Tweetable Takeaway: The final Hunger Games film provides a mature look at war and a satisfying conclusion for its characters. Tweet
Katniss Everdeen has gone the way of Harry Potter and Bella Swan with the conclusion of her own hugely successful young adult book-to-movie franchises. Three books and four movies later, was the journey worth it? Much like the aforementioned franchises, The Hunger Games’ final book was split into two movies. Although its necessity was debated, the dull and interminable pace of Mockingjay Part 1 made a strong case for the theory that the move was done strictly to squeeze more money out of its fans. But I’m happy to report that Mockingjay Part 2 packs the right amount of action, thrills, heart, and pathos in for a satisfying conclusion that makes up for the tedious penultimate installment.
Jennifer Lawrence returns as world-weary Katniss, ready for all the fighting to just be over already. Who can blame her after seeing President Snow’s smug face for four movies? Played by Donald Sutherland, he relishes chewing the scenery in each of his scenes in Part 2. As the rebels attempt to breach District 1 and kill Snow once and for all, Snow sets up all manner of traps throughout the city. Traps that had previously been used in Hunger Games’ arenas are now peppered everywhere in order to, as Snow puts it, “make them fight for every inch.” From a film standpoint, this provides a wonderfully inventive way to do something new with a battle. Too easily could this have been another CGI-character filled screen, bullets and explosions going off without much impact. Instead, we have Katniss and a small group of rebels coming into the city and attempting to dodge traps that involve huge flamethrowers, machine guns, and gallons of motor oil, among others.
Mockingjay Part 2 succeeds in keeping things small and personal. It’s Katniss and a small group of people she likes going into the city, not Katniss leading a huge battalion after a rousing speech. The group also comes in separate from the main army, allowing for tense moments where the audience can keep track of everyone. This also allows for interactions between the few members there are and Katniss. And the deaths that occur hit that much harder. Early in the film, the rebels watch as a group of Snow-supporting civilians come out on a train. Instead of Katniss or another rebel giving a speech to all the citizens, it comes down to Katniss and one man holding a gun to her head. The conversation they have is ten times more powerful due to its close and personal nature. It also allows us to hear right from Katniss how fed up she is with everything, how much this war has affected her, how being used as a pawn by Snow has her no longer caring if she lives or dies. It’s tense, and most importantly it’s informative without bogging the audience down with exposition.
It’s tough to ever think that a storyline involving kids fighting each other to the death in a violent, trap-filled arena could be considered appropriate for non-adult audiences, but the horrors of war shown in this final installment certainly pushes this even further into the mature audience category. The final action that ends the fighting is about as dark as war gets, and certainly as dark as movies get as well. Throughout the film there are discussions and arguments about the rules of war. If the enemy doesn’t flinch when killing innocent civilians, does that give the other side cause to the same? There are no easy answers to these questions, however in this movie there are consequences to any actions the characters take. And those consequences hit hard and deep. Most commendable is the way the film never handles the issues surrounding war in stark black and white. There aren’t just two sides–good guys we can root for and bad guys we hate–but rather we see the shades of gray. Characters and scenes feel real as a result, and not one-dimensional.
As dark as the movie gets, the final scenes do provide an uplifting look at the future for these characters. The epilogue drags itself out a little too long, as if its not quite ready to have us say goodbye to these characters. For diehard fans this is understandable; for the rest of us, we’ve got the next young adult book adaptation to get to. There’s no denying the power in the final lines, however. The games are at an end, and with any luck those characters that survived to the end will not have to see any more games played either. The same can be said for moviegoers, who may have enjoyed some installments of this franchise more than others, this concluding Hunger Games movie may be the best of the bunch.
I give The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 4 smug Snows out of 5
Score: 4 out of 5
Wil Loper | Contributor