Ever since those in charge of the Harry Potter franchise decided that they could make an extra movie near the end without anyone really caring, it has been a common practice, and the story usually suffers. It was the same with The Hunger Games franchise, as the first part of the final book was all set-up. Earlier this morning the first trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 was released online, and it appears promising. There is a distinct revolutionary tone to the snippets of action and conversations, and it is clear that this final film will attempt to deliver on all the wheel-spinning of Mockingjay Part 1 with a stunning climax.
The trailer opens with Katniss’ voice over a wedding scene saying, “Nothing good is safe while Snow’s alive, and I can’t make another speech about it”. Thank God (although she is shown giving a speech about 30 seconds later). Hopefully she can’t stare into the distance about it either. The trailer contains a few different battle sequences and action teasers, so it appears as though we can take Katniss at her word and expect some follow-through this time around. I am not clamoring for mindless action here, though, because the ultimate theme of the novel, and the dramatization of a few critical plot elements necessarily depends on a couple of critical action scenes, and from first glances through this trailer, I believe we will be getting those.
Now, for those of you who can’t read, I am issuing a GIGANTIC spoiler warning. I am soon going to talk about two absolutely critical plot elements that occur in the novel and, I think, should occur in the film in order to faithfully reproduce the themes and meaning that were critical to the artistic success of The Hunger Games. If you have not read the books, and want to remain surprised, get the hell out of here. You have been warned, the next paragraph may ruin your life. Suffice to say that I believe this trailer has done an appropriate job revealing the tone of this final installment of the franchise, and gives us a good look at the narrative structure that we can expect. I also think that it reveals a couple of plot point important to the novel, and that is what I am prepared to discuss now. Bottom line: good trailer, I hope the film capitalizes on what is promised here (which was not the case for Mockingjay Part 1).
Okay, so now we’re in spoiler territory. Or, we soon will be.
Normally, I don’t like spoiling stories, but it is absolutely critical when discussing The Hunger Games, and here’s why. The story is very broadly about the evils of a tyrannical government, which is epitomized by the President Snow. Katniss seems to know this almost instinctively in the novel, but it is concretized for her by the death of her sister Primrose. This loss makes the evil of Snow unavoidable to her, and is critical for the story for an additional reason. Once Prim dies during the final assault on Snow, which results in his capture, Katniss is conscripted by President Alma Coin (played by Julianne Moore) to execute him with her arrow. This symbolic act is to be broadcast, and is pure propaganda. What’s more, Katniss suspects that the bombardment that led to her sister’s death was a result of an order given by Coin – possibly in an effort to make Katniss more hateful towards Snow, thereby guaranteeing her support in this execution. Nonetheless, Katniss agrees to the execution, and I think we see the beginning of this event in the trailer when Katniss is walking down the packed street in the capital (beginning at 0:47 of the trailer). Look at Katniss’ attire and appearance. She is in full makeup and wearing ornamental boots and body armor. She does not have the jacket, hood, or any of her secondary weapons that we see during the battle scenes in the capital. This costuming indicates that we are in a different time, and due to the narrative, it must be after the capital has been taken.
Of course, we know that Katniss actually fires her arrow at President Coin, in a beautiful recognition that the new president is also power-obsessed and willing to sacrifice citizens to her rule. In effect, it is a statement against not specifically Snow’s brand of tyranny (The Hunger Games), but all forms of tyranny. If this film has the courage to stay true to the novels with this ending (i.e., killing Prim and therefore Coin), then sitting through the previous installment will have been worth it. Very rarely do we get to see such a clear indictment of governmental power on the abstract level, and if Mockingjay Part 2 can deliver what appears to be promised by this trailer, then we may have not only an entertaining film on our hands, but also an important one.