Friday, 21 July 2017

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (2015)

In box office terms, Mockingjay Part 2 was the worst performing of the Hunger Games series.  The producers blamed Star Wars, despite episode 7 opening several weeks later (and despite, you know, them knowing full well when it was coming out).

I personally tend to blame the two preceding films, neither of which are particularly good.  Sure, they all have fine action sequences, solid effects, and decent acting ... but the narrative framework in which all that occurs is flaccidly-paced and often rather farcical in its details.  It's difficult to truly care about characters who are placed in such obviously artificial situations.

So does this film rise above these failures?  Well, in a word: no.  The entire final hour makes that good and clear.  This sees the rebels fighting their way into the evil guys' city.  Said evil guys have festooned the place with murderous devices called "pods", which we're told in narration are so densely distributed that there's one "every ten paces".  And if these devices were just the pop up flamethrowers that we see the first time one is activated, then sure I guess I could accept that the villains somehow had the time and resources for this.  But in a later sequence, a pod does the following:

  • seal off an entire city square with seventy foot (20 metre) tall iron doors; and
  • flood said square with some sort of tech liquid to a depth of ten feet or more (and said liquid apparently has the ability to turn into razor wire if it touches someone, or something); and
  • after a while, pump the liquid out again
All of which succeeds in killing exactly one rebel soldier, by the by.  Sure sounds like a plausible and effective use of resources in an apocalyptic final stand against your enemies!

Now sure, the premise of the Hunger Games has always been pretty silly, but the original story kept the stakes very personal and the focus sufficiently narrow that this didn't matter overmuch.  By increasing the stakes and widening the scope, the later entries magnify the story's weaknesses and minimise its strengths.

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