My Rating: 8 out of 10
As is the case with all other recent young adult trilogies turned tetralogies, the third installment of the Hunger Games was drawn out in order to make room for a rapidly paced, super-focused end film, which we received in the form of Mockingjay Part 2. However, even with the sacrifice of the third film, which everyone I know who has seen all four movies agrees is the weakest film, there were parts of the final installment that still felt rushed, which made it hard to really feel the impact of some of the many deaths that occurred.
On top of this, the way in which the two Mockingjay films began literally immediately after the film that preceded them made the beginning a little difficult to sync with emotionally. I found myself trying to remember all the details of the first Mockingjay film in order to get more immersed in the very start of this film, but because of the one-year disconnect there were parts of the film that took me out of the action. With this being said, I don’t have an issue with the way in which the films were done. As the viewer, the onus is on me to have watched the other films beforehand and kept my knowledge of the world together. For this reason, I know that the Hunger Games films will make a great marathon series, especially since only the first film can really stand alone.
When it comes to the actual story, this is probably one of the absolute best Hunger Games films with the exception of the first installment. Having already been slightly older than the target audience of the films when the first movie came out, I wasn’t ready to line up for the midnight release in the way I was when the Harry Potter films were coming out. I hadn’t read the books, wasn’t familiar with Jennifer Lawrence, and knew very little about the franchise. However, the story hooked me almost immediately with its gritty, bleak dystopian setting and the excellently placed political and societal undertones. These elements were there in Catching Fire and Mockingjay Part 1, but this final installment was so chock full of them that it brought me back to the very beginning of the series and really made the saga come full circle in many ways.
Even with a few elements of the ending being spoiled by clumsy actors and jumbotron screens at a concert, I was still surprised with how everything ended up and had emotional reactions to most of the deaths. Suzanne Collins’ characters are certainly all a lot more depressing than those of JK Rowling (due largely to the world in which they live), but they all still have their own unique personalities, which made it more painful as they got killed off. In my opinion, however, the most emotionally powerful scene came after the fighting was done, in which the filmmakers did an excellent job of showing the scars that remain on the heart even when victory has been grasped. While some may have seen the ending as too dark, I thought that it did the job the series set out to do, which was shine a light on the pain and suffering that is war for both the dead and the living.
For all Hunger Games fans turned off by the previous Mockingjay installment, you won’t be disappointed in this final film. It is everything its predecessor was not. Before going to the theatres though, I highly recommend rewatching at least the previous movie beforehand (as painful as that may be), as it will help get you immersed into the story right off the bat instead of 10 to 15 minutes in. For those of you who have never seen the Hunger Games films, definitely check them out when the full set is out on DVD, they are one of the strongest young adult franchises out there and say a whole lot about the world in which we currently live.