Movie Review: Mockingjay Part Two

mockingjaypart2The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part Two is the final movie in the beloved franchise that shot Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth to fame. Based on the young adult book by author Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay Part Two picks up right where Mockingjay Part One ends and follows the development of the rebellion into full-on war in Panem.

Just because she’s out of the Hunger Games doesn’t mean life has gotten simpler for our Mockingjay. The movie begins with a close-up shot of Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), battered from her reunion with the hijacked Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). Some of the first scenes highlight Katniss’s conflicted heart: Gale (Liam Hemsworth) or Peeta. Peeta is struggling after he was tortured in the Capitol, still convinced that Katniss is the true threat. Meanwhile, Gale has thrown himself into the planning of the rebellion against President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and Katniss has to focus her attention on being the face of the rebellion.

After a few back-and-forths, Katniss gets President Coin (Julianne Moore) and Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) to agree to send her into the action: to District 2, where the rebellion needs to take control before they can charge the Capitol. The film begins to delve into the moral aspects of rebellion, weaponry, and war as the rebels attack, showing Katniss’s and Gale’s differing viewpoints. Katniss shows her wit, bravery, and heart when she holds her own under threat to her life.

The action truly begins when Katniss sneaks her way onto a hovercraft that takes her to the Capitol, where she plans to assassinate President Snow and end his reign of torture once and for all. Her plan goes wrong immediately and she’s assigned to Squad 451, the “promotional” soldier squad, along with Gale and Finnick (Sam Claflin). They’re kept out of the fighting in the beginning but as they move closer to the center of the Capitol and the stakes become higher, Squad 451 has no choice but to fend for themselves in the chaos. Some fan favorites play huge roles as the Squad moves through the Capitol, including Boggs, Castor, Pollux, Cressida, and Peeta, with help from rebels on their way, like Tigris. As Finnick comments at one point, this journey through the Capitol is really the 76th Hunger Games.

Katniss eventually makes it to Snow’s mansion and pulls of an assassination, although not without great losses and surprises along the way. As the film ends, the epilogue shows Katniss finally getting to find some sense of peace.

As a fan of Suzanne Collins’s books, I’ve been continually impressed with how true the filmmakers have stayed to the original story. Mockingjay Part Two is no different, which still only helps so much to prepare for what’s coming when the violence and loss of war is brought to life on screen. This movie is very emotional and while some of it could have been avoided to make fans happy, I appreciate the truthfulness of the story; loss and emotion are part of war and if the film had strayed from that aspect, it wouldn’t have been honest about what war is really like and the effects it has.

Mockingjay Part Two isn’t lacking in action either. Getting to Snow’s mansion in the Capitol requires the use of serious skill to get past all of the pods and other obstacles Snow and his gamemakers have put in the way. There are explosions, automatic guns, waves of consuming oil, and mutts released on Squad 451. You’ll be kept on your toes, especially as Katniss and her crew make their way through the dark tunnels and sewers.

The movie isn’t all darkness though. There are many moments that will make you laugh, largely thanks to Effie (Elizabeth Banks), Haymitch (Woody Harrelson), and Finnick. The small flashes of humor provide the much needed light in an otherwise dark film. Fans of the book will be especially pleased with some of the more lighthearted scenes included.

Mockingjay Part Two is a great ending to a wonderful series. It’s full of action, emotion, and conveys important messages about war and humanity. You will cheer as Katniss’s last arrow finds its resting place and cry as we lose some of the characters we’ve come to love so dearly. Ultimately, Katniss finally gets the ending she deserves and her story, along with those of the other characters we’ve come to love, is faithfully wrapped up in the epilogue. While it may not be an entirely happy ending for everyone, Mockingjay Part Two provides closure and hope for the characters and fans alike.

Lauren is a 20-year-old student living in Northern Virginia. She loves to read YA books and watch movies. Lauren is passionate about many things, but reading has always been a huge part of her life. Ever since she first learned to read, her parents have always had to pry books out of her hands when it’s time for other commitments. Lauren loves everything from The Hunger Games and Divergent, to Percy Jackson, mysteries like State of the Onion, and other YA books, like The Fault in Our Stars, and is always eager to try a new book, author, or series. She also loves music, public health, Harry Potter, and the Washington Capitals. Follow her on Twitter: @LWengrovitz.