Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 | Directed by Francis Lawrence | Screenplay by Danny Strong and Peter Craig

This review will contain spoilers for those who have not seen the previous movies/read the books.

Mockingjay Part 2 set the box office on fire this past weekend. Fans who read Suzanne Collins' books knew exactly how depressing this film could be... Personally, I dreaded watching it because of how the book impacted me: I cried so hard I vomited. Yes, vomited. I just wasn't prepared for all the sadness, and I brought a whole box of tissues to the theater just in case.

Even the overall premise kind of hints that this movie isn't going to be the happiest. Katniss Everdeen has been through hell in back a number of times, all because of President Snow's violent leadership. As the rebel forces gain strength, Katniss knows that the war will not end until Snow is dead. Peeta struggles to recover from his capture as he and the rest of Katniss' squad tries to make it through the Capitol (which has been filled with deadly traps) to reach Snow. All the while, they realize the true costs of war - not just for themselves and the rebels, but for the Capitol as well. Will all the pain and suffering of Panem lead to an era of peace, or will it all be for nothing?

Despite the bleak premise and the gut-wrenching events that occur... I only used one tissue during this film. Some of the heartbreaking things that happen (particularly THE event - those who have read the book know what I'm talking about) were really underplayed. Not on the actors' parts - the screenplay itself doesn't give some moments the right amount of face time to truly impact audiences in an extreme way. Part of me is disappointed that this happened, another part understands in the context of what the film was trying to achieve, and another part is just flat out relieved that I didn't have to go through the whole emotional turmoil that I endured when reading the book again. But that moment when Jennifer Lawrence is screaming at Prim's cat... Oh my God, she did it perfectly. Out of all the film's events, that one struck me the hardest. She's such a great actress.

Mockingjay definitely sends some strong anti-war messages, and I think that's what will resonate with people the most. When it comes to wars and worldly conflict it often seems society picks and chooses who to care about and struggles to sympathize at times. Mockingjay sympathizes with everyone harmed in conflict - rebels, civilians of the Capitol, and those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (Katniss, Peeta, Annie... well, most of the characters, to be frank). This story resonates with people because it isn't afraid of showing how broken we can be and because it's relevant in some ways. The again, that goes for all the installments, not just this one, but the conclusion is where the bigger picture is considered the most.

Even though I have mixed feelings about how some events were presented, Mockingjay Part 2 was one hell of a movie regardless. There's a ton of action, a heavy dose of ethics, and feels - all amid a great score by James Newton  Howard and some on-point portrayals. It seems like a lot of people like to hate on Josh Hutcherson's acting, but I honestly enjoyed his portrayal of Peeta. People also seem to dislike Liam Hemsworth's portrayal of Gale, but I think a lot of the issues connecting with Gale in the films comes from a lack of face time. As a fan of Suzanne Collins' books since 2010 I must say I'm happy with how the films turned out overall.

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