We both know that if you haven’t yet seen The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, you probably aren’t going to. What’s that? You ran out of breath trying to say that title out loud? What a shame, but like it did for the few remaining fan girls who went berserk for the release of the most recent and final installment of The Hunger Games franchise, homeostasis will quickly regulate your breath back towards normalcy.
Mockingjay Part 2 marks the end of yet another micro-era of a drawn out narrative that our generation has grown accustomed to investing in every few years. It’s a fun process because each movie release allows us to follow actors on talk shows and reflect on how our perception of their characters, and thus ourselves, has evolved over time.
I have been at a point in my life a huge fan of The Hunger Games, and this film quenched many of my desires to see certain scenes brought to life. All the passages that you read over and over as a teenager wearing you hair in a Katniss-style braid are played out word for word. The battles, political chicanery and love triangle all find their way to the amplifying big screen, but somehow it all feels less impactful and emotional than its corresponding prose.
The mise-en-scene is as expectedly commercialized as it would be in any blockbuster, but since a consciousness around media and mass publicity lies at the center of this story, producers have ensured that the film is steeped in a genuine and refined glow. The film does exactly what it seeks to do; it tells the story exactly as it appears in the book and save cinematic audacity for another film.
The film’s most poignant moments emerge from the undeniable talents of Jennifer Lawrence, Elizabeth Banks and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, and are cradled between scenes by a seething Jenna Malone, (scaled back but still) drunken Woody Harrelson and a sickly looking Donald Sutherland. One of Jennifer Lawrence’s most notable gifts is how adoringly ugly and inappropriate she can be, and Mockingjay Part 2 allows ample space for her to be so sympathetically unattractive. She lets us see her, the hero that never wanted to be a hero, drooling on herself while sobbing the way many of us do once a semester in the second floor library bathroom when “it all becomes too much to handle.” There’s an internal tranquility that anchors her displayed near-insanity. She knows what she’s doing, and she knows we don’t question her talents.
The acting is not the only admirable component of this movie, and it’s important to note that the film itself isn’t a crime against filmmaking. It’s a predictable studio blockbuster that mercifully allows a star studded cast to melt their talent and potential into long dried out studio molds of characters doing their best to fight a war we’ve already seen. Finnick Odair (Sam Clafin) says it himself after being shown a projection of the way the villainous government has mine trapped the city, “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the seventy-sixth Hunger Games.” Well, that’s exactly it. This story is a newly CGI enhanced, city version of the first two movies in the franchise.
For starters, it’s awkward when one book in a series is so well suited to be made into a film and the others less so. It only makes sense that studios see the franchise, of which the first two films were quite engaging, to its grey, mature and resolved end.
In the genre of ultimate novels split into two film components, questions that might guide filmmakers are: where to cut the films and how to make each section seem like its own complete story. Where the filmmakers split the movies might seem to divide a tedious narrative into delightfully robust plots, but the truth is that this particular chapter of the narrative never really begged to be made into a film. Mockingjay is itself a novel that more so meditated on its own plot than it does yank us into a swarming new arena. But at least in the movie there are some talented and beautiful people to watch the whole time.