November 20, 2015
Family Film Blogging: Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
Posted by Christine Hurt

It's over.  The Hunger Games "trilogy" movies are over.  The book/movie combination that spawned an outbreak of dystopian futures in which teenagers must topple totalitarian regimes has run its course.  I for one, am glad.  And sleepy (my 14 year-old and I went to the 10:15 showing of Mockingjay Part 2).

The best thing about the Hunger Games movies, of course, has been Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen.  The NYT has a review of the movie that is basically an ode to both Katniss and the actress who portrays her.  The review seems to argue that Katniss is a revolutionary type of female on-screen character; she leads the action, keeps her love interests in the background, resists stereotype, etc.  But really the difference is Jennifer Lawrence, who seems to have a magical and unique ability to have a serious movie career in grown-up movies and be the teenage star of this YA action franchise.  (Imagine Meryl Streep being cast as Princess Leia and pulling off that franchise and the rest of her acting career.)  Because of Lawrence, Katniss seems a much more interesting character than her shadows (Tris of the Divergent franchise, e.g.).

This movie is the end of the Katniss story.  As some (including me) have criticized the story as being, at its core, the same as Twilight, the ultimate question of "which cute boy will I marry" is answered.  But the movie really marks the moment of Katniss' political epiphany.  We usually see only what Katniss sees, and interpret events as she does.  Though she is savvy, she is also being manipulated.  She always saw that the Capitol and President Snow were using citizens as pawns in both the actual "games" and in the larger political game, but in the final installment she sees the two sides of President Coin (get it?).  Now she realizes that Coin is just the flip side of Snow, using her own "gamemaker" to position her own pawns, including her biggest one, Katniss.  The climactic moment of the movie is the best part of the third book, and the screen version does not disappoint.  

However, the written path Suzanne Collins took between Katniss exiting the arena at the end of Catching Fire and Katniss' final arrow in the victor's arena was muddled.  Writing the tale of Katniss and the games seems to have been a lot more fun and familiar for the author than writing about the rebellion.  The two movies that follow the arc of the third book had the challenge of trying to fill in the bare cat-and-mouse military exploits that follow Katniss' joining the rebellion and the end of that rebellion.  Every other chapter in the third book opens with Katniss waking up, not knowing where she is, following a bombing, a shooting, an attack, etc.  Mockingjay Part 2 gets to focus on just two fighting episodes, though the second is the longest and final one.  Still, the ratio of Katniss' silence and brooding looks to action seems not to be optimal.  The result is a bit like space travel:  90% boredom and 10% sheer terror.

All in all, I enjoyed sharing this (admittedly violent) book series with my middle child, and humbly brag that we did go to see three of the four movies on the Thursday night pre-premieres.  It's not Marvel, but it gave us some good November nights.

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