I’ll be honest here, I stopped reading the books in this series after the end of the second in the trilogy where the great reveal was information I had guessed by page 10 of the first book. My point here is that the series itself was never that good, and certainly not the next Hunger Games. However, this is also the first of the movies where I had no familiarity with the original material. I don’t think it would have mattered. From what I’ve been told, however, even the plot of massively flawed book was far better than the reconceived plot of the third movie. Given how bad this film is, that is no small slam.
This is a world that is lensed heavily through the younger characters. And, given the talent that they lined up, that should have been a strength. Sadly, the script and returning direction of Schwentke did not help any of them. Shailene Woodley (Insurgent) stumbles through a lot of bad decisions and emotional immaturity to lead Theo James (Underworld: Awakening), Zoë Kravitz (Dope), and her recalcitrant brother Ansel Elgort (The Fault in Our Stars) through a series of (eventual) revelations. And Miles Teller (Fantastic Four) continues his absurd self-absorption (and even absurder string of being forgiven for the same) as part of the group.
The equally talented adults were no better served. Jeff Daniels (Steve Jobs) and Naomi Watts (While We’re Young) are practically infantile in their thinking and reactions. And even Octavia Spencer (Snowpiercer), who comes across as the most mature of the bunch, is stuck reacting in extremes rather than with any thoughtful action.
This movie is one of those that give science fiction a bad name. The world is a neat idea that is poorly thought out and with willfully ignorant characters that allow a plot to continue much longer than the concept can sustain. And let’s not talk about the really bad science and poor plotting. Certainly there are some good visuals and some cleverly choreographed fights and battles, but that isn’t enough to sustain a 2 hour movie (with a second part yet to come).
Basically, if you are committed to the movies or the books, you’ll need to see this latest installment. However, if you were simply curious or on the fence, go find something better to spend your time with. There really isn’t much here to satisfy.