2 Stars – Entertaining
The fourth and final film in The Hunger Games franchise is entertaining but lacks the novelty we learned to expect from the earlier films. Based on a trilogy by Suzanne Collins, the decision to take the last book and divide it into two films is part of the problem. The surprises present in the first part of the Mocking Jay were powerful, but when it is separated from the more predictable conclusion of the story then we are left with a weak film. Directed once more by Francis Lawrence, who led in the creation of all but the first film, the story continues to be a blend of romance and conflict.
The battle between good and evil continues in this final film. The villain is President Snow (Donald Sutherland), a cruel and crafty man whose brutality serves his ambitious goals. The hero is antithetical in both character and purpose. As seen in the first film, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), volunteers for Snow’s fatal Hunger Games when her younger sister Primrose (Willow Shields) is chosen. This courageous act sets her up to become the hero she proves herself to be. Also part of this political conflict is the rebel leader, President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) who proves to be ambitious in her own way.
The romantic part of the tale continues with the rivalry of the two men who are equally in love with Katniss. The first is the more obvious alpha male and hunting companion Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth). The second is Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), the beta male whose puppy love proves to be deeply loyal and sacrificial capable of creating a unique relationship.
Inherent within this series is the message that reality television can be used not only to entertain but to control, punish and manipulate a population. This aspect of the tale requires the specialties of media experts like Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman from previous footage) and former victor, Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson).
As a hero, Katniss’ intuition, honesty and courage are exemplary. Also the message that evil can come from any and all sides of a conflict is also helpful. Although it is a tense tale with violence perhaps requiring more than its PG-13 rating, it is a tale where good and evil are engaged in an epic battle that sadly resembles the real world in which we all live.
Discussion for those who have seen the film:
- Do you think the portrayal of Katniss as a moody person, unsure of who she loves, is helpful in creating the tension of the tale or damaging in its portrayal of an heroic woman? Why do you answer as you do?
- Katniss’ decision near the end of the film could have been a final manipulation by President Snow. Do you believe this was so or not? What is the basis of your answer?
- If you were Katniss would you have chosen the man she did? Why?