On to my, um...severely mixed-feelings section (primarily concerning the denouement/ending!)
We didn't get to feel Annie's grief at being so swiftly widowed, except in her "So would Finnick if he were here" statement & letter to Katniss & Peeta. Of course, she's one of those people that most viewers/readers/fans will only care about *because* she's Finnick's girl, and not so much in her own right. The disadvantage to Katniss' POV being so wholly inescapable in the source material is that we still don't get to experience much of anybody else's side of things, even Peeta's. I figured, for instance, that there'd be no cutting away to witness people's reactions and activities/goings-on in 13 and elsewhere. Wasn't even expecting that, or any of the other little things that just wouldn't have been able to be worked into a movie under 2.5 hours. But all of the critics claiming that the supporting characters were almost criminally underused had me plenty worried--that was practically my biggest fear! Obviously you're not going to get tons of info and details about them, so you have to rely on drawing logical conclusions and inferences. (Haymitch does, thankfully, pop up a number of times throughout, and is a thoroughly wonderful presence who's progressed a great deal.)
Still, I would more readily forgive the general underutilization had the last quarter of the film done more with the supporting cast than it did. Yes, what we see is marvelous, yet my deep-seated super-fangirly need for more cannot and must not be denied.
MJ2 is a very, very good text-to-screen translation. It's grand; parts are phenomenal. My primary issue is still with the ending, which is certainly a vast improvement over the book's on several counts (MJ being an example of film[s] managing to improve upon a book more than has typically been seen), but could've gone much further than it did. I really, really wanted them to go all-out and tell everything, fill in all the gaps. Yes, this is Katniss' story, but in telling her story, Kat introduced us to a very interesting world populated by other highly compelling and intriguing people as well.
Good things toward the end:
-Peeta planting the primrose! Yay for that.
-Mentions of Mrs. Everdeen & Gale, as in the text--in a letter from Annie! It's nice to know they're all okay. I can live with getting just that from the movie, but.....
-Immediate aftermath: Inauguration of Paylor (what is her first name?!?), great line about Plutarch ("And they say nobody ever wins the Games.") Ha! He surely did. At least this would seem to intimate a much nicer future for this terribly scarred and broken land; it's uplifting. (And Haymitch drinking water with K&P--good! Good step. ^u^)
(Plutarch's the ultimate winner, but Katniss is the nearest to an ultimate victor; in spite of all her immeasurable personal suffering, she triumphed. She stuck to her guns and did the right things where it counted most. She did what Cinna believed she could: help to bring about a better world. Effie never lost faith in Katniss herself, and eventually gained faith in the rebellion's potential for real success.)
-Everlarky goodness. They then skipped ahead to mini scenes of the two living together/growing back together over time, going to bed...followed by a bigger leap to the simple epilogue, practically lifted straight from the page. (Why was anyone worried about them tampering with the Toastbabes' sexes again? Pointless! I knew it! Still no names spoken for them kiddos, so Willow & Rye 'tis.) This little end section very quickly returned to an overly slavish faithfulness to Kat's narration, though, by zeroing in with such a tight lens on just her and Peeta--to the exclusion of everyone and everything else. In that sense, we suffer from the same problem all over again; it feels as if they're the last two people left on the continent. (The population's not THAAAT reduced...!) It's microscopic. (Don't
even think about getting me wrong; I love Everlark as well, & I
fully appreciate what an exceptional heroine Katniss is. I'd merely
hoped she/they wouldn't be the sole focus again when the entire nation
has just undergone a revolution and there are a number of other
interesting people who need closure, too.)
->Going backward: Here's where it really gets mixed. Effie's farewell to Katniss and Haymitch was...well, beautiful, but that's an understatement. It's tender & gentle & moving & sweet. The kiss he leans down & plants on her cheek, then her lips (or close to 'em)!! The looks they exchange!!! The caress she runs down his chest!!! *falls down dead from the hubby-wifey preciousness* I suppose that made up for not seeing them dance together at the wedding. And I wanna hazard a guess that that wasn't their first kiss (it will most DEFINITELY be far from their last!!)...'twas rather familiar for that...;) Though you can see they're both trying to keep this as casual as possible. But, it was surely a wonderful statement of love right there in public before Katniss (assuming she saw)--and a precursor as well. A prelude. A promise. They know it's not the end.
One can just imagine their off-screen interactions--in 13, in the Capitol, & throughout the whole damn story! ;w; You can tell there's probably been at least one long, lingering kiss, or that they want them. Like, they couldn't have a long, drawn-out, hyper-dramatic or over-emotional goodbye out there with Katniss right before he and she left for 12. Clearly they had previous time together...probably discussed the future a wee bit once she was able, begged one another to take care of themselves--until...well...you know...!
-Effie entreating Katniss to at last focus on herself--not in the former "fending for myself" sense, but by really tending to her deepest needs and finding a way to move forward, without the weight of the world on her shoulders. No more games. She has suffered unspeakably, enduring one tragic event after another, and seeing and doing things no one, let alone a teenager, should have to experience. Yet she somehow still remained standing in the end--victorious in her ultimate mission, and in keeping true to herself, despite losing so very much. A deeply damaged person but a true victor, deserving of all which ought to accompany this now that a terrible era is finally over. The future looks brighter from here; thanks largely to her, hope may begin to flourish. She can't feel it yet. Finding her own peace and searching for the happiness she so richly deserves, especially now, will take time...but she can't give up on it. (And oh, how the healing process will apply to all of them...things can never be perfect, but...)
-"Don't be a stranger." Oh, she won't be. In fact, she'll be the opposite...soon. And that line essentially translates to a proposal. ;p It's as good as one. She'll figure it out. There'll be a 'visit' with no end...
-"Take care of her." BUT DON'T BE RIDICULOUS, THAT'S WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO CONTINUE DOING TOGETHER. You all NEED to take care of one another, BECAUSE YOU ARE A FAMILY. Keep listening to your heart, girl; it'll guide you right. Trust in it. You KNOW where you belong. Haymitch needs to take you home. He wants to keep you. You literally can't stay apart; you need each other. It's your only chance, your only option for really moving forward. That's what you two do--you keep each other alive. You're an unsinkable ship, the counterpart to Everlark, two halves of a whole, the "other star-crossed lovers of District 12." And parenthood is likewise in your stars. Protectiveness, caring, and nurturance are in your nature.
Both of them know deep down inside where destiny is going to lead them.
They were both still holding back too much. It's tough to let go of the past even as things have been shifting, and old habits die hard. None of them can ever fully escape it and have a pure, untainted start at a new life. But by Jove, Haymitch has to let her know she's beautiful, that he loves her so much and won't survive without her...ask her to marry him...obviously, neither will be complete until they're together again. For keeps. It's crystal-clear, and they'll all see it--including those around them who may somehow not already. ;p
Effie, you remember when Plutarch told you your days in the Capitol were over? THAT WAS NO NEWS TO YOU. And you remember that wonderful stuff you wrote about true love in the Victory Tour speeches? That part wasn't just more safe pandering; you meant every heartfelt word.
The agonizing shot of Effie watching Katniss & Haymitch walk away...GODDAMMIT, THAT'S WHERE YOU RUN AFTER THEM, WOMAN! Or better yet, where they run back and say, "What the hell are we thinking? We love you and can't leave you here all alone--please, come home with us!" Or something! Don't wait to extend the invitation you're so clearly going to extend, man!! Don't wait for her to decode the message! It's a total "Please come, please be with me, please be mine and don't leave." 'Cause believe it or not, that's what you will both require. I was possessed with an all but insurmountable urge to lunge down the aisle and hurl myself at the screen in an attempt to leap across the interdimensional border into Panem and SLAP SOME ****ING SENSE INTO THESE LOVABLE DIPS. ;0; 'Specially Mitchie. ;p
When I heard about that scene as a spoiler, I thought, "It's okay. It's okay. Obviously, there should then be a 'Homeward Bound 2'-esque reunion scene!" In short: Chance leaves Delilah in San Francisco; both are miserable and unsure about the decision, but figuring it's the thing to do. Chance gets home and falls into a listless, lethargic depression until he eventually hears Delilah's bark and sees her turn up at the edge of his yard. They race jubilantly into each other's arms--err, forelegs--and it's clear that she ain't leaving. Something showing the end result! ('Course, if Hayffie were dogs, he'd have been the stray and she'd have been the pet...Lady & the Tramp, y'know...but same diff! In the end, they wind up where they belong: together. Maybe with spaghetti smooches next time. ;p)
Anyway, after chilling out and thinking about this--I understood. They might not have felt like putting her on the spot right then and there, still might not have been fully sure of what her response would be, or how it'd work out & what's actually the best place for her...and understand that she feels the need to do whatever job she's going to do in the Capitol...so, Hay encourages her to at least pay frequent visits. She doesn't want to invite herself, or assume they'd want her there for good, or be a burden on anyone in any way--probably wondering whether she's welcome or truly belongs anywhere. Staying in the place she comes from is basically just a sort of temporary default.
However, I believe Paylor & Plutarch will assign her tasks to busy her--important things that she can do, like she'd have been doing in 13--and she'll gladly want to help them out. (They'll offer her to stay in a room in the mansion, make sure she's taken care of, try to keep her safe & watch over her as much as possible, be clued-in enough to keep Haymitch informed of anything they think he ought to know...) So, Effie asks Haymitch to take care of Katniss...for now. (Even if Sae may do most of the direct care at first!) I don't think she can ever forgive herself for having been so involved in the Games process, even though all she ever really did was try her hardest to help the tributes in every way she possibly could. She needs to finally, at long last, be able to learn to relax, breathe, and just
be herself, surrounded by people who love and care for her.
But otherwise, after that, there's nothing for her there. Without her, the TEAM is just...EAM. And one simply cannot have eam. That won't do at all. Katniss will not have two mums who don't live with her in 12. Haymitch'll buy a flock of geese and be waiting for his sweetheart to step off of that train. No rush, no pressure on her, just...soon as they're ready to start forging a new life together...
So, what with the kissing and the crying and the whole emotional mess...I am extremely grateful for this magnificent, invaluable loveliness that didn't get a mention in the book, but should've. Yeah, I knew all along that Hayffie's the realest of the real, but even I would've thought that witnessing a KISS (technically two kisses!) in Pt. 2 would have been just a little too much to hope for. That scene leaves the door wide open & points further in the right direction, so thank you for the strong implications & foreshadowing it carries. I just would've given anything to see a little moooore--the next step to unbreak our collective heart a bit. That particular trajectory's been crystal-clear to me for some time now. (Please, deleted scenes, for the love of bread and mahogany, have something great for me that I can edit back in on my comp because it should never have ever been removed for some ungodly inexplicable reason...:\) Having to mentally fill in all their prior and subsequent scenes and interactions--for now!--is simultaneously rewarding and frustrating.
**Talking with a friend on DA...she believes that Effie needed to stay for a bit with Peeta, but then returned with him & was just off-camera in the inauguration scene. LOVE IT!! I mean, it definitely makes total sense for sure that she'd be helping take care of Peeta while both were there, before he was ready to be sent back to 12...
-What of Johanna?? 8-[
-No suggestion of a reconciliation with Gale, but as with the book, that by no means indicates that it won't happen. Surely Katniss is pleased to hear that he's doing well for himself in 2. And Gale fans should at the very least be glad that he wasn't painted as an out-and-out bad guy. He had his perspective; Katniss and Peeta had their own. His parting with Katniss was hurtful, and you could feel his pain too; though it may very well have been his bomb, he hadn't known that Prim would be among the medics sent in right before the second wave. This time you get no sense that "I'm only sorry I lost my last chance at being with you, which is why I agreed to help your family out in the first place..."
->WHY NOT THIS: A camera-panning montage of moments from the next few years. The memory book, lying open on a table beside a telephone and notes from Gale & Mrs. Everdeen. Johanna, Annie, & "Finn, Jr." visiting 12 (or *possibly* having decided to move there too, or Annie mentioning in her letter that Jo has come to stay with her.) Some rebuilding work going on in the district. The bakery is up and running again. Greasy Sae's there--hey, Greasy! Haymitch and Effie--au naturale, in perhaps a simple sundress, hair down and free, with minimal embellishments/cover-ups--assisting or standing together on their front porch or something, anything. Geese and various critters scampering around their yards. Transition to a wedding in progress (Make that double wedding--Everlark+Hayffie! One toast/kiss, then the other--or simultaneously. Various guests in attendance.) THEN go to the rest of your intimate Everlark moments, and cut to epilogue. Boom. Automatic greatest film ever made in the history of film. Or so all fans would scream and screech as they flop about on the floor like helpless fishes, overcome with feels so intense and sustaining that they shan't ever diminish their hold upon our very souls.
Why couldn't we get that? I haven't the faintest. Would it have made the ending seem too "happy" when it can't help but be bittersweet at best? Would it have hijacked too much attention from Everlark? Believe me, I neither expected nor wanted to walk out of this thing feeling all sunshiny. It's intensely dark by necessity--and masochistically, we want to be devastated. But was it entirely necessary to laden the viewer with SO much weight as to cast a deliberate, interminable shadow of depression as far ahead as the eye can see?? ;; Did we truly have to be THAT committed to being the feel-bad movie masterpiece of the year, that we couldn't have glimpsed other phases of the future that would finally lift our spirits a smidge more? [*Coach Kreeton voice* "OOOHHHHHHH, I FEEL BAD! I FEEL REAL BAD! MAH HAPPINESS IS A MEMORY!"]
I wasn't looking for an additional 10-15 minutes of "ending," or for those paragraphs that appear at the end of some movies and summarize what each and every person went on to do; glimpses of the future would suffice to fill us in. That's all we needed. Not having a shot in there of "natural Effie" with hair down and loose might be the most unforgivable oversight/faux pas. (And we're to assume that the blonde hair seen throughout MJ2 is her natural, then? Just done up in a "wiggy" style, & possibly tinted a bit yellowish? 'Cause I mean, it could be another wig that they found someplace for her that's closer to her natural color, but...it looked real at the roots...and to think we didn't get to see her finally remove the bandanna for Haymitch, and let at least one other person see her natural hair in its natural state. Wtfh? Love the high-banged, set-back lilac wig with the 'kimono-gift' dress, too...)
What makes this all so difficult to deal with is that it's the second time around here. "All right, a book can get away with ending like that; we know what happens!" But to see such golden opportunities missed on film physically hurts.
It wasn't of tremendous importance to find out more about the other surviving squad members and Victors, really (Cressida, Pollux, Beetee...), since I guess it's easy enough to assume that they returned to their homes and work and lives and just, picked up the pieces and were okay. Gressida wasn't as much of a thing as some of us were imagining it might be; she was just tending to Gale's need for stitches. So I guess no "consolation prize" for Gale in the form of a gritty, tattooed, partly-shaven film director. :\
I even stayed all the way to the end of the credits, desperately hoping for something extra--but my dedication was rewarded only with music, a slightly impatient mom, and the assurance that "Buttercup" was most definitely not harmed in the making of this film. Drooled upon, perhaps, but not harmed. WHEW. What a relief.
My only other minor quibble also pertains to Effie, since the addition of her scenes throughout Mockingjay is the biggest and best difference between the books and films. Of course, the whole imprisonment thing from the "background" of the text wasn't addressed, because it barely was in the book. Much as I don't even want to think about that, I always find it necessary to reconcile--especially for something far too significant to simply write off as "Whoops, that was a mistake, didn't really happen." But, you know, you've got her with a map on her head, and ignored by the camera between the wedding & Katniss getting settled into the palace, and Katniss demonstrating the possibility of sneaking around 13 and stowing away aboard hovercrafts for secret self-assigned missions, so...it's not as if they tried to do away with it, even though it probably didn't even cross their minds.
What now? Now that the trilogy as it stands has, basically, been finished? Well, first of all is the hope for lots of great deleted scenes (on the Blu-ray that should be here in March?) Scenes for which they felt there simply wasn't time, or that diverted too much from the Everlark-centricity. Scenes that are still "real," since there are two basic types of deleted ones: Those that just didn't work for whatever reasons, and those that almost definitely DID happen as shown, but (in the director's judgment) don't ultimately need to be seen in the final film. Obviously, I prefer the latter type.
I completely understand if Suzanne is ready to move on to another story she may have in mind, and doesn't feel up to writing another Hunger Games-related book (or working on another blockbuster) within the next few years. Who can blame Lionsgate for wanting to expand and milk this baby for all it's worth, though? (And if you ask me, it's still worth a whole lot more. Few stories and character sets are this unforgettably fascinating.) The Exhibition, theme parks, a mysterious stage show, the "World of The Hunger Games" re-brand--there's no doubt that 'sequel,' 'prequel,' and 'spin-off' are terms they do EVER so want to hear.
Well, I've got a few suggestions, all totally salable: A) Short stories/films. What better way to enhance what we know about this world, these people, and their lives, without requiring another fully epic storyline that warrants whole novels and spans a series of blockbuster features? People will still absolutely buy and devour these.
B) Graphic novels. They can be pretty minimal on the writing/dialog whilst getting the points across visually--they're mostly on the artists!
C) Official artwork. In book format. Hey, we're used to unconventional marketing and products from this franchise! Why not expand by commissioning artwork depicting realistic, detailed scenes? The only real writing involved then is listing out everything to be included in each illustration, & probably captioning them. A picture can be worth a thousand words. You realize how dedicated people are to their fanart and fanfiction? Imagine what a thing like this could mean to us.
Personally, I love the idea of employing illustration--even animation. People talk about the possibility of THG being remade in the future, but there'd be few ways to improve upon it, and you'd WANT as many of the same people involved as possible--which at some point becomes impossible unless you're talking a future-set sequel. I could see bringing them back to do an episodic series, whether live-action or animated (try to dramatize everything that didn't make it into the movies? Though that would essentially amount to retelling the whole thing over again, but in greater depth?) A sequel about the future would be incredible, but might be better suited to shorter and smaller formats. Prequels concerning the history of Panem & the Games, characters' backstories, and past Games could hold some very interesting potential--or, such historical information could be revealed through future/"sequel" creations.
In the meantime, I'm also hoping for the Mockingjay chapters of The Hunger Games Adventures to FINALLY be added to the game soon...because as that went along, it got to be a pretty darn good game. A lot of perfectly believable, acceptable, good stuff wound up in there, on top of all the silly cheese. And corn. I can only imagine how it might be able to add onto MJ if the developers are truly going to update it at some point and haven't been lying to me over the past several months! Additionally, an all-in-one Mockingjay Illustrated Movie Companion would be welcome. I expect the theme park to be "set" more around the time of the first book/film (or maybe CF) than the post-MJ future, but hopefully there'll be elements of all the time periods.