There was no need for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay to be split into two different films if only to rake in more money at the box office.
I’m reviewing both of these films together because I see zero way in which I can review them otherwise. While telling the story in two parts, it is still one comprehensive story. This splitting of films is nothing more than a cash grab no matter how you look at it. Look at what happened with the Divergent series–Allegiant was split into two and they never made the second part.
Mockingjay shows the rebellion in action. One thing that is crystal clear by the second part is that President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) has her own agenda. She puts Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) in a position to be the face of the rebellion. However, Katniss has her own conditions and they include liberating Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) and the other victors from captivity at the Capitol. This is easier said than done.
By the time that the final part comes around, Katniss is coming into a leader on her own. She isn’t hear to play anyone else’s games. Not Coin’s and certainly not Snow’s (Donald Sutherland). It’s why her actions in the final film come as now surprise. Even while watching the film, I had to remind myself that Coin wouldn’t be any better than Snow. They’re both bad in their own right and the films explore the politics of it all. Together, they are the most political film of the entire franchise. It isn’t just that there’s a war going on but we have to see the fallout that is taking place. Coin leads the districts in the fight against the Capitol. When you look at what’s been happening to their children for 75 years, it’s about time that they rise up!
War is violent and people, even close loved ones, will get killed. The losses here pile up and they inform the decisions that Katniss makes. The death of Primrose (Willow Shields) is no less tragic on the screen than it is while reading the book. With reading the book, you can give yourself as much time as possible to digest the news. This is not the case when watching on screen because they go for as much of an impact as possible. But anyway, if anyone expected this to be the less violent of the films, they are only kidding themselves. The books were no less violent!
One flaw about the first part is that there is not enough action. They use Katniss for more propaganda than anything else. She wants to see real action but Coin will not risk anything happening to the Mockingjay. If this isn’t bad enough, Peeta is of the belief that Katniss is all that is wrong with the world. All in all, part one is the lesser of the two films. I don’t fault Francis Lawrence, Peter Craig, or Danny Strong for this. They’re working with a solid source material. If anything, the fault is with the studio for wanting to get two films out of the final book. In splitting it up, Mockingjay just fails to hit at the same level as the first two films.
Unfortunately, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death came with one week left to shoot his scenes. Instead of CGI, they end up working around the unfortunate death. Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) ends up reading a letter from Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman). If not for his passing, this scene would have been in person following Katniss’s detainment.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Parts 1 and 2 make for an epic conclusion to the franchise but the second film is stronger than the first. Overall, it’s a dark and violent thriller with no shortage of drama but one can only wonder what a non-split film would look like.
DIRECTOR: Francis Lawrence
SCREENWRITERS: Peter Craig and Danny Strong
CAST: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, with Stanley Tucci and Donald Sutherland
Lionsgate released The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 in theaters on November 21, 2014. Grade: 3/5
Lionsgate released The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 in theaters on November 20, 2015. Grade: 3.5/5
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