The fantasy book-turned-movie series that launched dozens of copycats and Jennifer Lawrence’s career has finally come to an end. The name Katniss Everdeen has become cemented as one of pop culture’s strongest female characters; inspiring kids and hooking adults and teens with its gritty, dystopian future about children being force to kill each other in arenas for the perverse amusement of an oppressive regime. “The Hunger Games” books as well as the films never came close to reaching the staggering numbers set by Harry Potter, but none the less, “Mockingjay part 2” has been called one of the most highly anticipated films of this year. Did it live up to its hype? Has the series been given a proper send off with this 4th and final film? Let’s find out.
As President Snow (Donald Sutherland) continues to wage war with the districts, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) struggles to lead a rebellion against the Capitol, while still trying to deal with Peeta Mallark’s (Josh Hutcherson) brainwashing from Snow. Everything Katniss holds dear is threatened with annihilation, and she must rally together all of her forces to invade the Capitol and end Snow’s life before everything and everyone she knows becomes lost in the blood and bullets of war. Any good finale to a story must culminate everything that has been established prior and tie up all remaining loose ends so that once the final credits roll; you feel that everything you witnessed was worth waiting for, and in that regard, “Mockingjay part 2” definitely succeeds. The escalation to war, the losses, the struggle to survive, the price of victory; Katniss goes through it all and we experience the raw emotion and pain just as intensely as she.
“Mockingjay part 1” was mostly a buildup, a cinematic foundation of what was to come in its missing half; a fact strongly evidenced by the focus of making propaganda films for the rebellion rather than battling it out in a futuristic free-for-all, like we got here. On some levels things didn’t seem quite as grand scale as I thought it’d be, Katniss and her team go through a great deal and they’re not even on the front lines. This gives us a powerful sense of what kind of Hell awaits even the most reluctant and distant soldier, but it also keeps the brunt of the battle off screen and makes their progress seem ambiguous at best. This is represented perfectly when the battle finally does end, and the viewer is initially left wondering who actually won. However, this movie was crystal clear in its depiction of war and just how ruthless and savage it can make its combatants.
Beloved characters die right before your eyes; other characters you expect to die meet their end in shocking fashions; all promoting a strong sense of frantic panic and a lack of control, which is exactly what being in a war feels like. There was actually a moment in the film where something horrible happens involving a scene at the Capitol gates, it brought me to tears; something that very few movies have accomplished. The cast delivers a marvelous barrage of performances all around; especially Sutherland, Hutcherson, Sam Clafin and Julianne Moore. I mention the copycats (Divergent, Maze Runner, The Host) because they all seem to be breathing heavily over “Hunger Games” neck; wanting the same rampant success about reluctant female leads in dystopian worlds featuring massive oppressive governments. None of them however have captured the drama, the darkness and the raw intensity of these characters struggles like “Hunger Games” have.
Maybe it’s because of Suzanne Collin’s excellent characters or writing, or maybe its director Francis Lawrence’s incredible ability to adapt these books beautifully for the big screen. Whatever it is that works, it’s worked amazingly well and this was a powerful story that ends on a note just as strong and fierce as its female lead. “Mockingjay Part 2” properly brings this epic story to a close and it did it with enough style and supremacy that even the most stubborn of purist fans will be satisfied.