Last weekend I went to see the final film in the Hunger Games trilogy (which had it’s last movie split into 2 films as has become customary for YA book to movie adaptations since the Harry Potter films started the trend). I had a LOT of expectations (especially since 2 tickets cost $27 for a matinee!), as there are so many intense plot twists and dramatic irony in the last act of the Mockingjay novel. The second half of the novel also has the death that hit me the hardest in the series (RIP Finnick). Now that I’ve had some time to digest, I’ve compiled my thoughts into 5 main bullets that sum up my experience with the film.
*Please note, this review will contain spoilers for the books and films
1) It Dragged
I hate saying this because the end has so many big reveals, but the first 2/3 of the film reallly dragged for me. It’s mainly Katniss being angsty because a) Peeta keeps trying to kill her and b) She can’t come to terms with the amount of life that must be sacrificed for the rebellion. A majority of the film takes place with Katniss’ unit following behind the bulk of the rebels to film “propos” and barely moving a few blocks every day, encountering the nasty booby traps that the capitol has left them. I found myself continuing to check the time on my phone, wondering when the craziness at the end was going to start. I think the slowness was largely due to the fact that they cut the book in the middle for the film, and it had a slower place to pick up from where the first Mockingjay film left off. Luckily, the last 1/3 of the movie was much faster paced.
2) There were some unnecessary “Hollywood” elements
There are always moments in films that have been adapted from novels that cause readers to want to angrily shout “That didn’t happen in the book!” and aggressively throw popcorn at the screen. While I didn’t have any major qualms with this film (I also haven’t read the book since 2011, so I probably wasn’t picking up on too many small discrepancies), there were a few moments that had me rolling my eyes at how they were “enhanced.” Such was the case with the scene of Finnick’s death. While the group is traveling underground in the tunnels to infiltrate the capitol, they are ambushed by a group of lizard-human hybrid mutts in the book. In the film, those “mutts” are much more reminiscent of zombies. They’re gross and grey and humanoid in shape and have no eyes and gaping mouths with lots of sharp teeth. Zombies. It wasn’t a deal breaker for me but it was stupid. Although I did find myself getting hit pretty hard in the feels when Finnick is being torn apart by them after he comes this close to escaping. Katniss mercy-killing him by dropping the exploding hologram on him was a hard scene for me to watch.
3) I still remain unconvinced by the romance.
I’m sorry, but Peeta-Katniss does NOTHING for me. I didn’t feel much for them over the course of the book, and Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson had zero chemistry (to me, anyways). In the books I was really more team Gale (although let’s be honest, it’s a little silly to aggressively ship anyone in a series that has so much more meaningful themes other than romance) but it just really fell flat for me. Although I did find it heartbreaking how Gale continually sacrifices himself for Katniss yet she is just fixated on Peeta. #ugh
4) The scene between Katniss and Snow is everything.
The single best scene of the entire film, perhaps film series, is when Snow drops the truth bomb on Katniss that Coin purposely deployed the delayed bomb that blows up the capitol children, as well as the medics from District 13 (and Prim). Snow’s complete admiration of Coin’s ruthlessness and his candor to admit what atrocities he will and will not commit was such a well acted scene. Watching the movie with Max, who hasn’t yet read the books, was such a fun experience, as everything really came together during this scene, as it showcased that at of the day, Coin and Snow lay on the same spectrum.
5) That epilogue though.
So they did include the epilogue at the end of the film, which I think was a risky move as it’s so heavily dependent on Katniss’ inner monologue. The epilogue in the book had a very bleak feel; Katniss insinuates that the only reason she has children is because Peeta wants them, and she lives in constant fear for them and the evils they with no doubt encounter in the world. The epilogue in the movie had a much lighter tone (if still melancholy) and just felt…well, a little cheesy. It didn’t fit with the gravity the rest of the series brought.