Granger on Movies: ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part II’
Published 1:30 pm, Friday, December 4, 2015
Westport News film critic Susan Granger reviews the new movie “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part II.”
This highly anticipated conclusion begins where “Mockingjay, Part 1” left off. After brainwashed Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) almost choked her to death, bruised and battered Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is recovering.
While Katniss vows to kill despotic President Snow (Donald Sutherland), resistance leader Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) says she is more valuable as the iconic Mockingjay, inspiring others to band together, ending district rivalries in Panem. But this reduces Katniss to a primarily passive figurehead.
As a propaganda tool, she’s assigned to the Star Squad, infiltrating the Capitol, which has been booby-trapped against the rebels. That leads to lots of violent, often fatal CGI skirmishes, particularly when they take a claustrophobic, underground route, battling slithering sewer slimes.
Resilient stylist Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) flutters, while videographer Natalie Dormer (TV’s “Game of Thrones”) keeps the cameras rolling and there’s an all-too-brief glimpse of statuesque Gwendoline Christie (“Game of Thrones”).
According to many, the third book in Suzanne Collins’ trilogy is the weakest and never should have been split into two parts. But movie makers’ greed prevailed in , as in other young-adult adaptations like “Twilight” and “Divergent.”
With longbow in hand and an arrow-filled quiver on her back, Jennifer Lawrence is stunning — and the odds are still in her favor.
But even she seems to sense that this slog has become stale, even with stalwart support from veterans Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore, Stanley Tucci and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, whose last Gamesmaker Plutarch Heavensbee’s message is read aloud by Woody Harrelson’s Haymitch.
As Katniss’s suitors, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth are dismally dull lumps. Were their roles deliberately diluted by screenwriters Peter Craig and Danny Strong, along with director Francis Lawrence? And then there’s the sudden, somewhat inexplicable demise of Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin). Too bad Suzanne Collins never paired him romantically with Katniss.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part II” is a somber, insipid, slavishly faithful 6, as the Girl on Fire becomes a glowing ember.