I have been waiting for this movie for 4 years now. It’s been the equivalent of what Star Wars has been for many others. This Friday, Mockingjay, Part 2 released in theaters and I was there in line (not really, because I buy reserved seats. I’m an adult; no need to savagely fight for chairs anymore.). Because I had read the books, I was prepared for what was to come: the emotion, the loss, the finale. It was going to be a movie of relentless pain, with very little joy to behold. While I was overall underwhelmed, I was not wrong.
Mockingjay: The Good
Hunger Games is without a doubt one of the best movie sagas to hit cinemas since the Harry Potter franchise. This movie fits nicely in the legacy that had come before it. It manages to take a cadre of characters and highlight Katniss, Peeta, and Gale in a way the other movies couldn’t. You’re aware of the stakes all of them are facing, yet the romantic subplot doesn’t seem to overshadow the importance of the main story. The revolution is finally upon us and it is not forgotten.
This film also may be the most beautiful film out of them all. Maybe it’s because the majority of it is filmed in the Capitol of Panem, but the design of it all was absolutely gorgeous. The stark contrast between District 13 and the Capitol is so well done here, that the difficulties facing all parties is finally apparent. I’ve personally have been waiting for the actual hunger part of the Hunger Games for quite some time.
Like all of the films, Jennifer Lawrence shines. She is truly the best for the role of Katniss, capturing the enigmatic resolve of a character meant to be unlikable and inspiring at the same time (something other YA adaptations have sorely lacked). Her Mockingjay is every bit of what it’s supposed to be: a revolutionary leader that the world has never seen before.
One of my favorite parts of the film is Donald Sutherland. Say what you will about the character of President Snow, but he is definitely one of the highlights. He maintains his terrifying nature throughout the entire story. The cold, calculating dictator that he has been from the beginning never falters. In fact, the acting in this film is probably the best it has been throughout the whole saga.
The way they handled the passing of actor Phillip Seymour-Hoffman was beautiful. At the time of his death, it had been reported that he had only one scene left to film. Fans everywhere were very curious how this was going to be handled. There have been quite a few instances where actors have passed and it played out poorly. A couple of tweaks here and there and you have Mockingjay, Part 2, a proud ode to the late actor.
Mockingjay: The Bad
I have to say that, in my honest opinion, this movie was my least favorite of the series. I felt that with the intense emotion this film needed to have, the pacing of the film was too fast to appreciate everything in the proper emotional state. It seemed more important to have the beautiful explosions and floods of tar that we couldn’t take 5 seconds to reflect on yet another loss of a comrade. I know the arguments for surviving the situation’s gravitas because they’ve already been made to me. Yet, this is the part where I miss Gary Ross over Francis Lawrence. Ross’s style of directing was a pleasant balance between the dangers of the games and the loss they caused. In the case of Rue, she was given such a beautiful funeral and Katniss took the moments that we needed as an audience to reflect on her tragic loss. That wasn’t given for these characters. Now, I’m not saying that we needed to mourn the Leegs, Lieutenant Jackson, or even Castor (even though Pollux sure did, and it was fantastic). But both Finnick and Primrose deserved better.
That being said, some of our favorite characters also deserved better. Where was Effie and Haymitch? Lawrence decided to keep Effie present in the Mockingjay films because of how high her fanbase was; however she was barely in this film. And Haymitch? What’s the excuse for him not being present? Johanna Mason was another character not given her due. We didn’t get to see her bonding moments with Katniss that existed in the books, which I believed reduced this strong character into a junkie shell of what was. Did you have to be a member of the rebellion invasion unit to get any valid screen time here? Because even Cressida was pushed into forgotten territory.
I’m going to give this movie a second chance. Why? Because out of sheer love and respect for what the series has already given to me. I love everything that Suzanne Collins was able to create and the world that has risen from it. I believe that my own life has been enriched by this series. I also believe that Mockingjay, Part 2 probably was not meant to be viewed separately from its predecessor. Here soon, I’ll watch all four movies together and appreciate it all that much more. Until then, I leave you with the rating of 3.5 out of 5. Watch it for what it’s finishing, if nothing else.