THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 2 – Review by Jessica Tomberlin

Mockingjay – Part 2, the final film in The Hunger Games series opens this weekend, bringing the dystopian saga to a close. For avid fans of the series, it feels like the end of an era, as Jennifer Lawrence portrays Katniss Everdeen for the last time.

Click through for the full review of the film by Jessica Tomberlin.

Before it closes the book on Katniss, the film opens with a close-up. In “Part 2’s” opening scene we discover Katniss is still in recovery after being attacked by the brainwashed Peeta (John Hutcherson). Along with some pretty nasty bruising on her neck, Katniss also appears to have temporary lost her voice, literally speaking. This is no accident, of course. Her physical struggle to get the words out parallels with the internal struggle the heroine seeks to overcome as the finale plays out.

From here, Part 2 continues to pick up where Mockingjay – Part 1 left off, and there’s no time wasted on catching anyone up or jogging the audience’s memory, so even those who’ve seen it before may consider watching Part 1 again in order to jump right back into the story.

At this point Katniss has undeniably become the symbol of the revolution, a role that’s allowed her to give a voice to the people, but at what cost?  As our own history can attest, even the most peaceful, well-intended coup usually results in a period of chaos, and often unintentionally perpetuates the violence it was attempting to overthrow in the first place.

She may be the face of the revolution, but Rebel Alliance President, Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) and Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) are clearly the ones pulling the strings. The two have managed to create a false, warrior-like public persona of Katniss that has been perpetuated by the media in the same way that our own celebrity obsessed society attempts to attach persona’s on actresses like Jennifer Lawrence herself. Perhaps this is part of what makes Lawrence’s performance so raw, at times almost as if we are watching her in real life.

In an effort to take matters into her own hands, Katniss joins the rebels on the frontline in hopes of making her way to the Panem Capital where she can finally face off with President Snow. Instead she’s placed into a group whose battles are to be staged and televised as propaganda.

Her plan is further thwarted when the Capital treats the group of rebels to mobs of mummy-like zombies with razor sharp teeth and a black hot lava liquid that consumes everything in its path. The battles are no longer staged, but the show must go on – and so the world watches as Katniss and the other rebels fight for their lives.

Not surprisingly, Lawrence steals the show throughout, along with a few of her female co-stars like Julianne Moore as the power hungry, skunk-haired President Coin, and Jena Malone who – despite (disappointingly) having little screen time – gives one of the more memorable performances in her continued portrayal of the wonderfully sardonic Johanna, the victor from District 7. 

Meanwhile, John Hutcherson does a noteworthy job depicting a Peeta suffering from PTSD. While often outshined by Lawrence, Hutcherson’s performance in Part 2 shows how he’s improved as an actor since the beginning of the series. Peeta and Katniss work together to free him from the lies psychologically instilled in him by President Snow, namely the one that cause Peeta to want to kill Katniss.

Of course Gale (Liam Hemsworth) is there to back Katniss up against Peeta’s initial violent advance, and the series finale does seem determined to play out their love triangle plot till the bitter end. Mockingjay – Part 2 isn’t really a story about which prince Katniss chooses to live happily ever with though, despite what the film’s final scene might tempt us to believe.

The Hunger Games film series culminates in Part 2 as one woman’s journey – a journey of love, sacrifice, adversity, perseverance, and hope – toward finding her voice and becoming her best possible self. Something she’s only able to accomplish through true authenticity and selflessness.

Ultimately, Mockingjay – Part 2 is, quite simply, a human story. A story with characters whose struggles, both internal and external, closely mirror our own. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to watch the film without reflecting on the current real-life conflicts happening all around us today in the stories that flood our endless newsfeeds and project upon our screens.

For more information on The Hunger Games: MockingJay – Part 2 please go, here.

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