For one reason or another, I’ve only recently caught up with the extremely popular and much praised Hunger Games series. To my surprise and pleasure, I found the films to actually be worthy of their hype, and heads and shoulders above any of the other YA adaptations I’ve seen to date.
What I really like about the series is that it’s a lot darker and subversive than I had initially expected. What I thought would be nothing more than a watered down remake of Battle Royale, was actually a politically charged story, filled with big ideas about dictatorship, war, celebrity and propaganda.
Bringing the story to a close, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 brings the politics of the series to the forefront, as Katniss leads a team of rebels into the Capitol. Their mission: to assassinate President Snow and bring the war to an end. But, before they can get close to Snow, they have to make their way through the deadly booby traps laid throughout the city by the President’s Gamemakers.
Whilst Mockingjay Part 2 ties up everything nicely, it does, unfortunately, suffer in the same way its predecessor did. Renowned for being the least popular book out of the three, I think Mockingjay loses much of what makes the series so interesting, due to the absence of the titular games and everything leading up to them.
What I loved about the first two films was the notion of breaking the fourth wall; the idea of a film about a televised gladiatorial-type event that could openly admit to us, the audience, to toying with and manipulating our emotions.
The world which we are introduced to, with its rules and flamboyance, is utterly fascinating. However, all of this was noticeably absent in Mockingjay Part 1, and is even more so in Part 2, with the revolution and the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta and Gale taking centre stage.
I understand this is a necessary development and a natural progression of the narrative, but Mockingjay Part 2 feels so bogged down in its own politics, that it does miss those elements of camp fun and thrilling set pieces that made the first two films so entertaining.
I admire the fact that this final chapter isn’t afraid to focus primarily on the politics, and its themes of vengeance, war and government corruption seem more prevelant than ever. I like that it has the strength of its own convictions to push its audience to think, and I’m particularly pleased that the series has managed to be consistent in its portrayal of a strong female character, who is central and integral to the plot. Yet, I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t leave me feeling a little cold.
The fact that Mockingjay has been split into two parts, much like Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, doesn’t help matters either. Whereas The Deathly Hallows Part 1 justified its huge amount of exposition, with an action packed and fast paced Part 2, Mockingjay Part 2 feels like it’s dragging its heels a little. It’s slow in places and covers a lot of what we already know, which can be a little frustrating at times.
That said, when the drama really gets going, we’re given some of the best action pieces of the series; an underground sewer scene which sees Katniss and co. come under attack from the zombie-like creatures, Mutts, being one of the most tense and horrifying sequences out of all the movies – and, on a side note, a scene which should be considered by parents before taking their young children to see this.
There is certainly a lot to like about The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2. The performances are as exceptional as ever, with Jeniffer Lawrence and her co-stars proving to be one of the franchise’s greatest assets; some of the action is genuinely thrilling, and its ideas are both admirable and fascinating.
Good, but not great, this final chapter is slightly disappointing when compared to everything that has come before it.
Image credit to http://www.impawards.com