The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 deflates like a bad souffle

mockingjayposterHERE BE SPOILERS

Katniss Everdeen is the Girl On Fire, the survivor of multiple brutal televised child murder competitions, and generally a steely, boss bitch. She’s become the figurehead of a revolution, and after spending the previous movie starring in political attack ads, this time she’s out on the streets, trying to commit more murder and watching other people’s political attack ads. She spends most of the final chapter of her story staring vacantly into the middle distance as other people explain things to her, or tell her what to do next, and occasionally she pauses to listen to two unworthy boys she does not seem particularly interested in argue over which one of them should win her at the end of the movie. You know, like a prize.

Jennifer Lawrence has been very good as Katniss, playing her not as a warrior but as a terrified kid just trying to survive, which means that she is sometimes selfish and doesn’t see the bigger picture, which is an interesting and somewhat nuanced idea of a heroine, but this time she plays Katniss as a mannequin because nothing Katniss says or thinks matters in this movie. She makes one choice at the end of the movie that actually matters—not for nothing it’s the best scene in the movie and also the one in which Lawrence is most engaged—and spends the rest of her time listening to two her two dumb boyfriends talk about her while she pretends to be asleep.

OR STARES.
OR STARES.

There has never been a stupider YA love triangle than Katniss, Peeta, and Gale. There is nary a speck of chemistry to be found anywhere amongst these three, and though Josh Hutcherson does pretty well with Peeta when he’s just playing him as a PTSD-riddled torture victim, he has ZERO chemistry with Lawrence. The idea of Katniss and Peeta producing children at the end of the movie is hilarious, like the idea of Barbie and Ken reproducing with their smooth plastic parts. Gale is even worse—Liam Hemsworth has nothing to do with Gale except be jealous and creepily possessive of Katniss, with whom he has even less chemistry than Peeta. When the three of them are on screen together they create a black hole that threatens to destroy our galaxy.

WITH STARES.
WITH STARES.

There is no momentum in Mockingjay Part 2, as the pacing is terrible. There are two and a half action sequences in a movie that should have been an all-action battle climax, and they’re all way too brief to actually enliven a movie that manages to feel both overstuffed and underwritten. All the interesting side characters like Johanna, Cressida, THE TIGER LADY WHY WASN’T THIS ENTIRE THING ABOUT THE TIGER LADY, and Haymitch are completely sidelined and barely have anything to do because we have to make sure we get in that third scene of Peeta and Gale trying to guilt trip Katniss into loving them. Presidents Snow and Coin at least have a little more to do what with all their political attack ads.

The real Mockingjay.
The real Mockingjay.

A bunch of people die in Mockingjay, but none of it matters because no one’s death changes the momentum of the story at all. This is why I don’t like it when people act like death is the only stakes that matter in a movie. From the beginning Katniss has a plan and no matter who dies, she never waivers or even reconsiders her plan. Even when she reveals she lied about having a mission to assassinate Snow nothing changes. The others are just like, “Well yeah, we figured.” There are no consequences to anything that actually happens in the movie. No, not even Prim’s death has any real relevance besides being Child Murder #11,712. By the time Prim checks out, Katniss is already on a determined path and Prim’s death does not affect that path at all. If Prim lived—same exact outcome. And then in the end Peeta shows up at Katniss’s house and she marries him because he’s there. Girl Power!

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4 thoughts on “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 deflates like a bad souffle

  1. Gaynor

    I found this franchise to be completely over-hyped – the second one was probably the best. I don’t like Jlaw as Katniss. She looks like she could beat every single man up and she could snap Peeta’s neck in 3 seconds. People praise her for looking strong and fit but hello?? Katniss was a near starving girl desperate for food for her family – it’s an important part of her character and Jennifer and the first director just completely ignored it and made it into this positive message about /actresses girls not starving themselves. Fine, in general – but not fo the HUNGER games. I think Saoirse Ronan would have been terrific. She’s also a much better actress than Jennifer Lawrence in my opinion.

    Agreed about the chemistry between the 3 leads. Liam H was in the first one for about 3 scenes yet he gets bumped up as a lead. I’d love to know what kind of money he got.

    I don’t know if i will see MJ2. Maybe if i am bored some evening.

    1. Maybe I’m mistaken, but I seem to remember that, while small, Katniss of the books was still strong and capable because she was a hunter. She ate better than the rest of the people from her district because she supplemented her food supply. She also maxed out the supplemental food she was given with all the extra times her name went into the draw for the hunger games and in the second movie was well-fed by the Capitol as a victor. I don’t buy into the fact that she needed to be emaciated.

      Re: Gale – my theater definitely chuckled every time he came on screen to look longingly at Katniss. It was amazing. What an unnecessary love triangle.

      1. Gaynor

        Sure, she was strong and capable, but she wasn’t jlaw levels of sturdiness. I am speaking for the first movie as Katniss’ circumstances are different for book 2/3. I don’t know, it’s just not what i had in mind when i read the book

  2. I basically just spent the days after I watched Mockingjay Part 2 rereading the books, because, while I can’t totally recall my feelings of the first and second movies, the final movie did absolutely no justice to the series as a whole at all.

    I absolutely agree with what you meant about how it was like Katniss’ actions had no consequences at all: I mean, I suppose it’s hard to translate introspection and personal narrative written in a novel onto film, but it irked me. I didn’t feel the conflict and fear and anger (and so on) in Katniss at all with Jennifer Lawrence’s performance or the movie as a whole; it came across a lot stronger in Part 1, where they dealt with the psychological effects of the events from the first two books/movies on Katniss, but then it was like they “moved on” from it completely once that was edited and released and they got to start working on Part 2.

    And I absolutely hated the final part, when Katniss returns to District 12 and we get this sequence of scenes that is near to a montage of “life moving on”; I did not feel that sense of resolution, that sense that Panel was rebuilding itself from the ravages of the bloody war and seeing better days. It was just, oh, Katniss and Peeta get to be together and have children – we get two measly letters from the outside narrative and that’s it.

    That bit between Peeta and Gale, as well, I don’t even know what to say. Sure, they have that conversation, but in the books, Katniss at least actually reflects on it and decides, not without frustration that their discussion led them to that in the first place, “I can survive just fine without them”; we get a look from Jennifer Lawrence, oh wonderful.

    I don’t want to go “movie this book that” because they’re two separate forms of medium, and reviewing about a movie is very different than reviewing a book, but Part 2 was just…nah. Just nah.

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