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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay
Part 2 (2015)
Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence returns yet again as Katniss Everdeen, District 12's defiant survivor of both the 74th Annual Hunger Games and the Third Quarter Quell held by the Capitol of Panem to appease its citizens and oppress the worker districts it exploits. Also reprising their primary supporting roles are Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark, and Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne.
Lawrence's performance is indisputably the best aspect of this big screen finale. Her deft portrayal of Katniss as a strong-willed yet introverted wild card forced to become 'the Mockingjay' - the symbol of the rebellion - is astounding throughout. It's a treat watching her continued defiance to remain true to herself against what others would have her become. This is a wiser Katniss than the simple girl who stepped forward as a tribute in the life-or-death Games three years ago. Katniss' character development has been phenomenal.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 marks the third and final sequel in this book-based sci-fi movie franchise that began with The Hunger Games (2012), followed by The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014). The films are adapted from American author Suzanne Collins' trilogy of young adult novels of the same name published between 2008 and 2010.
Mockingjay Part 2 picks up shortly after the events of Part 1, with Katniss struggling to deal with Peeta having been brainwashed to kill her. Depressed and determined to kill the malevolent President Snow (played by Donald Sutherland), she ignores orders and ends up recruited with Gale to the rebellion's special unit, Star Squad, assigned to entering the besieged Capitol far behind the actual frontline fighting. As they inch through deadly traps and evade the trigger-happy Peacekeeper army, a partially rehabilitated Peeta is mysteriously sent to join - and possibly undermine - Katniss before she reaches Snow's fortified mansion.
Unfortunately, this final installment greatly suffers from a screenplay unwilling to effectively pull a paying audience into the bigger picture. The brutality of the first movie was constantly in your face as children and teens killed each other for the entertainment of their 'sponsors'. The second film continued that level of physical violence featuring its bloodbath of returning Hunger Games victors, finding a wonderful balance with the growing psychological warfare of the rebellion. Those two movies led to an inevitably epic war pretty much expected from the Mockingjay movies.
In reality, the Mockingjay movies are much smaller and cheap on the good stuff. Part one of Mockingjay barely showed you the war beyond the propaganda machine spotlighting Katniss. Huge battles were mentioned as anecdotes. Their ruins merely backdrops. Part two brings more of this cheapness. Example: The simple detail of continuity in how war-ravaged the Capitol is can't be bothered with. One moment it's burning, in ruins, then magically cleaned up moments later. Even a game-changing avalanche is just a bit of distant CGI. Followed by little to no pay-off for a paying audience.
This film plays out as though virtually everyone involved felt far more contractually obligated to crank out something in order to cash in for one last kick, rather than to actually be invested. As though it didn't really need to be a good movie, because it was taken for granted that everyone who saw and bought the first three films would obediently buy in again, regardless. #criticproof
Sure, there's an impressive action-packed sewer scene involving Star Squad fighting off nasty-toothed mutant humanoids dispatched by Snow. Called "muts", they're creations of the Gamemakers who unleashed similar beasties upon Katniss during the first Hunger Games. But, these new alien-like baddies feel like randomly concocted monsters that come out of left field, because they were never memorably cited in the previous films. What's also distracting is recalling that these traps and monsters only existed within the enclosed arena of the Games, but now all of a sudden exist in the real world of Panem where (I guess) they could have been used by the Capitol to crush the rebel uprising in the districts two movies ago.
I went into this screening truly hoping The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 would be an enormously satisfying finale either on par with or exceeding that of the first two movies in the franchise. However, despite Jennifer Lawrence exceptionally revisiting her A game starring performance as Katniss here, the story telling falls flat and film fails to deliver any notably memorable level of over-all epic-ness as the series' conclusion. I don't know if rabid fans of the previous films and books will love it, but I found Mockingjay Part 2 to be an unnecessarily anti-climactic waste of big screen creativity and talent. A real disappointment. Reviewed 11/15, © Stephen Bourne, moviequips.ca.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay
Part 2 is rated PG by the Ontario Film Authority, scenes containing
some grotesque images in a fantasy, comedic or historic context,
scenes that may cause a child brief anxiety or fear, embracing
and kissing, and restrained portrayals of non-graphic violence,
and is rated G by la Régie du Cinéma in Québec.
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