"THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY - PART II" (2015) Review
Some five or six years ago, Warner Brothers Studios began a new tradition when its executives made a decision to split its adaptation of the last "HARRY POTTER"
film into two novels. A taon later, Summit Entertainment continued this tradition sa pamamagitan ng splitting its adaptation of the last "TWILIGHT"
novel into two films. And now Lionsgate has done the same sa pamamagitan ng adapting Suzanne Collins' last novel in her "The Hunger Games"
trilogy with two movies. The studio ended the movie franchise with the release of "THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY, PART II"
This last film, which is based upon the segundo half of Collins' 2010 novel, picked up where the 2014 movie left off - with Katniss Everdeen aka "The Girl on Fire" recovering from being attacked sa pamamagitan ng her close friend, Peeta Mallark, after he had been brainwashed sa pamamagitan ng the Capitol into regarding her as an enemy. After being attacked sa pamamagitan ng a supporter of Panem's President Snow during a propaganda campaign in District 2, Katniss is frustrated sa pamamagitan ng rebel leader Alma Coin's insistence that she stay away from the battlefields. Fellow tribute from the 75th Quater Quell Games, Johanna Mason, quietly suggests that she sneak aboard a supply ship leaving for the Capitol, where Commander Paylor is planning an invasion, during the wedding of former tributes Finnick Odair and Annie Cresta. Unable to control Katniss, Coin decides to assigned her to the "Star Squad"; along with childhood friend Gale Hawthorne, Finnick, and documentary director Cressida and her team. Led sa pamamagitan ng Katniss' former bodyguard, Boggs, the squad is order to remain in safety behind the actual invasion of the Capitol and provide video clips of their incursion for propaganda purposes. But Katniss and her fellow combatants encounter a great deal of danger from Capitol soldiers, explosive pods and mutated animals. Coin also assigns Peeta to the squad, despite the fact that he has not completely recovered from his conditioning. What starts out as a propaganda campaign for the squad, eventually becomes a dangerous and bloody mission that ends in tragedy and a great surprise.
This last "HUNGER GAMES" movie received a great deal of praise. But at the same time, these same critics expressed dismay that the last novel in the franchise had been split into two films. Surprisingly, I had no problems with how the adaptation of "Mockingjay" resulted in two films. Unlike the last "HARRY POTTER" and "TWILIGHT" adaptations, the two-part adaptation for this particular movie seemed to break at the right moment - namely the rescued Peeta Mellark's attack on protagonist Katniss Everdeen. However, I did have a few problems with "THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY, PART II". I wish the screenwriters and director Francis Lawrence had featured a few scenes of Panem citizens rebelling against the Capitol . . . just as they had done in "PART I". In fact, I wish they could have featured a few scenes of the rebels inching towards the Presidential mansion, before Katniss and close friend Gale Hawthorne had reached it. The movie seemed so fixed upon Katniss' point-of-view (POV) that the entire sequence featuring the massacre of the Capitol citizens, Peacekeepers and rebel medics from bombs seemed slightly disjointed and confusing. I also wish that the screenplay had included a scene from the novel in which Katniss and her mother, Mrs. Everdeen, sinabi good-bye to each other over the telephone. I never understood why they did not include that scene in the film. It would have been a great moment for both Jennifer Lawrence and Paula Malcomson.
Quibbles aside, I must admit that I really enjoyed "MOCKINGJAY, PART II". I thought director Francis Lawrence and screenwriters Danny Strong and Peter Craig did a very good job of adapting the segundo half of Collins' novel. I had worried that Lion's Gate Studios would insist that the screenwriters and Lawrence drastically change the story sa pamamagitan ng giving it a less bittersweet ending. Lo and behold, no such thing happened. "THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY, PART II" - especially its ending - literally wallowed in moral ambiguity. madami importantly, story allowed its heroine, in the end, to succumb to her worst instincts in a way that made sense to the saga that began in the first chapter. I believe it took balls for Suzanne Collins to end Katniss Everdeen's struggles against the Capitol on that note. And I can say the same for Lawrence, Strong, Craig and the film's producers.
I was also impressed sa pamamagitan ng the movie's portrayal of Peeta Mallark in this chapter of the saga. As many know, Peeta had spent most of "THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY, PART I" as a captive of the Capitol. He had been tortured and brainwashed via a tracker jacker venom into making an attempt on Katniss' life. The filmmakers could have easily ignored Collins' story and allowed Peeta's recovery to be a quick job before he joined Katniss' squad in the Capitol's streets. Instead, they decided to follow Collins' story and allowed Peeta's recovery to be slow. sa pamamagitan ng doing this, they allowed Peeta's presence in the squad to not only endanger everyone, but have an impact on Katniss' relationship with the Rebellion's leadership.
madami importantly, "THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY, PART II" continued the saga's theme of the impact war has human beings. After all, this theme has been present since Katniss and Peeta found themselves in 74th Hunger Games arena in the first movie. But in these last two movies, audiences see how war impacts everyone and not just a group of tributes coerced into playing out a lethal war game for the sake of telebisyon ratings. The war eventually has an impact upon Katniss' various relationships - especially with Peeta, her best friend Gale Hawthorne, her family and the Rebellion's leadership . . . and also upon her psyche. What I found interesting in the combat featured in this film is that Katniss and her fellow combatants not only have to deal with the traditional weapons of war, but also the muttations and other technical wonders usually reserved for the Hunger Games. The most harrowing examples of the Capitol's use of muttations were the flood of black tar on the Capitol's streets and the butiki mutts' attack upon the squad inside the Capitol's sewer system. I found this sequence rather difficult to watch, due to the scary images, the level of violence and the devastating impact upon the squad. But I must say . . . I thought it was one of the most frightening scenes in the entire saga. And due to Lawrence' direction, the cast's performances, the editing team of Alan Edward kampanilya and Mark Yoshikawa, cinematographer Jo Willems, and the special effects team; I also found it very effective.
Speaking of the performances, there is not enough I can say about them. I could not find a misstep made sa pamamagitan ng any member of the cast. "MOCKINGJAY, PART II" featured some really solid performances from the likes of Elden Henson, Wes Chatham, Evan Ross, Stef Dawson, Sarita Choudhury, and Meta Golding. Natalie Dormer continued her excellent portrayal of telebisyon director Cressida. Patina Miller gave a madami subtle performance as District 8's Commander Paylor, who ends up playing a major role at the end of the rebellion. Although her screen time was somewhat limited in the movie, Jena Malone continued to give a colorful performance as former tribute Johanna Mason. Actually, she was not the only one whose screen time was limited. I could also say the same about Woody Harrelson, who portrayed Katniss and Peeta's mentor Haymitch Abernathy; Jeffrey Wright as former tribute and the Rebellion's tech man Beetee Latier; Elizabeth Banks as Katniss and Peeta's escort Effie Trinket; Paula Malcomson as Katniss' delicate mother Mrs. Everdeen; Willow Shields as Katniss' quiet and highly determined sister Primrose; and Stanley Tucci as Hunger Games host Caesar Flickerman. Thankfully, they were all top-notch, as usual.
There were cast members who ibingiay opportunities to strut their stuff in one or two scenes. There was an excellent moment for Mahershalalhashbaz Ali, who as Rebellion commander Bogg, tries to warn Katniss about President Alma Coin's true goals in a heartbreaking scene. Sam Claflin continued his excellent performance as former tribute Finnick Odair - especially in two scenes. One of them featured his character's wedding to another former tribute Annie Cresta. And other featured his attempts to placate the still hijacked Peeta. One scene that featured an intense performance sa pamamagitan ng Michelle Forbes, who portrayed Boggs' second-in-command, Lieutenant Jackson. However, Donald Sutherland and Julianne Moore received a good number of opportunities to showcase their talent. As President Coriolanus Snow of Panem and President Alma Coin of the Rebellion, the two performers gave interesting, yet contrasting takes on presidential villainy. Sutherland's performance struck me as verbose, but with a slight edge of desperation, as his character struggle to deal with the possibility of defeat. On the other hand, Moore's performance seemed a good deal madami subtle . . . cool. I got the impression of observing a personality that proved to be a lot madami manipulative than Snow's and just as murderous in the occasional flash in her eyes.
The movie also featured superb performances from the three leads. Liam Hemsworth gave an interesting performance as rebel Gale Hawthorne. Very interesting. Hemsworth skillfully expressed Gale's fervent aggression against Snow's administration, but also a disturbing willingness to resort to any means necessary to end the war in the rebels' favor. But for me, his best scene featured that moment when his character was unable to verify whether one of his weapon designs was used in an attack in front of the Presidential mansion. Hemsworth barely sinabi a word, but his stark emotion is perfectly clear on his face. I think Josh Hutcherson had the most difficult role in this movie. He had to take the Peeta Mellark character on a journey from the murderous and brainwashed young man to someone who managed to find some semblance of peace in the wake of two Hunger Games and a violent war. Thanks to the screenwriters and Hutcherson's performance, Peeta's journey was not rushed into some futile effort to resume his old relationship with Katniss as quickly as possible. And this journey resulted in a beautiful scene in which Peeta finally told Katniss how she was needed to end this war against Snow - a scene that Hutcherson not only acted his asno off, but also brought tears to my eyes. Jennifer Lawrence's performance as Katniss Everdeen seemed a bit madami subtle than usual in this movie. I found this surprising, considering her role as the movie's lead. I suspect that Katniss' unusual subtlety came from having the brainwashed Peeta in her midst. I also suspect that Katniss' unease toward Gale's "by any means necessary" attitude toward the use of violence may have contributed to that unease. Lawrence really kept her performance under control in this film. But there was one scene in which Lawrence's performance blew me away, when she openly expressed Katniss' rage and grief against the tragedies she had experienced during the war.
I understand that "THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY, PART II"
made less money than the nakaraan three movies. Personally, I do not see this as a reflection of the movie's quality. Sure, it had a few bumps in the narrative and the production. But so did the other three films. Frankly, I thought it was an outstanding conclusion to one of the best movie franchises I had the good fortune to see. And one can thank not only Suzanne Collins' imagination and talent, but also Francis Lawrence's first-rate direction, a well-written script sa pamamagitan ng Peter Craig and Danny Strong, and a talented cast led sa pamamagitan ng the always superb Jennifer Lawrence that brought Collins' story to life.