A chilly, gray world greeted my family and me as we exited the movie theater after watching Mockingjay Part 2. A fresh layer of snow covered everything in a pale blanket.
It seemed fitting.
I didn’t want to listen to music or talk on the ride home. I wanted to sit in silence, thinking, processing. For a while I scrolled mindlessly through my Facebook feed, not really seeing anything. Still absorbing in a numb sort of haze what had unfolded over the past few hours.
Because that’s the type of impression left in the wake of this movie.
Note: If you’ve read the book, you don’t need to worry about spoilers. If not, you should probably hold off.
The third book was my least favorite, but each movie grew successively stronger, ending on the high note of Mockingjay Part 2. My favorite hands down.
I’m not a fan of splitting up movies, but in this case, it worked out perfectly. One of my problems with Hunger Games was it felt too rushed. Mockingjay took the time to do the book justice, to explore more facets of the story.
Having read the book last year, I knew the plot. No surprises. No twists that caused my jaw to abandon ship. Yet it held me captive.
A Riveting Experience
If you’ve been to a movie in IMAX, you’ve probably seen the bit after the countdown where it says “watch a movie…or be part of one.” That’s how I felt—part of the movie.
- Invested in every emotional ebb and flow the characters endured.
- Walking beside them as they navigated the booby traps in the Capital.
- Feeling every heart-pounding second in the sewers.
I forgot to breathe a few times. Even though I knew what was coming, my pulse still quickened. I remained pinned to my seat, held captive by what played out before me. Quiet scenes balanced the intense moments, preventing it from a grating succession of explosions and chases.
Even so, this wasn’t a tame movie. Not something to calm your nerves or send you sailing softly into the land of Nod.
Dark at times, it painted the grim reality of rebellion and war in stark colors. No sugarcoating. No unrealistic outcomes. Just the pain, loss, and struggle that formed the backdrop from start to finish. The trauma of death and killing. The grief of seeing people you love suffer.
Every personal moment, every conflict between characters, every instance of stabbing poignancy carried a certain weight. I appreciated that we saw the emotional, physical, and mental toll on Katniss. The focus wasn’t on the carnage but on her response to the nightmare around her.
The actors did a superb job of portraying the horrors of war, the desperate fight for hope, the burden of enduring suffering. Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson in particular captured the turmoil Katniss and Peeta went through.
Mockingjay Part 2 wasn’t afraid to look into dark corners and ask difficult questions.
- Could you kill a friend if you had to?
- What are the effects of war?
- Where do you draw the lines of justice and revenge?
- What compromises can you make on your values?
Sadly, I think the movie missed a few chances to latch hold of concrete answers, preferring to leave them to the fuzzy grayness of interpretation. Penetrating, but ultimately lacking.
My biggest beef with the book was the ending. Too hopeless. A conclusion that left a bitter taste.
The movie, however, did a better job. Yes it was still painful, not as vibrant with hope as I prefer. But the clouds of despair weren’t as potent. It didn’t take quite as dark of a road as the book, and sought to offer a glimpse of light beyond the suffering.
In the end, it made for a haunting conclusion to what turned out to be an incredible movie.
Have you seen Mockingjay Part 2? How do you think it compared with the other movies and the book? I would love to hear your thoughts.