And so another young adult franchise comes to an end. Moreso than the Harry Potter series or the Twilight series, the Hunger Games films have been a near literal translation from page to screen. Most of the issues in the film are present in the book, with only minimum improvements made to make the story more cinematic. While Katniss is a passive protagonist, she does about as much as Bilbo Baggins, another literary character who has issues staying conscious when the big battles begin. Not that I am suggesting the director Francis Lawrence should have gone the full Peter Jackson.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 is not a bad ending to the franchise, but I feel that like Harry Potter and Twilight, the penultimate entry is the true climax of the series. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 the main characters finally figure out how to defeat Voldemort and begin executing their plan. It has excellent setpieces, and the film ends on a decisive moment that reinforces the stakes of the franchise. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 also essentially contains the climax of the series where Bella’s pregnancy forces her to become a vampire. And while Part 2 has some wonderful moments, it is all denouement. The moments we are invested in, the ones we have been waiting to see have already happened.
So that leaves the Part 2s to wrap everything in a nice bow. That isn’t to say that it is narrative deadweight, but it is a challenge to make it as compelling as the journey to the ending. But especially when the outcome is known (because basically everyone in the theater already read the end a few years ago and the filmmakers will never alter that lest the fans riot), the ending is more of a chore than it is a pleasure. That doesn’t always have to be the case, but in a multi-chapter film series, there’s a chance it can’t be helped.
What does help Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 is that they both contain stunning septettes (the Gringotts break-in, that crazy vampire battle that shows how everything has escalated since the start of the series). Mockingjay Part 2 attempts this by adding Arena-esque traps (“pods”) into the assault on the Capitol, but there are no stakes in Katniss’ mission because these things are not essential to the end outcome of the series. Even the crazy vampire battle in Breaking Dawn Part 2, which turns out to just be a vision, directly affects the outcome of the story. Arguments can easily be made that Katniss is important as a witness to the atrocities in the film, but that doesn’t make the actual watching more compelling.
Mockingjay Part 2 has fantastic moments, but it has none of the incredible action of Catching Fire, nor does it have as much to say as Part 1 (my review here). It’s a fine capper to the franchise, but doesn’t offer anything to justify its necessity other than the ending itself.
Author: Ryan Silberstein
Ryan spends his days at a company named one of the best to work for in the Philadelphia area, and his nights
as a mysterious caped vigilante saving his city from the disease that is crime watching movies. He lives on a diet consisting of film, comic books, experimental beer, black coffee, and those big metal historical markers around town. Follow him on Twitter and Letterboxd.