Ah, The Hunger Games Series, which is in the Holy Trinity of YA films, (including Harry Potter and The Twilight Saga) actually comes at the perfect time because those of us who grew up reading and watching Harry Potter are in college and beyond, tackling the scarier issues that loom in The Hunger Games. When my buddy Jason and I wandered into the first film on a Sunday afternoon in Clemson, I was surely sold and became just one of thousands in an immediate fan base. While The Twilight Saga attempted   to be darker and more mature than HP, The Hunger Games succeeded at it with a much better cast and stronger female roles.  

The last and much anticipated installment of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 arrived in theaters last November.   This film is Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and her rebel friends’ final attempt to take over the Capital and instill a new form government, hopefully one that ends all Hunger Games once and for all. It has a lot more action and is much more militant, but a definite shift from Part 1. I must say there is a much more wintry feeling to this film than the others and even some cloaks. It airs on the side of Game of Thrones, even borrowing actresses Natalie Dormer and Gwendoline Christie. This is, by far, the most dark and least teen of the films and is devastatingly true to the nature of war.

Left: Liam Hemsworth, Right: Jennifer Lawrence, in 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 - Image: Lionsgate

Left: Liam Hemsworth, Right: Jennifer Lawrence, in ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2’ – Image: Lionsgate

Again Jennifer Lawrence, Jena Malone and Josh Hutcherson all nailed it. But yes, I crave more Peeta… he just has such a wonderful role and his pleasant disposition is missed when we realized in Mockingjay – Part 1 that the Capital tried to turn him into a Katniss-killing mutt. There is also a little lacking in the character development of President Coin, who I think could have been afforded more depth in such a major role. Finally, I was sad that Joanna’s fear of water and her training as a soldier with Katniss were missing from the film – all that film time you would think they could include every part of the novel.

The music is really on point for this one. James Newton Howard chose to create an instrumental score and the costumes are gorgeous, as usual. I wanted more of the landscape and visuals I’d been missing since Catching Fire but we only really see Districts 13, 2 and the Capital. The film simply reeks of sadness all the way through to its dedication to Phillip Seymour Hoffman, as this was his last performance. Although the story line seems inherently bleak, the film ties up in a nice, neat and very satisfying way.

The first two films are the best by far, but the last two were necessary. The entire series has incredible scope and cleverly touches on so many issues. Katniss has agency.  She’s not conventionally pretty; the entire first film she was just regular looking and we need more of that in movies! No tan, blonde, chick with glossy lips (Looking at you Divergent Series). These films are liberal and comment on class divide, tabloids, feminism, publicity, even reality television, and the pods in the capital sound similar to IEDs in Iraq. Guess what, though? There’s no sex. Parents, this is such a cool film to talk to your kids about! It wasn’t too violent for a wide audience base even though the nature of the books were so dark. 

Jennifer Lawrence in 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2' Image: Lionsgate

Jennifer Lawrence in ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2’ Image: Lionsgate

Honestly, there didn’t need to be two final movies unless they each focused on different things. Unfortunately, that’s just not how that plot of the novel was laid out.   On the other hand (the predominant one I’m using to type this), I would much rather have Parts 1 and 2 been drawn out and given me more time to explore Panem rather than one final, lacking film in one rushed, mashed-together feature.  All in all, I was satiated with my final fill of The Hunger Games. Out of all the YA franchises, this one is the most exemplary for me.