Is The Hunger Games really based on a young adult (YA) novel? Ever since the first movie in 2012, the series has always felt like the most grown-up amongst its YA-adaptation peers. War, terrorism, politics, post-traumatic stress … these are subjects more suited for a Steven Spielberg war drama than a movie based on a bestselling YA novel.
To her credit, Suzanne Collins did not shy away from these heavy subjects in her books, and the movies, including this one, have remained mostly faithful to the novels by not sugarcoating these issues to cater for the Twilight generation.
It says a lot about Mockingjay, Part 1 that you would struggle to remember anything from it beyond Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) almost killing Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) at the end.
Just like the first of the two-part-finales of the Harry Potter and Twilight series, Part 1’s telling of Katniss’ journey to becoming the symbol of the rebellion was like an extended prologue to the real meat of the finale – the final war against the Capitol. Thankfully, Part 2 wastes no time in getting into that.
The Rebels of District 13 are planning their final assault on the Capital, and Katniss, naturally, wants to be at the frontline of the attack, so she can be the one to kill President Snow (Donald Suther-land).
However, District 13’s leader, President Coin (Julianne Moore), has other plans for her.
Reluctant to risk the star of her propaganda videos and face of the rebellion, Coin at first prevents Katniss from joining the battle, and when that fails, she assigns her to a “Star Squad” to tag along behind the heat of the battle and, of course, shoot more propaganda videos.
If you missed the suspense and danger of the actual Hunger Games from the first two movies in Part 1, well, that part of the franchise makes its way back here with a vengeance.
Snow has ordered his Gamemasters to litter the streets with deadly “pods”. From giant flamethrowers to a massive tar flood, these pods essentially turn the city into one giant Hunger Games arena, and watching Katniss’ squad try to manoeuvre around these dangers is one of the movie’s highlights.
One particularly tense sequence has the Star Squad heading underground and getting themselves into a situation that reminded me of the suspenseful yet terrifying corridor scenes in James Camerons’ Aliens.
Speaking of Aliens, not since Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley has there been a female lead heroine as powerful and as compelling as Katniss. Lawrence has owned the character from the very beginning of the franchise, but she saved the best performance for last.
The usual steely determination she has displayed in the past three movies is still there, but every time the camera pans close to her face, you see the emotional vulnerability of a reluctant, battle-weary warrior who has been through endless psychological trauma.
There is also a simmering rage behind those eyes, as all the physical, psychological and political trauma she has been through in the first three movies reaches boiling point here, and you keep wondering when the Girl On Fire is going to explode.
Unlike Ripley, however, Katniss’ story is bogged down by the central love triangle between her, the equally-damaged Peeta and the frankly boring Gale (Liam Hemsworth), which just seems to jar with the movie’s more urgent and tragic bigger picture. It is a problem the franchise has struggled with since the first movie – the “who will she choose” conundrum is perhaps the only part of the character that resembles a deliberate play for the Twilight-loving crowd.
For the most part, however, this is a satisfying conclusion to the franchise. Remaining faithful to its source material while delivering compelling films, the entire film series has set the benchmark for a faithful book-to-film adaptation. It’s just a shame that it had to end.
Goodbye, Girl On Fire, and may the odds be ever in your favour.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2
Director: Francis Lawrence
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Natalie Dormer, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Donald Sutherland