Does ‘Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2’ give the franchise a proper farewell? (review)

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As the cinematic franchise of the iconic literature series that revitalized the Young Adult Fiction genre comes to a close, we finally get to see the conclusion of the long treacherous journey of our arrow-shooting heroine, Katniss Everdeen, in the final film of the saga, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2. But, was the final component to this epic account of bravery and sacrifice able to give fans the satisfaction and relief many so desired to see?

As we’ve become accustomed to, our generation has had the unique opportunity to see many great film sagas. Taking in such monumental films such as Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, Chan-wook Park’s Vengence trilogy, and the adorable Toy Story trilogy, cinema has been very kind to us. Of course, we’ve also seen our share of not so great trilogies (and I hate to bring them up and put a bad taste in your mouth, but we gotta) such as the Big Momma’s House trilogy, the BloodRayne trilogy, and of course, who can forget the confusing and clunky Matrix trilogy. So, essentially one could say that we as a generation have gathered enough evidence to safely say that when it comes to sagas, we know a thing or two. So where does The Hunger Games fall on the spectrum of good or bad?

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Our film resumes the tale of turmoil and despair in a war-torn Panem, as Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), the Mockingjay, herself, continues to be the voice of the resistance. Her focus, however, has turned to Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), as he still is suffering from the side effects of the torture President Snow (Donald Sutherland) had put him through. Unfortunately, Snow’s team used the powerfully hallucinogenic venom from Tracker Jackers as part of their torture methods, causing Peeta to be unable to distinguish what is real and what isn’t. Through this, they were able to reprogram Peeta’s memories to think that Katniss is actually a monster, and that she is the reason for all the death and destruction going on in the world, not Snow.

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While heading to District two, Gale makes short conversation about how that if Peeta never gets better, he’ll never have a chance to be with Katniss, because she’ll be thinking about Peeta all the time. They share an awkward kiss, to where Gale pulls away, knowing that he won’t ever have her after this point. Once they arrive to help rally the rebels and turn the hearts of those that are still loyal to the Capitol, she soon realizes that she has only been a cog in the war machine that President Snow has created. She makes this known as a Loyalist from a collapsed mine pulls a gun on her, asking why he shouldn’t shoot her. She is unable to give him an answer but states that doing it will only add to the bloodshed that Snow wants, and she’s had enough of it.

“I am done being a piece in his game.”

They make it back to District 13 in time to see Finnick’s (Sam Claflin) wedding, where, with the help of Joanna (Jena Malone), Katniss discovers the only way for all this to finally and truly come to an end: by assassinating President Snow on her own. From that moment forward, it becomes a game of cat and mouse, as Katniss finds that she may be in for more than she bargained for.

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Ok, so I know that we can’t always hold films to the ridiculously high standards of their novel counterparts. I promise you, this is not going to be one of those reviews. I’m well aware that you can’t take films like this one and scrutinize it for all the things it didn’t get to incorporate in it from the novel. I don’t want this to be one of those reviews. The film made easy work of creating tension in times of chaos. Whether when the rebels are waiting for the enemy to come out of a cave, when Katniss is sneaking on to a med ship, or when they are trying to hide from Peacekeepers, the director was able to make those moments a tightrope act, keeping viewers on edge in anticipation. And speaking of the director’s vision, the film housed many great thought-provoking scenes between Gale and Katniss, discussing the woes of war, and the sacrifices that are made. Those scenes really drove the idea of duel mentalities emerging from these known characters, as one continues to carry compassion while the other has turned cold by the drums of battle.

This film definitely differed from its previous installment. Where Mockingjay Part 1 lacked in the pacing of the action and the tempo of events, Mockingjay Part 2 truly picked up and left no doubt that action was the main focus of the film. Unfortunately, in the same thought process, where Part 1 thrived in active dialogue and meaningful conversation that progressed the story with incredible performances, Part 2 suffered and served up dialogue that felt overdone, repetitive, and safe. The performances seemed to lack the excitement or commitment that gave us the chills we experienced from the first two films, and each scene seemed to give us enough to keep us hoping that it got better. Speaking of scenes, one thing I didn’t really care for were how long some of the seems did seem to drag on, as to try to evoke a sense of deep emotion from the audience. Like squeezing blood from a stone, the scene only made for awkward moments between characters, as needless panning in circles, jumping from shots of each face in a dull stare down, and long drawn out gazes took up time from the film that could’ve been better served for something else.

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Out of all the performances, however, I felt that Josh Hutcherson did the best, giving us a troubled and mentally unstable Peeta. His struggle to keep his sanity in the most inopportune times seemed to be right in the vein of the source material and gave fans a show they will remember. I wasn’t too impressed with Lawrence or Hemsworth’s portrayal of their characters at this point in the story. Lawrence felt a bit too cold for me as a heartbroken and distraught warrior, and Hemsworth’s inability to shed tears left a slight, salty taste in my mouth. The performance, overall, kept for a solid forward-moving movie, but the stellar performances that we were used to from previous films were nowhere to be seen.

All in all, the film gave its final farewell to a franchise that has captivated millions around the world and did so with as much gusto and bravado as they could muster. The film wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great, and that’s okay. The last book of the series dealt with a lot of situations and material that can be difficult to translate on screen, whether they are madness and isolation, power and corruption, or love amidst social pressures, and honestly, if the film followed through with the structure and dialogue of the book, word for word, it may not be that appealing to the masses. I can see how the filmmakers did what they could to make a film that would appease the large adoring fans, but sadly, it cost them the opportunity to make a movie that would’ve shined above the rest. Although facing the hardship of adding, digitally, shots of Phillip Seymour Hoffman posthumously, the film serves its viewers an adequate and safe adaptation of the much-loved finale of the series, and with three fingers high in the air, hopes that viewers will find a refuge in how safe and comfortable this film truly is.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson and Donald Sutherland, debuts in theaters nationwide this Friday.

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Eddie Villanueva Jr.
Eddie Villanueva Jr. 314 posts

A movie connoisseur of only the finest films, and an Encyclopod of geek and nerd knowledge. And if you know what an Encyclopod is, you're cool too!

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