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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2




The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2
Film Reviews by Amy Diaz

11/26/15
By Amy Diaz adiaz@hippopress.com



Katniss and the rebellion are poised to finally take on the Capitol and end the civil war in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2, the final movie in the four-part series.

The movie picks up not long after the last one left off, with the rebel forces attempting to help the brainwashed Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) recover from his torture at the direction of Panem’s President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is recovering from Peeta’s attempt to kill her and yet still not sold on a romantic relationship with Gale (Liam Hemsworth), her hunting buddy and sometime kissing buddy from back in her District 12 days.
But relationships aside, the rebellion keeps churning and President Coin (Julianne Moore) sends Katniss to rally the troops of District 2. It’s here that Katniss gets a sense of the morally ambiguous tactics that the rebellion is using to fight its war. Just because she doesn’t like the Capitol doesn’t mean she agrees with some of the plans — such as a bombing that essentially buries some soldiers alive — the rebellion has for fighting. 
Perhaps sensing that Katniss’ squishy morality could cause too much independent thinking in the ranks, Coin tells Katniss to chillax back at base and wait for the end of the war to go to the Capitol. But Katniss has other plans. Acting against Coin’s orders, she hops on a medical transport and heads to the front lines with plans to find and kill Snow. 
The Hunger Games  is such a weird series. It’s as if Emily Blunt, Michael Fassbender, Meryl Streep and Paul Giamatti had somehow ended up in the Twilight series. When you consider that this is basically a YA adaptation, Hunger Games has an insane cast — not just the highly watchable Jennifer Lawrence but also Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore, Elizabeth Banks, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci, Natalie Dormer and the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman. Lawrence is a particular stroke of luck for this movie — she had received award nominations for the still relatively small movie Winter’s Bone when she was cast in this series. While she would appear in X-Men: First Class before this movie hit theaters, she has since become one of the most prominent young actors in Hollywood, known for meaty, complicated roles. She is a talent of the level you don’t expect in series like this. Collectively, this movie’s actors bring a heft to the movie that I’ve never really felt the story deserved but that makes the movie surprisingly satisfying. 
Of course, this also makes some of the more YA-ish elements of the movie seem out of place; the central love triangle, for example, is laughably irrelevant. Hoffman’s Plutarch is playing some kind of higher-level, three-steps-ahead Game of Thrones with Coin and Snow — all conveyed by Hoffman via slight facial muscle constrictions — and we’re really supposed to care about which magnetism-free guy Katniss ends up with? I know enough about the general course of this saga to know — SPOILER ALERT — that damaged soul Katniss is not going to end up with damaged soul Hamish, but toward the end of the movie I found myself wishing it would go that way.
The Hunger Games saga has always surprised me for how it absolutely nails tone even when I’m not all that interested in the story. I still don’t care about whom Katniss picks to be her boyfriend, but I have to say the movie does a good job wringing a lot of other emotions from her relationships with Peeta, who seems to represent to Katniss the personification of kindness, and Gale, who is basically an army buddy now. He seems to represent whole-hearted acceptance of a cause, despite its immoral choices and obvious flaws — a contrast to Katniss’ constant questioning of everything. In the final third of the movie, Gale and Peeta have a “who will Katniss pick” conversation, the gist of which seems to be “whatever, let’s just not let it get in the way of this awesome war movie we have going on.”  
I also really like everything this movie does with the politics of war and rebellion. Does it all make sense? No? But when you’ve got people like Moore, Sutherland and Hoffman in scenes, how well the plot holds together is very secondary to what they’re doing on screen. (Hoffman, for whom this is his final IMBD credit, was in the middle of filming this movie when he died, according to Wikipedia. More Hoffman would have been much appreciated and this movie only highlights how much he will be missed.) Mockingjay — Part 2 is the rare movie that does not require you to really be invested in its overall story, or even all of its characters, to be captivated while you’re watching it. B
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and for some thematic material. Directed by Francis Lawrence with a screenplay by Peter Craig and Daniel Strong, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2 is two hours and 18 minutes long and distributed by Lionsgate.





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