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Dan's Review: "Mockingjay Part 2" a fitting, dark end to "Hunger Games"

Nov 20, 2015 11:02PM ● Published by Dan Metcalf

Evan Ross, Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth and Sam Claflin in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 - © 2015 - Lionsgate

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (Lionsgate)

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and for some thematic material.

Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Natalie Dormer, Willow Shields, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci, Mahershala Ali, Gwendoline Christie, Patina Miller, Stef Dawson, Paula Malcomson, Wes Chatham, Elden Henson, Meta Golding, Michelle Forbes, Omid Abtahi, Misty Ormiston, Kim Ormiston.

Written by Peter Craig, Danny Strong and Suzanne Collins, based on Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.

Directed by Francis Lawrence.

GRADE: B+

REVIEW:

Epic conclusions aren’t always epic (or happy, for that matter), especially when it comes to young adult tales of dystopia. The Hunger Games franchise always seemed destined for some kind of tragic end, and having the film adaptations dragged out over 4 movies seemed to prolong the inevitable. The final installment of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series of novels hits theaters this weekend with Mockingjay Part 2.

Jennifer Lawrence is back as Katniss Everdeen, the iconic rebel who beat the odds to expose the unscrupulous realities of the games intended to entertain and oppress the masses of Panem. The story picks up as Katniss is nearly killed while delivering a propaganda speech intended to rally support for the rebel cause. Her sights are quickly set on the Capitol, where President Snow (Donald Sutherland) holds on to the city as districts continue to defect to the rebels, led by the shrewd Alma Coin (Julianne Moore).

Determined to be more than a propaganda figure, Katniss joins the forces on the front lines, along with her love interest Gale (Liam Hemsworth). Fellow games victor Finnick (Sam Claifin) is also there, along with a camera crew (for more propaganda). Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) is allowed to join the platoon, despite having tried to kill Katniss after being brainwashed by Snow in Part 1. As Katniss and her troops mount an attack on the Capitol, they are met by automated booby-trap “pods,” deadly gadgets similar to the ones used in the games. As they get closer to Snow, the attacks and booby traps grow more intense, until a final deadly confrontation at the steps of Snow’s mansion. Katniss soon discovers that the rebel cause and tactics might not be as pure as she thought, and that victory in war doesn’t always mean you win.

Mockingjay Part 2 is definitely more epic in scope and visual effects than all the other films in the series combined. The body count is much higher, as are the consequences for the film’s antagonists. Part 2 is much darker than I expected (having never read Collins’ novels), and I was genuinely surprised at the conclusion.

Lawrence exceeds expectation as the heroic and conflicted hero of the film, further cementing her superstar status. Hutcherson and Hemsworth provide good performances, even though there’s a palatable lack of chemistry in their characters’ love triangle with Katniss. Other performances among the ensemble are equally noteworthy, including Moore as the dubious rebel leader, Sutherland as the villainous antagonist, and especially Philip Seymour Hoffman in his final film role.

I liked what Collins has to say about the struggle between liberty and power, and how difficult it can be to maintain humanity in the middle of such conflicts. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 has a lot to say about such ethical dilemmas, and is definitely the best film in the franchise.

 

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 Trailer

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