The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

In DVD/Blu-ray by Alex Moss Editor

So here we are, the grand finale to The Hunger Games, the reason you’ve sat through close to  eight hours of Katniss journeying all the way to the capital to put President Snow in his place. There’s no doubt that getting here has had its highs, the first Hunger Games, and its lows, the misguided Mockingjay Part 1 which felt more like a political essay than a film based on a Young Adult book. So does The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 satisfy the appetite or does it leave a bit of a sour taste in the mouth.

The film starts off with Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) a little worse and having lost her voice, even though her actions have always spoken louder. But Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) is back and his conditioning from the Capital has him unsure of whether he loves, hates or just wants to kill Katniss. Teenage love eh? Meanwhile President Coin (Julianne Moore) is still desperate to use Katniss as a figurehead in her war against President Snow (Donald Sutherland) so sends her out into the field to take on The Capital and the nasty traps that have been set to create the latest installment of The Hunger Games.

From the get go unless you are well versed in Hunger Game law and history Mockingjay Part 2 is not going to ease you in. It never attempts to review previous events for newcomers. Indeed even if you’ve seen the previous films you may struggle to remember everything that has gone before. Suffice to say the film is firmly aimed at the fans.

But that’s forgivable. What is slightly unforgivable is the way the film takes far too long to get going. In fact Mockingjay’s pacing is one of the biggest gripes to be levied at the film. It dithers on irrelevant matters and then rushes the big emotional beats leaving you feeling hollow. This is especially true of the ending which brushes aside Katniss’ entire raison d’etre from the first film in such a dismissive way you feel borderline offended. Add to this the manner in which the love triangle between Katniss and the two men in her life Peeta and Gale (Liam Hemsworth) is resolved and you wonder if the film is simply box-ticking to get to the credits.

There are some solid moments amid the chaos. Watching Katniss slowly realise she’s being used as nothing more than a pawn by both sides, a villain to one and a figurehead to the other, expendable to both, is a high. A good set-piece involving nasty gollum like creatures in a sewer has clearly been influenced by James Cameron’s Aliens and the big finish offers up a solid twist that those unfamiliar with the story will nod in approval.

Most of the cast are rarely given much chance to shine. The likes of Natalie Dormer, Jena Malone and Elizabeth Banks feel wasted, characters who we are supposed to understand based purely on their unique looks. Hemsworth is as bland as a freshly painted white wall, rarely emoting anything above a frown. Hutcherson gives a nice turn as a post traumatic stress disorder sufferer not quite sure if he can trust his own eyes or emotions to comprehend any situation he finds himself in. But, as with the entirety of the franchise the heavy lifting is left to Lawrence. At times the script lets her down, missing out on opportunities to really turn on the emotional core but she remains a solid, if slightly indulgent, protagonist.

A difficult and not always satisfying final act, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 does just enough to bid the world of Katniss a fond farewell, even if it does leave you feeling a little peckish.