HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 2
Katniss and co wrap up.
released 21 March 2015 | 12 | Blu- ray 3D/ Blu- ray Steelbook/ Blu- ray/ DVD/ download Director Francis Lawrence Cast Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland
If ever there was a franchise to prove that YA stories shouldn’t just be dismissed as kids’ stuff, The Hunger Games is it. Within a poster- friendly package, the series deals with war, politics and morality, and pulls no punches along the way – life expectancy doesn’t seem significantly higher in Panem than it does in Westeros. And in a time when the prevailing tone of blockbuster franchises veers towards lightness of touch and plenty of humour, The Hunger Games – the one that’s supposedly, y’know, for kids – is the most serious of them all.
But that comes at a price, as this final instalment is almost oppressively dour. It’s not just that people don’t crack one- liners; they rarely even smile, such is the misery of their existence. Even the wedding celebration near the start is a strangely morose affair.
It’s also incredibly talky, possibly a result of splitting Suzanne Collins’s trilogy- closing Mockingjay novel in two. The jury’s still very much out on that decision, as you often feel here that the story has been padded to justify the running time. With Katniss ( Lawrence) and her band of allies spending much of the movie making their way through the Capitol for a final showdown with President Snow ( Donald Sutherland), it basically boils down to extended passages of wandering through an apocalyptic landscape, punctuated by a few intense action sequences. If they’d compressed Mockingjay 1’ s propaganda war and Part 2’ s sightseeing into one movie, it’s difficult to see what the story would have lost.
When they come, however, the setpieces are inventive and edge- ofthe- seat exciting – particularly the one involving a torrent of boiling oil, and an Aliens- channelling escape from mutated “Mutts”. The problem is that there simply aren’t enough of them. When Finnick Odair declares, “Welcome to the 76th Hunger Games” he’s teasing that the fights to the death which defined the franchise are about to be played out in the city, but that never quite comes to pass. In fact, the Games themselves – the franchise’s big high- concept hook – are what the two Mockingjay
Inventive and edge- ofthe- seat exciting
films lack most. Is it really The
Hunger Games without them? Yet this final chapter of the saga still deserves your attention. The cast remain universally brilliant, from Lawrence’s iconic reluctant hero Katniss ( still endearingly difficult to warm to) to Sutherland, Julianne Moore and – in his final role – Philip Seymour Hoffman.
And for anyone who hasn’t read the books, the closing act is full of genuine surprises, concluding the story in some unexpected but satisfying ways, while rewarding pretty much every character with a satisfying pay- off. Venturing into areas of shades- of- grey morality, the series eloquently makes the point that the world doesn’t break down into good and evil, and that people you thought were good can do terrible things. That means it lingers in your brain longer than most popcorn fodder – as with much great science fiction, the mirror it holds up to the real world is a powerful weapon.
Extras The DVD is bare, but there’s plenty on the Blu- ray: director Francis Lawrence and producer Nina Jacobson provide commentary; two- hour, eight- part Making Of “Pawns No More” covers all aspects of production, as well as asking the cast to reflect on the series; “The Hunger Games: A Photographic Journey” ( 10 minutes) walks us through on- set stills; “Panem On Display” ( two minutes) takes look at the Hunger
Games exhibition in San Francisco. Lenny Kravitz’s stylist Cinna, “disappeared” in Part 1, is also miraculously resurrected for “Cinna’s Sketchbook: Secrets Of The Mockingjay Armour” ( nine minutes).
Buttercup the cat was originally black and white, but was recast as a ginger to match the description in the books.
“Seriously. Where are you finding the time to dye your hair?”
“Did she not get the memo about the dress code?”