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the hunger games: mockingjay part 2

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen

MOCKINGJAY PART 2 is a worthy conclusion to the Hunger Games series. It is faithful to the book and provides fans with a satisfying resolution to the reluctant heroine’s journey. Almost all the film is about travel: the rebels warring their way to the Capital; Katniss fighting her compassionate nature and Peeta’s struggle to come back from the dark place which ended Part 1.

As in Part 1, again there is no exposition or preamble to begin. It opens with Katniss being treated for the wounds left by Peter’s attack. Her sense of loss in evident before the title even comes up. “It’s not him” she wearily states. It is Jennifer Lawrence’s inhabitation of the Katniss characters that gives the richness to the film. Often in close-up, seldom in a two shot, as the young woman who volunteered for the Hunger Games in the first film in 2012, Lawrence has a subtle and consistent appeal.

Often in silence or stillness, the audience can clearly see her interior world. There is no doubt or room for an audience to interpret or impose their own interpretation. But few of the audience for this series of films would. The books by Suzanne Collins have outsold Harry Potter and the film franchise has taken over US$2.5 billion. This audience knows and reveres these characters.

The reliance on familiarity extends to the chaste love triangle. There is no revisiting of the violence and disasters which now ask Katniss to choose between the boys. The clever presence of Joanna Mason (Jena Malone), self-destructive, destroyed and phobic, shows both where the Katniss could be and why Peeta may be lost. Josh Hutcherson as Peeta travels the longest arc with Katniss while the previously supportive Gale ( Liam Hemsworth) draws further and further away from her.

The audience must also know the minor characters as a who’s who make brief appearances. Julianne Moore makes some impact as President Alma Coin, Natalie Dormer is back as stalwart filmmaker Cressida and Elizabeth Banks as irrepressible yet changed Effie Trinket. But it is Woody Harrelson as Haymitch who has travelled beside Katniss and he gives a well-judged performance in his few but vital scenes. This includes his reading of the letter from Plutarch Heavensbee. This is a suitable re-writing to cover the loss of Philip Seymour Hoffman during filming. Originally it was rumoured that Hoffman would be replaced by some kind of technology until the cast came out to quash those rumours.

The CGI is as well done as millions of dollars can buy and not too intrusive on the story. The black tidal sludge exploding from the Gamemakers’ pod and oil around the building after it recedes is a highlight. The production design moves away from the greys and black and whites of Part 1. Here the war torn, rubble strewn cities have more of a sandy tinge. Use of fire also supports the golden effect as they fight ‘mutts’ in the dark tunnels under the Capitol. There is a strong blue and purple cast to the palette with washed out colours on all the exterior Capital sequences and with Katniss’s blue coat in the last crowd scenes contrasted with the purple hat bobbing just behind her.

Also excellent is the music which lays low for most of the journey. The electronic manipulation gives a good blend of the mythic and the mystical and the ethereal mournful single female voice under one of the more poignant deaths is very moving. But the soundtrack can be scary too. The noise when the mutts suddenly appear is a quite a shock as is the thumping and almost medieval lockings and unlockings under the action of Katniss’s imminent uncloaking towards the end.

In its faithfulness to the book, the last half hour of the film is a bit stop start but true fans would prefer that to a Hollywood ending. Suzanne Collins firmly ended the 3rd novel on which the film was based but unfortunately there is rumour of a prequel or sequel in development.

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