Friday April 01, 2016
Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 2 (2015)
And so it ends with a whimper. Mine.
Yes, we’re finally done with this thing that began four years ago, when we were all so much younger and smarter. Now we can step back and see the glorious arc that is “The Hunger Games” tetralogy:
- Part 1: Katniss becomes reluctant hero.
- Part 2: Katniss becomes reluctant symbol.
- Part 3: Katniss becomes reluctant soldier.
- Part 4: Katniss reluctantly chooses which boy she loves during a revolution.
Did anyone else think about Woody Allen’s “Sleeper” watching this? In “Sleeper,” Woody wakes up in the future, becomes part of a rebellion, led by Erno, against the tyrannical “Leader,” who—Woody finds out—has been completely destroyed save for his nose, which the Powers That Be are saving for a cloning experiment. Woody steals the nose and gets away with the girl, Diane Keaton, who still believes in Erno’s rebellion. At the end, Woody tells her: “Don’t you understand—in six months we’ll be stealing Erno’s nose!”
Erno here is Alma Coin (Julianne Moore), the leader of the rebellion, which is being orchestrated by former “Hunger Games” showrunner Plutarch Heavensbee. Since Plutarch is played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died two years ago, he can only do so much in this movie. That said, Hoffman dead is still a better actor than Liam Hemsworth alive.
So: Revolution at hand, Coin sends Katniss into the Capitol with a team of favorite TV show characters:
- Remy Danton, “House of Cards”
- Margaery Tyrell, “Game of Thrones”
- Foggy Nelson, “Daredevil”
- Dr. Valentin Narciss, “Boardwalk Empire,” et al.
- Ro Laren, “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” et al. (I've missed you)
Plus the two boys she must choose between: Thor’s brother, Gale, who is tall, handsome and dull; and little Peeta, who is forever in need of saving, and who has been brainwashed by the government and now wants to kill Katniss. What’s a girl to do?
Their mission? To film heroics that will incite the masses. It’s also implied that Coin actually wants Katniss dead. One less obstacle to power, she supposes.
The team journeys across empty cityscapes, outraces a flood of oil (don’t ask), are assumed dead, aren’t, hide underground, are attacked by slimy creatures, and in the end Katniss and Gale wear hoodies and join the Capitol folks in the long walkup to the presidential palace, where the evil Pres. Snow (Donald Sutherland, the best thing in the series) is encouraging everyone to gather. Then bombs fall and many people die, including Katniss’ sister Primrose (Willow Shields), who is the reason Katniss sacrificed everything in the first place. The bombs are blamed on Pres. Snow but we find out, bit by bit, that the rebellion did it. It was Coin, who declares herself interim president, sets up a “Hunger Games” for the Capitol’s children, and lets Katniss kill Snow in the public square with bow and arrow. She introduces her, standing on a platform 100 feet behind Snow, right in the line of fire.
You see where this is going, right? Katniss steals Erno’s nose. The mob then kills Snow on its own.
“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1” is not all horrible. Sam Claflin as Finnick Odair is good, but he dies in the tunnels (shame), while Elizabeth Banks and Woody Harrelson, also interesting, aren’t given enough to do (again). I love it when Snow is giving a speech but his broadcast is usurped by Pres. Coin—a sign of her power—and she quotes Snow on Katniss: “A face 'picked from the masses' he called her,” she says. “Plucked,” he corrects, if only to himself.
Another good bit: As Peeta recovers, he keeps asking Katniss what’s real/not real. I.e., what truly happened to him and or what was he programmed to believe happened? She keeps telling him: real/not real. Then after all the shit goes down, and Gale reveals himself to be a simple-minded soldier (or something), Katniss winds back in District Whatever with Peeta, and then in bed with Peeta; and since he's a sensitive sort, we get this exchange:
Peeta: You love me: Real or not real?
Katniss: [Pause] Real.
Hey, that's actually a nice ending!
Except it fades back in. Idiots. We fast-forward several years to when Peeta and Katniss have two kids and play with them outdoors. He’s by a stream, she’s under a tree. She looks even more distant than before, less “there.” I guess it’s supposed to be peaceful? She says some unnecessary lines in voiceover. Then “The Hunger Games,” which grossed nearly $3 billion worldwide, finally, mercifully, joins the ranks of The Fallen.