The Subtle YA Subversion of Mockingjay Part 2

This review does contain spoilers, I’ve tried my best to contain them to the end. Will mark them so you don’t get anything ruined!

Before jumping into the review, it’s worth mentioning that I have read each book before each movie and enjoyed them all for the most part.

That being said, Catching Fire is the one I dug the most, while The Hunger Games  and Mockingjay Part 1 were both a letdown in comparison.

Luckily, Mockingjay Part 2’s subversive nature ends the series on a strong note.

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Now I’m going to assume if your reading this or going to see this film then you’ve probably seen the first three installments, so I won’t waste time going over the previous plots.

Mockingjay Part 2 picks up almost immediately where Part 1 left off. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) sits in a hospital room with deep, dark bruises on her neck from Peeta’s (Josh Hutcherson) violent outburst.

These external wounds on Katniss’s neck don’t even compare with the emotional damage that comes from having someone so close to her now seem so far away. Mentally speaking.  Peeta is a shell of who he used to be, brainwashed by the capital and capable of dangerous things…

At the core of The Hunger Games is a romance between these two and this is a key moment for that relationship.

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These two supply much of the emotional resonance in Mockingjay. Each attempting to recover from the emotional damage sustained through the series. And each attempting not to turn on the other.

Sadly though, this isn’t even the worst thing they will face.

In a lot of ways, The Hunger Games acts almost exclusively as a war film. The battles, soldiers, dictators, casualties and death all made me contemplate previous war movies. But what makes this one sort of special is how it’s a brutal war film cloaked as a young adult series.

You can obviously count on the film having a “happy” ending, but again Mockingjay subverts that concept by leaving things on a darker and more melancholic note.

It’s a bold gambit.

I’ve heard people complain that the film builds up to a limp ending. On the contrary I think the ending is both brutally satisfying and oddly realistic. The author or even the screenwriter could have taken an easy way out while giving fans a decent conclusion.

However, this series wants something more interesting, something longer lasting, and I think that threw people off who were expecting a crazy battle filled showdown…

Spoilers!!!!! Skip this paragraph if you don’t want to know ending details.

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I think the single moment that made this series click fully into place, for me at least, is the death of Katniss’s younger sister Primrose.

Who if you recall back at the beginning of the series, is the one person Katniss truly wants to protect. When Primrose is killed in an air strike towards the end of the film, by her own people no less, it is the breaking point in our main heroines life.

It’s a heart shattering moment.

It’s when Katniss realizes just how little control she’s had from the beginning and how even though was able to take the capitol, she had to sacrifice the one person she was closest with.

The fact the death happens in the blink of the eye continues to reinforce the strong war based themes the series built over four films. One minute Prim is helping a wounded civilian. The next she is gone. Life simply is that fleeting, and death can strike anyone.

Like Katniss we barely even have a moment to digest it.

Spoilers End!!!! Rest of the review is safe.

Although I enjoyed the ending, the film as a whole wasn’t perfect by any means.

Stretching a single book into two films with a combined runtime of nearly 5 hours isn’t going to be well paced. Anytime the momentum starts to slow and characters start talking for extended periods of time, things go to a snail’s pace.

It’s not that the characters and relationships aren’t interesting.

The dialogue feels generic at times and it never felt like they were adding new layers to the characters. But certain things had to be resolved so I took these scenes for what they were, even though I closed my eyes on occasion.

Despite the minor pacing issues, stilted dialogue and occasion hokey moment (kissing during a battle is always cheesy), the film handles other aspects with grace and vigor.

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All the action scenes are wonderfully constructed, including a terrific chase scene through the sewers of the capitol.

My biggest problem with the first film was the breakneck speed of the editing which made things near impossible to follow. The last three films remedied this issue with ease and the action here is clear and precise with few blind spots.

If all your looking for is some solid action then this one will fit the bill.

Mockingly has one thing other films in the YA genre don’t have going for it. That one thing is that there is a real world relevancy to what’s going on with each film.

With all that’s happened in Paris, Beirut and so on this past week, I think it’s worth looking at some of the parallels between the futuristic world of The Hunger Games and our own world today.

The fact that refugees played a big part in the conclusion of the film is almost eerie considering the issues facing us right now. I can’t remember who said it, but last year before a member of the cast or crew made a comment that really struck a chord with me.

“Pay attention to the political overtones of the film.”

This is great advice and just another reason why I think the movie, and by extension the series, works so well as a whole.

Since I can’t leave you with a virtual three finger salute, I’ll simply say to see this movie and “may the odd’s be ever in your favor“.

★★★½ A satisfying and grim conclusion to a worthy series. 

One thought on “The Subtle YA Subversion of Mockingjay Part 2

  1. Richard says:

    Nice review and I agree with your rating.
    The refugee scene definitely struck a chord with me, given the amount of television coverage and social media commentary on the present situation. I think the dialogue in the past two films has been a problem, that’s probably down to Collins’ not being on the writing team for the films after the first film.
    I’ve just wrote my review of the film if you would like to give it a little look 🙂


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