Directed by Francis Lawrence
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore & Philip Seymour Hoffman
Film review by Chris Olson
Explosive arrows, killer oil goo, and rabid mutts are just some of the trimmings from this last instalment of the Hunger Games films, a franchise which has dominated the box office during its tenure, recently knocking 007’s Spectre from the top spot. Aside from the quirky weapons, the films, which are adapted from the books by Suzanne Collins, offer an engaging dystopian world with dynamic characters, including the story’s lead heroine, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence).
Having survived the annual Hunger Games twice (a battle-royale of death organised by the nation’s all-powerful government), Katniss finds herself as the symbolic leader of a rebellion against the Capitol - led by President Snow (Donald Sutherland). The two faced off in Part 1, and this final chapter escalates the violent showdown which will see the complete destruction of one side.
Teen fiction has quelled in terms of popularity in recent years, with cinemagoers reluctant to chomp down on yet another franchise spawned from a trilogy of formulaic books. That being said, Collins’ novels have managed to remain at the top of the pack, forcing rivals like The Maze Runner and Divergent into the sidelines. The main source of strength for The Hunger Games comes in its casting, not least of all in Jennifer Lawrence. Indeed, Lawrence has risen to the uppermost echelons of acting elite, having proven her chops in films like Silver Linings Playbook (2012) and American Hustle (2013). Alongside Lawrence is a smorgasbord of performing powerhouses - such as the aforementioned Donald Sutherland, as well as Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks. These, coupled with rising stars like Liam Hemsworth, Sam Claflin and Josh Hutcherson, are what separates The Hunger Games from others of the same ilk.
Landing into this last film, Mockingjay - Part 2, audiences have already witnessed the turbulent trials and tribulations which Katniss has endured; from physically surviving Snow’s games, to withstanding the pressure of representing a nation’s hope, to the emotional turmoil involved in having a love tryst with homeboys Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). What should have ensued was an all-out firestorm of explosive action and thumping tempo as the culmination of all this angst comes to a point. However, Mockingjay - Part 2 follows a very similar pattern to Part 1, with some troublesome pacing issues. The story is eked out between sombre, emotional scenes that pretty much mirror those scenes which have come before in previous films, as Katniss is kept on a leash and out of harm’s way. The most frenetic and enjoyable sequences are those where our fiery archer is pitted against the dangers of the Capitol, which has been boobytrapped with imaginative killing methods. However, the majority of the movie is spent with the group waiting to move to the next stage of the conflict, which becomes tedious by the midpoint of the film.
Whilst the pacing is a little monotonous and some of the movie feels like a copy of previous instalments, Part 2 does revel in a little bit of chaos. The lack of an arena opens up the film to a more boundless setting, which in turn vamps up the tension. During one particular sequence involving gooey white mutts, it felt reminiscent of the atmosphere created in a sci-fi great like Alien (1979). Performances are all of a high standard, Lawrence delivering another strong outing as Katniss, whilst Josh Hutcherson is particularly engaging as the mentally unstable Peeta.
Fans of the books will probably delight in the focus given to the romantic subplots of the story, as well as the dedicated finale which ties up all the loose ends, whilst those unaware of how The Hunger Games finishes may be left feeling a little lost. Part 2 sits very comfortably with Part 1 on the success scale of the franchise, with the huge promise of the first two movies never being fully realised.
Check out the movie trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 below...