Back when it was announced that The Hunger Games books were going to be turned into movies, my first thought was, “Oh no, how are they going to turn that third book into a movie?” Well, they did, and they even turned it into a two-parter. I have been won over anew by the movie series each time a new film was released. Jennifer Lawrence brings the perfect blend of compassion and prickly personality to this reluctant hero, and the movies have stayed true to the themes of the books.
This last movie is sad and violent, though not too gory. The rebellion faces down high-tech, devastating weapons from the wealthy, modern Capitol, who plays with them the same way the Gamemakers played with the lives of the tributes in the Hunger Games arenas. Some of the horror is lessened by the fact that the Mutts who attack them along the way are not so different from the Orcs in the Lord of the Rings movies, so you may feel you’ve seen something like this before.
As in the books, the movie is unwilling to give us an unequivocal hero who leads the good guys into triumphant victory over the bad guys. Nothing is so clear cut, and no one is left untouched or untainted. As in real wars, there are always consequences—even for doing the right thing. This is both the strength of the story and the difficulty of turning it into a satisfying film. Most action movies bring you to some big payoff where the good guys win and everything is okay. Panem is no Gotham. Everyone will continue to suffer the effects of the war.
As Plutarch says to Katniss (sadly in a letter, due to the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman during filming) “We are fickle, stupid beings with a great gift for self-destruction.” There’s total depravity for you. And that’s the unspoken, possibly unintentional truth of the Hunger Games series: no merely human Mockingjay is enough to save us from ourselves. (Lionsgate)