The student government at my school planned a massive trip to the movie theater to go see Mockingjay Part 2 last night – I say “massive” because we needed, like, ten or eleven school buses to get everyone there! The screening was free to everyone in the residence halls, so of course I went. OF COURSE.
AND IT WAS AWESOME. I ate a ton of popcorn, and I cried, and my friend who sat next to me didn’t judge me because she too ate a ton of popcorn and cried.
We got back to the dorms very late, so now that I’m finally awake and alert, I’m going to write a review before I forget all the little details I wanted to talk about! Also, I was looking at my reviews of the previous movies in this series and I am kind of amazed at how much my writing has changed. Comparing this review to my review of The Hunger Games from 2011 is an interesting study in how my review style has developed over time…
ANYWAY. TIME FOR MY REVIEW. This is a bit spoilery, but not overly so, and it’s not at all spoilery if you’ve read the books since you know what’s coming and mostly I’m just talking about acting and lighting and music and other directorial choices.
I know a lot of people didn’t like Mockingjay – the book – but I did. I LOVED IT. I thought it was a great examination of the psychological effects the Games have had on Katniss. She has PTSD and spends a lot of her time crying, avoiding people, and basically going through day after day in a kind of haze.
I thought Mockingjay Part 2 did an EXCELLENT job of portraying this. The book it is based off of is very different from the other two – less action, more introspection. This movie definitely feels different from the other three in this franchise, as it should.
I also thought the deaths translated particularly well from page to screen: They were sudden, and shocking, even to people like my friend and I, who’ve read all the books. UGH THE LIZARD MUTTS WERE SO SO GROSS AND CREEPY.
…speaking of that scene, I cried. OH HOW I CRIED. There are a handful of characters whose deaths I will never be over (REMUS! FREAKING! LUPIN!), and Finnick Odair is one of them. I’ve been imagining how that scene might play out since I read that book, like, four years ago, and I still wasn’t ready for it last night.
I CRIED WHEN PRIM DIED TOO. UGH.
I loved getting a glimpse of the Capitol and its citizens. OH MY GOD, TIGRIS. She was perfect and just as she was described in the book.
Also, I loved Cressida. I mean… of course I do, she’s played by
my one true love Natalie Dormer who is gorgeous, but I also thought she really brought a lot to a minor role. Cressida doesn’t do a lot in the book, so I liked seeing her guide Katniss through the propos as she did in Mockingjay Part 2. Also, watching her shoot lizard mutts in the face with a machine gun was pretty awesome.
AHHHH GWENDOLINE CHRISTIE WAS ONLY IN THIS MOVIE FOR A TINY AMOUNT OF TIME AS COMMANDER LYME, but I thought she was perfect for the role. Also, between her and Dormer it was like a mini Game of Thrones cast reunion, which is awesome.
I was initially both nervous and skeptical about the epilogue scene. I mean, look at Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2! Those actors didn’t look older at all – they looked exactly like twenty-somethings pretending to be forty-somethings – and besides, the ending was incredibly cheesy. I DIDN’T LIKE IT.
But this movie? This movie is where it’s at. THIS IS HOW YOU DO A PROPER EPILOGUE. I wasn’t even particularly enthralled by the book’s ending, but the film’s ending really made everything come alive.
Much of the dialogue from that scene was taken directly from the book, and it made me cry – everything from ” You love me. Real or not real?” “Real.” to “But there are much worse games to play.” I thought having Peeta read the letter from Annie was a particularly good way of letting the audience know what had happened to the rest of the characters since President Snow was overthrown, too.
And Katniss and Peeta actually looked like they could be parents! I mean, I’m pretty sure that in the book’s epilogue, they’re supposed to be middle-aged? In the film, they look to be about twenty or so, with a toddler and a baby, BUT THAT WORKS TOO. I would rather have the filmmakers make that adjustment than have the make-up people try their hardest and still fail to make Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson look middle-aged, because I think it’s really hard to pull off that look.
I loved the film score, as usual – I think this franchise’s music really stands out, especially in comparison to that of many other YA sci fi adaptations. I love that the same composer, James Newton Howard, has worked on all four movies so that there is a lot of continuity in terms of musical themes and motifs and whatnot.
I won’t bore you with specific titles of the pieces I loved, but suffice it to say that I was sooooo happy to hear Rue’s theme, as well as a love theme for Katniss and Peeta that was first introduced during the cave scene in The Hunger Games. I also heard a LOT of variations on a theme for Katniss that was introduced in Catching Fire. To top it all off, there were several instrumental renditions of James Newton Howard’s beautifully orchestrated version of “The Hanging Tree” from Mockingjay Part 1.
And the credits song? WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW. The credits songs for the previous three films were released several weeks before each film, but this one wasn’t – it was a complete surprise. AND IT WAS BEAUTIFUL. Taylor Swift, Coldplay, and Lorde have provided music for the credits of the previous films, but Mockingjay Part 2 didn’t end with a pop song at all: It ended with Jennifer Lawrence singing “Deep in the Meadow” from The Hunger Games, and then Rue’s theme played again.
OF COURSE. Of course. That was such a beautiful way to end this series, and it tied this film to the beginning of Katniss’s story. Also, it was mentioned in the book’s epilogue! How could they have ended it any other way?
I’ve saved the best for last, though – my favorite part of this movie was the lighting. I’m not normally the sort of person who pays a lot of attention to that, but it was so so good! Mockingjay Part 2 is VERY dark, far darker than any of the other movies. It actually strained my eyes at times, but I still think it was the right choice on behalf of the filmmakers.
The vast majority of the movie is made up of scenes in shades of black, gray, brown, dark blue, and dark green, which makes the brilliantly, blindingly white scenes after the overthrow of the Capitol that much more striking. The epilogue, meanwhile, is a very soft yellow. It was perfect.
Honestly, I have only one problem with this film… but it’s kind of a big one, so it really affected my final rating of Mockingjay Part 2: Johanna is barely in this movie! I was sooo excited to see more of her, because A) I love her so much and B) I ship her with Katniss (JONISS 5EVAH), but she ended up playing an extremely minor part in this story, which was disappointing.
Whether or not you ship her with Katniss, you can’t deny that their friendship is important. In fact, I think that each book in the series centers on Katniss’s relationship with another. In The Hunger Games, it’s Rue; in Catching Fire, it’s Peeta; and in Mockingjay, it’s Johanna.
And in general, this series is about the relationships Katniss has with other women: Prim, her mother, Rue, Madge Undersee, Effie, Johanna, Coin, et cetera. This series is very female-centric – Katniss is motivated to volunteer for the Games because of Prim, for example, and becomes the Mockingjay because of Rue and Madge. And so on and so forth.
I felt that this was missing from the film. So much of Mockingjay – the book – is about Katniss and Johanna realizing how messed up their minds and bodies are after surviving multiple Hunger Games. It’s about how they train together with the goal of fighting in the Capitol together, and how that doesn’t end up coming to fruition because Johanna fails the final test, so Katniss has to go without her. It’s about how they slowly go from distrusting each other to knowing that they have each other’s backs in a fight. It’s about Katniss realizing that Johanna doesn’t have any family left, and when she then loses her best friend – Finnick – too, Katniss understands that she has to be there for her.
On one hand, I understand why the filmmakers decided to leave out those scenes: Those training scenes take up a lot of time, and this movie was already quite long. (Two hours and seventeen minutes!) Including the training scenes would’ve either made the movie realllly long or made every other scene feel rushed. Or both.
On the other hand, I think that the filmmakers sort of missed the point of the book by removing almost all of Johanna’s scenes. Like I said, their friendship in the final book is a huge part of that whole female-centric thing. Johanna is a fascinating character study in what Katniss could have become instead of the Mockingjay, and vice versa – what if Johanna were the Mockingjay, and the revolution had begun several years earlier?
SO YEAH. Johanna is at the heart of the third book in this series, and I was pretty disappointed when I realized that she would play such a tiny role in the last installment of the film franchise. I WAS SO PSYCHED TO SEE A BUNCH OF JONISS SCENES.
Also, she looked SUPER FREAKING CUTE with her short hair and her sass and her badassery at the end of the movie. I NEED MORE SCENES WITH JOHANNA BECAUSE I AM SUPER GAY.
So there you have it – Mockingjay Part 2 was a pretty awesome film, although it was not without flaws. I can’t believe this franchise is over! I’ve always thought that it was a cut above most of YA book-to-movie adaptations, especially within the science fiction genre, and this final installment did not disappoint.
I’m gonna take points off for the whole Johanna thing, but otherwise? I LOVED THIS MOVIE. And I’m confident in my rating for this film, too – the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. It fits with how I’ve rated the other films, you know?
I gave The Hunger Games five out of five stars – I know I’m in the minority there, though, since a lot of people did not like it – and I gave Catching Fire three stars (which basically means “good” in my book) and I gave Mockingjay Part 1 four stars. Mockingjay Part 2 was a lovely conclusion to this series, and I’m now a bit sad that it’s all over. Perhaps I’ll have to reread the books… and I do own the first movie on DVD, so I may have to indulge in some fangirling once I’m home for Thanksgiving break. (Which starts in about… oh, a few hours. YAY!)