I’ll say this outright, The Hunger Games films have been one of the most faithful book adaptations I’ve seen. Sometimes even carrying off entire conversations verbatim from the book. And when Jennifer Lawrence emerged as Katniss Everdeen in the first movie, I couldn’t help but marvel at how accurately she was able to capture Katniss’s state of mind and body language. For this reason alone, and also the thrilling riots that the first two books were – I’d always immensely enjoyed these movies.
The third book Mockingjay, though, is a different story. For me it had always been the weakest link, with a muddled plot and not really resolving things in a satisfying manner. So when they announced that the book is gonna be split into two films as has become the norm these days – I deemed it one of the worst decision ever. And it showed, Mockingjay Part 1 was a drag and felt hollow and uneventful with no clear goal. But guess what, after watching Part 2 it hit me that splitting it may have been a wise decision after all.
Because this movie had only one goal: sell the climax.
The book never even came close to doing it convincingly. It all happens in a blur and with a lot of Katniss’s inner monologue. Maybe I didn’t give the book the kind of reflection it needed but by the end of it I was a lot disappointed to give the story any more thought.
But the movie, on the other hand, since it has got the space and time to tell a much shorter story, it allowed for these moments of contemplation to exist which really helped to bring the conflict of morality that much more effectively to the forefront. Also, even with all the action pieces and the purported 76th Hunger Games feel, when you watch this movie the only things that’ll be rattling in your mind are the people and the choices they make.
But I did have some minor issues. One of which has plagued the book as well. Gale‘s merciless dismissal with a flick of a finger in both the book and movie for a crime he did not commit is something I’ll never wrap my mind around. Yes, the delayed bombs were his idea but holding it against him because they accidentally killed Prim is simply not justifiable in any way.
Maybe you should also know that I am and have always been Team Gale. Yep. Katniss needs Peeta, but she loves Gale. And it doesn’t help that Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson have absolutely zero romantic chemistry. It’s a pain to see these two trying to be intimate.
Anyway, back to Prim. Now her death, for some odd reason, is not mourned by anyone. I don’t remember how it happens in the book, but one moment you see an explosion killing Prim and the next moment everybody is back to business as usual. Also the last time we saw Prim was an year ago so the audience have a much lesser connect to her as well. Wouldn’t it have helped, since they had all the time in the world, to add one or more prominent scenes with Prim and how much she means to Katniss?
There’s a reason why the Hunger Games books are not just yet-another-dystopia. Apart from the mind-boggling suspense and thrill, the books have always been about the underlying moral dilemma. How many worse things could someone do in the pretense of ‘a greater good’ that it finally starts to eat into the society? You see that with President Snow, of course, but with Mockingjay you also get to see the evolution of it with President Alma Coin (a great Julianne Moore), tyrant in the making.
Technically, the movie is fabulous. Be it the CGI, the camerawork (I did spot a couple of shaky-cam moments, but thankfully they don’t permeate the entire film), and not to mention the amazing score by James Newton Howard! He breathes life and desolation in equal parts and even though I missed the return of Rue’s Theme (which never fails to move me to bits), he more than makes up for it with some new engaging themes.
It’s always a sad thing when something comes to an end. The Hunger Games, for me, will always be a special experience with the movies doing the books ample justice. But I guess I have to thank Suzanne Collins for it all.
I’ll leave you with this invigorating piece of music that features in both Mockingjay movies. Jennifer Lawrence does kill with her voice, doesn’t she?