By Bill Arceneaux
Blind and deaf, I entered The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 with little to no knowledge of the previous entries in the story. Battle Royale for the American young adult crowd, I’ve been told. Something along those lines. The last time in recent memory I had gone to a sequel/prequel without having seen the others in a series was The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. I am both Hunger Games AND Lord of the Rings lore and mythology ignorant.
Please hold the tar and feathering until this review has come to a full and complete stop.
Thankfully, Mockingjay Part 2 catches the audience fairly up to speed with just enough information to get us along. Some details, of course, are lost to the DVD/Blu-Ray racks, but I appreciate it when a movie can progress its story while establishing what it’s all about without sacrificing flow. Like Empire Strikes Back before it, we are thrust into a large, unfolding world, but not without proper guidance.
It’s all about propaganda, I gather. And the horrors of warfare. Two things that go very well together. Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss is caught smack dab in the middle, finding herself disagreeing with both sides. She has selfish reasons for continuing the fight, namely revenge, but through the strength and belief of others, she learns how to rise above and form a strategy that will end everything. Did she have to think on her feet so drastically in prior films? I bet she did.
The themes of morality in battle and corrupting power are all prevalent, both to positive and negative ends. Positively, Mockingjay Part 2, as did Star Wars, gets one thinking in the shoes of the other side. The rebellious side. The ones labeled as the enemy. Are they truly that? Is there another story to be told? Have we brought this upon ourselves? And, of course, are they absolutely without guilt? It asks these questions rather heavily, almost like a quiz. Negatively, the movie is too blunt for its own good and falls flat when it should be tense. What little subtlety there is, gets overshadowed by overstating the obvious. I don’t believe the original Star Wars ever once directly questioned or stated in dialogue what we’re supposed to be feeling. It just let the story and the visuals and the character conflicts spell it out.
J-Law is a knockout, of course. She embodies the selfless yet confused heroine extremely well. In fact, everybody gets to shine. Four movies in, I expect nothing less than near complete assimilation into the world and people that have been created. And it very much feels that way. Much care was put into the design and execution. I only wish that I cared more. And yes, it is possible to invest emotionally without having started from the beginning.
Almost a travesty that the finale has little to no oompf to it. Almost. It’s built up more as a character defining moment than as a cathartic action piece – which was great – but crashes by lacking the energy and suspense of the rest of the film. Maybe they were worn out? Maybe we were?
Mockingjay Part 2 sold me on watching its previous movies but did not guarantee to me their quality. The aim may have been too high. The eyes may have been bigger than the stomachs. Still, something must be said for trying. For making great effort and taking great risk.
You may commence with the public humiliation…NOW.
3 / 5 *s