The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

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All good things must come to an end and with the fourth and final film based on Suzanne Collin’s widely popular Hunger Games series, audience get a chance to say goodbye to their favorite characters.

Literally picking up mid-scene, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2” features Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), dealing with the vicious attack from Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), after having his mind scrambled by the evil minions of President Snow (Donald Sutherland).

Despite the desires of District 13 President Coin (Julianne Moore), for Katniss to stay behind the lines following a harrowing incident during a visit to the Districts, Katniss is determined to kill Snow, and sets off with a dream team who is actually working behind the lines to film propaganda videos.

Naturally things are not as safe as they seem and before long, Katniss and her team are not only dealing with the dangers of the Capitol, but with an unknown element in the form of Peeta who was assigned to accompany them mid mission.

Politics soon appear to be as big a danger to Katniss to the traps and deadly creations that Snow has devised for her, but undaunted, Katniss and her crew must face the dangers to restore freedom to the people.

The film follows the book well in the second half of the film but it does suffer from pacing and editing issues. The film takes a while to get to the action and then takes a rest and conversation route for the characters. This is followed later in the film which undermines a sense of urgency for the characters. What made the earlier films such a success was the social commentary and horrific fascination of great splendor while those around them suffer and starve to toil away to provide creature comforts to the elite class. There was also the fact that the children of the oppressed were forced to battle to the death for the entertainment of the wealthy as well.

This element is lacking from this film, as it is in many ways a road trip of sorts with a couple of action scenes tossed in. Lawrence does well with what she has but she is essentially like most of the cast forced to play out the string save for some powerful but all too fleeting moments.  Hutcherson shines as Peeta as you can see his torment as he strives to recover the personality and memories that are his and not fabrications, as well as his constant turmoil.

In the end the film unfolds not In a grand spectacle but rather pedestrian which while in keeping with the book, does seem disappointing compared to how good the series has been to date.

The film will satisfy fans but it does not hold your attention and fill you with suspense the way the first two films did, and despite its best efforts, is slightly below part 1. That being said, it is entertaining and does make for a satisfying end to the series, despite missing on the potential to do more with the material and characters.

3.5 stars out of 5.

 

Second Review By Joseph Saulnier

Have you read the book?  I don’t think that question will ever really go away.  As long as they are making movies that are based on written material, someone will always ask if you have read the book when you mention you have, or will, see a movie that’s based on one.  I think in the case of Mockingjay Part 2, the question needs to be asked, and you are not allowed to get annoyed by it.  Why?  Well, it’s such an immensely popular series that most people have, at least that’s what the people who have read it will tell you.  I think truly, it’s a pretty even split down the middle on who’s read the book.  But why does the question need to be asked.  Well, the answer will determine how you describe the movie to someone who has read the book, versus someone who has not.  So, I am going to try and make this review as spoiler free as possible, despite knowing that many of you (probably half, as I mentioned earlier) will already know what happens.

Mockingjay Part 2 picks up right where Part 1 left off.  Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is recovering from Peeta’s (Josh Hutcherson) attack on her, and President Coin (Julianne Moore) is still trying to push forward with her war against President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and the Capitol.  With the victors freed from the Capitol, and the remaining eleven districts beginning to rally behind the Mockingjay, the time to push forward is now.  Katniss, after seeing the effects of the torture with tracker-jacker poison has on Peeta, vows to kill President Snow.  But first she, and her military unit consisting of Gale Hawthorn (Liam Hemsworth), Cressida (Natalie Dormer), Castor (Wes Chatham), Pollux (Elden Hensen), and others, must make their way through the treacherous “pods” left littered throughout Capitol City by the very same Gamemakers that devised the Hunger Games.  It will not be easy.

All the familiar faces from Part 1 and the preceding movies return: Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin), Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), Beetee (Jeffrey Wright), Johanna Mason (Jena Malone), etc.  The list goes on.  We even see the late Philip Seymour Hoffman returning as Plutarch Heavensbee through the use of some pretty excellent CGI.  For me, though, the person that stole the spotlight every time they were on screen was Josh Hutcherson.  In the previous movies, I had no particular affinity for him in the role Peeta, but that’s not to say I didn’t like him for it.  He was just there.  He played the part well, but nothing stand out.  I could take him or leave him.  But in Mockingjay Part 2, he really got to flex his acting muscles and portrayed the inner turmoil that Peeta goes through as he is trying to decipher what is real and what isn’t, all while trying to decide if he really does want to kill Katniss or not.  I believe this film will open him up to many more opportunities as time goes by.

Ok, so I can tell you a lot about this movie.  How the editing was a little off at times, the sound/score was kind of weird, too.  The pace was good for the most part, but slow at the silliest moments.  I could tell you how the film actually followed the book quite well, but the action scenes just weren’t quite as heart pounding as I had hoped.  I could also tell you how the pivotal scene in the movie does its job and will give you all the feels in the world (just ask my guest who became very emotional as it took place), but the bottom line is this: none of that matters.  Many of you have seen the first three movies, and will see this one regardless of whether I tell you it was good or not.  You can’t leave a saga like this just hanging and never see how it resolves.  And boy do you want to see how this one does.

But I will tell you this.  It is a fantastic movie.  The action sequences were great, and it was brilliant to get back to them after all the political themes in Part 1.  There are some politics in this film, but it gets you right back to what you want to see in the first place: some post-apocalyptic ass-kicking.  See it in IMAX if you can, it just adds so much more depth to the movie with the sound and image.  And this one will most definitely be joining my collection upon home release.  (Even if I didn’t have the first three already).

4 out of 5 stars.