review//THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY - PART 2

Grade: B

THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY - PART 2
Directed by Francis Lawrence
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth

One of the most successful film franchises finally draws to a close with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2, a tour de force finale to an inconsistent adventure. Picking up right where the previous film left off, Mockingjay - Part 2 gives the most honest adaptation to a portion of the young adult novels, despite mincing details here and there.

Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) suffers emotionally and physically at the hands of Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), her one time confidant who has been led to distrust her. In the midst of the growing battle between government and rebels, Katniss has illuminated herself as a personal victor in the mass rebellion. Without Peeta by her side, Katniss chooses to defy the requests of the rebel leaders and join forces on the frontlines to take over the Capitol and finally kill President Snow (Donald Sutherland). With Gale (Liam Hemsworth) by her side, with a ragtag group of soldiers, and a surprising addition of Peeta for propaganda purposes, Katniss and team find themselves in the midst of the ultimate Hunger Games.

Splitting the final novel in Suzanne Collins' best-selling series into two films seemed like a money-focused decision. While that may still be slightly true, seeing the fruition of the exciting final pages of Mockinjay come to life makes it all worth it.

The action is thrilling and the stakes are high. With an almost two and a half hour running time, Mockingjay - Part 2 never seems dull or idling, much thanks to the electricity of its cast. Lawrence, who's become a celebrated everywoman in Hollywood, musters up her best turn as Katniss, holding nothing back. Hutcherson, given much more here to work than in previous episodes, is harrowing and tough. Peeta's love for Katniss, though dissipated due to his earlier trauma, is the through line that keeps the entire story spinning. Sutherland, as the deliciously evil Snow, provides some of the meatiest and appetizing scenes in the film. Only overshadowing most of that praise is Jena Malone as Johanna Mason, a former Hunger Games champion whose sarcasm and knack for having the right thing to say is nevermore apparent than in her interactions with Katniss. It's a small, but vital, role that always seems welcome.

The rest of the cast is made of heavy players like Julianne Moore and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, plus the always enjoyable Stanley Tucci and Elizabeth Banks.

There are clear liberties taken with the film in comparison to its source material, and director Lawrence does a great job not backing down on the violence, while still making it watchable. As a PG-13 rated flick, it meets the requirements well. The content of the story is shocking and the same is felt when seeing it play out. There's a certain edge-of-your-seat feeling that is pretty much apparent all of the time. Where Mockingjay - Part 1 may have seemed to linger, Part 2 doesn't disappoint.

The ending is satisfying, despite knowing you're saying goodbye to a much-beloved set of characters and a story that has become a pop culture phenomenon for the past half decade. It's tough ending something so revered in a way that sits just right, but Mockingjay - Part 2 finds a way to do that.

In the grand scheme of the series' other three films, Mockingjay - Part 2 may sit right at the top.

Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 137 minutes

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