Mockingjay’s a flame that won’t go out – for better or for worse

By Keith Corkum

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 is a satisfying conclusion to the series guaranteed to set expectations on fire, though that fire may not burn as bright as some of the earlier movies in the series.

The movie starts right where Mockingjay Part 1 left off; Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) recovers from her injuries after a mentally unstable Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) attempts to kill her.

If the last movie seemed like a slog compared to the first two, then you will be pleasantly surprised by the intense situations Katniss and her group of rebels find themselves in as they storm the capital to overthrow the tyrannical President Snow (Donald Sutherland).

Lawrence gives yet another spectacular performance as Katniss. Her acting is always spot on for her character’s emotional rollercoaster ride. When she coldly states, “I am going to kill Snow” you can feel the weight of her words. You’ve seen what she’s had to go through, and you believe what she says.

Hutcherson, however, steals the show. Peeta has to go along with Katniss on her mission, and he is mentally damaged. As he battles his psychotic tendencies, you see a different and interesting side of him that was never shown in the other movies.

As the group infiltrates the capital, they encounter a variety of sadistic traps that are up to snuff with the series. The movie doesn’t disappoint in the special effects department: the traps look and act as heinous as they should.

At one point in the film, Katniss and company creep through dark underground tunnels with flashlights to light their way. The scene is excellently shot and creates a feeling of suspense, as the characters hear faint noises of something coming toward them.

It’s these intense scenes where the movie truly shines; you’re at the edge of your seat anticipating what hellish obstacle Katniss will have to overcome next. However, between these scenes are dead areas where the characters get a not-so-brief respite, and that’s the movie’s greatest problem: pacing.

These scenes feel like padding to get the movie to its 2 hour and 17 minute run time, and when they aren’t producing very trivial character development, they’re bringing the feeling of excitement down as they drag on.

That’s the problem with book-to-movie series – directors feel the need to give us the last installment in two parts to maximize profits, drawing out scenes to meet movie standards. Without a doubt, if these two Mockingjay movies were combined, they would have made a much better film, with much less filler.

So what are these character-developing scenes used for, you might ask? Why, developing the romantic tension for the teen viewers, of course. One scene has Katniss’s two love interests Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and Peeta talking about which one she will fall in love with after their mission is over. Considering the gravity of the situation they’re in, and that minutes earlier they were running for their lives and watching their friends get murdered, this sudden talk of romance seems incredibly forced.

However, the difference between Mockingjay’s romance and the romantic storylines in other movies aimed at teen girls, such as Twilight, is that the conflicts Katniss finds herself in make for an entertaining experience. The romance doesn’t hinder the plot, or take away from the message of the movie.

Liking two boys doesn’t define Katniss.

Being a badass symbol for hope defines Katniss.

Mockingjay Part 2 would have benefitted from a “show, don’t tell” mentality, as in “show” us how these characters are developing feelings for each other as they go through each death-defying experience, don’t “tell” us that Gale is jealous of Peeta, or the other way around. We can figure that out ourselves.

The movies end is a satisfying series sendoff, but it goes on for at least 10 minute longer than it really should.

The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2 is an enjoyable movie when it hits its highs, and though it’s plagued with pacing issues, they do not ultimately ruin the experience. The girl on fire went out with a bang – a long, sustained bang – but a bang no less.