Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Movie: Mockingjay Part 2

Mockingjay Part 2 begins with Katniss recovering from the attack by Peeta who has been brainwashed by the Capitol into believing that she must be killed. Numerous attempts to deprogram Peeta have so far been unsuccessful. The state of Peeta leads Katniss to reaffirm her desire to kill President Snow and end the war by taking over the Capitol.

At a meeting, President Alma Coin along with Gale and many others realize they need to take out the Capitol's weapons arsenal, a mountain stronghold known as "the Nut" because it is impossible to take out. Gale suggests to President Coin and her military advisers that since they are unlikely to capture the Nut, instead they bomb the mountain and seal it with rock slides, thereby rendering it useless. However, sealing the mountain will trap those inside, including many people from District 2 who are forced to work there. This is unacceptable to Katniss. They decide to leave the train tracks open so that a train carrying survivors can leave the mountain.

Katniss travels to District 2 with Gale to meet with rebels. After the bombing, Katniss and Gale, along with their team meet the survivors but Katniss is shot and wounded, placing her back in sickbay in District 13. She attempts once again to help Peeta, but his brainwashing remains too strong. President Coin refuses to agree to Katniss's request to be placed on a team that will be entering the Capitol as part of the attack. At Finn and Annie's wedding, Katniss takes up Johanna's suggestion; she sneaks on board a transport and arrives at District 2 where she meets up with Gale. Deciding not to bring her back, Coin has her assigned to a team headed by Commander Boggs. The squad also includes Lt. Jackson, Gale, Finnick, the Leeg twins and Cressida. Although they will be part of the invasion team, they learn that the Capital has been rigged by its gamers with pods designed to maim and kill. The Holo shows the location of most of the pods but not all of them. After encountering the first pod, Coin sends Peeta to join Katniss's squad. Although he seems calmer now, Peeta is handcuffed and watched closely by Finnick.

Unfortunately the group encounters an unseen pod that kills Boggs who as he is dying transfers command of the Holo to Katniss. The group triggers an even more lethal second pod which seals the area and releases a sea of black tar. As they are racing towards a building, Peeta attacks Katniss who fights him off. Peeta pushes a soldier into the tar and he is caught in ropes and feathers and strung up. The group manages to find safety in the building, but one of the Leeg twins has been mortally wounded. Her sister stays with her while Katniss and her crew leave just as the Capitol soldiers arrive. They watch from safety while the building is destroyed.

Jackson had tried to secure the Holo from Katniss but she lies to the group convincing them that she has a mission to kill Snow and therefore needs the Holo. In reality, this is her own plan. To avoid further devastating pods, which are everywhere, the group heads into the sewers. Pollux leads them through the sewers which he knows well from his time as a slave in the Capitol.

At first the Capitol and President Snow believe that Katniss has been killed and broadcast her death in the hopes of discouraging the rebels. However, she is soon spotted on a camera in the sewers and Snow orders the attacks to be moved underground.This leads to a horrific attack by mutant mutts. The survivors are sheltered at the home of Tigris where Katniss reveals that she has no mission to kill President Snow.

When Snow invites the citizens of the Capitol to come to his mansion for safety, Gale and Katniss, disguised as Capitol citizens join the exodus. However, just as they near the mansion, the rebels attack.  The ending of the war has devastating consequences for Katniss and reveals the true character of Gale and the real motives of President Coin.


Mockingjay Part 2 is a satisfying conclusion to the Hunger Games movies, in general keeping with the  theme and atmosphere of the novels. As in the previous movies, Katniss, was well portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence, as a young woman deeply traumatized by war and the loss of her community and her home. Despite this trauma, Katniss becomes determined to see the rebellion to its end and to assassinate President Snow.

Katniss's distrust of Coin, whom she is warned about by President Snow after his capture,  leads her to correctly assess her situation in the new Panem - she is a liability to Coin.  Katniss shockingly decides to side with Coin on reconvening the games, this time using people from the Capitol, even though she recognizes this as a continuation of the brutality Snow instituted. Katniss knows that if she goes against Coin she will be murdered. Instead, she bides her time, and strikes at the most unlikely moment, thus re-directing the path of the rebellion towards peace and justice. It is an action that surprises even Haymitch.

Mockingjay Part 2 effectively shows the final journey of Katniss from reluctant rebel, to a warrior with a conscience, to war hero to mother and wife. Katniss reluctantly volunteered for the games to save her younger sister, Prim, from certain death. (Ironically, that sacrifice seems worthless in light of Prim's death in the final battle for the Capitol.) In doing so and winning the games with Peeta, she becomes a symbol of resistance against the Capitol, when all she really wants is to go home and live her life. However, Haymitch makes it clear to her, that the games will never, ever really be over. The only way is to depose Snow and stop the Hunger Games.  Katniss even tries to bargain several times with President Snow, but when he shows just how far he's willing to go to hold on to power, she knows he must be stopped. Eventually Katniss loses her connection to Gale who is willing to do anything, to sacrifice anyone, to stop Snow. Katniss does not share this belief.

With the unexpected death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, who played Plutarch Heavensbee the Capitol's gamesmaker who joined the revolution, the producers faced a huge dilemma: what to do about his character who was so integral to the storyline? Scenes already shot with Hoffman were retained, those not yet shot, were rewritten. Moviegoers will miss him but this was handled correctly.

There is plenty of action in Mockingjay Part 2 and some frightening scenes for younger viewers. But the movie ends on a hopeful note: Katniss and Peeta share a life together and the fact that they have two children demonstrates they believe in the future. Overall a great conclusion to an excellent book and movie series.

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