Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the end of an era. Yes, once again, another young adult fiction series has come and gone. “Mockingjay Part 2,” or as I like to call it, “Hunger Games 4: The Streets,” continues where the last movie left off, as Katniss must take her place as the face of the rebellion against the Capitol. She and a group of trained professionals (plus Peeta) battle through the Capitol, which is now riddled with booby traps. Her goal is to take down President Snow and end the chaos once and for all. This fourth installment of The Hunger Games series was released Nov. 20, coming in first for the weekend with over $100 million in the United States, as expected for a franchise with such a loyal following.
In the vein of young adult franchises such as Harry Potter, Twilight, and the upcoming Divergent conclusion, “Mockingjay” was split into two different movies. While this method is obviously lucrative for production companies, I found it to be completely unnecessary in the the storytelling aspect of the film. The “Mockingjay” story would have been far more powerful as one movie. Part one took a small part of the last book’s plot and stretched it past its limit. The result was a lackluster and rambling narrative where the audience was left just waiting for the punch. The blow was finally delivered in this second movie, but it was again drawn out due to the separation between the two films. The timing was awkward throughout, and I think the audiences would have appreciated a longer, yet more condensed telling of the “Mockingjay” story as one film.
I have read all the books in the trilogy as they were released, so I can tell you that “Mockingjay Part 2” indeed followed the book. At many points this was appropriate such as in the scenes where we see Peeta acting up due to his kidnapping, but at others I found it to be the complete opposite. For example, in the end (spoiler alert), when the war is long done and Katniss has settled into an idyllic lifestyle as a wife and mother in District 12, the book was followed almost word for word, and I was surprised at how laughable it was on screen.
In the book, it was a satisfying and beautiful epilogue in which Katniss is married to Peeta and is enjoying life with her son and daughter. She ends the trilogy with a monologue to her young child, referencing her struggles in The Hunger Games and how they have thankfully come to an end. In the movie, however, the ending, while accurate, was cheesy and and almost difficult to watch. Also, Peeta was sporting what I can only describe as a “dad-do,” which I assume was supposed to mark the passing of time, but I don’t see how unless all the hair clippers suddenly disappeared in the rebuilding of District 12. I felt that this part could have been omitted and replaced with a more impactful reimaging from the director that would translate better to the screen.
Overall, “Mockingjay Part 2” did maintain the quality of filmmaking seen in the previous three films. The effects were flawless and realistic. The film was a tad scarier than the others, and had no sympathy for the viewers with respect to character deaths. I was surprised by Josh Hutcherson’s acting as Peeta. He was extremely convincing as a recovering, tortured Hunger Games survivor. His performance stuck out to me more than any other cast member.
While this film provided a much needed and at times thrilling ending to a beloved series, it felt like more of a chore that had to be done, rather than the riveting conclusion that it deserved. I feel that this could have been remedied by the creation of one “Mockingjay” movie and I hope that in the future, production companies will value quality over quantity when it comes to young adult fiction movies.