Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (2015)

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 hews closely to its source material -- it grimly depicts the hidden costs of war, through the horrified eyes of the rebellion's poster child, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), aka the Mockingjay. After unbearable losses and sacrifices, the series ends as it began: with Katniss out in the wild, away from the path society set for her. But this time, she's not alone.

The film has no shortage of good actors. As always, JLaw offers a compelling performance as Katniss, and this time Josh Hutchinson steps us as the unstable Peeta, newly rescued and still suffering from the effects of torture. Donald Sutherland is as delightful as ever as the President Snow, a villain whose perception and self-awareness make him a worthy and wily foe. Jena Malone nails it again as the perpetually angry past Victor Joanna, and Julianne Moore, it need not be said, acts the crap out of the role of the near-emotionless, calculating President Alma Coin.

The movie opens with Katniss recovering from Peeta's attack. Her erstwhile co-Victor in the Hunger Games has been brainwashed against Katniss, making her more determined to personally bring down Snow. Using her charming personality (/sarcasm), she helps to rally the last holdouts so that all the Districts are now against the Capitol, poised to topple Snow -- but he's not going to give up power easily. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the rebellion's President Coin is plotting her own rise as the new leader of a free Panem, as a wary Plutarch Heavensbee (RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman) looks on.

One of the main themes of the movie, propaganda versus the reality of war, is showcased several times to underline the utter falsehoods broadcasted by either side to gain tactical advantage. Katniss' near-mythical status among the rebels is a direct result of such propaganda, although she's only invested in her image inasmuch as it helps her get closer to her goal of killing Snow. I may be reading too much into this, but Mockingjay Part 2 suggests that propaganda is already deeply embedded into our daily lives, that we are active participants in it: by showing the world only images that present us in the way we want to be perceived, we mislead others (and maybe ourselves!).

...Like I said, I may be reading too much into it.

The imperfect hero theme is also on display here. Movie-Katniss, like Book-Katniss, is deeply flawed -- she's selfish and often short-sighted -- but she is extremely determined, and frequently lucky. There are predictable contrivances, such as a rebel attack coming in the nick of time, which goes to show that Katniss is often propelled forward by events outside her own control. What makes her the hero is her consistent willingness to sacrifice herself to do what she thinks is right. It's diametrically opposed to her modus operandi in the first Hunger Games, when she was all about being the last to survive so she can keep her promise to her little sister, Prim. 

Speaking of, I sure am glad that scene played out the way it did, because I was steeling myself for buckets o' tears a la Rue. This way was more numbing and brutal, and perfectly sets up Katniss' postwar conversation with her nemesis Snow. 


Final notes: soundtrack, cinematography, costumes = excellent. Love triangle side plot = meh. 

TL;DR: A faithful adaptation and fitting conclusion to the Hunger Games series. 

This post brought to you by Wachusett Green Monsta IPA! Go Pats!

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