We dragged our butts to the discount theater to finally catch this final Hunger Games movie, finally laying to rest the ghost of Philip Seymour Hoffman. And by “we”, I mean The Boy and I, as The Flower could not be less concerned about the fate of Katniss and Co. She had dragged us to the previous premiere, but this was primarily due to wanting to see it with her friends, who are fans of the book. For her own tastes, she lost interest after the kids stopped killing each other.
I guess I don’t blame her much, although I’m not a fan of the plot, generally, and don’t think it makes much sense. The characters aren’t really great, though we can’t lay too much of that at the feet of the late Mr. Hoffman, the second anniversary of whose death we have just passed. Woody Harrelson (as Hamish) is required to read lines that were obviously Plutarch’s, so that’s weird. But the whole thing feels hollow, somehow. Julianne Moore takes on a more sinister cast in this one, but it’s mostly due to assertions—there’s not a lot of time for the characters to breathe generally. In fact, everyone seems to have very little screen time here, as the main action takes place as an invasion of the Capital District, with a bunch of often previously unknown characters.
This is doubtless “realistic” relative to having the same troupe of people go through wildly divergent roles they’re not really suited for, but it doesn’t make for great dramatic weight.
Elizabeth Banks once again turns in a stellar job, though, even with the minimal amount of screen time she has. Her character, rather unexpectedly, evolves into one of the most memorable and deep characters in the four movies.
And there’s not a lot unexpected here, down to the movie’s final “twist” and 30-minute overlong ending.
As much as I like Ms. Lawrence as an actress, Katniss herself is rather unpleasant. She’s a reluctant hero, which is fine, but everything she does is with this grim “let’s get it over with” attitude. Again, maybe that’s some sort of realism, but there’s no fun to be had. I also kept looking for some drama out of the love triangle, so central to the story, but it almost came out like The Notebook, where the character’s choice—the Big Choice of Her Life Which Should Be Validated—doesn’t seem to hinge on anything in particular.
It’s not even that we didn’t like it. The Boy liked it more than I, and felt that the action was reasonably competently done (though he doesn’t expect genuine competence out of Hollywood action scenes), but I’m really just sort of grousing about the story as they chose to portray it. I think—and the box office seems to agree—that the series peaked with the second film. And maybe they shouldn’t have made a fourth one.
But you’ll probably want to watch it if you’ve seen the first three. It’s not the deadly grind that Return of the King and especially Revenge of the Sith were. It just seems to plod along in its inevitability and offer little in the way of redemption or joy for our characters.