Saturday, November 28, 2015

Diva's Movie Review: "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2" Plods To A Series' End

"Real or not real?"

This phrase and question echoed throughout "The Hunger Games: Mockingay - Part 2", the finale of the series of movies adapted from the novels of the same name by Suzanne Collins.

Carrying on right after a still-brainwashed Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) attacked Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) at District 13's rebel base camp, the movie is mainly about the insurgents' planned siege of the Capitol in the bid to save Panem from President Snow's (Donald Sutherland) dictatorship.

Here's a Red Dot Diva warning - the movie's pace is slow.... very slow, and angsty, with short bursts of action happening only in two main parts. To get through the movie, one requires a lot of patience. The final instalment clearly suffers from the case of Two-Parter-citis. "Mockingjay" the movie would have been more compact and more effective if it was just one film.

Thankfully, there was a brilliant suspenseful segment where Katniss and her group were heading towards the Capitol via the tunnel system. Creepy things seem to lurk out from every dark corner, the tension building up to the point of realization that a horde of vicious pale mutants (who by the way resemble a mashup of the Flukeman from "The X-Files" and the vampires from the movie "Priest") was stalking the troop. However, after the first sudden attack, the action sequence devolved into a blur of bloody deaths, where one wondered who had just died. "Real or not real?"

Do you stand with the Mockingjay? #MockingjayPart2
Posted by The Hunger Games on Saturday, November 14, 2015

What Red Dot Diva thought stood out positively from the movie's bad pacing and somewhat odd camera work were these three things:

- The Stellar Ensemble Cast
Hail to Jennifer Laurence. Her portrayal of Katniss' tortured soul was believable because of the measured grace and vulnerability which she had infused into the role. Red Dot Diva doubts that another actor would have fared with the role as wonderfully as JLaw. She was the heart of the entire movie franchise and due to JLaw's strong portrayal, one feels invested to go along with Katniss' on her journey. JLaw, is indeed, without a doubt, a star.

As an ensemble, the cast members bear the toll of war and casualty without falling into melodramatics. Josh Hutcherson - with this downtrodden puppydog face - has grown on Red Dot Diva after "Catching Fire". Together with his special chemistry with JLaw, one cannot help but root for the happiness of Katniss and Peeta. The same can't be said for Liam Hemsworth though. His scenes of Gale was as dull as cardboard, albeit a classically handsome piece of cardboard.

The two political opponents Snow and Coin, played by Donald Sutherland and Julianne Moore, were skillfully done, especially how coldly Coin has been plotting to gain ultimate power over Panem. So, were the scene-stealing moments of a brilliantly snarky Jena Malone, and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman as a worldweary Plutarch Heavensbee. Red Dot Diva wished there had been more Effie (Elizabeth Banks) and her flamboyant ways though. Without her, the movie seemed so grim.

- The Depiction of War and Politics
Compared to other YA movies like "Mazerunner" and "Divergent" which are set in a similar dystopian future, "The Hunger Games" series is by far the most thematically and emotionally mature and takes on the complex themes of war, PTSD and the wheeling and dealing of politics, where one could never quite know who is an ally or enemy.

"Mockingjay 2" dares to show the meaningless deaths and unscrupulous tactics that comes with fighting a war, and that Katniss was neither a real heroine nor a worthy leader. In fact, she was more akin to a Social Media star of the current age, and was still used as pawn to serve Snow's and Coin's darker purposes.

With terrorism on the rise, war is happening in real life right now. The media coverage of the acts committed by factions like ISIS and its accompanying effects - staged or otherwise - are spreading like wildfire, so much so that "Mockingjay 2" - in part - seems more like a biographical documentary than a fictional story. Red Dot Diva admits that she has not read the book series yet, but she has heard that it described far more violent acts and murkier character motivations. She wished that "Mockingjay 2" had the courage to go as far as the book did, but she supposes Liongate wanted to earn more monie$$$ with a lower film rating.

- The Downbeat, Quiet Finale
Red Dot Diva thinks that most movie-goers have gotten used to expecting an all-out noisy heroic fight as a movie's finale.

In "Mockingjay 2", there was a point when it seems as if it was almost getting to a big final battle, but didn't. Instead, a moral victory was scored (if you could consider an assassination one). So, the quiet, sombre ending of "Mockingjay 2" was not quite the closure most viewers want.

Considering everything that Katniss and her mates have gone through, Red Dot Diva felt a big battle sequence might be satisfactory visually, but would have struck a false note emotionally. Katniss did manage to get her (kind-of) happy ending, and Panem seems to be heading toward more (hopefully) peaceful times.

This is an astute reflection of today's reality, as people around the world take a stand for humanity and hope for a better tomorrow.

"Real or not real?"

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