Tuesday, January 5, 2016

But There Are Much Worse Games to Play: Our Reaction to Mockingjay Part 2

"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 76th Hunger Games."

Last November saw the end to The Hunger Games movie series with the final installment, Mockingjay Part 2. Now, we've gathered to give our thoughts on this final movie. Spoilers will be included for both the books and the movies. May the odds be ever in your favor!

Amanda Horn

The thing that made me first appreciate Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy is how emotionally true to real life they were. They are terribly difficult to read because of this, but they are also extremely important.

In my opinion, the movies have captured these themes very well, and a lot of this is due to Jennifer Lawrence’s performance as Katniss Everdeen. I was especially impressed with her acting in this fourth and final film. As an actor myself, I would be lucky and grateful to have even a small fraction of her skill. She captures Katniss’ personality and spirit so well, I honestly don’t think that anyone else could have played this almost iconic character.

After watching this film, I noticed an interesting thing about my reactions to it. In the books, I never really liked Gale that much. There wasn’t anything explicitly wrong with him, I just felt a giant disconnect with him. However, in the movies I found that I understood and connected with him. I don’t think there was much different in his personality, but I do think that the way we personally interpret characters can be changed from page to screen. The way we imagine someone and the way that they act onscreen can be vastly different, even if there are no major personality differences.

I thought this whole movie was great. While as a whole I think it might have been a better storytelling decision to make Mockingjay into one movie, it was still incredibly well-done. The last 5-10 minutes were especially well-written and emotionally hard-fitting. While some were disappointed by the final scene and thought it should have been left out, I loved it. (Well, “loved” is a strong word. I appreciated it, but THE FEELS.) The last few scenes really served to illustrate how much hope that there can be, even after incredibly traumatic events. I think this is a message that so many people need to hear, including myself.

Anna Gensimore

I have been a fan of The Hunger Games since the summer Mockingjay came out. I'd just graduated high school and had gotten my wisdom teeth out. This left me with a week where I really couldn't do much. I read the whole series within that week. The movies made me quite happy in adaptation, but quite honestly I was wondering how they were going to pull this one off. I really feel that they did, and I only wish they could have added more. I knew Part 2 was going to be difficult because none of the major character deaths had occurred in Part 1. But to me, the losses felt more profound than in the book, especially the one that made me the most angry/sad (FINNICK FRIGGING ODAIR). 

Also, I was glad to see Katniss' allies from the Capitol more fleshed out. In the other films, I was quite upset with the fact that they chose to completely scrap the roles of Katniss' prep team since in the books they all had such distinct personalities and were a good device for showing change in Katniss as a character. I was almost completely consoled when Mockingjay: Part 1 gifted us with Cressida, Castor, and Pollux. Friggin Pollux, man! Elden Henson knocked that character out of the park. Everyone did a good job, but I was particularly impressed by his performance as an Avox. 

Honestly, this movie made me want more from this world. The non-main characters all have such a clearly rich past that is just begging to be told. Give me a Johanna movie, a Haymitch movie, everybody gets a movie ( I wish). Also, that Haymitch/Effie kiss made me squeal a little bit; they are one of my favorite ships of all time. The battle of the Capitol was raw and necessarily so, but I was still unsure how to feel. I guess seeing so much bloodshed with no surety of improvement, although implied, left me sort of cold. But that's where this series hits reality and that did ring true. 

I'm also glad that Katniss and Peeta's life, after all that they've been through, was portrayed with realism. Although they got as happy of an ending as they could hope, there were still after effects of the trauma they had experienced. The film seems to portray the both of them as working hard and together to overcome their troubles as they come. Showing their support and understanding  of one another is such an important thing.

Jaime Heller

It’s hard for me to grapple with my feelings in regard to the final installment of The Hunger Games movie adaptation. How can I say a movie, in which my favorite character dies and many other devastating things occur, is good, maybe even great? It sounds terrible. But it’s the truth. Mockingjay Part 2 ended the series with everything I wanted… no, needed. 

To be honest, I didn’t like the first Hunger Games movie. I felt cheated of the rich world I had been intrigued by since the first book was released. I felt the trailer gave me high hopes, which were only crushed by the jerky cinematography and the fast-paced, rushed story line of the first movie. I felt they left out a lot that would be necessary for the later books. (Like the fact they’ve never explained in the films what a Mockingjay actually is? I’m still convinced it’d be hard to fully understand or enjoy these films without having read the books.) But then Catching Fire arrived in glamour and glory with a new director. And my hopes for these movies rose again. Mockingjay Part 1 continued this streak of fangirl pleasure. Could these films be some of the best book-to-movie adaptations ever made? With Mockingjay Part 2, it remains to be this way. 

Overall, the movie brought the second half of Mockingjay to life. It set up the arena-Capitol in intriguing ways I could only imagine before--the flood of tar, the incinerator pods, the mutts in the sewers. I knew it would be gruesome, devastating, even nail-biting. (I’m still not a fan of the sewer scenes. The tension gnaws at me.) I knew my favorite character would die, despite rumors of keeping him alive. (Finnick Odair, you have my heart.) I knew Prim’s death would shake me like it did the first time I read through the book. But I didn’t know death could be so… beautiful. Now, before you think I’m entirely crazy or a masochist, let me explain. I knew the deaths would be coming. I knew who would die and when and how. But when it occurred, it stole my breath. I gasped. I cried. Tears pricked my eyes, and I held one hand over my mouth for the latter half of the film. It hurt, but it also made me realize how much I am alive. 

Watching Katniss--with tears in her eyes--whisper “nightlock” three times before sending the Holo down to explode on Finnick and the mutts tearing him to shreds, I was reminded of the living and breathing people beside me. Witnessing Prim's death, Boggs' death, or any of the other countless lives, it reminded me of what these books were about: not a love triangle or happily ever after but freedom and hope that comes with it. Amanda said the movies kept the theme of the books: hope after trauma or devastation. These deaths--despite how much I hated to see them or read of them--keep this message alive. There is hope. (I still won’t forgive Suzanne Collins for Finnick though because it was completely unnecessary.)

Mockingjay Part 2 ended the movie series with a bittersweet ending. Some of the events were switched around (deaths in the arena) or given less screen time than I would have liked (District 2, Annie and Finnick’s wedding) or changed slightly (the genders of their children at the end were flipped, Katniss' training and arrival in the Capitol), but for the most part, this movie nailed it when it comes to book-to-movie adaptations. The actors did a fantastic job as well, from Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss to Elden Henson as Pollux to Patina Miller as Commander Paylor. So can I say this movie was good, even great? Yes, I think I can. Yes, it’s sad. Yes, there’s trauma and devastation. Yes, people die--favorite characters die. But overall, it completed the final chapters of the story, and it brought a worthwhile conclusion to a gripping narrative. 

Sarah Munson

Has it really been over a month since the release of Mockingjay Part 2? Has it really been only a few weeks since my emotional devastation over the film franchise’s finale? 

I entered the theater that fateful Friday night with mixed expectations. Judging from the trailers, the conclusion was shaping up to be epic. However, I hadn’t been completely thrilled with the first part of Mockingjay, so I was hesitant to hope too much. The book itself is, in my opinion, the most complicated and controversial of the series. The film could go either way. 

And although every book-to-movie adaptation has details to quibble over, I ended up solidly impressed and deeply touched by Mockingjay Part 2. The emotions ran high, and I felt everything keenly, not only for Katniss but the other characters. My heart continually split for Gale because I knew his rejection was coming. Although I fully support Katniss being with Peeta (more on that in a second), I personally loved and would have chosen Gale. Their final parting let me in tears, although it was executed exactly as I had painfully imagined. 

Speaking of pain, Peeta’s struggle was portrayed so well. Even though I wanted to scream at him sometimes, I ached for how he was being torn apart internally. It was a conflict that could have made or broken the film, and I felt that it was played out in a believable, raw way. 

The agony doesn’t end with Peeta and Gale, though. Every time Prim came on screen, I cringed at what was to come. She has grown up so beautifully in the series, and her deeper characterization makes the ending all the more heartbreaking. I grieved right there with Katniss.

The hardest moment for me by far was Finnick’s final scene. As soon as the characters entered that setting, my body tensed up. I wouldn’t take my eyes off Finnick because I knew. I knew what was coming. Sure enough, in a moment both heroic and devastating, he is lost. I would have loved more time to mourn him, but as in the books, the action cannot stop. I choked back sobs as they continued fighting for their lives… with one lost. 

I’ve rambled long enough about my devastated emotions, though. Despite all my heartbreak, or perhaps in part because of it, I loved this movie. Sure, there are elements I would have changed (WHY DIDN’T FINNICK GET MORE SCREEN TIME), but overall, I felt it carried on the spirit of the story wonderfully. 

The revolution finally explodes and then resolves, as best as it can. It’s not a perfect conclusion, and it shouldn’t be. Instead of being seamless and polished, it is real.

Speaking of real, I appreciated the end scenes showing the result of Katniss and Peeta’s relationship. We see why they need each other, why their scars in the end weave them together. We see them rise from the ashes and build a new life. Despite my love for Gale, we see why Peeta was the one Katniss truly needed. 

This is a franchise film, so of course there is, and will be, heaps of criticism. But for my part, I say it was well-paced, highly emotional, and a satisfying end to the saga. I sat in the theater until the final credits faded because I didn’t want to say goodbye to a series that has meant so much in my adolescence. 

Regardless of what the critics may say, Mockingjay Part 2 was an experience I will remember forever. I’ll never forget the boy with bread or the girl on fire. 

Real or not real?

What did you think of Mockingjay Part 2? Let us know in the comments below! 

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed the movie! I loved the last two scenes, also. I thought they were tender and sweet.

    Yes, it was a hard movie to watch (death and whatnot...) but I thought it was done well!

    Ally @ The Scribbling Sprite