Final "Hunger Games" film delivers but doesn't challenge
By Austin Lindner | Echo
In one final gust of flames, the series about the “Girl on Fire” has come to an end. Since it’s apparently impossible to finish a franchise without splitting the last story into two installments, Nov. 20 saw the release of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2.”
In case you’ve been living underground for the past 35 years and this is your first hour on the surface, let me catch you up on the multi-million dollar “Hunger Games” franchise. This book-to-movie series depicts a dystopian future in which 12 struggling districts are controlled by a central city, the Capitol. Each year, the Capitol puts on an event in which the subservient districts are forced to send two of their children to an arena to fight to the death.
The heroine, Katniss Everdeen, played delicately by Jennifer Lawrence, ignites a revolution with her defiance when she herself goes to the Games. Her reluctance to step up as a leader and be used as the symbol of the revolution makes her a unique protagonist, and her fight for survival over ideals adds an interesting layer to the conflict. These darker themes give the series a sense of sincerity and importance that is missing from the typical young adult franchise.
These themes remain true in the second half of “Mockingjay.”
While it’s no “Casablanca,” the film does a lot of things right. Unlike other teen movies, the film wisely downplays the romantic triangle subplot. While Katniss must choose between Peeta and Gale, who represent conflicting values, “Hunger Games” is not primarily a love story.
Unfortunately, the film still takes the easy way out when it comes to its final moments. The despair that is clearly evident in the book barely comes across onscreen when the final blow to Katniss’ hope and identity is shattered. Understandably, the film shies away from the trauma of the events facing Katniss, since the target audience is primarily young adults, but the ending feels rushed and somewhat hollow.
The film also suffers from inconsistent pacing, as the final book of the series was split into two separate installments.
At the end of the day, “Mockingjay Part 2” plays it safe and remains faithful to its source material, managing to soak up most of the emotional subplot. The “Girl on Fire”’s final film is underwhelming, but the audience remains unburned.