Hunger Games: Mockingjay–Part 2

I was thinking…

…how there is a new trend exhibiting Hollywood’s greed. While it is clearly working, making millions more for the corporations that run the film industry, the trend is really just diluting potentially good films into weaker incarnations.

The Hobbit movies are a perfect example of this. A relatively short book, J.R.R. Tolkien’s prologue to The Lord of the Rings was made into not one but three separate films, when each of the following books only needed one film a piece in order to tell the necessary story.

Not in any way comparing them to Tolkien’s master works, but The Twilight films did the same thing with the last book in its franchise.

And now The Hunger Games repeats the unnecessary, inexplicable extension of the last story of its respective chronicles, with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay–Part 2.

It takes place, naturally, where part one left off. Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), after being rescued from the clutches of the enemy, is under observation after he has tried to kill Katniss (Jennifer LawrenceJoy, X-Men: Days of Future Past).

As Katniss recovers from Peeta’s attack, she continues to debate with President Alma Coin (Julianne MooreStill Alice) on her role in the war against the capital. (I am purposely spelling it with an ‘a’ because both the movies and the books incorrectly refer to the capital city as ‘The Capitol’ with an ‘o.’ Such a spelling denotes not the city but the singular building in which the body of government conducts the work of law. This error still bugs me.)

Sneaking onto a supply transport, Katniss attempts to join soldiers in the field in order to be more than just a propaganda tool and symbol. Her plan is quickly discovered and she is joined by her propaganda team and Peeta in order to further the smear campaign against President Snow (Donald SutherlandHorrible Bosses) and recruit other districts to their cause.

The plan to keep Katniss safe even in enemy territory soon crumbles, however, as her presence is soon discovered by Snow and his army.

An error that I must address applies to all the films in this franchise. Especially in this day and age, to assume your audience has read the book upon which the movie is based is a titanic mistake. I have felt that way ever since the first Hunger Games was released in 2012.

The biggest example of this error is the ‘Boy Scouts hand signal’ shown in every Hunger Games film. Every time the populace is showing solidarity with the protagonists, they hold their hands aloft in a three-fingered salute never explained in any one of the movies. Why?

Because Suzanne Collins, the writer of the three young adult books upon which the films are based, assumed everyone had read her books before going to see the films.

Mistake.

I admit, I had actually read the books well before seeing even the first movie, but by the time the film had been released, I had forgotten the meaning of the gesture altogether. Are they saying they all promise to do their best to do their duty to God and their country? We don’t know; and when we do want to know, we certainly aren’t getting any help from the screenplay.

Okay. Tirade over.

Aside from that admittedly minor miscue, the splitting up of this story is a flawed move that is, in turn, mirrored by other success/error dichotomies throughout the picture.

The casting of Hollywood darling Jennifer Lawrence appeared, at least on the surface, to be a smart move. Unfortunately, her supposed acting skills are lost during much of these four films due to the less than stellar dialogue. Furthermore, her rather full facial features have always made it difficult to believe she is a resident of a starving nation. Only in the last movie did any of the actors look like they had been starving. (It is, after all, called The Hunger Games for a reason. Tough to get that across when no one ever looks hungry.)

Aside from the fact that the lead protagonist runs like a duck with a distended rectum and stares like a transfixed deer whenever someone is shooting at her, Lawrence does fill the role of Katniss with some aplomb. She is, therefore, difficult to like. My favorite part of the film was actually when Johanna (Jena Malone) says to Katniss exactly what I and perhaps much of the audience has been thinking of her character these last four years.

The costume design also occupies both sides of the coin. While some of the designs, particularly the armor worn by Katniss in both halves of this final story, are really quite noteworthy, there are equally atrocious outfits and costumes worn by so many others. This might be on purpose, however, illustrating the absolutely ridiculous and wasteful tastes of those in power.

Coming back to the drawn out aspect of this movie, I hesitate to even call this an action film as a full 50 minutes transpired before any sort of battle commenced. In the four-and-a-half hours it takes the Mockingjay chapter to be told, there are perhaps 15 minutes of actual action. The rest of the time is taken up with talking about politics, talking about feelings, and then even more talking.

On the upside, many of the settings were well thought out and designed. For the first time in the series I found the sets matched what I had pictured while reading the books.

The music, composed by James Newton Howard (Maleficent), was also perhaps the strongest in the series and did a decent job of evoking emotion that would otherwise have been left un-harrowed by the story.

In the end, Mockingjay–Part 2 does exactly what it is was meant to: it made more money for the studio. Unfortunately, that is all at which it actually succeeded.

Ammo Dump rating: 5 out of 10 arrows

I’ll talk more about this film and others during my (every once in a while) radio show. Listen in on WJBC-AM1230 in Central Illinois. For the rest of the world, listen on WJBC.com. And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @ALphaEXray to find out when I’ll be on the air.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay–Part 2
Rated PG-13
Run time: 137 minutes

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