By Jodi Bogert
“Mockingjay—Part 2” is an amazing send-off to “The Hunger Games” film series. Set in the destitute country of Panem, Katniss Everdeen must rally the 13 Districts of Panem to destroy the Capitol’s terroristic control. The Hunger Games and President Snow’s reign that killed millions for years must end. The Mockingjay will fly.
Compared to Part 1, most of which was set underground in the very dull atmosphere of District 13, “Mockingjay—Part 2’s” scenery is superior. Compared to the first and second film, Catching Fire, there are no bright colors or flashy sequences. However, this doesn’t mean that Part 2 is underwhelming. There is minimal lighting, there are cramped spaces and the suspense is high. Horrible attacks jump out, and the movie is like a warzone. What makes this film’s visual techniques special is that it feels like it is real and the audience is along for the ride.
Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), the one-time Girl on Fire, is now the Mockingjay, the leading role in the revolution against the Capitol’s evil dictator, President Snow (Donald Sutherland). The plan for Katniss is to break into the Capitol with her team of rebels and assassinate President Snow. What awaits are numerous traps and endless trauma, making the mission a game of survival. Meanwhile, Katniss’ half-companion and lover, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), has lost his mind after being held hostage by the Capitol. In the previous film, he was saved and transported back to District 13, but is brainwashed to the point of not knowing what is real. Katniss’ childhood friend and fellow rebel, Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), slowly realizes that he and Katniss are drifting apart, and their personalities are not the best turnout.
What varies between reviewing a series versus a single film is the question of how the characters have evolved since the first film. Katniss is the young breadwinner in her family. She has never lived for herself. Critics hail Katniss as a truly independent female character, but that persona isn’t all true. It is spot-on to say that Katniss isn’t a damsel, but she has others depending on her. Also, she is vulnerable without being weak; she is only human. As she becomes the Mockingjay, she realizes that she doesn’t want to be angry anymore. She learns that fighting fire with fire makes the misery grow, and she descends the heroic pedestal to assert, “I’m done being a piece in the game.”
What some people don’t appreciate about “The Hunger Games” is the love triangle between Katniss, Gale and Peeta. The two leading males offer a lot to their characters and aren’t like other males combating for the female. They both know Katniss very well and have seen her at her best—and worst. Peeta is the butt of fandom jokes because he’s the “weakling lover boy.” In “Mockingjay” (Parts 1 and 2), he loses every sense of individuality, but eventually realizes the compassionate soul he possesses is a gift—and is what Katniss learns to love. Gale has always loved Katniss. He has survived hardship, provided for his family and is a warrior like her. Unfortunately, his brute strength fails to fulfill or complement Katniss’s potential.
Reflecting on what made “The Hunger Games” stand out is that the events are happening everyday in the real world. The recent Paris bombings and other third-world countries experience this as their reality. For
the movie’s audience, they learn what it means to be brave. The message of this last film, “Mockingjay—Part 2” is that hate and isolation do nothing for the world; only standing together can break down its walls.