By Cynthia Ayala
Realizing the stakes are no longer just for survival, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) teams up with her closest friends, including Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and Finnick for the ultimate mission. Together, they leave District 13 to liberate the citizens of war-torn Panem and assassinate President Snow, who’s obsessed with destroying Katniss. What lies ahead are mortal traps, dangerous enemies and moral choices that will ultimately determine the future of millions.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 certainly took many liberties with the text and deviated from the novel making the conclusion hard to imagine and grasp, especially when comparing the foundation of the film to the foundation of the novel. So how does one get past those roadblock to that the film can not only please the audiences but also fans alike and make sure the ending of the novel is properly represented on the screen?
Well the writers of the film found a way to make it work. It’s clear that the writers had a plan for bringing to life this rather slow novel that was more about making the ending very solid and character oriented, especially where their dynamics are concerned. Part 1 focused more on the characters and setting up the premise of the ending, creating a solid foundation for the characters to grow and relate to one another. It was about compounding many of the background relations into one film. That’s what made it an okay film, definitely not better than the previous two films, especially since the film itself took a lot of liberties. It did however miss the mark on making President Coin (Julianne Moore) a despicable character. It was impossible to hate her where it should have been easy. So how do the writers fix that while at the same time tying this to the previous films as far as style and action goes?
To fans of the novel could see the challenge especially when you consider that had the writers done an exact adaptation, this final film would have been a rather slow conclusion because there is only so much the writers can put into the film to make it as captivating as the rest of the films in the series. So turning the novel into a two part finale gave the adapters (director, writers, actors) some free reign to both connect the final film to the rest of the films in the series while simultaneously staying true to the book.
That’s what made this final film so amazing. The story is there, it’s complete and ended the saga in a neat and cohesive bow. It was action packed and continuous the theme of the Hunger Games. It repeats the themes of the first and second film but it also doesn’t deviate the novel. This film turns Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) into the real hero she is and repaints the villain, transforming the villany, the true villainy from President Snow (Donald Sutherland) to President Coin (Julianne Moore). Snow is honest in his villainy whereas Coin hides behind a veil of righteousness. That is what made the first film just okay and the second film so much better because this film actually highlighted that. It had to be believable and the audience has to want her to die because her death has to be the expected outcome. Bravo to Julianne Moore for bringing out her darker side. She’s so good at being evil and it good to see her play it, especially behind such a facade. It was a brilliant performance and all the underhanded things that she does in the books that come up in the movie also make her menacing, they make her dangerous. They make Coin the enemy.
The film is about family and community in danger from power, and Coin turning into the villain is a great example of how power can corrupt even the greatest intentions. Freedom and hope are what the characters are fighting for and the cost of it is perfectly represented in the film by the characters and their struggle to find some peace through all the horrors they have faced in their world. And with Peeta and Katniss, their pain and struggle conveys all of this perfectly.
Lawrence and Hutcherson were amazing to watch because they have had such a strong dynamic with one another for the entire series. Their characters are in love with one another and understand one another better than anyone who has not suffered the Games could. They are broken and saddened by the cruelty in the world around them and the acting these two characters employ to bring that to life is magnificent. It’s amazing to see these two characters on the screen together, to see them fight the darkness in the world around them that has somehow etched itself into their hearts and minds. To convey all of this makes this film remarkable, it makes it amazing and heart-wrenching to watch. Their dynamic and their relationship with one another has grown throughout the film and continues to grow develop, even with all the guilt, all the broken darkness that has come between them, none of that can keep them apart. Watching them together is a treat because they make everything so believable.
Of course the entire film dynamic between the characters is amazing. This was a perfectly constructed cast that is so strong with one another. It’s so easy to see where these characters have come from and how they have evolved and how the relationships have evolved between the characters. This whole franchise has been such a success because of this cast and because of how they portray their character, bringing them to life and making these on screen relationships so real.
As for the screenplay itself, it was amazing. It certainly does take some liberties with the novel and has a certain level of absurdity with regards to the games. The level of cruelty that they inflict upon one another is both hard and easy to grasp. It takes violence to the max in this film and studies the capabilities of human thought, both humane and cruel. It’s a captivating manifestation of cruelty and the hope of freedom under tyranny. So bravo to Suzanne Collins on writing the novel and bravo to the screenwriters and actors for being able to bring it to life. They break the characters , the writers, and make sure that this finale is a bang and rises to the ultimate conclusion with the proper momentum to hook the audience in.
The only objectionable part of the film that made no sense was in regard to Joanna near the end of the film. She’s bald in the beginning of the film, head shaved bald and then at the end, makeup decided to give her hair that was over an inch long. Let’s be realistic, hair does not grow that fast in the span of a month.
That aside, this film was great. and definitely much better than the previous one which took a little too much liberties with the source material . This film took some liberties strictly for time and made it work, they were able to capture all the important elements of the series and tie the franchise together neatly and powerfully. (★★★☆ | A-)
Directed by Francis Lawrence
Screenplay by Peter Craig, Danny Strong & Suzanne Collins
Based on Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Stanley Tucci & Donald Sutherland
Genre | Rating | Length: Fantasy/Science fiction | PG-13 | 2 hrs 16 min
Distributed by Lionsgate