Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension was a disappointing close to a franchise I thoroughly enjoyed, it left me very underwhelmed. Once again, this is the second time this year that a franchise has come to an end and I feel underwhelmed once more. The trick with closing off a series of films that audiences have come to hopefully love after however many franchise entries is to end with a bang, or at least a satisfying conclusion that answers all questions and grips you up until the credits roll. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2, for the most part, closes off character conflicts and has some memorable moments but I wasn’t gripped or satisfied for a fair chunk of this supposedly epic finale.
Katniss Everdeen and her fellow rebels finally take their war to liberate The Capitol and assassinate President Snow himself, but along the way they face a series of deadly traps and some startling revelations concerning people Katniss thought she could trust. I loved the first and second film so much, the actual games themselves were so thrilling and the drama hooked me throughout. Then came Mockingjay - Part 1 which was politically driven, suitably moody and explosive! However, this final film is the weakest in the franchise, it is moody but so viciously bleak and cold it saps any energy you have and leaves you feeling empty. I love a film where the outcome isn't always sunny and victorious and I partly admire this film for that but when there's not a whole lot going on for a two-hour plus feature you've got to question the director's choices.
Spoiler alert incoming, the opening of Part 2 could've easily been left on the end of the first part. A pointless, unnecessary and elongated way to lengthen the finale. The majority of scenes in this movie involved characters being escorted through doorways into rooms to have boring chats about stuff we already know, there are way too many pit stops and repetitious moments that stall the pace. Even the action sequences don't aid the pace all that well either, though as mentioned above there are some memorable moments which I will get to.
Jennifer Lawrence doesn't seem as invested and as powerful as her previous three performances in the franchise. That's not to say she's not good, I just felt there wasn't the raw energy and intensity that she usually brings. Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Jeffrey Wright and Sam Clafin are given less screen time clearly, a shame for such talented actors who do their best with what limited time they have. Julianne Moore is terrific as always, as is a suitably menacing Donald Sutherland. I just felt there was a lot of boring time spent with Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson, who are good actors, but they seem to be on auto-pilot, and their dialogue is very bland. There's an awful lot of reminiscing and dull stories from their past, none of does anything for the plot nor does it compel you.
Mockingjay - Part 2 isn't without its merits. The special effects are magnificent, the world of Panem is sprawling, bleak and ruined, without a single piece of infrastructure left untouched. The Capitol looks gorgeous, a vast landscape of high-rises, add that to the surprisingly effective 3D that boasts incredible depth even in the darkest of scenes and you've got a rather immersive adventure. Some of the action scenes that do last really get the blood pumping! The hot oil attack is short lived but tense, watching the small band of rebels flee a torrent of raging gloop had me clenching my seat arms! The sewer system exploration sequence was very unnerving, the sound design emphasised the potential threat through the use of echoes, it surrounds you. The creature attack feels like something out of The Descent, it is so harrowing, fast paced and brutal, I liked the fact that the writers killed off character after character, you have no room to breathe and take in the shock of these surprising deaths.
The best part of this finale though is undoubtedly the attack on the refugees making their way to Snow's mansion. This is the only scene in the entire feature that works so well with the bleak and brooding tone. Innocent people including children and lone survivors think rescue is on its way as a gunship drops what looks like medical care, instead the packages are bombs. An entire crowd of kids are obliterated, structures fall, Capitol guards open fire blindly and dozens and dozens of lives are taken. Director Francis Lawrence has nailed the bleak morality of this world, all hope is sucked away and I was left shocked and jaw dropped at the darkness of this moment.
This is a really mixed review, I enjoyed a fair bit of this finale but there is a lot I didn't. Maybe a second viewing when this is released on Blu-Ray I may see it in a different light which is sometimes the case, who knows? As for now, tread carefully and don't go in with expectations of a knockout adventure.