Glen Falkenstein witnessed the finale of the colossal Hunger Games juggernaut and found it a fitting finale…albeit with some issues.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 didn’t have to try too hard to be a popular, or even a good film. Coming off the back of three very decent adaptations of novels tailor-made for the screen, Suzanne Collins’ more than enjoyable dystopic indictment of reality television captured the interest of readers and filmgoers alike.
The novels are romantic, fantastical, action-packed and a good read for the reason that each of them, most notably the trilogy’s finale, in large part do not shy away from the bleak, desolate despair that naturally comes with writing a story about a civil war in the remains of an inhospitable cityscape where children fight each other for the entertainment of adults with way too much time on their hands.
The main star-vehicle for Hollywood juggernaut Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss Everdeen), the finale showcases her able talent as much as it does its myriad of stars including Liam Hemsworth, Julianne Moore and the recently deceased Phillip Seymour Hoffman whose death with 7 days of shooting left to go was elegantly handled within the film’s narrative.
The action scenes are some of the best in the now four blockbusters, including a highly publicized avalanche of enhanced tar and an onslaught of creatures, a weird fusion of one of the monsters in Pan’s Labyrinth and Alien’s Xenomorph, both trying to finish off of our band of heroes for good.
While some of the dialogue surrounding Hunger Games’ love triangle is very hammy, none more so than moments of the final confrontation between Katniss and the Capital’s President, the action and drama manage to subsume the film and render it thrillingly entertaining throughout.
Until the end.
The Harry Potter series can be forgiven for the weak, tacked-on ending taking place years following the events of the books as that’s something J. K. Rowling actually wrote and inserted herself. The changes to the final battle sequence in Twilight’s last instalment were also not terrible for creating perhaps the best scene in the series, where all the poorly thought-out characters slaughter each other, even if it was not directly in line with the books.
Yes, the ending was written by Collins and it is absolutely out of tune with the rest of the books and comes across so much more vividly and unsatisfyingly when translated to film. Collins created a dark fantasy which was grimmest in its concluding moments – there is no reason to pay lip service to a contrived, pseudo-happy ending when the series was best at its bleakest and could have revealed in a raw conclusion to complement the conveyer-belt of death that was this film.
This is not without precedent. When Stanley Kubrick adapted Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange he first secured a print of the novel without the last chapter, which had unfortunately been included by the author; tying up everything for its protagonist far too neatly with the distinct feel that it belonged to a very different book. When Kubrick discovered the final chapter while in production, he chose to leave it out, finishing the film off with the bleak, satirical and now iconic ending to which he had first been introduced, the type of ending that could have naturally exuded from Hunger Games with its excellently conceived premise.
A worthy film and finale for a strong series, fans, in particular, might just enjoy the final chapter a little more if they leave about two minutes early, when the film looks like it’s about to, and should have ended.
Don’t you hate it when the ending lets you down?
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 is in cinemas now