Why You Need To Watch It More Than Once – HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 2 Review

Feeling unsettled after seeing MOCKINGJAY – PART 2? Maybe it’s time to see it again.

This review is free of major spoilers.

Right off the bat, I knew I was going to have to see Mockingjay — Part 2 more than once. Don’t get me wrong, this is a frequent occurrence for me (I saw all of the other movies multiple times in theaters) but, as the last installment in the series, this movie had my emotions running high before it started. In fact, the first time I saw it it was through blurred eyes as a tear-streaked, blubbering mess of emotions.

It was hard to form a coherent opinion on the film due to the overwhelming shock of the series coming to an close, and it felt weird that this movie actually had an ending in comparison to the others. A real, complete ending. Oddly enough, the first time I watched the credits roll, I felt distinctly uneasy for this reason.

Mockingjay — Part 2 is an intense change of pace from its first half. It picks up directly where Part 1 left off (no long time jump here, folks!) and hurls our beloved Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) right into action as she learns more about the repercussions of Peeta’s (Josh Hutcherson) hijacking. Everdeen has a determination to make President Snow (Donald Sutherland) pay that we see from the very beginning of the movie.

The intensity of the film kicked up so immediately that it was almost jarring, but it certainly was quick to grab audience attention! While I found the pacing to be a little off — very slow in some parts, too quick in others — the plot proceeded according to the book’s storyline (of course some alterations were to be expected, as is the case with any adaptation). The first time I saw it, the pacing paired with my emotional instability made time fly by, and it felt like the movie was over in a blink.

More Mockingjay

My second watch was much more rewarding. The pacing was still unsatisfying for my liking, but the film became overall more digestible. Unflinchingly dark and charged with grief, it packs the emotional punch any reader of the series would expect due to the content of the plot. In this last installment, Katniss’s story comes full circle: the emotional gravity of Part 1 ties together with the action, intensity, and (disturbing) imagery of the first two movies.

The performances of the cast were some of the best I’ve seen in the series. Jennifer, of course, plays an incredible Katniss and delivers the same raw emotional power we’ve come to expect. We see quite a bit more of Liam Hemsworth as Gale; Peeta, too, gets more screentime, and Hutcherson does a fantastic job showcasing the trauma from his time in the Capitol. Julianne Moore brings life to the complex President Coin and, of course, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman is excellent as Plutarch Heavensbee. In the role of President Snow, Donald Sutherland has one of his most brilliant and haunting moments yet. The rest of the cast is great and studded with standout performances by Mahershala Ali, Sam Claflin, and Patina Miller.

Director Francis Lawrence outdid himself with the action sequences in the film: one underground sequence in particular was so intense that it became more akin to the basement in a horror movie than the sewers of Panem. Even when I’d already seen it once, I found myself covering my eyes in anticipation every time thereafter. James Newton Howard’s score is brilliant per usual: he ties together melodies from all three movies at appropriate times, and his pieces build the suspense immensely for scenes on the battlefield.

While I have a few complaints about some book scenes left out of the movie, it’s clear that Director Lawrence was trying to fit as much in as possible and, realistically, there wouldn’t have been time for some of the larger story arcs. The drawn-out ending is almost as close to the book’s ending as you can get.

Whether the book needed to be split into two films is still up for debate. Part 2 is a long movie, but Part 1 was lacking in the plot department; perhaps a single movie could have been done, though there’s the potential for leaving more of the book details out, changing the pacing, etcetera. Part 2 was more satisfying than its first half, but it still stands if the two could have paired for a palatable — and presumably longer — film.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2 is definitely a film I needed to see more than once. The first time was difficult to keep up with and left me unsettled and upset; don’t get me wrong, I was upset every time thereafter, but seeing it again allowed me to pick up more subtleties and appreciate the intricacies of the action sequences, character arcs, and set pieces.

If you’re not sure how to feel about this final Hunger Games chapter, give it another shot; it might just surprise you.

Mockingjay Part 2

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