After four years of anticipation and three genre-defining films, The Hunger Games series has finally come to a less-than-bloody end. Following the events of Mockingjay Part 1 —or lack thereof—the last half of the book-to-film finale sets Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) on a mission to kill President Snow (Donald Sutherland). What follows is a series of events that should have proven to be as shocking as they were in the novel; that is, if one could stay awake long enough to witness them.
As fulfilling as Mockingjay Part 2 may be as a conclusion, it is a hollow and soulless addition to the visceral series penned by Suzanne Collins, lacking the humor, desperation and political genius of its sister films. And all those involved in the writing, editing, and directing of the film commit the most rookie mistake of storytelling: telling what happens in a story rather than showing.
One thing the film gets right is the care and attention given to Katniss’ damaged mental state, revealing how utterly tired she is of being the face of a rebellion. You can feel the toil of recent events and its effect on her because the audience too is growing tired of the cheesy propos and speeches.
“No more speeches,” she declares to District 7 victor and former Capitol hostage, Johanna Mason (Jena Malone), who is just as sick of Katniss’ hero-complex as we are. These few and far between moments are bright spots in the underwhelming novel, Mockingjay, and screenwriters Peter Craig and Danny Strong fail to use these interactions to their full advantage.
But the conclusion also diminishes nearly everything audiences have grown to love about the story, a huge problem exacerbated in part by the decision to split the last third of the book trilogy into two films. While nothing happens in Part 1, it’s still more exciting and heart pounding then the finale, the inverse of what fans should have received.
Editors Alan Edward Bell and Mark Yoshikawa, director Francis Lawrence and the writers all make the glaring mistake of dragging out every dull and yawn-inspiring scene of the book, thinking that it will make for an entertaining visual experience. Everyone talks too much, sits around too much and does nothing of note in the ‘big shebang’ of a rebellion that’s sweeping the Capitol. Even Katniss and Peeta’s (Josh Hutcherson) relationship gets the bench treatment due to a lack of plot development, in spite of the four-and-a-half hour combined Mockingjay films. Their eventual reunion seems like a cheap attempt at a happy ending and in no way feels believable.
Even more disturbing than the film’s arduous nature is the way it treats its supporting cast. Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Sam Claflin, Malone, Jeffrey Wright: all excellent actors that only show up for their star value and are promptly underused.
Claflin and Malone’s mistreatment is perhaps the most unforgivable, since it’s Katniss’ bonds with Finnick Odair (Claflin) and Johanna Mason that keep her going throughout the book. Removing these interactions diminishes their importance and keeps the story focused on Katniss; something audiences are getting bored of. Almost as shocking as this missed opportunity is the missing presence of the hilarious drunk, Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), one of the few characters who really understands our heroine. His handful of scenes and Hoffman’s final sendoff are some of the most heartfelt moments in the movie.
Arguably the worst aspect of Mockingjay Part 2, a film chock-full of disappointments and missed opportunities, is the lack of attention to the actual rebellion—the whole purpose behind Katniss’ mission.
Beyond a few shots of Capitol refugees marching to Snow’s mansion and scenes of suffering civilians, there is little to no evidence of a massive revolt. And, like the books that are told from our heroine’s point of view, we are only made aware of the disaster that followed after the fact, and the writers in no way attempt to explain President Snow’s eventual fate–a plothole so large Snow’s entire palace could fall in it. Decisions like these can make a moviegoer wonder why they should even bother watching a film that can’t use the visual medium to make up for literary shortcomings.
The poster tagline reads “Nothing Can Prepare You For The End,” but by the end of Mockingjay Part 2 you’ll be anything but shocked. You may even wish you’d skipped the tedious last installment of an otherwise visceral and entertaining series.
To contact Lifestyles editor Rhiannon Gilbert email firstname.lastname@example.org.