale.
The Katniss-Gale romance is SO much better than Katniss-Peeta but instead of two fiery idealists who cannot agree on the final step in a revolution, we have girl-loves-nice boy while Gale McHotness goes off to be cool somewhere else.
I guess I feel about it the same way I feel about V/H/S; an uneven movie whose moments of brilliance are often counterbalanced by moments of ambiance-breaking mediocrity. It’s not the best, but I’d recommend a watch.
But if you have the choice between this and Spectre, listen to your heart and watch the latter. I didn’t have a choice in the matter, but you do.