The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 2

Distributed by Lionsgate

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                This is it, the final chapter in The Hunger Games movie series based on the novels by Suzanne Collins.  I couldn't wait to see it.  Of course, it was sold out in when I tried the first time...then I was sicker than a dog and couldn't even get to the theaters to see it.  By the third week in theaters, I was wondering if I would ever get to check the movie out on the big screen, but, as luck would have it, I was feeling better and able to get tickets.  But would this last film in the series be worth the crazy money I dropped on tickets and food?

                The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 2 takes place a short time after Part 1 Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is recovering from an attack by the brainwashed and recently rescued Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson).  President Coin (Julianne Moore) wants Katniss on the sidelines as the rebels attack the Capitol, but Katniss has other plans, smuggling herself in a medical supplies ship.  Her own mission: to kill President Snow (Donald Sutherland) herself, exacting revenge for all of the pain and suffering her loved ones have had to endure under his rule.

                Once Coin learns Katniss is in the Capitol, she decides to use her arrival as a publicity event, assigning her to Star Squad along with Finnick (Sam Claflin), Boggs (Mahershala Ali), Cressida (Natalie Dormer) and her film crew consisting of Castor (Wes Chatham) and Pollux (Elden Henson), Gale (Liam Hemsworth), Jackson (Michele Forbes), Homes (Omid Abtahi), Messalla (Evan Ross), Mitchell (Joe Chrest) and the Leeg sisters (Misty and Kim Ormiston).  Only Gale knows Katniss' true mission, but the others have suspicions.  They are eventually joined by Peeta, a ploy by Coin in an effort to let Snow know his brainwashing didn't work.  Unforutnately, Peeta is not quite healed and must still be kept under guard.

                Boggs has issues with Peeta joining the team and confides in Katniss that Coin is not exactly her ally.  When he is mortally wounded, he gives Katniss a holographic computer that will allow her team to evade many of the booby traps laid in the Capitol to stop the rebels.  As the team comes closer to their goal, the going becomes more treacherous.  Peeta is still trying to come to grips with what is real and what is part of the brainwashing and Katniss' team is dwindling down as they become victims to Snow's traps. 

                Can Katniss reach the Capitol and put an end to Snow's reign of terror?  And if she does, will it only bring a new and more dangerous threat to the forefront?

                When I headed to the theater to see Mockingjay: Part 2, I was worried.  I understand the marketing ploy that cut the last book in The Hunger Games Trilogy in two, but would that move prove fatal to the storyline?  I needn't have worried.  If anything, I found this second part of the book to be better than the first.  I still think the two could have been combined, but that doesn't mean I didn't thoroughly enjoy myself watching them separately.

                Jennifer Lawrence is an excellent actress and, though I have yet to read the books, I have no doubt that she pulls off the role of Katniss perfectly.  The emotion and angst read on her face and in her body movements throughout this last film in which she struggles over choosing between the two men she loves, her guilt over the deaths of her loved ones as she comes closer to her ultimate goal and her final struggle in which she must decide the fate of Panem are spot on.  It is as if Lawrence is actually living the struggles of her character rather than portraying a role in a film. 

                Donald Sutherland is perfectly dastardly in this role as Snow, but Julianne Moore is just as despicable as Coin.  As the movie progresses, you start to see - to use a pun to its fullest - the other side of the Coin.  Moore puts on a performance that is both heroic and conniving, casting doubt on the character's intentions while still presenting her as a possible savior for the downtrodden.  Josh Hutcherson's character's struggles with reality and his love/hate relationship with Katniss are etched on his features through every scene.  You don't need to hear him speak of them or witness them in his actions while with the group - you have only to look at his face to understand the anguish he is going through.

                Kudos to Natalie Dormer, Wes Chatham and the ever under-rated Elden Henson for their performances in this film, giving us further insight into their characters and letting us know that this is not your ordinary film crew, but a team worthy of fighting to the death for each other and their common cause.  The fact that Henson's character can't speak, yet let's us know his terror, anguish and feelings of loss without ever saying a word is testimony to his acting abilities.

                The finale of The Hunger Games could have been disappointing.  It could have ended with either the rebels losing or winning.  It could have ended with the war being over and that's the end of that.  But the final chapter of this story ends on a twist and, having never read the books, I put it together in those final moments with glee.  This was an awesome and realistic way to end the battle of the Districts vs. the Capitol.  Many rebellions in history have ended in this way, with the rebels realizing that, for all their good intentions, their victory may not have brought about the results they had originally hoped for.  I loved this film's ending and am told that follows the book well.

                And, for those of you looking for action, believe me, you will get it.  There are gun battles, explosions, fire, monsters, those crafty and imaginative booby traps that we have all marveled over throughout the Hunger Games movies and more.  And the action starts right away once the team makes it into the Capitol.  There's little rest between the action scenes and, even in those quieter moments you are on the edge of your seat wondering what horrors are awaiting our heroes next.

                I loved the use of colors in this film - the black suits of Katniss which usually would be used for the villain and the white of Snow's roses as well as the white symbolized by his own name.  White is for the good guys, right?  Not so much here, though the white does eventually represent the clean slate hoped for by the rebels.  Even the names Coin and Katniss are representative of their characters and their abilities/intent.  I always enjoy when the powers that be use symbolism in films and novels - things the readers/viewers can figure out throughout the experience or even afterward and discuss with others.  Novels and movies that bring about intelligent discussion are always my favorites and The Hunger Games series definitely achieves this goal.

                And so, I have decided that I had better read those books.  The movie experience was so amazing that I have no doubt I will enjoy The Hunger Games Trilogy in its original form.  For those on the fence about having to spend hard earned cash to see The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 2 on the big screen, I say this: spend away!  You don't want to miss seeing this in its intended format - large and awe-inspiring!

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