Movie Review: “Mockingjay”
It is the end of an era, with the final film of the Hunger Games franchise tipping box offices with a gross of $201 million so far. Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 premiered on Nov. 20, and gives an appropriate and satisfying end to the series.
Like many other young adult and dystopian movies currently in Hollywood, this final installment of the Hunger Games was split into two parts. The only other time this has proven to be a success has been with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallow, and dare I say it: splitting Mockingjay into two parts was a great move.
Picking up directly from the end of Part 1, we see Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) recovering from her near-death strangling experience at the hand of brainwashed Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). Although the war on the Capitol is still raging onwards, we spend opening scenes building the suspense of Peeta and Katniss’ recovery and checking in with our other most loved characters, i.e. Primrose (Willow Shields) and Haymitch (Woody Harrelson). We quickly move into the setup of this final fight with Katniss refusing to stand aside and let others fight as she vows to kill President Snow herself. President Coin of district 13 (Julianne Moore) seems uneasy with Katniss, is confident of her (Coin’s) victory and is determined to win at any cost. This sets up our trivial turning point at the end of the movie.
The war in Panem is escalating to the destruction of all the other districts in the Capitol’s reach to crush the rebellion, and we follow Katniss, Gale (Liam Hemsworth), Peeta, and the other victors on their push through the Capitol to find President Snow (Donald Sutherland). One of the most stressful scenes in this movie is watching Katniss and the crew avoid “pods” hidden all over the Capitol by game makers in an attempt to kill the incoming armies. However, Finnick’s comic relief rang true as his character deemed this final battle the “seventy-sixth Hunger Games.”
Mockingjay:Part 2 does spend time setting up the final battle and the final character developments; however, it remains true to the book with few exceptions and sticks to the true nature of The Hunger Games series. Both the films and the books of the same name by Suzanne Collins have always been committed to the bright storytelling that is unafraid to address political concerns and aim them right at a younger generation. Director Francis Lawrence pushes our beloved series back into the frantic, high gear seen in Catching Fire and plays to its greatest strength of Katniss and her own battles.
Katniss is once again consumed by her battle to not be “the chosen one” of the rebellion, but is rather forced to battle fate at every corner. Throughout the movie, Jennifer Lawrence and the Director make it very clear of Katniss’ struggle to establish if this war is any different from the tyranny that she is trying to overthrow.
The cast of Part 2 is once again graced with the brilliant performance of Lawrence, Hutcherson, Harrelson, and Sutherland. In fact, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman is one of the first faces we see in the film, and his character is mentioned and shown throughout the movie. It was a brilliant feat to have Hoffman’s character Plutarch digitally inserted towards the end of the movie.
Part 2 does have a lot of build and dialogue to it, but this is an important aspect of the character development and plot thickening that the series needed. We finally get to move forward with our favorite characters, watch some die in heroic and meaningful ways, and finally get a “happy” ending we want watching Peeta, Katniss, and Haymitch rebuild their lives in District 12.
Director Lawrence does a great job at giving us the panoramic of battles in the dystopian set and works to make every moment as intense as possible. While Mockingjay: Part 2 may not be the best film in the series, it does ring true to the books and does not disappoint. This franchise built careers for some of its actors and ended with a great note of closure. Be sure to catch it in theaters while you still can.