5 Thoughts on “THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY - PART 2” (and the series in general)

I hate when secondary / special posters for films blow the main poster out of the water….

When I saw Mockingjay - Part 1 in theaters last year, I didn’t like it at all. In retrospect, it was probably my bias coming through, as the practice of making two half-movies is something I really hate seeing, as an audience member. But beyond that, I thought the whole thing was cold, unfeeling, full of melodramatic performances and, frankly, just filler to set up the other half. I re-watched the film earlier this week and found my perception of it had changed: the performances weren’t as grating, and, when taken in context of the whole Mockingjay story, the cold/unfeeling tone was crucial. Still, however, it was just a set-up for the finale.

That said, the finale is built up to was worth the wait. I’ll try to minimize spoilers since the film is so new.

  1. One thing I always appreciated with The Hunger Games series is the way it handled killing off characters. More often than not, there’s more value in seeing how the other characters react to a death, instead of, say, seeing a character get blown up by little parachute bombs. Plus, beyond that, when we actually see a character getting killed off, it’s all the more powerful (see: the film’s final death). I recall the first film receiving criticism for the “shaky cam” violent deaths, but I enjoyed them, and was glad to see it continued through the very end.
  2. Jena Malone is a treasure. Absolutely love that they just turned her loose and let her chew all the scenery as Johanna.
  3. I’m far enough removed from reading the book that I don’t recall the small details that they might have changed for the film, but one big change I did notice was Plutarch’s letter at the end of the film. While I’m assuming that wasn’t a purposeful change (R.I.P. Phillip Seymour Hoffman), having Haymitch read a letter to Katniss is a brilliant solution. Many of the alterations to the source material throughout the whole series were similar to this: a subtly brilliant upgrade. I’m normally on the side of the “book was better!” crowd, but this whole Hunger Games saga is noteworthy to me because the movies were all better.
  4. …except that last scene. At first I didn’t realize it was a scene from the book (I just looked it up, actually), but it really should have been cut. I’m not really sure what it added to the story. Re-reading the epilogue in the book, Katniss talks about how it took her 15 years to be willing to bring children into the world… whereas in the film, it looks like she and Peeta waited just a few moments to get to family-making. Unfortunate non-change for me, or, alternatively, unfortunate choice to not significantly age the characters.
  5. I was going to stop with that thought, but it reminded me of another one. The book played up the love triangle like it was a certain other young adult book series, almost to an annoying extent. One thing I really loved about the films is that they really downplayed it — until certain events take place, you knew who she was going to be with in an ideal world. In Part 2, they even played with that in a way I don’t recall the book doing, with Gale acknowledging that they were together, but wouldn’t be able to stay together until Peeta was better. This is another reason I really didn’t like the epilogue ending — even ending the film with the “you love me, real or not real?” exchange, it wasn’t explicitly a romantic scene. (Not to say I wasn’t #teampeeta in the book, because I certainly way. Screw you, Gale!)

I absolutely recommend this film. Even if it was, by title, half of a movie, it felt far more complete than any of the other “Part 2” in recent memory, which is what I needed from the film.

Now from a cynical standpoint, let’s see how long until they bastardize the series by adding unnecessary prequels and sequels and spinoffs and such! Can’t wait to see Effie’s origin story!*

*this is a joke, I don’t want to see Effie’s origin story