Review - The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 (2015), PG-13, 137 minutes - Four years after the first Hunger Games adaptation hit the big screen with overwhelming success, we have come to the end of the franchise.  I remember feeling a bit apprehensive when they first announced that the trilogy of books by Suzanne Collins would become four films.  I was worried that the decision was a money grab by the studio.  That feeling was alleviated last year after seeing how Mockingjay - Part 1 played out and now, after seeing the finale that is Mockingjay - Part 2, I must admit that my worries were unfounded.

Much like previous installments, Mockingjay - Part 2 picks up moments after the previous film ended, jumping immediately into the next chapter and not looking back.  Mockingjay - Part 1 set up the budding revolutionary forces of districts two through thirteen and Part 2 sees that revolution play out.  Feeling that Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) - the Mockingjay and living symbol of the revolution - will better help their cause by filming propos (propaganda pieces) instead of fighting on the front lines, District 13 President Coin (Julianne Moore) and Plutarch Heavensbee (the late Philip Seymour Hoffman) send her and a small, elite unit comprised of Gale (Liam Hemsworth), Boggs (Mahershala Ali), Finnick (Sam Claflin), Cressida (Natalie Dormer), Pollux (Elden Hensen), Castor (Wes Chatham), and Lieutenant Jackson (Michelle Forbes) into the capital behind the initial wave of forces.  Katniss however has other plans, intending to infiltrate the capital and assassinate President Snow (Donald Sutherland).  Their siege of the capital proves to be quite challenging as Snow has instructed his game masters to booby-trap the capital, essentially transforming it into an Hunger Games arena.  Adding to the unit's anxiety, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) is sent to join Katniss's group.  Coin and Heavensbee feel that his inclusion in the propos will help drum up support for the rebellion by showing that a former capital pawn had joined their forces.  It is a risky strategy as no one trusts Peeta (including himself) around Katniss after he attacked her at the end of Part 1.

While the film focuses primarily on Katniss's covert unit, there are a number of other returning supporting characters - Haymitch (Woody Harrelson), Effie (Elizabeth Banks), Johanna (Jena Malone),  Beetee (Jeffery Wright), Primrose (Willow Shields), Katniss's Mother (Paula Malcomson), Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci), Antonius (Robert Knepper), Annie Cresta (Stef Dawson), and Commander Paylor (Patina Miller).  There are also a couple new characters, although their roles are quite small: Commander Lyme (Gwendoline Christie), and Tigris (Eugenie Bondurant).

It should probably go without saying, but just in case: Mockingjay - Part 2 is the fourth of four films.  If you have not seen the previous Hunger Games films (not likely based on the box office numbers they've all put up), don't start with this one.  If that does happen to be the case though, I would highly recommend taking the time to go back and watch all four.  They are all excellent adaptations of the books.

Mockingjay - Part 2 isn't just a fitting end to the Mockingjay chapter of the story, but it brings about a very satisfying end to the franchise in regards to the source material.  There have been rumblings in interviews over the past year that there may be other stories to explore on the big screen from the world of Panem.  I'm not sure how I feel about that at the moment, but I'm quite happy with how Suzanne Collins' books were adapted.  They made the perfect decision in casting Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss.  And even though she has been surrounded by an excellent cast in each film, she has clearly been the star and driving force of the franchise.  I know that sounds like an obvious statement, but I can think of a five film franchise that somehow succeeded despite underwhelming casting decisions (you know which one I'm talking about).  My point being that The Hunger Games franchise got it right and it shows.

If you're looking for something to do other than shopping over this Thanksgiving weekend and you've seen the previous three films, allow me to suggest finding time to see Mockingjay - Part 2 at your local theater.  It'll provide a nice break and is wonderful final chapter to The Hunger Games saga.












*****SPOILERS*****

- Not too much in the way of a spoiler section this time around.  I read the books back before the movies began but have not re-read them since so I don't remember enough details to nitpick story points.  I can say that nothing so off the wall happened that I felt outraged at any moment.  Despite my fears the splitting of Mockingjay worked wonderfully.  Honestly my biggest worry after seeing Part 1 last year was how they would work around the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. His character obviously carries over into this film.  It looked to me like they did a pretty good job in limiting his appearances in Part 2.  It seemed that his scenes early in the film had been filmed before his passing but a couple small bits later in the film appeared as though he may have been CG'd into the scene.  If that was the case, it was fairly well done as it didn't stick out like a sore thumb.  That's just speculation on my part.  However it was handled, it was handled well.

- My reviews for the other Hunger Games films can be found at the following links:
The Hunger Games (2012)
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 (2014)

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