If you haven’t yet read our fellow Jabberjays’ reviews of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, I highly encourage you all to go read them! These are reviews from fans to fans, completely spoiler-free, and giving you a real idea of what you can expect from the movie. You can read Ciara’s review here, and Sarah’s here.
As of the moment I type this, Mockingjay Part 2’s Tomatometer score stands at a 78% with 25 fresh reviews out of a total of 32, and a 7/10 rating. This means that since our last Review Watch, four negative reviews (out of 8 new reviews total) have knocked it down 10 whole points on the freshness scale. Now, don’t despair: the vast majority of the smaller outlets have not yet reviewed the film, so we might see a different trend once those start popping up. The general consensus is still positive, so let’s hope it stays that way (or better!).
The Mockingjay Part 2 US premiere took place last night in Los Angeles, and we’re expecting the floodgates of US-critic reviews to open soon, as press/advance screenings start taking place through the course of the week. In the meantime, more UK and Europe (and even Asian!) reviews have hit the web, some of them positive and some of them negative, so here’s a little taste of what’s been trickling in over the past few days. As always, reviews that contain spoilers are marked, so please take that into account when clicking through.
- Big Gay Picture Show (4/5): Calls the film “brutal and horrific” and pushing the boundaries of its 12A rating, but means this as a compliment, liking the fact that the movie shows the trauma of war and its effect on the characters, and noting how it uses science-fiction to good effect in this aspect. States the movie is “a thrilling and sometimes terrifying finale to a great cinematic saga,” praising Jennifer’s performance and pointing out that the love triangle “is still an important element” but liking the fact that neither Peeta nor Gale “come across as the obvious hero or damsel.” Also notes performances by PSH, Jena and Woody, and points out that some people might love the drawn-out ending, while some others might hate it. Concludes the movie is “one of the best war films I have seen” in what is “one of the best science fiction franchises put to film,” applauding the action sequences, Francis Lawrence’s direction and the performances overall.
- FlickFilosopher (4/5, mild spoilers): Praises the series for its themes, for giving us a female heroine that breaks the mold of traditional hero figures, becoming “one of the smartest and most enthralling SF film series ever.” Because of how groundbreaking it is, this movie doesn’t follow the “expected” path and might feel anticlimactic to some, but she considers this a good thing because it “[thwarts] war-movie clichés.” Applauds how the movie parallels prejudices that happen in real life, as well as its handling of PTSD and how the love triangle resolves itself. Also the action sequences, calling them “breathtaking and original,” but most importantly praises the “emotional experience,” concluding that the film ends “not with a bang but with whispers of doubt, grief, regret, and soul-searching.”
- Us Weekly (2.5/4, SPOILERS!): Comments that this film is an improvement over the “stagnant” Part 1, but still suffers for the “downbeat tone,” calling it the “feel-bad blockbuster of the year.” Thinks Gale is “as useless as ever” and states that “some of the thrills are frightening; most are meh,” citing a case of “mutant-itis.” Adds that the climax “fails to convey the proper emotional oomph,” blaming the director for “cheating” Jennifer out of a full experience, but admits that it is “surprisingly faithful” to the source material. Bemoans the sidelining of some of the supporting characters, and the book split, which was financially successful but not “artistically wise.” However, it’s not all bad because it means more Katniss.
- AP / Yahoo! Movies / ABC News (2/4): Seems to dislike the “gray-and-gloomy” tone of the movie, which has been drained of the color and vibrancy of the first two films. States the film is “neither intended for critics nor newcomers” but for the fans, and bemoans Katniss’ “curious habit of blacking out at key moments of battle,” as well as the absence of the more colorful supporting characters. Calls the film “dull,” with Donald Sutherland being the “most bubbly thing” while PSH is “a ghostly, abbreviated presence” and Jennifer Lawrence having “[outgrown] this stuff long ago.”
- Hull Daily Mail (SPOILERS!): Notes the faithfulness of the film and feels the book split was largely justified. Praises the sewer scenes, comparing them positively to classics such as Alien, and the screenplay for not “[shying] away from the moral conundrum of conflict.” States the movie is “a fitting and relentlessly grim conclusion,” the action sequences “breathless” and Jennifer’s performance “emotionally wrought and beautifully measured.” In the negative, mentions a certain death that is “an anti-climax,” and believes the melancholic ending “might have been axed entirely by a braver filmmaker.”
- TheNational.ae (4 stars, SPOILERS!): Calls the special effects “impressive” but the action is “slower-paced than the other films.” Applauds that the film is “as much about politics as it is about edge-of-your-seat action,” and the “very Orwellian flavour” given by the televised propaganda angle. Positively compares Katniss with Ellen Ripley, and applauds how she “epitomises the growing pains of teenagers” even when dealing with “reluctant celebrity,” in a world where there are many strong female characters along with “the slightly weedy male lead” Peeta, in a notable role reversal. Concludes that despite the darker tone, “its political lessons are insightful and the unexpected twists and turns in the story don’t disappoint.”
- South China Morning Post (3/5): Starts by saying this second half “feels indulgent in the extreme” and “loses momentum” due to the book split. Calls the oil flood and the sewer scenes the film’s best action sequences. Wishes PSH’s screen time “was more expansive” and in the negative, declares the movie suffers from “predictable plotting and sedentary pacing in the final act” as well as “a rather drab aesthetic,” and as for Jennifer’s performance, “it’s hardly her finest hour.”
- XGN.nl (in Dutch, 7.5/10): Applauds the focus on the themes– less propaganda and more the limitations that must be kept to during a war– and declares the movie to be “more than just mindless fun.” Feels the lack of humor is “a bold choice” that nonetheless fits the film well. The love triangle is “tiring” and “somewhat melodramatic.” Bemoans the sidelining of the supporting characters, although the performances are “solid”; mentions in particular Donald Sutherland, who plays “the perfect bad guy.” Praises the sewer sequence, although at some other points the action lulls. Doesn’t think the book should’ve been split, but at the same time admits it allows for more time to explore the themes. Concludes that we’ll look back on this conclusion in a positive light.
- The Daily Star (3/5): Calls the film “a pleasant surprise” when compared to other adaptations which had their last film split in two, but still calls it “a disappointing finale” that is “surprisingly flat,” a “proficient but largely forgettable action flick.” States the idea of the pods is “pointlessly elaborate” in a case where “a simple bomb would have been a lot more effective.” Also dislikes the pacing, and the love triangle, which “fails to take fire.” Bemoans PSH’s last scene as being “curiously framed” and concludes that “Hollywood’s smartest young adult franchise deserved a bit more.”
- Daily Express (4/5): Praises Jennifer’s performance during Katniss’ rallying speeches (“Seriously, it was all I could do not to leap out of my seat and run charging down the aisle in a fetching leather tunic and boots”) and the action sequences, which are “no less thrilling” than an actual Hunger Games (“You’ll think twice when you flush you loos after seeing what crawls out of the tunnels on screen”). Calls the central third of the film “taught, tense and emotionally devastating” while the last section is “surprisingly muted,” but recognizes that is by design in a story that prioritizes ideas and emotions over action. Applauds the focus on themes and philosophies, as well as personal drama, which have been “majestically built up through stunning visuals and razor sharp scripting.” Marks Donald Sutherland’s “dark and beguiling performance” as a stand-out, as well as Jennifer Lawrence’s. Dislikes the love triangle, though admits Liam gets “a rare moment to shine” this time around. Bemoans the little screen time some characters get, and feels Coin “starts to slide a little too obviously towards pantomime.” In the negative also mentions the “the slightly sacharine ending” and its “odd” pacing, but concludes it is a “fitting finale for such a rich banquet.”
- IndieLondon (4/5): Calls the film “a sombre but thought-provoking finale” to a franchise that has been “consistently gripping and intellectual,” a “bittersweet conclusion” that “haunts more than it exhilarates.” In the negative, calls the first half “slow” and the final act “drawn out”; some resolutions are “overly contrived,” with the love triangle concluded “a little too easily” and one particular death “awkwardly handled.” On the other hand, praises the subversion of Hollywood convention and Jennifer’s “formidable” performance that “resonates at every turn.” Agrees with the book split, as the two movies “actually function as two compelling companion pieces.” Also applauds the supporting performances, particularly Josh’s and Donald’s, although admits some of the others feel under-utilized. Praises Francis Lawrence’s refusal to “water down” the book’s content in order to fit the rating, or trivialize/sensationalize the pain of war. Notes positively the sewer sequence and the battle sequences.
- NWTV.nl (in Dutch, 3/5): Comments that while at times the film gets “a bit boring,” Jennifer’s performance is “worth a big compliment” although the supporting cast doesn’t have as much to do. Praises the direction and the cinematography even if the film is “a bit on the long side.” Disagrees with the book split as it made Part 1 focus on the psychological warfare while Part 2 is more spectacle and less depth, and the moments that try to show some depth feel a bit too familiar to hold your attention. Calls the confrontation between Katniss and Snow “the absolute highlight of the series.”
- The Daily Beast (mild spoilers): Calls the movie “a snooze,” “drawn-out,” “dour,” a “cash-grab” and a “tedious send-off” all in the first paragraph. Dislikes the book split and describes Jennifer’s performance as one with “unrelenting joylessness” as she seems to be “so completely over” the role. States the first half to be “plodding” and “filled with moody exposition and set-up,” and declares the sewer sequences the parts where the movie “occasionally lives up to its Hunger Games predecessors.” Also dislikes the ending which “death-marches on for an eternity.” In the positive, applauds the strong female characters and the fact that Katniss is “a rare non-sexualized heroine leading her own revolution and her own lucrative franchise with smarts and strength.” Also likes that the love triangle remains mostly in the background. Admits that the franchise is brave for tackling heavy themes, but concludes this film in particular fell short.
- The Fresno Bee (2.5/4): Dislikes the books split as it makes “financial sense – not artistic sense,” but praises Jennifer Lawrence’s performance, which would “elevates even the slowest of stories.” Also applauds Donald Sutherland’s performance, calling his showdown with Katniss “one of the major highlights of the final film.” In the negative is the screenplay, which includes “meaningless conversations” and a “plodding pace” that makes the plot twists predictable, and a love triangle that “never ignites.” Notes the action scenes as “exciting” but dislikes the “long lapses” in-between. Also bemoans the reduced screen time of some supporting players and the “dampened” emotional impact of a certain key moment. Concludes that despite all the negatives, “there is something satisfying about getting to the end” and “it still offers some feeling of victory.”
What do you think of these new reviews, folks? Do you put any stock in the negative comments? Which of the more positive comments make you so excited? Are you worried that the Tomatometer score has been going down? Do you think the bulk of the US reviews are going to be positive? Sound off in the comments!