People can be quite dismissive of Young Adult films. They seem to attract as many snooty detractors as wildly enthusiastic fans. Admittedly as films they can be quite easy to mock – particularly the dystopian sub-genre with its silly made up names, hunky males and evil adults terrorising poor blameless teenagers.
The Hunger Games, though, has always been so much more than that and this final instalment is no exception. A film almost as cynical about revolutionaries as the regimes they seek to overthrow, with a lot to say on the human impact of war, social divisions, the ways in which we dehumanise others and on the manipulation of the media. A dumb action blockbuster depicting good vs evil with a cheesy love triangle this is not.
It is worth emphasising that The Hunger Games is also a series remarkable for its very human protagonist. In this era of quipping Superheroes, Katniss Everdeen is both a woman and a person with no supernatural powers or incredible leadership qualities (accidental figurehead of a revolution though she may be). She is motivated not by some commitment to an abstract moral ideology but a desire to protect those she cares about. Traumatic events do not bounce off her or receive a lip-service of emotion as they would in most films; instead she is deeply affected by them. Played brilliantly by Jennifer Lawrence, she remains a very sympathetic character.
All of this is what has made The Hunger Games series so enjoyable and continues to in this film. Mockingjay Part II is however, probably the weakest of the series. It does not recapture the tense arena action of the first two films. Nor is it as successful at exploring its moral questions as the third film was. It also feels as though the filmmakers did not have the courage to carry through the darker themes right to the end, and try to give a lighter end than would be appropriate.
Mockingjay, though, only feels less impressive because of what has come before. It remains not only enjoyable but that rare thing – a blockbuster which gives you stuff to think about, including some rather hunky men.
Image: Kendra Miller; Flickr.com