The 21st century has seen an influx of young adult novels being made into movie franchises, Harry Potter and Twilight being two of the more successful franchises. The Hunger Games franchise has certainly hit those heights too, with each of the first three movies making well over $600million worldwide.
Director: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland
Run Time: 137 Minutes
Release Date: Out Now
Similar to the Harry Potter and Twilight series, the final book in The Hunger Games series has been split into two parts. The writers do this to get everything from the novel into the films, which helps tie up all plots but we all know it is also a clever way for the studios to earn more money from the franchise. Part one of Mockingjay was a good movie, but as with those other two franchises, it basically set up for the big finale in part two.
Picking up from where part one left off, the movie follows District 13’s assault on the Capitol. Katniss, played by Jennifer Lawrence (X-Men: Days of Future Past and American Hustle), is the figurehead of the assault and is followed by a film crew to promote their cause. Joined by Gale (Liam Hemsworth), Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), Finnick (Sam Claflin) and a team of mercenaries they head to the outskirts of the Capitol.
Katniss’ plan, assassinate President Snow, played by Donald Sutherland. The problem is the city has been set up much like the games, with booby traps littering the landscape. With the help of a map, the team try to navigate through these traps but, unfortunately, discover that the map is incomplete.
Following an unfortunate encounter with one such trap, the movie moves underground as the team decide that the best way to avoid these traps is to head through the sewer system. Whereas most of the promotion for the movie has focused on the above-ground assault, this trip into the sewers actually provides on the of the best scenes in the movie as they fight against monster reminiscent of the creatures from The Descent
Escaping the horror in the tunnels, Katniss, Gale and a what remains of their team find themselves close to where the citizens of District 1 are making their way to a safe haven in Snow’s palace and seeing an opportunity, they disguise themselves in an attempt to end the grounds.
This is where the movie takes a dark turn as soldiers from District 13 attack the checkpoint and bombs begin exploding around them. It’s unknown who planned the explosions, whether it was Snow as a way of blaming the rebels for bloodshed, or the rebel soldiers as part of their attack plan, what it clear, though, is the unsettling consequences for both sides.
Throughout the series as a whole Katniss has struggled with the ethics of war and killing and there is a lot of emphasis on this in the Mockingjay movies, throughout both, there is a conflict raging between herself and Coin, played by Julianne Moore, and the methods used by the District 13 leader to achieve her goals.
The movie’s third act, while predictable, turns out to be one of the highlights as the years of build-up reach boiling point and we see the many characters finally reach their goals. As the rebellion reaches its climax, fans of the books will be pleased to know that the movie doesn’t end there, as with the source material, the aftermath of the war is played out well and the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta and Gale is finally resolved with Katniss heading back to her home in District 13, you’ll have to see the movie yourself if you want to know who she chooses.
Mockingjay Part 2 is decent war movie for a 12A certificate, covering a lot of topical issues that are happening in the real world today. The morals of war and the propaganda that comes with war are covered from both sides. It might not hit home with the main target audience, but it certainly is noticeable if you have been following the political issues that have been going on in recent times.
Jennifer Lawrence is the best thing in the movie, she obviously is the main focus of the story and conveys her emotions perfectly. Lawrence has already shown how good of an actress she is and, if this movies series is anything to go by, she has a long and fruitful career ahead of her.
The supporting cast is good, with the big names of Sutherland and Moore showing their class as opposing leaders. Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who plays Plutark, unfortunately, passed away during filming. As a result, they had to re-write a few of the scenes in which he should have played or CGI him into the scenes. It is obvious which scenes these are but the director, Francis Lawrence, does this well enough for it not to effect the film as well as tastefully paying respect to the actor.
The action in the movie is filmed exceptionally well and is pretty realistic, what action we saw in part 1 was a fairly good indication of what was coming. The tension in this movie is another strength with each booby trap which the team come across adding a real sense of danger to the story.
Overall, I personally prefer the first Hunger Games movie over this, a similar story to Battle Royale, a Japanese movie classic, Mockingjay part two is so far from that original concept and has instead jumped genres to a war movie.
Splitting the book into two movies seems to have had more of a detrimental effect, with certain scenes dragging on more than they would have ever needed to with just the one movie, though, fans of the books will probably prefer splitting Mockingjay so it covers more of the story they love.
Despite my issues with the much more war-centric theme, Mockingjay Part Two does end the series well, tying up all of the loose ends before the credits role. Sadly in today’s movie industry, it probably won’t be long before the movie studio wants to capitalise on the franchise’s success and bring out an ill-conceived prequel, sequel or even a full reboot in a few years.