director: Francis Lawrence
writers: Peter Craig & Danny Strong
starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth and Woody Harrelson
genre: Adventure | Fantasy
released: 19 November 2015 (Australia & Germany), 20 November 2015 (USA), 26 November 2015 (Greece)
When you make the decision to split a story into two parts, it will usually lead to an inferior product. Things are then made worse, when its the over extension of a property with an already thin plot, in a fictional world without much explanation over its internal mechanics and with an overabundance of supporting characters that no one would have missed if they were all cut out.
Part 2 continues immediately where Part 1 left us, with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) being brainwashed into fighting the rebels and Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) trying to figure out her next move. Which leads her to take a covert group into the capitol with the mission of killing President Snow, during the Rebel advance on the Capital.
Many productions have chosen the path of splitting films or making the stories into a two-parter. Predominately for financial reasons to make more money off of consumers, such as with the 'Hobbit' films where one book was turned into three films and the future 'Avengers' film 'Infinity War' being two films instead of one. One small exclusion to the rule could be considered the last two 'Matrix' films, that effectively were two different films, but the filmmakers wanted to be one in narrative. A terrible creative decision in hindsight, but that's another conversation.
When these decisions are made we always hear the arguments from the side of the production and studio being that there was "too much material" and that they "didn't want to displease any of the fans". Which is ludicrous as they had already gone out of their way to cut material from the original book or comic to make into a film in the first place. Great example of this is the exclusion of the character Tom Bombadil from the film the 'Fellowship of the Ring'.
In regards to Part 1 and Part 2 of 'Mockingjay', it isn't at all difficult to find where things could have been easily been omitted and that it could have just been turned into one big 3 hour and half production. Something no one would have fussed over, as most audiences never said a peep when it came to the 'Return of the King' and its crazy run time. Some of the prime moments that could have been cut from 'Mockingjay' are numerous portions of the propaganda angle of the story that just slowed things down, a rigorous retooling of the twist and the President Coin subplot, the amount of time spent on Katniss recovering from Peeta's attack and Katniss group's entire trek to the capital.
Furthermore, as mentioned in the previous paragraph, The President Coin subplot does come out of left field in the second part, instead if it was just in one film it would have felt more natural. However, they were also a couple of scenes in the film that were just cruelly hilarious and I have no honest clue how they read in the book. One with the monster zombie action scene in the sewers under the capitol. Which was just a gratuitous action scene with monsters that who knows how they were created and in my opinion could have been cut. As the characters who died we didn't care about and the one that we kind of did, didn't also have to be apart of the group if you really think about it. Generally about the monsters, it pretty much is the same complaint I had with the first film and its CGI computer dogs being created out of thin air. Generally this movie universe's handle of technology and science is just whatever they can come up with, without much reason for explanation. But the cherry on the cake happens to be the Tiger lady right after this scene. Who gives coincidentally at the right moment to the group refugee at her home in the Capitol. Admittedly, the do give some funky explanation why she looks like a tiger lady, but it just takes you right out of the experience and makes you think that this film suddenly included the character Tygra from the cartoon 'Thundercats' into its continuity.
The saving grace of this film is thankfully the performances by many of the great actors in it such as Donald Sutherland as President Snow and even Josh Hutcherson as Peeta. And I'm not going to even bother praising Jennifer Lawrence's performance as Katniss this time around, as I believe this was by far her least impressive performance in the series. Naturally, this is not all her fault, as the way the film is layed out and the fact that it became into a two parter. Left the barometer of expectation and awe to vanish pretty quickly in regards to performances, suspense and plot development.
Watching the film I couldn't wait till it was over and was honestly done with this series from 'Mockingjay Part 1' and the way they dragged out every element without good reason. And while I do understand that some fans might enjoy the added material, it doesn't pay justice to the source material. As the point of an adaptation is to reach a wider audience and for them to enjoy the previously unknown to them works of fiction. Instead, it just made non fans like myself to just stop caring entirely and its not like there were so many fans of the books to begin with.