The next time a studio gets the bright idea to take a book trilogy and make four films out of it to pad their bottom line, here’s a suggestion. Don’t. Just don’t.
For those who need proof that this isn’t a good idea, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 will be offered into evidence. The film, which is expected to be a blockbuster, opens for early screenings Thursday and wide on Friday (Nov. 20).
Any cachet the Hunger Games franchise possessed left when director Gary Ross departed after the first film. After the studio turned to Francis Lawrence to take the helm, the series felt as if it were rebooted twice.
As for the final installment? It commits the cardinal sin of being boring. It’s not even a quasi-interesting messy boring. It’s a snoozefest. A cinematic cure for insomnia.
Within the final two films there’s a kernel from which a solid, dystopian film could have grown and matured. Instead the audience is treated to two-plus hours of contemplative drek. Talk about wasting a talented actress in Jennifer Lawrence who portrays the earnest Katniss Everdeen and a cast peppered with Oscar winners (Julianne Moore, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Academy Award nominees (Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland).
But somehow, some way that’s what’s accomplished. The muted middle chapters were supposed to build toward something and on that basis alone received a begrudging pass from this corner, but they need a closing film that delivered a memorable experience for it all to be worth it. That won’t be found here.
Mockingjay Part 2 picks up righter after Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) has been stopped from breaking Katniss’ neck. He’s been flipped by Pres. Snow (Sutherland) and he can’t stand Katniss any longer. That lights a fire under her and she craves but one thing – revenge on Snow.
But the rebellion, led by Pres. Alma Coin (Moore), has better use for her – at least Coin does. Katniss is more valuable to Coin and her media relations guy Plutarch (Hoffman) as a symbol to rally a still skeptical populace to the rebellion’s side.
She has other ideas – like, well, ummm, killing Snow and she gets her commando comrades to assist her in the plan. In the process we get ruminations on democracy and philosophy, which would be welcome had there been much of anything else to bite on and chew.
Even the actors look as if they’d rather be somewhere else in this final installment. The performances aren’t terrible by any stretch, but for the most part they’re going through the motions as if they’re glad it’s over.
Many who see The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 will leave the theater feeling the same.
Movie: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
Director: Francis Lawrence
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland
Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and for some thematic material
Running time: 136 minutes
Check for theaters and showtimes at Atlas Cinemas, Cleveland Cinemas, Fandango.com and MovieTickets.com