Few films can accomplish what the Hunger Games series has in translating a beloved book to the big screen. A young adult that novel managed to lure in audiences of all demographics with its cinematic glory—and keep them on the edge of their seats for five long years.
However, with the payoff that Mockingjay Part 2 gives, fans will agree every moment they've waited has been worth it. Personally, I'd do it all over again if I had to. The final film is nothing short of jaw-dropping, and what I so luckily got to witness at the Los Angeles premiere this past Monday night left me speechless.
Mockingjay Part 2 is the heaviest and darkest of the series. It was a hard to swallow epic, but brilliantly, deeply moving. If you've had the pleasure of reading the books, none of this is a surprise. The books were just as generous with their tough, hard to swallow gutpunches.
I've got to hand it to Lionsgate and director Francis Lawrence for staying so true to the source material, because I am so grateful that they honored the way Suzanne Collins wrote the books. Suzanne penned the books to be a means of sending a message to younger audiences about the consequences of war and the reality that the government has a bit more control than we readily see. Fast-paced, Mockingjay Part 2 moves along as quickly as the previous installment, Catching Fire, but takes us on a wild ride throughout the whole of Panem as opposed to restricting us to the scary confines of an arena.
The climax of The Hunger Games is nonstop from beginning to end. At some points, you may be yearning for a short breather. However, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and her cohorts on Squad 451 never get one themselves, so why should we? We're in this Rebellion together, after all!
The film begins with Katniss laying in a hospital bed just as Mockingjay Part 1 did. Only this time, her injuries were not sustained in a Gamekeeper controlled arena. Instead, both her body and spirit are hurt by the hands of the person she most trusted in this war, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson). A hijacked Peeta nearly strangles her to death while delusional with false memories Capitol doctors tortured him into believing. Katniss can barely rasp out a word, but wastes no time in wanting to see her attacker again. Prim (Willow Shields), her younger sister, is used to speak to Peeta in a chance to convince him that Katniss is not the monster the Capitol has forcibly made him think she is...but Peeta cannot be convinced. Neither can Katniss, as the look on her pained face suggests. She doesn't see herself much differently than she does the hijacked Peeta. Just a means in a war.
Jennifer Lawrence is simple, yet stunning in this franchise-ending film. Her performance is raw, and at times, uncomfortable - but that's a good thing. The inner dialogue happening in Katniss' head bleeds from Jennifer's face throughout the film, and it is not only astounding, but very satisfying to be able to read her thoughts in the subtle expressions of the actress portraying her, just as you had imagined from the books. Meeting her in exemplary performances are her two co-stars, Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson. Both actors give us pleasing and honest ends to their character's journey. All three of these fine performers make the happenings of the book seem not so farfetched on screen, and justify every move their characters made that lead us to this heart-wrenching, but worthy ending. They bring a certain essence of humanity back into a film that's based off of stripping people of their lives.
Director Francis Lawrence has gifted us with the best novel to movie adaptation of the decade. It's almost as if it were a Copy&Paste job straight from the pages of the novels to the scenes of the movie. It's a true testament to Suzanne Collins that so much of her book series translated so effortlessly on screen.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 is a gorgeous, magnificent conclusion to the Hunger Games films. This one movie alone was filled with more heart, guts, and soul than any of the others. It leaves you feeling privileged to have been a part of such an incredible story, even just as a fan.
Oh, and one more thing: Bring tissues. Lots of them.