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‘Mockingjay’ Part 2 Review Watch: What the Critics Are Saying Today – Nov 4th

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The World Premiere for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 took place tonight in Berlin, and review embargoes are being lifted, so reviews are starting to hit the web left and right.

Three of our Jabberjays (Vivien, Ciara and Sarah) got to see the movie already today, and their reviews will be coming soon. We know you guys are all excited to hear what the Jabberjays team, as fellow fans, have to say about the movie, so be on the lookout for those tomorrow!

In the meantime, here’s what the people who actually get paid to critique movies are saying. On Rotten Tomatoes, the Tomatometer score currently stands at 100% with 12 fresh reviews out of 12 total reviews. This is amazing, of course, but keep in mind that we don’t expect it to remain that way forever — there are already a few more reviews out that seem more negative toward the movie, they just haven’t been added to RT.com yet.

Here’s the lowdown on everything that’s out at the moment. Reviews with spoilers are marked, so click the links at your own risk:

  • TimeOut.com (4/5): Praises the movie for not following the “expected” plotline, calls it “downbeat” but means it as a compliment. Applauds the sewer sequence and the “off-key but oddly satisfying” sense of closure. States it’s “powerful” mainly due to the cast — especially Jennifer and Josh (who he says matches Jen’s performance), but also some of the minor players. Expresses heartfelt admiration for Philip Seymour Hoffman’s performance in his last movie.
  • ComingSoon.net (8/10): Argues this film is Suzanne Collins’ “do over” for the failings of the book; comments positively the greater weight put on the character interactions, and applauds the performances that make it seem as more of an ensemble than the previous movies did. Comments on how the love triangle isn’t front-and-center but calls its evolution “fascinating,” as well touching on the darker tone of the movie due to the war theme. Praises the performances, especially Jen’s and Josh’s; not so much Liam’s, but he does comment positively on the Peeta/Gale scene. In the not-so-positive points are, the exposition “drags down” the movie “even if it helps raise emotional stakes,” but concludes the film “doesn’t disappoint” and is “incredibly emotional.”
  • Variety (SPOILERS!): Praises the “heartiest character arc” for a female protagonist in comparison to other YA fare, and even predicts higher box office returns than Part 1 did. Argues the real theme of the movie the mass-media manipulation of war rather than war itself. Puts the franchise on par with “sophisticated, serialized TV and film franchises” like Harry Potter. Appreciates the “space to breathe” brought on by the split of the final book, the character moments it allows, and the suspense it builds. Heavily discusses Katniss’ moral quandaries and how she’s changed since the first movie, and compares her evolution with Jennifer Lawrence’s, praising her subtlety in showing Katniss’ emotions. Applauds Francis Lawrence’s world-building and the action scenes. In the negative, he dislikes JNH’s score (except in the sewer scenes) and the “succession of endings.”
  • Uproxx (7/10, SPOILERS!): Points out how much he misses Philip Seymour Hoffman, and states this franchise works well in an “episodic” format, meaning he liked Part 1 despite the fact that it was “incomplete,” because both parts together make a complete story. States Part 2 feels like “almost non-stop action,” and that the sewer sequence was scary, although he liked that it was “different.” Still thinks Catching Fire is the best, but Mockingjay Part 2 is a close second. He’s come to care about Katniss and is “for the most part, satisfied.” Doesn’t want to dwell on “minor quibbles” because “these movies represent something good.”
  • The Wrap (SPOILERS!): Calls it “one of the year’s most satisfying popcorn movies” and praises the political satire, the action, the characters and its themes, as well as the way the love triangle doesn’t overtake the entire film. In his analysis of Katniss’ position, goes on for a few paragraphs about several specific scenes in the movie. Praises the screenwriters’ ability to weave political intrigue, action and character moments; he also applauds cinematographer Jo Willems for the contrast between the settings, and presses how real the visual effects feel. Concludes this is a film that “dares to be about something” while still being entertaining.
  • Forbes (7/10, mild spoilers): Predicts the film will be a box-office success, though he doesn’t venture exact numbers. Admits to being “outsmarted by at least some of what came before” when he looks back on the franchise; calls Part 2 “thrillingly bold and brave as any franchise finale” and concludes that he should’ve trusted where the filmmakers were going from the beginning. Praises how the franchise deconstructs “the hero myth” in Katniss’ story, and how it “rubs our noses in our expectations and our desires.” Touches on the influence of 9/11 on fantasy franchises and on this one in particular. Applauds the split of the book into two movies, as well as its ending in an “uncommonly satisfying fashion.” Notes the performances of Jennifer, Woody and Josh, praising Peeta’s character arc, and touches on the parallels between Katniss and Jennifer’s respective rises to fame and what they involved. States this film “retroactively improves” every prior installment.
  • Entertainment Weekly (B-): Brings up the question of whether the darker themes and scarier sequences of this movie will make it unfriendly for the younger end of its PG-13 audience, even compares it to Game of Thrones. She does comment positively on the production values and the acting, especially Jennifer Lawrence’s.
  • Screen Daily (mild spoilers): Calls it “the most satisfying, gripping and emotional film in the franchise,” although not quite transcending its “melodramatic young adult roots or heavy-handed socio-political commentary.” Predicts a strong theatrical run, with only SPECTRE as competition, up to the release of The Force Awakens. States that this one plays more to its dystopian label than the previous films. Dislikes the love triangle, but admits there are a couple of scenes that make it palatable. Comments on how it improves on the book’s themes, with a “greater scope and darker tenor.” Praises Jennifer Lawrence’s subtlety in her performance (even though he finds the character bland) and finds Moore and Hoffman serviceable.
  • The Independent (4/5, mild spoilers): Comments positively on the darker tone, how it “plays more like a full-blown war movie than an adolescent adventure picture.” Calls the production and costume design “all over the place,” noticing the large amount of influences from previous works of fiction. Seems disconcerted by how little screen time some supporting characters have vs others. Praises Jennifer’s depth, and the satisfying conclusion, although he questions whether its bleakness might surprise some of the younger fans.
  • The Sun (SPOILERS!): Urges people to have “night vision goggles, a cushion and tissues” on hand because this is a “dark, long and teary” film. Questions the 12A rating, arguing that the movie is too dark and scary for 12-year-olds. Praises Jennifer’s performance, but also Sam’s and Donald’s. Applauds the pod sequences in the Capitol, and concludes that fans won’t be disappointed.
  • Hey U Guys (4/5): States Part 2 is the best installment since The Hunger Games, and questions whether it should even be labeled Young Adult. Praises Francis Lawrence’s direction, the inspiration he takes from other genres even while staying true to the themes of the book, and the linearity of the entire franchise. Applauds Jennifer’s performance, as well as Josh’s, and notes how moving and rewarding it is to see Philip Seymour Hoffman in the film. Likes the pace and structure, but not the lengthy conclusion. Concludes that the slower pace of Part 1 was worth it if it was building up to this one.
  • Digital Spy (4/5): Calls it a “solid and satisfying conclusion” that “ups the ante” of the previous movie. Comments positively on the lack of laughs, as the movie focuses entirely on driving its themes home; it’s “smart and thought-provoking.” Praises the sewer sequence for its tension, but feels the conclusion is too length (although he does admit that was the way it was in the book, so it’s by design). Applauds Jennifer’s performance, as well as Josh’s and Liam’s, saying the latter two are at their series-best.
  • The Hollywood Reporter (mild spoilers): Comments that not too many people will be sorry to see this “overdrawn” series end, and notes that the series went from “lush, outdoorsy, futuristic gladiatorial adventure” to “dark, often stifling tale of rebel insurrection.” States that the most engaging part of the movie is Coin’s character arc, but believes it’s a slow burn, the pace suffering particularly from Peeta’s slow mental health improvement. Comments on how weakly Plutarch was presented for this being PSH’s last movie, along with another character he believes was also underutilized. Says the Capitol sequences have a “videogame vibe,” although he admits the conclusion will please the fans and surprise the non-readers. Calls Francis Lawrence “consistent, reliable, if uninspired” and the screenwriting solid, along with the production design, score and cinematography. He does praise President Snow’s continued disdain, as well as Jennifer’s strength in the lead role.
  • Rama’s Screen: Calls it a “satisfying ending to an imperfect but commercially successful franchise,” and insists Mockingjay should’ve been only one movie instead of two. Likes the action sequences but overall sees them as “fillers.” Comments that the love triangle is interested because all three parties are “driven by rage,” but doesn’t buy the way it ends, probably because the movie “just wants to get this over with already.” Thinks the fans will like it because it gives them “the happily ever after that they want.”
  • The Guardian (3/5, mild spoilers): Feels the movie is an improvement on Part 1, but still weak. States the pace is “a curious mess,” “with added pauses, slower speeches and unnecessary padding,” but points out this gets better once the action gets going. He does praise Francis Lawrence’s more gruesome sequences, calling them “potentially franchise-best,” and how the movie deals with the effects of PTSD when many others don’t. Dislikes the climax, stating it is “flubbed,” and calls the ending sappy — so much that even Jennifer Lawrence, although a great performer, struggles with it. He concludes that the movie is “a patchy end to the franchise.”

Wow, okay, so that was a long read… but what do you think of the comments these critics are throwing out? Thankfully the majority seem to have really liked it, to the point where some of the ones who used to dislike the franchise in previous installments have now changed their tune. Sounds pretty awesome to my ears!

Please comment below and tell us what you think — and if there are any reviews we missed today, let us know and we’ll be sure to add them to tomorrow’s Mockingjay Part 2 Review Watch.

About Carla

Carla Pinilla is a 30-year-old Chemical Engineer from Panama city, Panama. A consummate fangirl, she spends her time reading, writing (mainly fanfiction), or watching way too many TV shows.
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