The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 was released in cinemas last night and it was rough. Not the movie, but the experience. Three and a half years ago the first movie was released, and Friday, November 20, the final installment of the series premieres, drawing our time with Katniss, Peeta, and the gang to a close.
Fans of the series have been anxiously waiting for this installment of the wildly successful series. It is the conclusion to the important, thought-provoking series that changed the way young adult literature and movies are viewed. Following the worldwide press tour, hopes were high for the final film. Did director Francis Lawrence disappoint? Absolutely not.
WARNING: Some spoilers ahead if you have not either read the books or seen the film.
Generally, this isn’t a “feel-good” story, but a reflection of some of the horrors of our history and of modern society. Of course this concluding chapter is the darkest movie of the series, as to be expected: it portrays a gruesome civil war with a reluctant hero at the helm of the rebellion.
So what can audiences expect when they buy their tickets? While there were some changes from the book to the movie that I did not like, it stayed pretty true to the book. With any book-to-movie adaptation, we all know to expect changes. Most of the changes were understandable for timing and perspective, but the disappointing moments (there were some) were few and far between.
Highlights of the movie include any and every scene involving Jennifer Lawrence (which is most of it). Through the years, her performances have only gotten better and more deserving of every award and accolade she receives. The media focuses so much on her down-to-earth personality and how we all want to be her best friend, I think sometimes we forget how talented she is when she is not being nominated for an Oscar. She embodies Katniss with every word she speaks and move she makes, and is truly phenomenal. She feels it in her soul, which, in turn, makes us as an audience feel it in our souls.
Lawrence recently said in an interview that accepting the role of Katniss was the best thing that ever happened to her, but I believe the opposite is true. Jennifer Lawrence playing Katniss was the best thing to happen to the franchise.
Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth complete the trifecta of moving performances. Peeta’s progression from lovesick boy to victor to hijacked weapon and back again has been heartbreaking and lovely while showcasing Hutcherson’s range of talent. Hemsworth, for his part, did what he could with the material he was given. Gale plays a larger part in the books with more scenes and interactions with Katniss, but he did well playing up Gale’s rage, passion, and pain.
I cannot say enough good things about the supporting cast of this film, either. It is so rare to see so many talented, award-winning actors and actresses in one place, and the quality of the movie increased every time one of them graced the screen. From the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, to Julianne Moore, to Donald Sutherland, to Elizabeth Banks, the supporting cast sank into their roles, seamlessly becoming their characters.
Now that the obvious positives are out of the way, let’s get down to plot. All the key scenes from the back two-thirds of the book were included and they were all good, which I really appreciated, but some were a little bit different, such as changes in location and timing.
For the most part, the truly important moments from the book were present in the film, including the heartbreaking theme of “real or not real” to help Peeta regain his memories/personality.
The body count was high in this one, and each death was handled exactly how it needed to be. Every time the squad got to a new section of the Capitol, I squirmed in my seat and held my breath. The major losses matched the book, including Boggs, Finnick, Castor, and of course, Prim. Some of these affected me more than others, but we’ll save those feelings for another time.
What I didn’t care for was the altering and deletion of some of the most memorable lines from the book. Alterations to scenes and the flow of events I can handle, but the lines? They felt like unnecessary changes thrown in there to irritate the diehard fans, but if I wasn’t one myself, I probably would not have noticed.
The visual effects and CGI technology used throughout the movie was also great, as the dystopian universe gave birth to some concepts we have not yet created in the present day. White lizard mutts, anyone? Throughout all the battle sequences and pod explosions, the effects became larger and more dramatic, and they were very well done.
The ending of the movie feels as rushed as the ending of the book, but still covers all its bases. We fail to see Katniss wither away to nothing, but are still rewarded with that cat scene. Audiences are also privy to the highly anticipated “growing back together” moments that show how Katniss and Peeta are able to heal with each other’s help. It is a beautiful ending to a tragic story about life, love, and loss. It truly shows that “things can be good again.”
At the end of the day, Mockingjay – Part Two was a mostly satisfying finale to this series I love so much. I might be biased, but the cast and crew could not have gone out on a higher note. I believe that most fans will find the movie to be devastating and heartbreaking, but only in the best way.
On a final note, the cast and crew should be more than proud of the films they have created and the mark they have left on all of us. Thank you.
All gifs courtesy of Tumblr.
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