Critics, Box Office, and Mockingjay Part 2

The opening weekend of Mockingjay Part 2 is in full swing, and the reactions to the film have been very interesting. Fans seem happy with it on the whole. We all have our things that we wish were included or changed, but all in all it seems like the fans are pleased because this is a solid, faithful adaptation of the book. We got to see this story end in a way that is true and respectful to the source material and the important themes we value.

297A9B5D00000578-3117094-image-m-29_1433866860839Movie critics have been mixed. Some have really loved it, some liked it, but some are on the way other extreme calling it a major disappointment. The reasons why some critics have panned the movie offer an intriguing look into expectations of blockbuster movies, and the Hunger Games movies themselves. They say it’s too bleak, somber, gray, slow. It also seems like they were expecting some kind of exciting battle at the end, for Katniss to lead the rebels to triumphant glory of a new day in Panem.

As fans of the books, we knew not to expect that, and frankly the fact that there ISN’T a triumphant final battle and Katniss doesn’t go on to some glorious future of power, wealth and fame is what really hits home to us. An ending like that would have been a complete fairy tale and out of step with what these stories are trying to teach. But we understand the surprise that there isn’t one here. The story structure that the negative critics expected is as old as time. It’s one that appeals to people because of its extreme fantasy. You fight the brave fight and win and all is well.

We all know Mockingjay doesn’t portray the struggle in such a simplistic or clean way. Mockingjay Part 2 may be a PG-13 war movie, but it’s a war movie that doesn’t gloss over the ugliness of war. It doesn’t pretend that there’s anything glorious about the violence and destruction of war. That these things are arbitrary, unfair, and cruel. That discerning from “good” and “bad” actions are impossibly difficult. There’s a subtlety and lack of easy answers. AND WE LOVE THAT ABOUT THIS STORY.

The fact this film doesn’t offer a massively fun, popcorn chomping Hunger Games-y time may also be a reason why this film will open domestically as the lowest of the four movies. It’s still expected to rake in $100 million plus this weekend, plus a massive amount overseas, so without doubt this movie will still make everyone involved a nice pile of cash. The pile just won’t be so obscenely big this time. For fans though, whether this movie just makes A LOT of money versus A SHIT TON is moot.  It’s about having a film that met OUR expectations, and it looks like we got it.

The desire for panem et circenses persists, but we’re happy that the popularity of the franchise is getting lots of people to see this film. It’s good to see something different from the movies sometimes.

Now go remind the normals to see this movie.

JJ

 

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3 comments

  1. Walking in I knew this wasn’t going to be the conventional cliche hero defeats bad guy lives happily ever after story. And although that’s due to the fact that I’ve read the books, it’s also because I knew Francis Lawrence knew the heart of the story. He knew he couldn’t present it any other way or it wouldn’t be The Hunger Games. He, along with Nina Jacobson and the writers, took a risk in going against the cookie cutter standard for films and storytelling, and they made it clear that that was their goal from the start.
    Like you said, the reason these books gained the popularity they did is because it’s rare to find a story that’s brutally honest and realistic in a fantasy setting. The beautiful secret that all fans share is that we know that contrast was Suzanne Collins’ full intent. She knew what she was writing and she knew it had to be told. It’s a good thing the story has become as big as it has, but it’s more important that it doesn’t lose it’s meaning along the way.
    I didn’t expect the movie to break box office records so I don’t have that sense of being let down. It is an impactful, relatable, brutally honest story and it needed to be told.
    I’m satisfied is has the audience and platform it does and it gets people talking. Even disagreeing. And it should. It’s not entirely just a tale.

  2. It’s personally frustrating that this film is getting a fair amount of backlash from critics. It’s unfortunate – but it’s true that critics have an impact on what audiences will see and I’m sure their distaste for the film probably played a part in the lower box office numbers (also paired with the fact that audiences were underwhelmed with part 1). MJ2 is by no means a perfect film and I do think that had Francis had more time to do pre production on the film – the attack on the capital scenes could have been more epic – but overall it’s a pretty solid adaptation with above average performances that hold the film together. I know for one that I’ll be seeing this movie several times, not only because I’m a massive fan and want to enjoy this movie as much as I can in the theaters but also to support the film in any way that I can.

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