WARNING SPOILER ALERT:
“Welcome to the 76th Hunger Games.”
If you’re a fan of the books, you were probably aware that The Mockingjay: Part 2 was going to absolutely break our hearts. After all, it’s a series where beloved characters rarely die (rest in peace Rue and Cinna). So it’s a complete shock to have anyone die—let alone people we’ve grown to adore—and see them meet quite violent and gruesome ends. But I guess death is the price you have to pay for war. This film causes us to ask ourselves: is it really worth it? Katniss Everdeen would say no.
The Mockingjay: Part 2 picks up where Part 1 left off: Katniss is in recovering after her fiancé Peeta, who was brainwashed and tortured by the Capitol, tried to kill her. Peeta is convinced that Katniss has been sent from the Capitol to destroy all of the rebels; he truly believes the woman he once loved is a monster, and no amount of talking from the brave and increasingly mature Primrose Everdeen can convince him otherwise. Prim is truly no longer the scared little girl of the first Hunger Games film—she’s brave and selfless. Cue tears.
Like the other films in the popular franchise, Katniss seeks retribution: she wants snow dead. She wants to be there to see the light fade from his eyes. And as the rebels arm themselves for an onslaught on the Capitol, Katniss, Gale, and Finnick, along with a team of skilled fighters and because we wouldn’t want to miss a good photo opportunity (Coin’s orders), Katniss’s trusty camera crew (featuring Natalie Dormer from Game of Thrones) infiltrate the Capitol on a stealthy attack to assassinate Snow. But the Capital is armed and ready to make yet another game of their gruesome demises. With the help of game makers, Snow has equipped every inch of the once-opulent city with deadly traps known as pods—including infernos, machine guns, deadly liquid, as well as terrifying zombie-like fuckers. To make their “top secret” plan (disclaimer: it’s not really tip secret because Katniss is recognised by pretty much everyone; the woes of being the mockingjay, the symbol of a rebellion) more difficult, District 13’s President Coin sends the psychotic and recovering Peeta to join the party. And this would be great, if it weren’t for Peta’s annoying little tendency to forget what’s real, and try to kill Katniss. Awkward. Lucky we have the trusty Gale, who gallantly volunteers to kill Peeta if the time comes. Thanks Gale, we can always count on you. Except for when you devise a war strategy where morals go out the door, and thousands of innocents die. FYI, this is how one of our favourite characters die. Thanks again, Gale, you thoughtless jerk.
Thankfully, we have the alluring and fabulous Jennifer Lawrence, who portrays Katniss perfectly. A lot of the film focusses on Katniss’s inner turmoil and emotional stress, including themes of revenge, love, passion, and most harrowingly, loss. Katniss is thrown into a world where everything she knew has crumbled—are the good guys even the good guys anymore?
Passionate speeches seem to really be her thing—in particular, one that convinces loyalists from the weaponised District 2 to cease fighting.
“You blew up our district. We blew up your mine. We both have reasons to kill each other . . . It goes around and around, and who wins? Snow. These people are not your enemy. It’s snow. Stop killing for him! Turn your weapons to the Capitol, turn your weapons to Snow!”
I mean, at this point, she gets shot: but good speech, right?
All we’ve ever thought about District 13, and it’s mysterious, hard-hitting leader Alma Coin is a lie, something which I think the film executes brilliantly. Of course, the whole good-guy-turns-bad thing is a tad cliche, but it’s done well, so we can forgive them. In fact, it’s probably one of the more horrific and unsettling things that could happen in war–the death of children, and the sacrifice of your own medic team.
Katniss must decide who is really her ally? Gale? Coin? Peeta? Or is it Snow? Well, my dear readers, you’ll have to watch this great film to find out.
One downfall of the film would have to be how everything seems to go so smoothly. Yes, they are caught in traps. Yes, people die. Yes, Katniss is almost found by the Capitol; but everything still seems to quickly work itself out. I would have liked to see a bit more tension in the film, to have the hardships emphasised a little more. But maybe that’s something only a book with in-depth descriptions can do. Some things were changed, but overall, everything was executed well, and the acting was A-class.
I do feel like this film had less of an impact than the first Hunger Games film, which I think can be attributed to the fact that one medium-sized book was made into two quite large movies. It’s great that we get extra descriptions, but it has the result of not being as fast-paced and heart-stopping.
Mockingjay: Part 2 has everything we loved about the series’s beginning. Chillingly evil games, ploys, deception, violence and even love. Only this one has a lot more emotionally-damaging events. For instance, remember from the flashback from the first film, where Peeta burns the loaf of bread to feed the starving Katniss, though he was supposed to give it to the pig? Peeta copped a massive beating for that. In Mockingjay: Part 2, Peeta remembers. Only, it’s twisted: psycho-Peeta stabs a knife right into all of our hearts with this winner: “Seems like I could have saved myself a lot of trouble if I’d just fed the bread to the pig.”
Oh, ouch. Right in the feels.
Also, don’t go into tunnels. Ever. Don’t do it.
But by far, the most important lesson we gain from The Hunger Games series becomes especially poignant in the last few minutes of the film, where we flash forward a few years into the future. I won’t tell you exactly what happens, but it’s hauntingly beautiful.
“Are you having a nightmare?” Katniss asks. “I sometimes have nightmares too.”
It’s true, some nightmares never go away. Some nightmares we never forget. But we can survive them. If Katniss can survive the horrors of the Hunger Games, war, poverty, death and heartache, you can too, reader. After so much horror and so much pain, I’m so glad to inform you that the film ends on a lighter note. It ended in the perfect way to the perfect series—and even gives us the tools to survive the horrors of our own lives.
“I make a list of everything good. I make a game out of it,” Katniss says.
“It sometimes gets a little tedious. But there are far worse games to be played.”
May the odds be ever in your favour.
This article was originally posted on Re:Views magazine (by me) and has been republished with full permission.
Going to the gym is hard.
I find I often start off with the best of intentions, only to find myself falling into a pile of procrastination and excuses. If it’s in the morning, I groan as I put my alarm clock to snooze for the seventh time (I am not kidding, I need this to even consider waking up in the morning). Then I think to myself, I work hard at uni. I have such long days. I deserve a sleep in, yay me. Night time is quite similar—I think, well, it will probably be crowded now it’s after 5pm. Honestly, I just want to go home and make some kind of delicious elaborate food. Maybe I’ll study. Maybe I’ll even have a bubble bath. Do I do any of these things? Absolutely not. My routine normally consists of lazy (yet still somewhat healthy) vegan meals and a lot of time procrastinating either gaming, watching movies, or binge-watching TV shows and anime.
So, how do you make yourself change? I asked personal trainer Melanie Hawksley for her best tips—along with some probably embarrassing anecdotes on my part.
- Find your motivation
What do you want out of exercise and healthy eating? Is it for the right reasons? As women, we’re so often bombarded with a relentless stream of people telling us how we should and shouldn’t look. Maybe, sometimes we just want to feel sexy and confident. I’ll admit, I often feel the need to work out because I am unhappy with my body. However, this can become a bit obsessive. Instead, I like to repeat Jennifer Lawerence’s ideas of body image. When training for her role as Katniss in the Hunger Games, she famously argued:
“I’m never going to starve myself for a part . . . I don’t want little girls to be like, ‘Oh, I want to look like Katniss, so I’m going to skip dinner . . . I was trying to get my body to look fit and strong, not thin and underfed.”
Instead of thinking of working out as a way to get sexy, think of it as a way to nourish and strengthen your body. After all, it will carry you for life.
- Find like-minded people
Specifically, people who will keep you motivated. People who have similar goals.
“You need to find someone (or a group of people) who will push you to the gym, and you to them, even when you may not feel interested,” Melanie Hawksley said.
This is difficult for me. I’ve recently moved to a new area, so I know pretty much no one. I briefly considered posting in random Facebook pages (but they could possibly turn out to be total psycopaths). My solution: I started a Facebook chat group with my friends who have similar goals. We motivate each other (mostly) and try to keep ourselves accountable. We even have friendly competitions to spur each other on—like who can run the most in 20 minutes, or improve the most in a week. Any and all achievements are celebrated.
- Set specific goals
“If your goals are not important enough, then it is likely you won’t follow them through.”
Are you training for a certain marathon? Is there an occasion you’re working towards? A holiday where you want to feel confident and sexy in formalwear and swimwear?
For me, I want to be happy with my body. I want it to be strong. After all, it will support me in all of life’s ups and downs. And honestly, I really like eating food.
“So many people do [it] just to look better but it is often not a powerful enough reason to keep you going back month after month. There needs to be a very powerful driver to keep up the motivation as you go,” Mel added.
This is why a more wholesome approach to health is far better—if your goals are to be healthy and nourish your body, you’re more likely to stick to it than if it was just to look like a Victoria’s Secret model.
- Keep a diary
I don’t mean some kind of obsessive calorie-counting record. Buy a cute diary, fill it with motivational quotes and pictures (Jennifer Lawerence for me), as well as your goals and progress. I also wrote a note to myself: never give up. Any time I felt like giving up, I’d read this and usually get a sense of motivation enough for me to change into gym clothes.
- Find a form of fitness you love
Try joining a local sporting team, take a yoga class, go for a walk on the beach, try pole dancing, or even random every day exercises at the home or gym. Find something you genuinely enjoy, and it won’t feel like a burden to you.
Personally, I’d love to either learn pole dancing or self-defence. But then I remember I’m poor, and stick to my cheap gym membership.
- Don’t feel like you have to conform to societal standards of beauty
All my life, I have struggled intensively with my own body image. I remember sitting in Kindergarten, and having a fellow classmate whisper to me: “you know you’re fat, right?” to which my five-year-old self nodded. Since then, I’ve struggled with eating disorders and fad diets. Honestly? They’re not worth it. Seriously. Don’t waste your money on Isagenix or any other tea tox. Yeah, you might lose weight, but that is because you are not eating. It’s not healthy, and it’s not sustainable. But time and time again, I try these things because I felt I needed to be skinny to feel happy. Wrong.
My dear reader, if you ever feel like this, I encourage you to metaphorically (or literally) yell: “fuck that!”. Because you are beautiful. Because you are powerful. Because you are strong. Because you’ve overcome every single challenge you’ve come across. Because you know true beauty is in the person you are, and how you treat those around you. Make a change for the right reasons, not the wrong ones.
And most importantly?
Love yourself. Know that what you look like does not decide your worth as a human being. Screw society’s beauty standards.