The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part Two: So It’s Come to This, by Rudie Obias
The conclusion of The Hunger Games film franchise (or at least the “trilogy”) picks up where Mockingjay – Part One left off with Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) in restraints and Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) trying to find her voice after he violently strangled her. Not only does the introduction inform the audience where we are in the story, but also Katniss’ state of mind throughout the first half of the film. She’s trying to find her voice as a symbol for the emerging rebellion against the Capitol. While director Francis Lawrence uses a smart metaphor to begin a big blockbuster, the film falls short in trying to find its own voice as something smarter.
But, as young adult action blockbusters go, The Hunger Games is the gold standard, capturing the heart and thrills that franchises like Divergent and The Maze Runner can’t seem to find.
Mockingjay – Part Two finds Katniss leading the fight with District 13 against the Capitol and President Snow (Donald Sutherland). She joins a group of soldiers into the Capitol to try to assassinate him, all while a camera crew captures neatly edited video propaganda, or prop-os, to inspire the rest of Panem to rise up against their oppressors. Throughout the Capitol, President Snow and his Stormtrooper-like Peacekeepers plant thousands of booby traps, or pods, to foil anyone trying to get through the war torn city.
While I’m not a big fan of splitting one movie into two parts with two separate release dates a year apart, if you sat through Mockingjay – Part One, then it’s worth watching Part Two just see how it ends. It sounds easy enough, but Part Two has a lot going for it, in terms of action, character development, and resolution. It just takes a long time to get to those elements.
The first hour of Mockingjay – Part Two is dull and mind-numbing. Not much happens as the pieces come together for Katniss’ assault on the Capitol. It seems like just a lot of waiting around for Peeta to heal from his mental trauma and Katniss’ first inkling that Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) is more ambitious and calculating than he’s lead on in the first three movies. The movie doesn’t actually pick up until the second half when Katniss makes her way through the Capitol. There are sequences that are genuinely exciting and haunting, with one notable sequence underground that plays out like a spooky horror movie.
The film ends in a very satisfying way and a culmination of the last four years with the franchise coming to a close. Mockingjay – Part Two doesn’t deliver the same punch and kick from previous movies in the franchise, namely Catching Fire. Maybe director Frances Lawrence ran out of interesting things to do with The Hunger Games, so he spent most of Mockingjay giving fans the greatest hits of the franchise and a final victory lap around the Capitol. While I’m sure there will be plenty of spin offs and prequels in the pipeline, the original Hunger Games movies will be regarded as the point where young adult fiction could take on more mature themes of consumerism, incoming inequality, and oppression. It’s just weird that those themes are delivered in a big budget blockbuster with big Hollywood stars from a billion dollar movie studio and corporation.