The first two Hunger Games movies were good films – above average and exciting. Now, in an attempt to wring every last dollar out of the franchise, the producers have decided to split one good finale film into two releases to double box office prospects. The film had the biggest opening weekend so far – of 2015. But it fell well short of the opening weekends for the first two installments. As a film, Mockingjay shows its shortcomings from beginning to end.
This opening half of a four-hour-plus finale starts out slow and then … slows down more. So little happens in the first hour, it probably wouldn’t have mattered if the film ran backwards.
At the end of Part Two, our heroine Katniss had destroyed the Hunger Games as a viable entertainment and wrecked a lot of personal property. Now she’s joined the rebels in District 13, who are in revolt against the big bosses of the country of Panem who live in the nice city. They are undermanned and under-armed. They only have the heroine and her bow and arrow. They all live about 10 miles underground in a big tubular apartment building. The bad guys still have the big city and all the bright lights.
The good guys convince Katniss to be the face of the revolution on a series of videos, and try to unify the people in the other oppressed districts of Panem to join the fight against the pretty people who eat real food, get their nails done and grow nice beards. Katniss’ acting skill is zilch, so the revolutionaries send her out to the dumps to pick fights with the bad guys. The plan is to film Katniss’ angry and emotional reactions to inspire others to join the fight. This strategy has mixed results.
The good guys spend much of the film cowering underground in the dark while giant bombs blow up everything over their heads. They launch occasional attacks against the bad guys; but beyond causing power outages in the big city, they don’t have much success. Since there is another film in the chute (in about a year), we know why they’re not having much success. The good stuff has to be saved for the series’ real ending. The producers evidently believe that the Harry Potter series’ success resulted from stretching the final ending close to when Harry would be applying for Social Security.
The cast for this Hunger Games remains largely the same. Some characters I thought were killed off, were not. Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died of a drug overdose when the film was in post-production, is also back – completing his role in this film before deciding that massive heroin injections didn’t have any side effects. He was wrong.
I’m not sure I’m looking forward to Part Two of Part Three, but perhaps when it’s released I’ll be hungry for more. One thing we do know: the studio will be hungry for more money.
Rated 2.2 out of 4.0 reasons this film is still called The Hunger Games; though the games effectively ended in Part Two, which actually was Part Two.