A year ago, almost to the day, I wrote about the insipid trend of breaking up final installments of popular movie franchises into two movies in order maximize profit potential. Back then I wrote that doing this ruined Mockingjay, the final installment of Susan Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy. It’s a statement that was true a year ago, and remains true today. Make no mistake about it: the Hollywood system and the capitalistic quest for double the profit has taken what should have been the most exciting installment and turned it into a boring, tedious affair.
Mockingjay-part two is as hard a movie to review as its predecessor owing to the fact that it’s half a movie. Sure, they do what they can to hand wave over this fact, somehow creating a cogent narrative from the latter half of the novel, but no amount of trickery and misdirection can hide that fact that everything is all wrong. The pacing is off, scenes that should have lasted a minute last upwards of five, pointless details are added in order to pad the run time in an attempt to convince us that, no really, this is an actual movie.
The “movie” picks up immediately where its predecessor left off because, well, where else would it pick up? If you’ll recall, Mockingjay-part one left us in the midst of a supposedly climatic battle that they forced from the middle of the book that found Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) attempting to rescue Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) from the tyrannical clutches of President Snow (Donald Sutherland) in Pan-Em’s capitol. Now, Katniss must finish what she started and complete the revolution, toppling Snow and bringing in a new era of peace for Pan-Em and all its districts.
Lawrence is, once again, fantastic as Katniss. The character has evolved greatly since The Hunger Games to become a woman who’s both weary of battle at and angry at the injustices she’s been forced to witness and endure. The actress brings a surprising depth to the character, who is ever so slowly going out of her mind with grief and despair. I’m glad the actress has finally moved on from this role. Now, she has more time to truly shine and blossom into the kind of talent she is fully capable of achieving.
If only Mockingjay were as good as its star! It’s maddening to think about what might have been had the studio not been so greedy. As I posited last year, they’ve sacrificed making one truly great movie for two mediocre-at-best movies all in the name of the almighty cash grab. Mockingjay’s two parts (which, really, form a single film) come in at a total of about four hours. In all honesty, somewhere in that runtime is a solid two and a half or three hour movie. Cutting the fat and the filler, of which there is a lot, would have done wonders for the film and the franchise as a whole.
But no. We couldn’t do that, could we? Not when there was twice as much money to be made. Instead we’re given two films that meander and lollygag their way to the finale which, after all that build up, isn’t as eventful as they want it to be. No, mostly we’re just thankful it’s over when it finally comes, especially after a painfully padded denouement that just goes on and on and on.
Actually, who am I kidding? The entire endeavor is nothing if not painfully padded. It has to be in order to justify its existence. I’m sure superfans of the books (I’ve read them, they’re okay) will delight in seeing the world recreated in such painstaking detail, with all of their favorite scenes brought to life, but get to the fucking point already, fuck. It’s almost reverent to a fault, neglecting to realize that what works on the page doesn’t always translate to the screen and creating a muddled mess of scenes that never add up to anything particularly worth seeing.
Whatever though. Mockingjay-part two will make its money, which means it made double the money it would have had they had any integrity. And who needs integrity when you’ve got a mattress stuffed with Hunger Games dividends, right? So good on you, I guess. You successfully sold a single product as two. I’m certain that they’ll have different takes on this in business school than they might in film school, but in the end money always wins. If nothing else, at least we’ve learned that.
Mockingjay-part two is now playing in theaters everywhere.