Film Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 is a fitting end to The Hunger Games franchise. The film makes the most of its strong protagonist.

Following the events in District 13, President Coin has her sites set on Capitol stronghold District 2. Katniss leads a team in, as the war escalates. With Peeta still in a fragile state, Katniss must concentrate on defeating President Snow…

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 is a decent blockbuster, and a film that fans of the franchise will no doubt find satisfying. Director Francis Lawrence has created a war film, with a wider scope on the big picture in this instalment. Mockingjay Part 2 is imbued with a sense of finality, heightened in particular by the abrupt ending of its predecessor.

Aspects of Mockingjay Part 2 are predictable for certain. Some of the dramatics are entirely in keeping with the franchise’s young adult novel roots. The love story, for example, has never felt particularly compelling. This theme continues in this instalment. Nevertheless, there is enough tangibility in the central narrative to keep viewers engaged.

Mockingjay Part 2 concentrates on war and the climax of the rebellion. As such the film is rather bleak, but this is not surprising given the overall tone of the dystopian franchise. Mockingjay Part 2 does not shy away from depicting the harsh trials of the protagonists. Action sequences in the film are well executed. There is a good combination of action and dialogue-heavy scenes which move the plot along.

Katniss is a great protagonist, and yet again shows her worth in this final film. Katniss is a great central character in that she is strong and commanding, yet still engaged with her humanity. She is, perhaps, a stronger protagonist than the film series overall. Jennifer Lawrence reprises her role in a convincing manner. Josh Hutcherson is given a meatier part than previous instalments, whilst Julianne Moore is decent as President Coin.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 is a more gratifying film than its predecessor, and serves as an apt conclusion to the film series.

Film Review: The Hunger Games Mockingjay – Part 1

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1

The Hunger Games – Mockingjay – Part 1 picks up from the action of its predecessor The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The film has some tense moments, although it suffers slightly in being the instalment before the finale.

After shattering the Hunger Games, Katniss is asked to become the face of the movement against the Capitol. As she fights to save a nation, she also worries for the fate of the separated Peeta…

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 shifts the form of the previous two films. There are no games in this instalment; with action instead progressing to the burgeoning revolution. The latest film does miss this centre spectacle, as action has less of the intensity of the previous chapters.

Mockingjay – Part 1 swaps the focal point of the games for political posturing and a cat and mouse set up. The emphasis on presentation and promotion is the most interesting tact. Director Francis Lawrence’s film draws parallels with real politics in depicting how the opposing sides attempt to sell themselves. Viewers are posited with Katniss, as she struggles to remain the public face of the movement despite disruption in her private sphere.

The previous instalments of The Hunger Games have prided themselves on their depiction of a dystopian world, and this film is no different. Any veiled intentions in previous chapters are writ large here, with the true nature of what Katniss is up against being exhibited clearly. The film is darker in both its aesthetics and its tone, with a shift from survival to war and strategy.

Action sequences in the film work well. The film does lack a strong climax, as is often the case with pre-finale instalments. Art direction offers a decaying look which suits the film’s tone. Julianne Moore is a good addition to the cast. Jennifer Lawrence is as impassioned as ever, while Elizabeth Banks gets to show more range.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 does what it is supposed to in progressing the plot and setting up for a finale. The final part of this film series should be blistering.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 is released on DVD and Blu-Ray from 16th March 2015.

Film Review: Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants is an entertaining movie that should satisfy its target audience. The splendour of the setting is however betrayed by the flatness of the narrative.

Jacob is studying for his veterinary examinations when his parents are killed in accident. With no remaining family or home, he leaves his hometown. Jumping on a train, Jacob stumbles into the world of the travelling circus…

Based on Sara Gruen’s novel, Water for Elephants is at times a very sappy affair. Nevertheless, the violence can be startling; bring proceedings sharply back into focus. The drama retains the audience’s attention, even if it is not particularly original. Director Francis Lawrence tells the story in an appropriate fashion. The pacing is good; the film does not feel its two-hour length.

Although the backdrop of the circus is a little different, Water for Elephants is a standard romantic drama. As such, the characters are fairly archetypal for this genre. Given its period setting, female protagonist Marlena is confined by the restrictions of her gender. This allows her to rely upon a man to protect her, Marlena’s dependence being a condition of the era. Similarly, Jacob is a fairly typical hero. He shows no real flaws, and is the antithesis to circus-owner August. The protagonist is offered very little development; it is unclear what motivates him. It is also difficult to see why Marlena would fall for Jacob, besides the very obvious contrast with August. The protagonist has little spark, and pales in comparison to the great showman.

Water for Elephants appears engineered to generate a feeling of nostalgia. This is cemented by the 8mm footage, which attempts to look like real home movie footage. This adds very little to the film, and could have easily been omitted. Elsewhere, the imagery takes on a fantasy-like appearance. The circus seems overly pristine, but the costumes are wonderful. The editing is good, and combines very well with the sound in the more violent sequences. Effects in the climax are also good, but there is some inauthentic-looking CGI earlier in the film.

Robert Pattinson is adequate as Jacob, but shows little spark. This is partly due to lack of character development, but there also seems to be a lack of vigour in Pattinson’s performance. It does not help that he is shown up by Rosie the elephant and her wonderful tricks. Reese Witherspoon inhabits the character of Marlena well, but it is Christoph Waltz who steals the show as August.

Water for Elephants will entertain but there is nothing particularly special about the movie. The sense of spectacle of the circus is not replicated by the film itself.