‘Oh, my dear Miss Everdeen. I thought we’d agreed never to lie to each other.’
The first Hunger Games book is so emotionally draining, so high octane and so plain fucking brilliant that the other two books always felt a little anti climatic and superfluous. The film adaptations suffer from the same problem albeit in a slightly different way. With The Hunger Games, Gary Ross struggled to combine the dark tone of the books, with the mass appeal demanded from the studio. The result is an average adaptation, of source material so good, that even Michael Bay would struggle to fuck it up.
When Francis Lawrence took over for Catching Fire, everything came together to produce a film as good as anything that Marvel have churned out in the same time period. Catching Fire was about as perfect a Hunger Games adaptation as could possibly be, and the final two films suffer in comparison.
Even worse though, is the decision to split Mockingjay into two films. After Part 1 was underwhelming, many people simply stopped caring, resulting in Part 2 having the lowest box office takings for any Hunger Games film. As with The Hobbit, there just isn’t enough source material to justify more than one film. Large parts of both Mockingjay- Part 1 and Part 2 feel like a war of attrition and the impact of the supposedly important moments are diluted because of this. This is all such a shame, because there are excellent ideas and scenes throughout Mockingjay and had Lawrence resisted the financial urge to split the book into two films, he would surely have had a trilogy that would have stood the test of time. Instead, he is left with a franchise that has ran out of steam and crawled over the finish line.
The film itself veers between sprinting through plot heavy dialogue and action sequences and, if not for another excellent performance from Jennifer Lawrence, Mockingjay – Part 2 would surely have to go down as a complete failure. Another frustrating turn of events, is that the best actors (Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Stanley Tucci, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Elizabeth Banks, Sam Clafin etc etc) are relegated to the sidelines to allow for more time with the worlds most boring love triangle. Peeta and Gale (portrayed by Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth respectively) are by far the most tedious element of the The Hunger Games, yet they have the most screen time by some way, perhaps in a misguided attempt to placate the Twilight generation.
Mockingjay – Part 2 is not a total disaster, but after Catching Fire it must go down as a total disappointment.