The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2

Very few films, much less films based on young adult books, venture to tackle the nuance that the Hunger Games trilogy has touched. Witnessing the boundless cruelty that makes games of children forced to murder each other creates a stage where it is easy to hate one side and root for the other. Of course, with Katniss the center, we are automatically on her side: the side of the oppressed, overworked, purposefully starved, and tortured populace of the districts. However, throughout the trilogy we witness, as Katniss does, that not all people who live the Capitol lifestyle are bloodthirsty aristocrats. There are people like Cinna, a fearless rebel who uses his art and his access to fight for freedom; Effie, whose vision about the Capitol and the districts only became clear as she began to love her tributes because she had never had the opportunity to do so before; and the Career Tributes, who were trained for battle and death their entire lives only to become the Capitol’s tools of terror even after their deaths.

The fight scenes, the spectacle of the arena, the opulence of the Capitol and its citizens in Francis Lawrence’s masterful hands have consistently balanced on the crux of amazing and bile-inducing. You love them and hate that you love them and love them for making you feel that way, because it is true to the books. There is as much awe as there is terror and resentment. However, it isn’t just the explosions and couture that Francis conducted with brilliance, but it is also the emotion.

There are so many films about oppression and revolution with pat, paint by numbers plots. There is a chosen one who leads and fights with a righteous lust. A core of support forms around him as they kick, punch, and shoot their way to the Big Bad. They may doubt themselves once, but that’s where the love interest comes in. The One rallies and their team slays everything in the way, without thought, until the old world is raised into a better day full of sunshine. However, there are no real loses, no lasting scars, no trauma. It is a seamless story without the messy pockmarks of humanity.

THG, however, has never shied from any of these things. Through Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss, we have seen the trauma that poverty and hunger can cause in a home. We have witnessed the burden of hard choices and the consequences that can arise when choices that seem to be simple end up costing the lives of those you love. Katniss and her fellow victors have experienced oppression, war, torture, sexual slavery, and assault; they live through nightmares, permanent injury, and the effects of PTSD. Katniss struggles with the fact that being a symbol of the revolution, and because of this people instinctively follow her and the movement she represents-- sometimes resulting in their own deaths. When all you’ve known is survival, it can be extremely difficult to give those mechanisms up for a faint chance at an ideal freedom.

It is this responsibility she feels that leads her to sneak onto a hovercraft to do battle with The Capitol and kill President Snow herself.

Having read Mockingjay twice, I was still surprised by the visuals. I still felt the suspense I did while reading the book. I knew how it would end, but I was still showered by the anticipation of what would happen next. All of the emotions of a book several years old surfaced just beneath my heart.

The action is epic. The new terrors the Capitol dreams up for the rebels are as chilling as they are imaginative. The lessons on the corruption of power, violence, revenge and its many faces are searing.

There isn’t much that can be said about the events of MJP2 without spoiling the film. What I will say is that Francis Lawrence continues to prove how much he loves the books. His devotion to the source material is evident, but not slavish. He recognizes the strength of each medium and does an incredible job blending both to create one of the best page to screen adaptations I have ever seen.

No plot point is left behind and nothing is left unexplained. However, this also means the film contains the same faults the book had: the three endings. They make the film feel too long and unnecessary. I was not a fan of the ending of MJP2. It felt rushed, typical, too heteronormative for book full of subverted gender role expectations and too on the nose. However, thanks to consistently multifaceted performances of Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson, these endings are much more touching, impactful and easier to swallow. The Hunger Games is a trilogy that will stick to your mind for months to come.

Maria Jackson
Review by Maria Jackson
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