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"Making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."

~Ephesians 5:16

Sunday, December 13, 2015


When you watch a film in the theater, often you don't know what to expect in terms of trailers. Aside from the jaw-dropping fact that we're somehow getting a Snow White spin-off called The Huntsman, the obvious highlight was The Boy. The tagline "When you Break his rules" was so hilarious I felt the need to stop myself from bursting out laughing.

With that out of the way, let's talk about the final movie in the Hungers Games saga, MOCKINGJAY PART 2.

The Hunger Games is without a doubt great book series. The films have been very good in adapting the source material. The first film set the tone well. Catching Fire was excellent. Now when it was announced that Mockingjgay, the third and final book, would be split into two films, many were displeased. Sometimes it works (many would agree Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows needed to be two films) but in the case of The Hobbit (In this case three films!) it's been said there's so much buying for time and filler that one begins to think that they're just being stretched out for more $. Mockingjay thankfully fits more into the Harry Potter side of things. Part 1 almost perfectly set the stage for the grand final battle without feeling like a holdover. Yes, there was at least one completely filler scene, but overall Part I was great. Now here we are, three years after the first Hunger Games and an end to another book series come to film. Part 2 isn't perfect, but still nicely provides closure and pretty faithfully adapts the story.

Realizing the stakes are no longer just for survival, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) teams up with her closest friends, including Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and Finnick for the ultimate mission. Together, they leave District 13 to liberate the citizens of war-torn Panem and assassinate President Snow, who's obsessed with destroying Katniss. What lies ahead are mortal traps, dangerous enemies and moral choices that will ultimately determine the future of millions.
I remember reading Mocklingjay when it first came out and seeing how to end such a great a concept for a story. When the first Hunger Games film came out, I was thinking, "Seeing some of the key scenes in Mockingjay is going to be something else!" As expected, this film is basically one big climax, as a Part Two should be. We see Katniss finally taking the fight to the Capitol. The road to there is interesting because as readers know, a few pivotal characters meet their demise. The book definitely handles the deaths better, but what happens in the film is effective. Jennifer Lawrence once again does a fantastic job portraying Miss Everdeen. She can go from super serious to extremely emotional in a very realistic manner. It's great to see her character confident in her leadership role, and remains one of the better protagonists in recent years.

Peeta has always been a fan favorite, for being kind and a wise voice of reason. Unfortunately he spends most of the time being out of it here. I suppose the leap to film made that entire plot point a little more grating to watch than it was to read. Plus, he snaps back to attention right after that kiss? That was pretty generic and sudden, even if that's how it was in the book. A negative thing I noticed here is that Peeta literally murders a comrade when the flood happens. This is never brought up by anyone after (besides Peeta himself later) and it felt odd, and empty. Sure, it's established Peeta isn't in his right mind, but him murdering one of their squad members and no one bringing it up was just crazy.

The love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale was always unbearable to watch, and here it's no different. At least here Gale is somewhat engaging throughout the story. His character arc comes to a sudden halt in the climax; it would have been nice to get at least a final scene with him in the epilogue. Finnick always provides some genuine comic relief. There's a few characters in the middle act Katniss works with. Perhaps the most notable is Boggs, whom only appears briefly yet somehow becomes one of the most likable characters in the series, so props to the writing. (Though, his role is more substantial in the book.) There are a couple of other characters, but nothing noteworthy. The scene in the tunnel with Castor talking about how scared Pollux is of being underground was unnecessary and didn't add anything to the film. (That entire plot point is basically forgotten five seconds later.) We already have the uneasy Peeta, we don't need another mention of uneasiness.

Donald Sutherland as President Snow has been doing a marvelous job portraying the character since his brief scene in the first film. I was really looking forward to seeing the famous scene near the end of the book in the flower garden adapted, and Sutherland nails the dialogue. President Coin was an interesting and unexpected character in the book. It was intriguing to watch her character arc develop and come to fruition in the climax there. The main problem I have with her here is that she's simply boring. Still, I will give credit for the news broadcast scene.

A thing the film does extremely well is make known to the viewer a very desolate feeling. The infamous underground battle with the "Mutts" was very intense. I think perhaps the most well-done sequence is the brief one where the team finally gets deeper into the Capitol. The incinerators added a sense of dread and gives an intense look into this war zone. Tension is greatly built up as Katniss and Gale attempt to blend into the crowd with the Stormtroopers Peacekeepers searching people. The climax in the book is infamous for not having Katniss be the one to kill Snow. I personally thought that ending was really well done and was looking forward to seeing it portrayed on the big screen. It played out well in the on-screen adaption, and provides a satisfying conclusion to tyranny in the story. The epilogue is great and provides definitive closure, as the book did. The soundtrack is solid throughout. A highlight would be the drums in the background as Katniss walks in for the execution.

Overall, The Hunger Games film series ends on a high note. Some things in the book were more bearable to get through than the film. (Peeta's ongoing confusion for example.) There are a few questionable things the film does, and ironically I would say Part 1 was better written. Coin was much better in the book; here she's just boring and her character arc could have been much more engaging. Despite all this, Mockingjay Part 2 is a very good watch and does the book justice. Jennifer Lawrence portrays Katniss Everdeen perfectly once again, and Snow was a very good antagonist throughout. Director Francis Lawrence has delivered three quality adaptions.