Comic Con 2015: Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 panel with Jennifer Lawrence
With the TWILIGHT saga over and the HUNGER GAMES series coming to a close, Lionsgate truly made the most of their last foreseeable chance to wow Hall H. The panel started with white-clad soldiers marching on stage to play a rousing war beat on timpani drums. They were soon joined by a full-size drumline in the audience as the following promo played:
With the crowd properly amped up, Conan O'Brien brought out the panel's special guests: director Francis Lawrence, producer Nina Jacobson, and cast members Willow Shields (Primrose), Liam Hemsworth (Gale), Josh Hutcherson (Peeta) and Katniss herself, Jennifer Lawrence. After Conan announced that he was "Team Josh," Francis Lawrence showed the audience a new full trailer for the movie:
The trailer opens with a voiceover by President Snow: "I've been watching you and you’ve been watching me, my dear Ms. Everdeen. Make no mistake… the game is coming to its end." This was followed by several somber shots showing all the characters and random district citizens preparing for battle. One district military leader says, "President snow is building a minefield of traps. Sadistic inventions by the gamemakers to make sport of your deaths." Finnick tells Katniss: "Welcome to the 76th Annual Hunger Games."
We then see Katniss marching through a city with crowds of people following her. There's some generic trailer dialogue—"We get one shot; let's make it count! " "Snow has to pay for what he's done!" and "If you end all this, Katniss, all those deaths mean something."— followed by random shots of action and combat. There's the scene from the previous trailer of Katniss and Co. running from a flood of black goo, a new shot of Katniss and Co. running through a building as the floor explodes behind them, planes dropping parachutes over top a group of people, and a brief glimpse at a cat-like lady with a face covered in tattoos. Katniss says, "Tonight turn your weapons to the Capitol! Turn your weapons to Snow!" as the title comes up.
The footage looked good and was very intense, but there was no big WOW! moment to really put it over the top. I guess Lionsgate knows everyone is going to see the movie regardless so they don't have to give away too much.
The rest of the panel revealed a little bit about the final movie but mainly focused on the cast looking back at the franchise as it closes. That included an extremely flustered Jennifer Lawrence who nervously (and adorably) stumbled through the entire panel. Here are some highlights
- Those of you disappointed at the slow burn build-up of MOCKINGJAY PART 1 will be happy with how action packed PART 2 is. Francis Lawrence said this film is where Katniss gets back into action and goes in to battle with Squad 451, admitting she was sidelined in the last movie.
- There will be new battlefields and new environments in the last film. When the story moved from the districts to the Capitol, production moved from Atlanta to Europe with shoots in both Paris and Berlin
- When asked about her favorite Katniss moment, Jennifer Lawrence sputtered and struggled to come up with an answer. "Suddenly I can't remember this period of my life." The audience shouted out suggestions, before her onscreen sister Willow Shields helped her settle on the "I volunteer as tribute" scene from the first film.
- Producer Nna Jacobson said that the end of the franchise has a lot to say and delivers on the emotion but also the politics. She said she wished there were 7 or 8 books to turn in to movies. (You could almost hear Lionsgate salivating at the idea of spinoffs.)
- Hutcherson revealed that Peeta is still recovering within District 13 when the second movie starts, relishing the chance to get to "play crazy" for the first time in his career. He gave the obvious spoiler that eventually Peeta comes back around to the side of the good guys, prompting Jennifer Lawrence to flirtatiously say, "He couldn’t stay away for long. He couldn’t resist this!"
- Hemsworth, the clear favorite with the ladies in the crowd, says he also comes off the sidelines in the final film, teaming up with Jeffrey Wright's character to devise ways to ambush and trap the enemy.
- Conan O'Brien told Willow Shields how angry he was when her character went back for the cat in the last movie. She admitted that everyone was mad about that. Even Jennifer Lawrence couldn’t hide her disdain: "Ugh, not the cat."
- When asked what they're most excited to see in the last movie, Francis Lawrence said he's very pleased with the ending and how the series wraps up. Hemsworth teased the ladies and said Gale and Peeta have a great scene together (where they may or may not make out). Jacobson gave the serious answer and said it's nice to see Katniss finally making decisions for herself as a woman after having everyone else call the shots for her in the previous films.
- The best part of the panel was when Conan read questions submitted via Twitter from people with handles like @hemsworthhugs, @hutcherwife, @sassyjoshifer, and @everlarksunset. Most of these were throwaway questions about what hairstyle or costume was their favorite, but it did somehow lead to moments where the cast tried to unsuccessfully do the mockingjay whistle (which came out sounding like The X Files theme) or Josh Hutcherson revealing he can do a pretty killer squirrel impression.
Jennifer Lawrence really was at her most Jennifer Lawrence-iest, clearly uncomfortable and nervous but still charming and likable. My favorite JLaw moments:
- "I can't remember what your question was but I was thinking this maybe could possibly answer it and I hope that that is in fact true."
- Constantly asking Josh Hutcherson to hit the kill switch on her mic.
- On their last day of shooting: "Josh, Liam and I held each other all night and slept like puppies."
- On whether or not the cast has hung out after filming, she turned to Hutcherson and said, "Yeah, we're best friends. Well, you're my best friend, am I yours?"
- When asked if any characters rubbed off on her: "All the drinking from American Hustle really rubbed off on me."
- After struggling to answer a question about what she hopes fans take away from these movies, she finally said "Your power and your future are in your hands" then did a mic drop and walked away.
- And when Hutcherson started getting emotional, she and Hemsworth took this as an opportunity to rub their hands on his face:
Clearly the highlight of the panel, more so than the movie itself, was Jennifer Lawrence and the chemistry she shares with the rest of the cast. Even Conan O'Brien ended things by saying "These people are incredibly nice and incredibly real. I think you should know that."
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