“A slow start causes a failure to launch… Not until the ‘Girl on Fire’ leads Alma Coin’s rebels through 70+ streets of gaming threats in the Capital does “Part 2” show any signs of life.”
In 2012, watching the firstborn film conceived from Suzanne Collins’ best-selling line of novels, I was amazed at originality of the “The Hunger Games” framework and deep personal struggles within its storyline. Everyone, myself included, pulled for this heady sixteen year-old girl (Jennifer Lawrence) with sniper-like archery skills in a winner-take-all death match. This deadly competition–or “Games” as they called it—was shockingly aired live to the masses as if it were a futuristic Gladiator sport.
The impressive opening “Hunger” movie was topped off by an intense hatred that developed between the two main rivals; one a ruling thug president (Donald Sutherland). The other, Lawrence’s crafty rebel teen archer, named Katniss Everdeen.
Quickly “The Hunger Games” achieved the equivalent of the triple-crown for motion pictures—finding a young actress who possessed the unique killer skills and love interests to lead the franchise, dealing a Darwinist survival of the fittest battlefield scenario for thrill seekers, and imposing a high stakes leadership struggle between Good and Evil followers for viewers to cheer on. A trifecta that resonated with audiences and rushed Collins’ stories to the top of every U.S. bestseller list.
By 2013, the series’ sequel “Catching Fire” once again satisfied the growing “Hunger” fans’ tastes using the same edgy, yet entertaining, red-meat premise of the original. Only now the storyline gave the citizens of the 13 Districts more reason to scratch their festering wounds levied by the nasty President Snow (Sutherland) from the Capital. The poor throughout Panem finally decided they’d had enough. All the rebels needed to turn the tables was a leader willing to be the face of their opposition force.
“Mockingjay: Part 1” disappointed last year because it barely furthered the trilogy’s journey for its loyal followers. Bluntly put, the greed for box office sales caused Collins’ 3rd book to be divided into a two-parter. It was this 2014 film that stymied the fierce “Games” match-ups due to a slow start and even slower on-screen action.
With so little to show for itself, “Mockingjay, Part 1” only raised expectations and placed added pressure on last week’s premiere of “Part 2”.
Returning “Part 1” director Francis Lawrence takes the lucrative blueprint from 2012’s original, but waters down the excitement in this series’ finale. A slow start causes a failure to launch in this latest “Hunger” tale. Not until the ‘Girl on Fire’ leads Alma Coin’s rebels through 70+ streets of gaming threats in the Capital does “Part 2” show any signs of life.
Sure, action abounds as Katniss and her fellow rebels depart District 2 for the Capital, discovering underground mayhem. But that lasts for less than thirty minutes of the 136-minute showing. Thankfully, a twisted (although tempered) ending puts an exclamation point on this series’ finale. Despite loyal “Hunger” fans of Collins’ book collection likely finding “Part 2” extremely satisfying (and a full letter-grade higher) the time was right to put this trilogy to rest.
RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman.
“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and for some thematic material. Its running time is 2 hours and 16 minutes.
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