The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2
Written by Danny Strong and Peter Craig

The “finale” of the The Hunger Games trilogy-in-four-parts is upon us soon, and my local cinema screened a marathon of them all. So I figured that as enough justification for reviewing them. The threequel/fourquel/finale instalment is The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, based on the novel Mockingjay. As previously explained in these reviews, and the series, the Mockingjay symbol’s significance is a long story.

A story that now concludes with the second half of a film. That’s how you know it’s the last one. At least, until the “…a Hunger Games Story” anthology spin-off films. But as the finale to a series involving much world building, many characters and an epic storyline, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (a tragic, terrible title) does achieve what it set-out to do – finish the series and provide a satisfying sense of closure for the audience and the characters.

This is executed through the Peter Jackson-esque method, later refitted-for-purpose by Christopher Nolan, of giving each character their own end scene that allows us to see what happened to them after the foundation of a new state in place of the nation ruled by Coriolanus Snow until his assumed death in the final act. Which is ironic, given Coriolanus never really gets his own ending. All we know is that the spectators of his execution later rushed at him, but whatever end he was probably given in the source material isn’t shown. Instead, we just assume he was beaten to death by the crowd.

Katniss had executed the arranged Interim President Alma Coin, who were using both sides of the Second Rebellion against each other. Her plan was to organise something of a memorial games once inaugurated, and that was enough Katniss to realise that Coriolanus had become a pawn unto his own campaign. In that sense, both armies are the same, but being wiped-out by contradictory orders coming from the same source without anyone’s knowledge but the true perpetrator being until Katniss reveals it by shooting an arrow through Alma’s heart. This was the final statement of both The Hunger Games as a series, and Katniss as the face of the rebellion.

Katniss was the one chosen to execute Coriolanus when the time came, and the crowd’s assumption that Alma must have been the true enemy simply because of Katniss’ one, unexpected action also says something about Human nature, though I fear this one was unintentional. Mindlessly following one person without questioning them is what got them into this mess in the first place. But, at least Katniss wasn’t the one chosen to be Interim President, which seems illogical given her public following during the Second Rebellion. You know, I’m not going to pretend I understand the world of Panem completely.

I’ve had to consult its wiki just for the correct pronouns, but I understand the general story. Which isn’t to say I understand how the plot moves from one point to the next, just what those points are. It seems they missed a lot of important information to make the final push to the end really make sense, but The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 is still held together by its actors (who deserve at least Oscar consideration) and the film’s own ability to be genuinely scary in some places. There’s a stigma against jump scares in modern films, but the real problem should be with ineffective jump scares.

There are jump scares here, and they are obvious, but they’re still scary. The sewer sequence has to be one of the most horrifying scenes of the genre. The creatures they are find are like the love children of Tom Riddle after his rebirth, and the Pale Man. And it’s for these standout moments that The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 is worth watching, on the whole – just less so than would be desired.

Next review: something completely different.

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 [2015 (rerelease)]

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1
Written by Danny Strong and Peter Craig

The “finale” of the The Hunger Games trilogy-in-four-parts is coming-up soon, and my local cinema screened a marathon of them all. So I figured that as enough justification for reviewing them. The threequel/finale/penultimate instalment is The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, based on Mockingjay. The Mockingjay is a symbol in Panem for the rebellion, ever since Katniss was appointed as its face at the conclusion of the previous film.

Why a Mockingjay? It’s a long story, and the Mockingjay finale is divided into two, a popular trend among many film series as a way of announcing their conclusion. If a studio ever announces the next film in a series will be in two parts, it means they’ve decided in advance it’s the ending (as opposed to cancelling it after its been released). That’s all very well, but could Lionsgate at least have gone for more imaginative subtitles than Mockingjay – Part 1 and Mockingjay – Part 2?

A title is the most important element of marketing, and putting “Part 2” in a title is the best way for it to under-perform at its opening weekend. That said, there’s honestly not much I can say about The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 that can’t also be said for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, and it’s there that the majority of my review will be formed. Mainly because I don’t want to repeat myself unnecessarily. But what I will say is that the ending was at the wrong moment.

There was one scene too many. The final scene, which mirrors the ending of the previous film was poetic, but came after a teased ending when Peeta tries choking Katniss, followed by a cut to black before the actual final scene. Had the end credits started when they were teased to start, and not after a weirdly tacked-on “epilogue”, it would have been much more effective. Were Lionsgate scared of making the final shot too violent?

Did they not want the last moment we remember for a year to be the protagonist being choked? Ultimately, it was still the better moment to cut it off. A film should never peak until the end. Speaking of which…


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