Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 might be the most trivial piece in theaters this year. I was so livid that at one point I shouted, “That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard” in the theater (everyone got a good laugh out of that).

After Mockingjay Part 1, I was irritated and I feel I had all the right to be. Mockingjay‘s first half was a rundown mall closing one shop at a time, the demolition of the building a certainty. The characters were set to the side, the plot was more trivial than its better half and what was once an action series with questions of theology, morality and survival became a long-winded theater presentation on how to create a political campaign. Everdeen was disgusted the whole film and she had all the right to be. She wasn’t doing anything aside from modeling in front of a camera and pandering to the masses as to the good of the rebellion, which is all fine and dandy, as long as you don’t turn what takes ten or so minutes to illustrate into a two-hour lecture. The famous Lord of the Rings quote goes “butter over too much bread”. Mockingjay Part 1 felt like butter over too little bread, just stacks and stacks of butter on mere shrivels of bread that no matter how you look at it, just isn’t appetizing.

In comes Mockingjay: Part 2 to remove the stamp of disapproval from its latest installment from my memory. The film had an uphill climb ahead of it. After its first two installments were 80’s material and relevant in pop culture and in literature adaptations, for me, Mockingjay Part 1 demonstrated all that’s wrong with it. I have little doubt Collins’ novel was descriptive, thought-provoking and moderately alluring whereas Francis Lawrence’s work last year developed no cares with me.

Mockingjay: Part 2 surpasses its older sibling and with lavish strides, but that isn’t saying too much, especially when its oldest siblings, Hunger Games and Catching Fire, remain so far ahead of it.

I’m sure fans of the novels enjoy a chance to reminisce but Collins’ novel must be leagues beyond this scrap heap. The first two were capable but I haven’t seen a cash grab this desperate since The Hobbit, which was far worse I might add.

Lawrence is worthy of far better than this and the over-politicization is like watching a five-year-old try to do hurdles and continue to trip and fall on his face. It reeks of desperation and feels like a Hollywood spin on a Greek tragedy, killing characters with no development and hoping the few that remain can live happily ever after.

What Mockingjay: Part 2 does, and does so desperately, is try to return to the scenery it previously set up and what once defined this series: the Hunger Games themselves. The film playfully drops a “Welcome to the 76th Hunger Games” line in there, like, “Get excited” but does little to attract my fancy. The barbaric animalistic tendencies of the Hunger Games competitors as well as the oppression of the government produced a trampoline to elevate its story into the upper echelons of discussions of sociology, political upheaval and in what cases rebellion is acceptable. Instead, Lawrence elected to jump on a rock next to the trampoline and hold a level one course of how to make a political campaign, completly avoiding the filthy work that truly gets things done: violence, oppression, upheaval and fight, as if the topics of the first two films were of poor taste or that going further into the muck and true realities of humanity were too nasty a topic to discuss to the next generations. Instead, we see Katniss and the rebels try to defeat Panem with aggressive advertisements. Oh no!

In my opinion, Mockingjay: Part 1 went in the polar opposite direction it should have. I have yet to read Collins’ original works and frankly, after these last two films, I don’t think I have the desire to, but if these were the avenues Collins decided to deduce in front of her readers, she chose unwisely.

What I believe critics applauded about these films was their ability to narrate key issues of morality and themes of natural selection aside from the plot and script line. These last two films, they’re mashed together like a glob of Play-Doh.

Few things sadden me more than an artist halfway through a fine work and then losing the initiative to continually meet and surpass the standards it has laid before it. These last two installments put the films in jeopardy of remaining in the public eye and I wouldn’t be surprised if they faded like Narnia. The first two had far more potential than Divergent, but they either let it sit out and spoil or threw it into the oven till it was ash.

The relationship between Katniss and Peeta never reaches the depth I feel it could have nor is a dominant love triangle developed. In all of his appearances, Gale comes across as a self-righteous, judgmental and insensitive bigot. Again, I’m sure this is more accurately painted in the novel but we’re not talking about the novels right now. Right now, we’re talking about what’s wrong with novel adaptations and this is a reasonable example.

The truth is, I love novel adaptations in film. A lot of huge strides have been made in film thanks to literature. It’s allowed me to find a new passion for reading as well, which is why I’m starting my BVF series (Book vs. Film). It’s easier to write a great character in a novel than it is an original film. While I hope producers, directors and screenwriters continue to develop their own ideas and not lean on literature to keep the industry standing, there are some stories that people wouldn’t have known about if it wasn’t for the adaptations.

In my opinion, Mockingjay Part 2 is a story I could have lived my life having never known about.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Avengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe BabadookInterstellarChappie)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Scouts Guide to the Zombie ApocalypseCrimson PeakThe MartianBlack Mass,Enemy at the Gates)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Beasts of No NationTerminator: GenisysBlack SheepTwistedParker)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (EverestHerculesThe SentinelMad Max: Fury RoadBlitz)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (The Lost BoysZombeaversCrankErasedI, Frankenstein)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The VisitThe Fantastic FourThe Boy Next DoorThe ColonyIn the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2: 66.

Its plot is predictable, its characters don’t get chances for a lot of substantial non-plot-oriented dialogue and the action pieces, for the most part, are once again disappointing. I will remember the first two installments with fondness but these last two, I wish they were never made and I believe all those who are true fans of the series should be able to look at these and discern the difference in their quality level.

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