At the Movies 2015: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

The Hunger Games Mockingjay 2The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
USA 2015
Written by Peter Craig & Danny Strong, based on the novel by Suzanne Collins
Directed by Francis Lawrence
Watched on 01.12.2015

After the first two movies, which I liked very much (even though – or maybe because – they were quite different), I was rather disappointed by “Mockingjay – Part 1”. And while I still maintain that “Mockingjay” was hurt considerably by the decision of the film studio to split it in half, just to make more dough, at least the second part was a return to form for the franchise, and a worthy conclusion to the series.

Nevertheless, it took a while to really get going. If they would have cut down the first hour to half an hour, getting us to the city a lot quicker, the movie would have been a lot more gripping, right from the start. Overall, I think that if they would have taken both movies, and cut them down to three hours, “Mockingjay” could have been one of the best movies of the decade, and an incredible intense finale for the series. As it stands, the second part is still a very good movie in itself, but it takes a while to really get going. Also, not having read the novels (yet), I couldn’t shake the feeling that they pretty much adapted it word for word, page for page. Maybe that’s a misconception, but I very much got the same vibe here that I also got from the three “The Hobbit”-movies, of dragging things out and possibly even adding stuff, instead of trimming down the source material. And finally, while it didn’t quite bug me as much as it did others, the final shot indeed was a little too saccharine, presented a conservative’s wet dream, and tonally didn’t fit the rest of the movie series at all. However, as an epilogue, and thanks to Katniss’ nice, sad monologue, the sweet lullaby, as well as the great score, I could only just accept it.

Which also brings us right to the things that I loved about the movie. James Newton Howard’s score for “Mockingjay – Part 2” isn’t simply the best one of the series, but in my very humble opinion actually the crown achievement of his entire career (so far). And with a filmography like his, that’s saying something. His score reminded me of Howard Shore’s music for “The Return of the King”: Epic, rousing, and highly emotional. Jennifer Lawrence is and remains the heart and soul of these movies, giving another great, highly emotive performance, which might very well be her best of the entire series. Also, after the leisurely paced beginning, things finally start to heat up once they reach the city, and after they got down into the sewers, “Mockingjay Part 2” was pretty much flawless (apart from its final two minutes, that is, of course), getting incredibly tense and gripping, and culminating in a highly dramatic showdown with a character’s death that at least I didn’t see coming. I also loved that here, Katniss finally takes her life – and her destiny – into her own hands, after only being used as a figurehead by one side or the other in the previous movies. Thus, even though I was pretty sure that I knew what was going to happen at a certain scene near the end, I still cheered when she finally did exactly what I hoped she’d do. There definitely is a lot of subtext and social as well as political commentary to be found here – definitely more than is usual for a blockbuster like this – and I for one really appreciated that.

Part of me still is quite disappointed – and a little angry – that we didn’t get an epic and highly dramatic 3-hour-version of “Mockingjay”, but after the disappointing first part, at least with “Mockingjay Part 2”, the “Hunger Games”-franchise goes out in class, style, and lots of emotions.


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