The final entry in the "Hunger Games" series (until they figure out how to make more) opened this weekend at the top of the box office as expected. But the total has to be a little disappointing to the studio that produced it.
I know that's a weird thing to say about a picture that opened with more than $100 million. but that's the lowest opening of all the hunger games movies by a significant amount. And "Mockingjay 2" isn't just a mild financial let-down. For a series that started out so powerfully, this final chapter doesn't quite live up to the promise.
I decided years ago I'd rather experience "The Hunger Games" movies on their own merits, rather than read Suzanne Collins' popular young adult novels. So like many fans, I've been waiting a year to find out how "Mockingjay" ends.
I'm in the minority in that I quite liked "Mockingjay Part 1," even better than the previous film "Catching Fire." The stakes were raised, characters fleshed out and pushed into new places, and the idea of using media as a weapon in war is timely and provocative. It set the stage for what should be a bang-up finale with Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss Everdeen leading the rebels taking on the capitol. But in the end, the movie doesn't quite satisfy.
Part of my problem is with the author's decisions. For example, I've never bought into the romance between warrior Katniss and the limp noodle Peeta Mellarck, who is a constant liability - either hurt, brainwashed or otherwise impaired. She carries him along like a two-legged, cross-eyed puppy. And for that to be the central emotional tie in the story, it's a big problem.
It's also not good when every character marked for death might as well have a stormy cloud over their heads following them around. I blame that on former music video director Francis Lawrence, whose direction is about as subtle as kettle drums.
This is all to say "Mockingjay 2" winds up being a fairly predictable affair - an action loaded adventure that's never as thrilling as the first movie or as emotionally intense. Fortunately, the thing is anchored by Lawrence, who is dynamite once again in the role that made her a star. She's captivating even when the movie isn't - the mark of a true talent.
Yes, I'm sure the book is better, but as a film, "Mockingjay part 2" is only a little better than mediocre. And for a grand finale, I was hungry for more.