The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (film review by Frank Ochieng).
‘The Hunger Games’ creator and mastermind Suzanne Collins has brought to life the explosive and resilient heroine Katniss Everdeen, not to mention the resourceful actress stepping into her action-oriented shoes and consciousness in the form of Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence. Now, with the conclusive ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2′, ardent and casual fans of this imaginative and charged film franchise will get a chance to soak in the cinematic experience that has carried them through this durable trilogy. However, the question remains: does ‘Mockingjay – Part 2′ fulfil the adventurous swagger of its previous predecessors as it demonstrates its furious farewell in moodiness and mischievousness? Well, the answer is a resounding YES but some will still address the concept of the film’s emotional and psychological leanings as merely serviceable to a string of feisty films that invited such passion, pronouncement and promise in its commentary on class struggle and societal survival means as a whole.
‘The Hunger Games’ cinematic instalments and, of course, Collins’ riveting literary outlets) have always been a solid and secure movie-going moment because it offered what so few action-packed features entailed: a perceptive and honest if not hedonistic look at the politics in the human psyche set aside from the rough-and-tumble sequences of action and suspense. The ‘Games’ that were played in the minds of the audience were intriguing, thoughtful, compelling and smart about its wits and wisdom. All ‘The Hunger Games’ editions were message-driven and presented a special kind of indescribable opulence and openness that was refreshing. Sure, there are the highs and lows that comes with the territory when mapping out a showcase of sequels bound to stumble on its lapses in story and characterization. Still, for the most part ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2′ leaves the viewers wanting more but being compliant with what amounts to be the swan song for courageous cutie Katniss Everdeen’s big screen legacy.
It is quite clear that ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -Part 2′ and its previous outings has carved a decisive niche into the Young Adult film fiction genre as one of the most successful and consistently received chapters that sparkled in its over-glow of gallant gumption and soul-searching turmoil. Indeed, ‘Mockingjay – Part 2′ does add its measurement of tension, radiance, redemption and resolution. Importantly, ‘Mockingjay- Part 2′ maintains its reflective and steady balance of hope and rebellious vibes and Lawrence has not lost a single ounce of momentum in the few years since she donned the respectable defiance of the roguish Katniss out to settle a continuous score with the controlling powers-that-be. Instinctively, labeling ‘The Hunger Games’ motivating movie series as a pop cultural phenom would not risk the intention of sounding over-dramatic because for the most part this film franchise has been a saving grace to the aforementioned Young Adult film fiction craze that has offered cemented substance in comparison to the soapy sentiments of the immense ‘Twilight’ umbrella that spread like wildfire in the unguarded woods years before.
As one can imagine ‘Mockingjay – Part 2′ picks up where the first Mockingjay left off in its initial premise. Director Francis Lawrence, back at the helm, starts his narrative rather slow and plodding but builds up the sassy momentum as his on-screen victorious vixen Katniss Everdeen pounces on her latest exploits to expose and agitate the corruptible Capitol and its lead manipulator in the likes of the diabolical President Snow (Donald Sutherland). The good news is that the determined Katniss is finally reunited with her former ‘Games’ companion and romantic partner, Peeta Mellark(Josh Hutcherson). The bad news is that poor Peeta has been manipulated and convinced to view Katniss as an enemy courtesy of Snow’s menacing minions. Automatically, this is the difficult wedge that puts a damper on Katniss’ ability to go after Snow and his vile followers with Peeta serving as their brainwashed Boy Wonder with the forced hatred in tact.
So, now, the course is set for Katniss Everdeen to follow as she decides to pursue her intentions of gradually taking down the governmental negligence of Snow and his abominable administration. Naturally, Katniss needs the assistance of the rebels under the tutelage of District 13’s President Alma Coin (Oscar-winner Julianne Moore) as well as the input from wily gamemaster Plutarch Heavensbee (late Oscar-winner Phillip Seymour Hoffman) to take down the dangerous and devious Snow and his governmental criminal cronies. Politically, the opportunistic Coin wants Katniss in her camp for the mere promotion of propaganda…something that just does not sit well with the feminine avenger.
The stakes are understandably high but Katniss is in company with the likes of her childhood sweetie pie Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and old-time buddy Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin) as they join forces to combat the evil clutched of the Capitol. The bottom line: the venomous President Snow needs to be cut down in his treacherous tracks…plain and simple.
Quite frankly, the beleaguered Katniss is caught up in the complicated web of a couple of political powerhouses in the insufferable Snow that wants to destroy her and Coin that wants to use her reputation for marketing purposes, willing to go at it while using Katniss’ exposed neck as the sacrificial pawn to determine their sense of twisted greatness. For the most part, ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2′ does present a skillful display of confusion and identity and Lawrence’s death-dodging diva Katniss Everdeen is the epitome of a Girl on Fire with flames of indecision and doubt burning all around her. Who can she trust? Who has the fortitude to stick with the plan and ensure that the tedious target of Snow is silenced for sure? Can Katniss overcome the obstacles of her great love Peeta’s perverse distaste for her while battling one narcissistic leader as another one she is joined at the hip exploits her presence? There seems to be a constant continuity for conflict in warfare and wounded souls that elevates ‘Mockingjay – Part 2′ as a boisterous board game of physical and psychological movement. As usual, Lawrence’s Katniss carries the animated strife on her dainty yet athletic shoulders with bouncy boldness.
After four exhilarating films, ‘The Hunger Games’ empire does not crumble but comes to a full scale halt as it understands the allegory claims for the distrusting contemporary times we all live in regarding the cynicism, abuse of privilege and the underestimation of the weary masses being led astray by the controlling elite of unassuming movers and shakers. The audacity of ‘The Hunger Games’ odyssey was to get down and dirty about the give-and-take tendencies of a global society willing to challenge the authoritative scrutiny or kneel at its merciless ankles. Perhaps ‘Mockingjay- Part 2′ should not be perceived so deeply in its final revelation. Nevertheless, the effort in trying to do so should be acknowledged for an actioner that dared to approach such thought-provoking fodder within its bombastic boundaries.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015)
2 hrs. 17 mins.
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Willow Shields, Sam Claflin, Elisabeth Banks, Mahershala Ali, Jena Malone, Jeffrey Wright, Paula Malcomson, Stanley Tucci and Michelle Forbes
Directed by: Francis Lawrence
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre: Science Fiction and Fantasy/Action and Adventure
Critic’s rating: *** stars (out of 4 stars)
(c) Frank Ochieng 2015