When Suzanne Collins published her dystopian thriller “The Hunger Games” in 2008, she likely had no idea what it would turn into. Now, a book trilogy and a film tetralogy later, the series has finally reached its end.
The final film, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part II,” was released last weekend, and BYU students turned up in droves to see it. The Riverwoods’ Carmike Cinemas saw large lines on the night of the premiere, as did other local theaters. Moviegoers’ expectations ranged from skeptical to ecstatic.
“I bet it’ll be alright,” said Garrett Hamblin, a senior studying public health. “I’ve read the books and I’ve seen the movies. The movies are good, and so are the books, except for the third one. So I don’t really know what to expect.”
Hamblin’s fiancée, senior Andee Shelton, had a harder time containing her enthusiasm. “‘Hunger Games’ is, like, the best ever,” she said. “I’m expecting greatness.”
Other students’ pre-movie outlook wasn’t so optimistic. “I’m a big ‘Hunger Games’ fan, but we’ll see how this goes,” said Kaylee Packham, a senior in the nursing program. “I’ve read the books and loved all the movies so far, but I’m expecting this to not be as good; I didn’t like the third book at all, there weren’t even any games in it!”
The best-selling and award-winning trilogy begins when the protagonist, 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, volunteers to take part in “The Hunger Games,” a barbaric competition in which children are forced to fight to the death on live television, in place of her sister. From there, the series delves into themes of rebellion, revolution and, by the end, outright war.
Katniss survives not one, but two Hunger Games competitions. She then unwittingly becomes the symbol of a political uprising against the Capitol, the oppressive government who forces its citizens to take part in the Hunger Games as a reminder of their past rebellions.
That’s where “Mockingjay: Part II” picks up. The thirteen districts under the Capitol’s power join together in a revolution of epic proportions. Katniss and a highly-trained team of soldiers march through the war-torn streets of the Capitol to assassinate the President, but deadly booby traps await at nearly every corner. The Capitol attempts to rip the rebels apart from the outside, but an even more insidious threat, the power-hungry leader of the rebellion, Alma Coin, threatens to destroy them from within.
Though the books are meant for teenagers, “Mockingjay: Part II” doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities of war. “The movie is actually pretty sad,” Hamblin said, “but it gets its message across.”
“It definitely wasn’t a happily-ever-after finish,” agreed Packham. “But I liked it! It was a good movie for a date night.”
Shelton went into the film with the highest expectations, and she said it didn’t disappoint. “What can I say, the odds were in Katniss’ favor!” she joked, referencing the Hunger Games catchphrase. “I liked how she was still a part of the games, even though she wasn’t actually in the games. They depicted that well. This was a great series. Nothing will ever beat ‘Harry Potter,’ of course, but this came pretty dang close.”