Posted Nov 20 2015
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The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2 - This Movie Rocks One Last (Slightly Protracted) Time

Dir: Francis Lawrence

Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Willow Shields, Woody Harrelson, Jeffrey Wright, the whole gang basically

So here we are, 4th Time Around (as Bob Dylan would say) and where exactly are we? Well, we’re more or less minutes after the end of the last one, somewhere in the middle of a relatively short book that has been expanded into nearly four and a half hours of a movie (if you put them together.) And, despite all that works here, it’s seriously showing its bagginess.

Katniss and co are out to take down the President, but along the way they need to go through a series of trials which are spectacular in their execution, but also a little bit laboured – it feels at times as if the powers that be (movie-wise) are going “Well, it’s got Games in the title – so we should have some” even though they’ve kind of done that already. So cue the spectacular floods of black water (oil? tar?) which is impressive. Then the down and dirty in the sewers attack of the Mutts, which is brilliantly done and a highlight of the film.

Also, on the plus side, as these movies have gone on and had more and more money chucked at them, they simply look better and better. The production design here is hugely impressive, to the fore and the film is all the better for it. And, on a similar note, director Lawrence, knows how to marshal both his cast and large scale action.

In terms of that cast, the other Lawrence (Jennifer) knows this role inside out but never walks through it and, after four films, continues to hugely own every moment she’s on screen. She is the heart and the core of these films and they benefit dramatically from her. Elsewhere, Liam Hemsworth, after four films, is still being wasted, whilst Josh Hutherson, after four films, is still a remarkably bad actor. And the whole love triangle thing is still one of the most convoluted and unconvincing in cinema history. (And, yes, she still chooses the wrong guy – after four films!!)

But then again you do have the likes of the genius that is Sutherland, the glory of Harrelson, the presence of Moore to even things out, and the final appearance of the late, great Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who, so long after his death, brings a resonance all his own.

There’s a lot in THGMJP2 (as we’re all calling it!) that works well. But there’s an awful lot of space in between those moments. The final Harry Potter (or HPATDHP1&2 – as we all called it back then), which kicked off this whole cycle of splitting the final book in twain to make more moolah, was justified as it was a book that teetered on the brink of 800 pages. Suzanne Collins’ final tome shows its stretch marks here, despite the plus points. And whilst its emotional climax works, even given it’s obvious “Meet the new boss/Same as the old boss” connotations – it’s kind of HUGELY signposted. And then the film doesn’t really know how to end.

So, final time around and THGMJP2 (you know we’re all calling it that – trips off the tongue) is very solid, at times very entertaining (love those sewer Mutts) but also fairly flabby. Just three movies overall could’ve been great.

 

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