Since the end of Harry Potter, many Teen Fantasy/Sci-Fi series have begun in order to make up for the Wizard shaped hole, and many have failed to set the world alight. Lots of them lasted for just one film, a few have carried on, not particularly groundbreaking, but struggling on all the same. The only franchise that has been brave and smart enough to step into those Potter sized shoes has been this star making, mature and highly influential franchise.
The Hunger Games films, based off the books of the same names, have been the yearly franchise that has taken darker and more grown up themes to a younger audience, whilst making Jennifer Lawrence into the worlds biggest star.
The first was a great film, the second was excellent, and my favorite film that year, the third was a bit slow, but had fantastic sequences, and now we have the final one. The part 2 after Mockingjay Part 1, and the final film in the franchise.
Whereas the books gradually declined in quality, the last was the weakest, but never being actually bad, the films have sort of followed suit. No, you would never say that any of these are bad films, In fact, they have taken serious ideas and not held anything back, but there is a sense, as with the books, that the story hasn’t come together in the same way towards the end.
Mockingjay Part 1 and Part 2 should have been one story. Ever since Deathly Hallows was split into two, splitting the final film of a franchise into two has become a thing. Whilst it worked for Harry and Co., it’s only just about worked for Katniss. The first part was talky, but it had excellent moments, and the second part has a weak first half, and a good second.
Though I’m perfectly happy to spend a lot of time with these thoroughly engaging characters, I can’t help but think that they, the films, could have been combined into one excellent movie. One day, hopefully they will.
Part 2, however, isn’t bad. It’s not as amazing as Catching Fire, the film I saw more than twice, but it has everything that I love so much about the franchise in spades.
Modern cinemas greatest heroine, beautiful cinematography, fantastic grasp of themes and subtext, beautiful music, thrilling action, a wonderful supporting cast and Stanley Tucci, albeit in the smallest dose yet.
Yet, I have to say, that it’s not perfect. Its first half is fairly inconsequential, put it next to part 1 and there’s a lot of flab. There’s a bunch of stuff that doesn’t do a lot for the film, and would be better served on the cutting room floor, but, once the characters arrive in the capitol, cameras at the ready, the film finds itself.
As I’ve said, Mockingjay is the weakest of the 3 books, the plot is at its weakest, and that translates a little. However, after the sewer attack by the gruesome Mutt creatures, the film goes from exciting set piece to exciting set piece, and ends with a series of thoughtfully engaging finales, much like Return of the King, there’s too many, but they satisfyingly tie up the film.
The key points of the book are there. Finnick dies, but a bit slower, in a great action sequence. The bombs are dropped in a goosebump inducing scene, Prim dies all too quickly and Katniss shoots Coin instead of Snow and Snow is ripped apart by a bloodthirsty crowd in a frankly shocking moment.
Katniss and Peeta reunite, they live happily ever after, wounded soldiers seeking solace in each others arms. No real hint of Peeta still struggling with his Hijacking, but they have cute kids and seem happy. It ends with Katniss holding their baby in her arms and saying about how she has nightmares too, and that “There are worse games to play”, which is a nice line and a more languishing ending than was allowed in the book.
Jennifer Lawrence is still absolutely fantastic. She has the character down to a tee. Josh Hutcherson is the hidden talent in the film, whilst the supporting cast, Moore, Hoffman (His final role), Harrelson, Banks, Dormer, Sutherland and Claflin all give small roles (in this film) credibility with charm, and tons of presence.
The cinematography is very beautiful, especially in the final scenes of the film, and when you have the stark white in the final Capitol scenes. The music is lovely, there are no superb ‘The Hanging Tree’ moments, but that famous Hunger Games score keeps us empowered and moved.
Overall, I’d say it’s the third best of the films, it’s not perfect, its flaws lie in the unnecessary splitting of the final book, but it brings this hugely enjoyable, and provocative franchise to a satisfying close. I hope Katniss Everdeen continues to be a role model for young children everywhere, this has been a franchise that, whilst being quite adult, doesn’t look down on it’s younger audience.
And that should be commendable. It’s stepped into those large shoes of Potter, and it’ll be sad to see it go.
Rating: B 7/10