The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015)
Dir: Francis Lawrence
Ending a series is never easy, and with the huge success ‘The Hunger Games’ franchise has had, the odds were never in their favour. With my expectations being eroded by many of the reviews I heard, I came out the cinema relieved as I seem to be in the minority that thinks this actually ended things well.
Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) helps to unify the districts of Panem so that they can take on the Capitol and try to bring down President Snow, putting herself and the ones she loves in more danger than ever before.
‘Mockingjay – Part 1‘ was distinctly different from the previous films (and books) in that it didn’t feature a ‘Hunger Games’, focusing more on the political underpinnings of Panem and the dictatorship that brought the games into existence, as well as highlighting many themes of war that were the inspiration for Collins’ writing the series in the first place. It’s not much of a spoiler to say that the film follows the book quite closely with only minor changes. Where the films have all differed from the books is that they don’t have the same way of conveying Katniss’ thoughts, so we aren’t as clear on all her reasoning and concerns, these points must be made in other ways through more deliberate actions and conversations with other characters.
This film felt like it brought some of the other characters to the fore even more than before, giving them all at least some chance to shine, not all rousing speeches and heroic acts are led by Katniss. It’s nice to see some of the characters step forward and show their strengths, especially as the casting has been so excellent, so actors such as Liam Hemsworth and Jena Malone (whose share in this film is very small) influence Katniss’ later decisions with a showcase of the fully-formed characters they have worked hard to develop from the source material.
After the sad death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman it was clear that certain scenes would have to be adjusted to make up for the fact that he hadn’t quite finished filming his parts, but I thought they did a very good job of handling that with minimal changes. My friend hadn’t realised he had died, and didn’t notice the ways in which the film had been edited and slightly re-written to compensate.
There’s talk of prequels at the moment with Lionsgate determined to get as much as they can from the franchise. I immediately see problems but also a few interesting opportunities with that idea. They would lack the cast that have worked so well, but I can see how they could bring back the actual ‘Hunger Games’ aspect as there were 73 of them before Katniss’ first time. Also I must admit it would be interesting to see the origins of Panem as a nation, and possibly Snow’s rise to power, especially if Suzanne Collins is involved in the production so it’s accurate to how she imagined it. Still, I wonder if it might be time to rest the franchise, Jennifer Lawrence herself has also said it’s “too soon” for prequels and I have to agree.
Essentially I was happy with this as a conclusion to the series. The very end that felt so disjointed in the novel was the part that had me most concerned, however it was nicely eased into in the film which helped it to feel far more fitting and satisfactory as an ending to everything, in my mind even improving on the book. Through the four films there’s been a clear development in Katniss and the situation around her which ends up fully resolved by the end of the film, leaving her in a situation that is sufficiently explained to provide closure. If you feel like more needed to be explained, the books really would add the needed thought-processes that Katniss has struggled with through the whole saga.
I’m sad to see this franchise end, not just because I like Jennifer Lawrence and think she’s fantastic in the role but also because it has never disappointed me. Each instalment has both entertained and effectively conveyed the themes of the excellent novels, feats many adaptations fall short on. If there are more Panem-set films to come in the future I hope that they don’t spoil what these films have worked hard to achieve, however I fear that without decent source material and a strong cast it could be a step too far.