The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 movie full length review - A Critique of How Truth is Distorted Through the Fisheye Lens of Media in Climax to Hunger Games series
Although it's not referenced in the films, a fisheye lens is a wide angle camera lens which produces a wide panoramic or hemispherical image, so named because the lens appears similar to the eye of a fish.
Images caught through the fisheye lens produce beautiful scenes at the price of creating distortion. This is the essence of the Hunger Games series. Edited footage of a news story, a reality show, and media-produced films or videos are filtered through editing processes in which certain aspects are accentuated over others for dramatic effect and/or propaganda intent. In short, it's a analogous to the fisheye lens.
In this final chapter of the Hunger Games film series (the last book broken up into two installments), the rebels are close to taking over District 1, the capitol of Panem. Panem's soft-spoken but relentlessly immoral dictator is President Snow (Donald Sutherland) who used the power of media to keep the districts enthralled but in constant fear with his annual "Hunger Games". Now, the president must use similar media manipulation to convince the masses of the criminal objectives of the rebels. Throughout the final confrontation, Snow broadcasts "mandatory" news reels which distort the reality of the confrontation, often misrepresenting footage to prove the Rebels are not only losing their battles, but the hearts and minds of the people of Panem.
The Rebel's figurehead leader is Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), now playing a largely staged role to inspire the masses of rebels. While she and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) broke with Hunger Games tradition by refusing to kill each other at the end of the games in the first installment, both begin to question whether their actions are of their own designs or of the designs of the leaders of the Rebellion. Snow's opponent is not really Katniss, despite all appearances, but Alma Coin (Julianne Moore), the self-appointed leader of the Rebellion. As events play out, Coin appears more and more like the dictator she wishes to overthrow, also using media manipulation to further her cause. And her cause becomes ambiguous: Does she truly desire to free the districts and call for free elections, or does she simply covet the power which is slowly slipping out of Snow's tired and slippery fingers?
After a confrontation gone-wrong between a rebel force and members of District 2 who are still loyal to District 1, Katnisse is confined to the Rebel headquarters, instructed she will only be used after the Capitol's defeat. Petta, who was captured then rescued by the Rebels, is suffering from delusions that Katnisse is his enemy. Katnisse goes rogue, sneaking out of the compound and joining the frontlines of the Rebellion. Coin and Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) instantly realize Katnisse's move and decide to let her play it out, seemingly on her terms. A squad is hastily formed and they are instructed they can lead the Rebel forces but only as a media show. They are not supposed to engage in actual combat.
However, nearly the entire region of District 1 around the president's palace is littered with destructive "mines", called pods, which can erupt violently upon sensing movement, either by automatic gunfire or explosions. Then after several misadventures dealing with the pods, resulting in the loss of a crucial figure of the squad, Katnisse reveals her real objective which is above and beyond the orders from the Rebellion: she intends to assassinate President Snow. However, as events continue to play out, Katnisse begins to question the objectives of the rebel leaders. They appear to be engaged in the same kinds of media manipulation used so effectively by President Snow...
A brilliant film with an unexpected ending to one of the best dystopian stories since George Orwell's "1984". What makes the Hunger Games series ultimately disturbing is how much of its critique of media relates to media today. At this writing, the United States is in the midst of its primary election season to determine the respective presidential nominees of the Democratic and Republican parties. Aside from which side you may be rooting and voting for, all candidates engage in media manipulation. Some crowds at campaign rallies are paid as ringers by the candidates. Photo shoots are carefully choreographed to accentuate candidates' strengths while hiding their weaknesses. Often candidates would rather make pre-written speeches then answer spontaneous questions from journalists. The issue is not whether the world could ever become as Panem. The question is more about how close we already are, and the scariest aspect of Suzanne Collins' original vision is we may be closer than we realize.