We bade Harry Potter a tearful goodbye in 2011, said ‘good riddance’ to Edward and Bella in 2012 and now in 2015, it’s time to bid Katniss Everdeen, the Girl on Fire, a fond farewell. Following the recent formula of splitting the last book of a series into two movies, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 2 is the final, and perhaps the best, installment in the Hunger Games saga. The march on the Capitol continues as all twelve districts of Panem unite to take down the diabolical President Snow. Katniss has become the Mockingjay, the face of the rebellion, and she, her childhood friend/love interest Gale Hawthorne, and the surviving victors from previous Games must battle their way through deadly traps set throughout the city by Snow. And with Peeta unable to fully shake the effects of the Capitol’s psychological torture from the last film, Katniss must face the realization that there are threats on both sides of their rebellion.
Although the films clearly began as a way for Hollywood to cash in on the popular book series, the Hunger Games saga ended by highlighting the most poignant aspect of the story; exploring the effect the media has on our society and its power to create the narrative of history. The film focuses heavily on Katniss’s role as the Mockingjay and how she is expected to be used to shoot propaganda spots and recite impassioned speeches rather than actually fighting the war. Jennifer Lawrence, as always, brilliantly portrays the stubborn, impatient Katniss we all know, as well as giving the character a certain haunted depth as the rebel’s death toll rises. Costars Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth both provide adequate fuel for the mandatory teen love triangle, but it’s the veterans of the cast that give real weight to Mockingjay. Donald Sutherland, who plays the film’s villain, President Snow, is finally able to add some humanity as his character is ultimately brought low.
The late Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s clever subtlety as the former game maker, Plutarch Heavensbee and Julianne Moore’s chilling portrayal of the ambitious Alma Coin, help keep the film balanced between the gritty realism of the war and the grand spectacle we’ve come to expect from the Hunger Games. Oddly enough, the chief problems with the movie lie in its source material, the original books by Suzanne Collins. Her characters are compelling; however, the world they inhabit never feels quite believable, in both the books and the films. The uninspired names of the Capitol’s weapons (mutts, pods, and whatever other single syllable word straight from Collins’ limited imagination) and the lack of any sense of setting never allows Panem to feel real and takes away the gravity that should come at the end of such a prominent saga.
And in that lies the most glaring problem with Mockinjay and the Hunger Games series in general; it doesn’t have an emotion impact because neither the setting or characters ever feel like they could be real. But at its strongest, the Hunger Games series reflects on media saturation in the modern world and its ability to craft to its own version of the truth. Mockingjay Part 2 was unafraid to bring that aspect to forefront and thus resulted in an exciting, engaging film and a fantastic end to the Hunger Games. The very best of the series in the overall best film of the saga.