THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 2 directed by Francis Lawrence, written by Peter Craig and Danny Strong from the books by Suzanne Collins, with Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth. An eOne release. 136 minutes. Opens Friday (November 20). See listings. Rating: NN
Where to watch: iTunes
One-third of the way through the fourth instalment of The Hunger Games I knew I was in trouble – or at least that the series was.
I can’t be the only one who’s against everything these movies want me to crave.
The film opens with Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) recovering from an attack by the brainwashed Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and getting ready to lead the charge against President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and the Capitol. She’s assigned to an elite team that includes Boggs (Mahershala Ali), Finnick (Sam Claflin) and a rehabilitated (maybe) Peeta, whom Katniss still longs for. Soon she goes rogue in order to personally assassinate Snow.
But I don’t want President Snow to die. Well, not too soon, anyway. The villain, played with obvious relish by Sutherland, is the most interesting character in the whole thing, delighting in every depraved deed.
Okay, I’m all for the people’s revolution in Panem, but who wants to watch two hours of multiple pitched battles shot in grim greys and blacks against a backdrop of devastated landscapes and rubble? Give me the exquisite excess of the Capitol any time. The mind-boggling colour, the dumb-ass big hair, the decadent feasts – I love that shit. This time only one set piece is located there.
The road to the Capitol’s seat of power is strewn with land mines and traps supposedly detectable by a contraption that looks like an old Playstation. The person carrying it must lead the way so the team gets proper warning. So why are three squad members in front of Katniss, who’s in charge of the device, as they’re making their way? It’s the kind of lazy editing that makes you wonder whether the filmmakers, too, were tiring of the series.
My biggest problem? I think I was supposed to be cheering for Katniss to wind up happily ever after with Peeta, but I could never get behind that weaselly guy, played by a wretchedly cast Josh Hutcherson. In Suzanne Collins’s books, Peeta is a gentle giant ready to sacrifice himself at all costs. In these movies, hunky homeboy Gale (Liam Hemsworth) is the cuddly big guy, and small boy Hutcherson kinda whinges his way through his role. I’m all for Katniss and Gale.
And the final scene? Positively gag-worthy.
Lawrence is terrific, as usual, and Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks are back alongside a digitized Philip Seymour Hoffman – sad on the one hand amazing, technologically speaking, on the other. But, really, this series staggered to the finish line.
I’m so glad it’s over.
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