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.
I loved the second movie. I agree with everything you said except the dragging. We rewatched the first three movies throughout the week before seeing this final one, and I loved them all. A lot more than when I originally watched them – maybe because it’s been a while since I’ve read the books. This final movie was pretty perfect in my opinion. Except the epilogue. Too cheesy for sure.
I think going back and rewatching the movies may help me to appreciate this one more (especially Catching Fire, that one was my favorite book and I remember the movie being very visually stunning!) I think I would appreciate rereading the books as well too as I’d have a different perspective on it now that I’m older!
I agree with ALL of this. Your first point is valid, it did drag a bit, but I think it was an improvement from part 1 (which was just a pointless movie altogether). The romance is also something that is unconvincing, and that ending was just awkward – I actually laughed a little while everyone else went “awwww”.
I guess the only point I disagree with is that I wasn’t a fan of part one. I even included it in my list of worst YA adaptations. And I’m definitely not a fan of splitting movies. Hollywood is going a little crazy with that – I mean, they split The Hobbit (ONE BOOK) into 3 movies. That’s just ridiculous. Yet, they know, as much as we hate it, we will pay to see all of them. hahah
Awkward is the perfect word for the epilogue! I just was not buying it! For some reason Part 1 was pretty good to me (I loved the damn sequence, and I loved the incorporation of the Hanging Tree song, I think those elements really won me over) however I haven’t read the books in a loooong time so I can’t attest that well to how it measured up to the first part of the book. Agreed though that this splitting books into multiple movies business is getting out of hand!
I’ll have to admit, that damn song got stuck in my head for months. I’d start humming it and my husband would be like “don’t even start” 😀 I kind of want to rewatch all of the Hunger Games movies in a row, though, I think that will give me a better idea of how I feel about the series.
I’m with you on all these points! (Ironically, I’m posting my comments tomorrow on my blog :P)
When they were looking for booby traps I thought to myself “really, we’re going to do this for 20 minutes?” It dragged for sure but it definitely moved faster than the previous. And President Snow (Donald Sutherland), wow, he was amazing in this movie. I don’t know who else you could cast for his role!
As a Peeta<3Katniss fan, I agree that the movies lack that little something to get you excited about their relationship. (Though I think Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson have a LOT more chemistry than her and Bradley Cooper do–why do Lawrence and Cooper do so many movies together!?). I think in the books, their past together prior to the games is highlighted a bit more. Though I always got the impression Peeta loved her more than she ever loved him…
Ahhhh I know I am SO over the JLaw and Bradley Cooper pairing. It seriously mars my suspension of disbelief at this point because they’re in movies so often together. I agree the whole booby trap every few blocks part was really tedious! I think the ending made up for it though, the execution scene I felt was pretty well done and played out very much like it did in my head. Definitely agree that Peeta loved her a lot more than she loved him, which I think is exemplified (in the book) by the epilogue…
I haven’t seen this yet, but I’m going on Tuesday! I’m looking forward to it in general because it has been so long since I read it.. I hope I don’t notice a lot of differences! As far as Peeta/Katniss, I was SO TEAM GALE IT’S RIDICULOUS. On-screen Peeta/Katniss have a lot less chemistry than in the book, and I was still Team Gale. Hope I enjoy it!
AHHHH yes Team Gale all the way (it also doesn’t hurt that he’s played by a Hemsworth in the movie;) ) I love that we always like the same (underrated) ships hahaha