The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 is a movie I don’t think anyone will want to see twice. You have to see it once though, to find out what happens*, and to see how creepy it is when Philip Seymour Hoffman continues to play the gamemaker Plutarch from beyond the grave.
Mockingjay Part 2 isn’t a bad movie, by any means. The acting is superb and the screenplay is far superior to movies like Divergent (whose name I couldn’t remember and my brain offered me “Derivative.”) It’s just an emotionally unpleasant movie. It starts out with Katniss fingering a strangle bruise around her neck, struggling to speak, and gets more and more grim from there.
This series wasn’t always so hard to watch. The Hunger Games was a a thriller with plenty of fun campiness (Cinna much?), Catching Fire volleyed the series into even more awesomely epic territory, and then Mockingjay Part 1 slam dunked it into bummertown.
There’s nothing wrong with that, necessarily. If anything, it seems like this series was set up to lure teenagers in with a little bit of strong female protagonist honey and then rock their worlds with violence and corruption. Come in 13, leave the theater with gray hair. No longer we do not get to sit and scratch our chins over whether she’ll choose Peeta or Gale**. This is about stopping corrupt forces from KILLING CHILDREN.
Mockingjay Part 2 takes the high stakes and grimness of MJP1 and adds an element of page turning thrill and constant death. Who dies next? It’s like The Sopranos, but without a burly Italian stopping to guffaw at a Big Mouth Billy Bass every once in awhile (this happened twice in The Sopranos). There are few moments of levity here at all. The one time people in the theater laughed was when President Snow hears President Coin misquote him and indignantly says he “plucked” people from obscurity, not “picked.” Hi-la-ri-ous.
There were many moments when the epic music and imagination of MJP2 reminded me of Star Wars. When the gang goes into the sewer system, I couldn’t help but compare it to the scene where Leia and co. get stuck in the garbage chute.
But the second half of The Hunger Games series has long dispensed with the humor and swagger of the original Star Wars. Katniss does not get to stop and take in a scotch, enjoy a kiss from one of her two boyfriends and put up her feet. Instead, she offers herself up to die continually, often with a shrug because it’s becoming clearer and clearer that her fictional universe sucks. There is no fun in Panem. There are only scary gollum guys in the sewer ready to murder at least one handsome Hunger Games survivor.
Even the end of the movie, which for a second I thought might turn into a celebration of public breastfeeding, hardly feels victorious. Instead, it feels like watching characters brace themselves for the long, hard road of dealing with PTSD. This isn’t bad. In many ways I applaud this series for refusing to glamorize violence and the recovery from it. But I can’t see myself ever wanting to put myself through the emotional pain of watching this movie again.
As I left the movie, I was surprised to see all the 12-year-old kids (and even some elementary school-age children) leaving the theater, chuckling with friends over popcorn. I had forgotten this was a movie that kids get to go to. I mean, the killing of children in this movie is far crazier to watch than a few dirty jokes or mild nudity in the average PG-13 movie. But hey! This is America. Violence does not need to be censored here. Just lady nipples.
This movie is good in most respects, and even edgy in just how far it is willing to gaze into the abyss. It’s just not a movie that anyone is going to want to pull out every year over the holidays and watch with popcorn in their lap. But hey, at least it shattered my stereotype of what a Y.A. dystopian movie should be. I give it 6 kids now obsessed with archery out of 10.
* Unless you read all the books. I only read book 1, saw that the movies were way better, and stopped reading them. I did, however, Wikipedia what happened at the end about a year ago mostly because I wanted to know if she picked Gale or Peeta.
** Camp Gale here