The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2

The-Hunger-Games-Mockingjay-Part-2-teaser-poster

Release: Friday, November 20, 2015

[Theater]

Written by: Peter Craig; Danny Strong

Directed by: Francis Lawrence

Take your best shot, Mr. Lawrence. I’m ready for anything. Or, I thought I was.

Four films, three years and nearly $2 billion in global box office receipts later, we arrive at the bittersweet farewell to a remarkable franchise, one that has been so captivating since its inception it hooked one of the biggest cynics I know of the young adult film adaptations from the get-go. That person is me. I tend not to give a lot of credit to these films, feeling so comfortable in my dismissal of many of these movies that when their poor performance (commercial and/or critical) pops up on my screen a few days later, my only response is a simple, satisfied chuckle. Then I click out of the screen and move on.

There’s been something markedly different about Katniss Everdeen and her targeted bow and arrows though. And I swear it’s not because I happen to think Jennifer Lawrence is really cute. Okay, well I suppose that helps. But Shailene Woodley is a babe too! I’m not going to mince my words here: physical attraction is a big part of it, but what has really helped up the ante for the cinematic treatment(s) of Suzanne Collins’ best-sellers has been an emphasis on genuine emotion filtered through an uncommonly bleak political lens.

Collins’ final novel being split into two films has caused quite the stir amongst passionate fans of both the film and book franchise, and while it’s difficult to argue the motives for expanding the HGCU (that’s the Hunger Games Cinematic Universe) into a quadrilogy are fueled by anything other than reaping financial rewards, I personally have enjoyed getting to spend this much more time with some truly well-developed and exceptionally memorable characters.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2, then, wastes no time in immersing audiences right into the psychological, and now physical, turmoil that has consumed the two victors of the 74th Hunger Games: Peeta is still suffering from the trauma he endured at the hands of President Snow having been captured after the events of Catching Fire, while Katniss recovers from neck injuries sustained in his attack upon her during one of his psychotic breaks.

The reality of this franchise ending is surprisingly difficult to reconcile. On one level, and as one might expect, this final chapter manifests as the most somber one yet as we watch the events of the previous films sculpt the faces of the familiar into expressions of deep despair, the weight of full-fledged war carried upon Katniss’ shoulders and anyone who has stood by her in the belief that the nation shouldn’t be subjected to Snow’s oppression any longer. There emerges a strong emotional rift between Katniss and Peeta, who can no longer be trusted. All that stuff’s easier to swallow when compared to the loss of Philip Seymour Hoffman though. In his final on-screen appearance, his Plutarch Heavensbee is notably less prevalent, yet his spirit, in all of its organic, non-digitized glory, leaves a lasting impression.

The stakes have never been higher, yet the premise so simple. To the surprise of no one, Katniss’ only goal is killing President Snow. Like, for real this time. Feeling restricted in her capacity as merely a symbol of hope for the people of Panem, she’s determined to get back to doing real damage and will abandon protocol laid out by District 13 leader Alma Coin that’s been set in place to protect her. She joins a squad of soldiers led by Boggs (Mahershala Ali) and Lieutenant Jackson (Michelle Forbes) who are tasked with following behind the other troops into the Capitol in order to film one final segment  for District 13’s anti-Snow propagandistic documentary.

Katniss of course is less concerned with the documentation as she is with finishing what she had started so long ago. In so doing, she must confront her deepest moral quandaries yet. The choices she must make as she marches through a Capitol that resembles Berlin circa post-World War 2, only outfitted with death traps that make the Quarter Quell look like child’s play by comparison, will be next to impossible and will more often than not require her to decide how many lives she’s willing to sacrifice to secure a brighter future for Panem.

Lawrence has fared exceptionally well since taking over the reigns from Gary Ross who established The Hunger Games as an uncommonly intelligent and bleak young adult film franchise. Obviously it is author Suzanne Collins to whom we should be most indebted for conjuring such an elaborate and audaciously political system over which fans, both casual and dedicated alike, have obsessed. After all, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to separate those who have been faithful to the series just for the star power and the experience from those who have been so inspired by coetaneous themes of social and political injustice as to become more politically active.

When I inevitably buy the box set, I’ll in all likelihood be confirming the fact that rather than playing out as individual, disjointed stories, this franchise operates as a cohesive whole, cranking up the personal tension between Katniss and Snow methodically, assimilating audiences effortlessly over a three-year period by playing up the ruthless villainy of Donald Sutherland’s white-ness (not a reference to his complexion) versus the purity of the Girl on Fire and her intentions of restoring the balance. Maybe if it’s not the religion of the church of the Mockingjay that’s compelling, nor how supposedly faithful the films have been to the source material, it’s the level of conviction and passion in Lawrence’s vision.

Jennifer Lawrence has blossomed into a reliable actress and that’s largely thanks to her contributions to these large-scale, larger-budget spectacles. (Yes, David O’Russell, you may have her now but Gary Ross developed her skill set.) Her consistency will be one of the aspects I’ll be missing most in the coming Novembers. Nevermind Woody Harrelson and his kind and affable Haymitch. Stanley Tucci’s hairdo. Elizabeth Banks and her eternally upbeat Effie Trinket. The nastiness of the Games, or of Sutherland’s tyranny. Indeed, if there is one word you could boil these films down to, it’s just that: consistent. That’s a rare quality to find in a franchise these days. Just ask the Terminator.

Jennifer Lawrence, Mahershala Ali and Liam Hemsworth in 'The Hunger Games Mockingjay - Pt 2'

Recommendation: A lot can be said about the decision to split Mockingjay into two parts but this reviewer is a fan of it. It’s given me time to enjoy these characters more and the expansion of the series over four films/years has made for one of the most impressive film franchises I’ve ever seen. These films mean a lot of things to a lot of people, but if I were to make a recommendation for this film, it’s that you can appreciate it on its own almost as much as a part of a bigger picture. Almost, is the key word though. A spectacular finish to an uncommonly engaging story has been delivered.

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 137 mins.

Quoted: “Our lives were never ours. They belong to Snow and our deaths do too. But if you kill him Katniss, if you end all of this, all those deaths . . . they mean something.”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.screencrush.com; http://www.imdb.com

Advertisements

35 thoughts on “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2

  1. Wow. Great review, Tom! And the first truly positive one I’ve seen. I’m glad you enjoyed the whole series so much, though. I LOVED the first two books. Like most, though, I found the final book extremely disappointing. So, therefore, it was no surprise that I found the last two films disappointing. They were faithful adaptations, though, so I’m happy about that. I’m glad you decided to not be snobby about YA this one time. 😉 I do admit to loving YA novels but a lot are pretty shit, yes. The Hunger Games is an exception. As is the book Ready Player One. And have you seen The Perks Of Being A Wallflower? Another YA film (and book) that is damn good so I recommend that if you’ve not seen it. 🙂

    • Thanks Mutey! I have not read Perks yet, but that is a fantastic suggestion. I may have to add that to my Xmas wish list. The movie is incredible. One of the definitive movies about the pains of growing through high school and all that.

      • Aww. See? YA is good sometimes! 🙂 To be honest, since you’ve seen that movie, you could skip the book. I’d normally recommend the book too but as the author also made the film, it’s the most faithful movie adaptation I’ve ever seen. It’s one of those rare occasions where I slightly preferred the film. 🙂

  2. Great review Tom! I am quite excited for this, and hoping to catch it this upcoming weekend (this last one didn’t work out for me). I was no fan of the splitting – I hate how all these franchises are splitting the last book. It makes me so mad hahaha. However, we will see how it plays out – I feel the last film was totally unnecessary. I will be with you on the buying a box set front hehe.

    • See I actually dug Part 1. It was so incredibly tense and the political motivations was incredibly handled. Was it as action packed as its predecessors? Certainly not. But I think by slowing down the pace and focusing more on the political landscape I felt the film found some new life.

      Hope to see your take on it soon! I think you’ll enjoy yourself as we see eye-to-eye on quite a lot of things! 😉

      • I had no objections to that, I had objections to the inordinate amount of filler crap shoved in there between the politics hahaha.

        🙂 That we do, looking forward to comparing notes!

        • Fair enough. 🙂 It’ll be very interesting to see how this all goes together when viewed back-to-back. (Can’t wait to buy these all!)

          As I said to Natasha, I can’t believe how much of a fanboy I’ve become of these things hahaha

          • xD I agree with you there – when these came out I dismissed them out of hand. Actually really glad I got to watching and reading it all! Well worth it.

            • You’ll be delighted to know this is one book series I am ordering for Xmas/my birthday. I can’t wait to read these things now. And I’m also going to be getting The Martian (I hope). 🙂

              • Oh wow! I am so proud of you! If you don’t review them, please still drop me a mail or whatever to talk about them!

                I hope that you enjoy all the books!

                • 😀 I hope I do too, and I think I will. I’ll definitely keep you posted. I could consider doing a book review. That’d be something new to introduce to the ol’ DSB. . .

    • Haha yeah, I totally feel ya. That’s going to be me when The Force Awakens comes out. Can’t wait to not see that thing. 😉

  3. Storming stuff mate! I’ve loved this franchise and was keeping my fingers crossed that it wouldn’t let me down. Looks like any fears are ill-founded! Some reviews have been lukewarm but I trust your view Tom.

    • Cheers sir! I have noticed this particular entry is getting more of a lukewarm response than I had anticipated (at least this post anyway) 😉

      But I have been an unabashed fan of this series since it began, so in my eyes it couldn’t do much wrong. I think this ends the way it should have.

  4. Great review Tom. I saw Mockingjay this weekend and thought it was really well done. The film is incredibly sad and well laid out, and the cast did really well.

    PS: I work with a girl that looks like Jennifer Lawrence. It isn’t noticeable when Lawrence wears her hair blond, but the dark brown freaks me out quite a bit haha.

    • Whoa! That’s crazy! Haha i’d be paranoid of getting shot in the back with an arrow if that was happening where I work. Ha!

      I’m glad you’re on board with this film. I thought it was superb. I’ve even been able to look past the fact this has been split into two films. I loved almost every minute of this franchise. Too bad it is over now.

  5. It’s hard to get past the fact that the entire film can be summed up in 4 words: Let’s go kill Snow. Along the way virtually nothing happens. There’s a flood of black oil, a zombie sequence, but not enough here to justify a film that well exceeds 2 hours. Even the rushed death of a major character is confusingly mishandled. I won’t deny the movie has merit for die-hard fans of the novel. If you know what to expect, there’s a certain pleasure in watching the events visually depicted. Unfortunately about halfway through I was flat out bored. I wish I had seen the movie you write about.

    • Yeah I saw that you liked this a lot less than me. I think in this case, this is a situation where the movie couldn’t do anything wrong in my eyes. I’ve been a surprisingly huge fan of this since it began in 2012 so I’ve been eager to see how things would all come around. May have been blinded to some of the faults (and there are some to be sure, I totally agree with you on the fact that there isn’t as much action in this as I had thought there should be). Either way, I’ll be buying the box set. 😉

  6. Pingback: Top That: Ten directors whose next films I can’t wait to see | digitalshortbread

Comments are closed.