Director: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Julianne Moore, Donald Sutherland
Please note, this review contains more spoilers than my reviews normally do. If you haven’t read the books, or don’t want to know anything about the story line, then you might want to read after you have watched. Don’t say I didn’t warn you..!
The war of Panem reaches its dramatic conclusion as the rebels lay siege to the Capitol. Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) is the reluctant leader of the rebellion, who must lead the dangerous mission to kill President Snow (Sutherland). The dastardly leader of Panem has laid out a series of fiendish traps, putting Katniss and those she is close to, in great danger; but with the districts finally united against Snow, can the brave rebels outwit the gamemakers to win the war once and for all.
I always find films which are split into two parts a little bit tricky to unpack. I think as is the case with most others, Mockingjay Part 2 is a much better film when viewed as a whole with Mockingjay Part 1, but that’s not to say it isn’t a bad film; in fact I really enjoyed it!
The film starts immediately where Part 1 left off with Katniss still reeling from the shock of what the Capitol did to Peeta (Hutcherson), in turning him against her. However, there isn’t much time for a pity party, war is looming and Katniss must once again become the Mockingjay, and the face of the rebellion. The whole sequence with Katniss and her team working their way around the traps that the Capitol have planted is great. It’s incredibly tense, the effects are great, and you’ll be on the edge of your seat the whole time, even if you know what is coming next! I love how Finnick (Sam Claflin) says “Welcome to the 76th Hunger Games”; we haven’t seen the actual games since Catching Fire, and whilst it takes up a very small part of the film, it is a nice callback to what the films were originally about.
One particular scene which takes place in the sewers is horrifyingly brilliant. Warning to parents, this is a very high 12a/PG-13 and young children will probably be terrified in this bit. I am 24 years old and I was scared. That being said it was probably the most dramatic and exciting scene in the film, so once you’ve recovered and can peer out from behind your fingers, you’ll love it!
I think the thing I loved most about this film, and especially alongside Mockingjay Part 1, is the messaging. There’s some stuff in here which is really deep, and raises important questions about war, manipulation, politics, trust, and hope. You don’t see this sort of stuff in your average “young adult” film, and it’s so brilliantly done. The issue I felt which was particularly prevalent, and incredibly relevant to us today, was about fighting violence with violence. Towards the end, President Coin, who we had deemed to be trustworthy, wants to punish the Capitol by forcing their children to compete in a Hunger Games. This makes her no better ultimately than Snow, and it is interesting to see how the previous victors react to this. It also makes us as the audience question her morality, and that had this plan have gone through, where would it have ended?
Up to this point, there might still have been some people who thought Katniss should have chosen Gale over Peeta, particularly as Peeta was completely changed by the Capitol. However, that is completely put to rest in the final scene between Gale and Katniss. Katniss realises that their ideas have changed; Gale wanted war, and Katniss wants anything but. This is so well done, without being over the top and unnecessarily dramatic.
Jennifer Lawrence is absolutely fantastic in this film. By the time we get to Mockingjay Part 2, Katniss is emotionally closed off and numb; she doesn’t have any quips like she does in previous films, and never smiles. The shock of what happened with Peeta and the devastation at losing so many of her allies and friends along the way, finally catches up with her. As well as the large scale battle Katniss is fighting against Snow and the Capitol, there is also an emotional battle within herself, as she eventually gives in to her feelings and breaks down. Having spent three films with this character already and going through everything with her, this gradual wearing down of the character is heartbreaking to watch. Whilst she is the face of the rebellion, “the girl on fire” and the “mockingjay”, she is also human, and Jennifer Lawrence plays this so incredibly well.
Unfortunately it is the nature of the story, but parts of this story did feel slightly anticlimactic compared to the surprisingly action-packed Mockingjay Part 1. Most of the action happens in the first half of Mockingjay Part 2, and if you don’t already know how it ends, then you might find the second half slightly less interesting. Personally I thought the balance was fine, but as a standalone film, I can see why people might not find it as interesting. When watched immediately after Part 1, I feel it would be a much more complete story.
I liked that we got straight into the story, however the fact that the transition between Part 1 and Part 2 is so immediate, it made it even more obvious that it was one film split in two. This is part of the reason why it makes this final part difficult to stand on it’s own as a film.
Parts of the story felt a little bit rushed, in particular some of the deaths were glossed over. Here’s that spoiler I warned you about! The death’s of Finnick and Prim seem to be over so quickly with little made of the effect it has on everyone else left behind. Whilst it makes sense that Katniss is emotionally shut down, it would be good to see how it affected Prim’s mum and Annie for example. I don’t want to do the whole “this was better in the book thing”, but these parts were handled so much better in the book than they were in the film, with much more emotion.
I saw this movie and you should too. If you haven’t read the books, this might not be the ending you were expecting, but if you loved the books, then you will absolutely love this film. It is a very satisfying end to the Hunger Games saga, and when viewing Mockingjay as a whole film, probably my favourite out of them all. The messages are great, it’s exciting and dramatic and the ending is emotional but amazing. Watch, enjoy and “may the odds be ever in your favour”!
Agree with everything I’ve said, or am I a terribly misguided idiot who has got it all wrong? Please let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to share as well.