Now Showing: “Mockingjay Part 2”

Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) accompanies Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) as she sets out to film propaganda films as the symbol of the rebellion, The Mockingjay.

Courtesy of Lionsgate Entertainment

Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) accompanies Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) as she sets out to film propaganda films as the symbol of the rebellion, The Mockingjay.

Lilly Ball, Editor in Chief

Nearly four years after the night that I forced my mother to attend the midnight premiere of “The Hunger Games,” I, and the million other fans of Suzanne Collins’ series, have finally been gifted with our finale. In a spectacular film that is both poignant and exciting, the tale of the girl on fire has come to a bittersweet end with “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2.”

With the exception of a few surprises that were not in the novel, director Francis Lawrence has managed to breathe life into, arguably, the worst novel of the series, giving “The Hunger Games” a thrilling conclusion that Collins failed to do.

The film begins with our hero, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence,) recovering from a near-fatal attack that occurred in the previous film by her lover and ally, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson). After being rescued from the Capitol by District 13 troops along with fellow victor Johanna Mason (Jena Malone,) Peeta is in the process of recovering from both mental and physical disabilities caused by horrendous torture techniques developed by game makers from Tracker Jacker venom, insects used within the Hunger Games that attack tributes and cause hallucinations.

As she deals with new emotional burdens, Katniss makes several attempts to become more involved in the rebellion. Restricted by her title as “The Mockingjay,” she is limited to making propaganda films, and staying out of harm’s way. Much has changed since the first film, but Katniss is still not in control of her own fate. She may no longer be a piece in the evil Dictator President Snow’s game, but she has become a pawn of the rebel leader, Alma Coin. As it becomes more apparent that Coin’s motives are selfish, Katniss comes up with a plan of her own, leading her on yet another dangerous journey.

Though the previous films had their moments of intensity, “Mockingjay Part 2” creates a constant sense of impending doom. From fighting off Capitol peace keepers, to running from “mutts” created by the inhumane game makers, it seems as if Katniss will never have her peace. Her days in the arena may be over, but she will never be able to escape the game. With Peeta suffering from mental delusions, Katniss cannot trust anyone but herself.

After reading the novels and seeing the films, I feel as if I know Katniss, and I hurt for her as she struggles to regain control of her life. Though I walked into the theater knowing the outcome of Katniss’ story, Lawrence presented it in a way that overwhelms the emotions of even the most devoted of fans.

With such a star-studded cast, the characters of “Mockingjay” could have easily outshone one another, but even with several Academy Award winners, the cast compliments one another perfectly. Though she is always amazing, Jennifer Lawrence still managed to surprise audience members with her honest representation of a hero going through immense emotional pain. Every time her beautiful face winced in pain, I felt tears well up in my eyes. For her final film as Katniss, Lawrence delivers her best performance of the series.

Donald Sutherland is also outstanding in his role of the wicked President Snow. As one of the older and more experienced cast members, Sutherland has a captivating onscreen presence, and sells his character so well that I couldn’t help but hate him. But despite the awe-inspiring performances of Lawrence and Sutherland, the minor characters of the film cannot be ignored. Woody Harrelson did not disappoint as the gruff yet compassionate Haymitch Abernathy, while Elizabeth Banks shone brightly as the fabulous Effie Trinket.

Though it feels as if it is the end of an era, the finale of my favorite series provided the emotional catharsis that both the characters and fans of the “The Hunger Games” were in dire need of. Director Lawrence, who directed all but the first film, escapes the fate of many directors who adapt novels for the big screen ultimately face, and manages to produce a film that stays true to the values of the story. His dedication to Collins’ dystopian tale shines through, allowing “Mockingjay” to be the most effective film of the series.