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A bleak, solid conclusion to the wildly popular series.

 

Having a two­-part finale to a series has become all the rage in Hollywood. People love franchises, sticking with them until the bitter end. The Hunger Games follows in the footsteps of Harry Potter and Twilight in splitting the final book into two films. Some argue that this is simply a ploy for more money. I can’t completely disagree with that- ­ Mockingjay Part 2 brought in over $100 million opening weekend, bumping the franchise worldwide total over $2.55 billion. But as a fan of The Hunger Games books, I’m thankful for the two-part finale. When wrapping up a series, there is a lot of pressure to include as much as possible from the source material. Audiences and critics can be brutal if key elements of the story are omitted. Keeping this in mind, Mockingjay Part 2 gives itself time to flesh out aspects of the story that would have been overlooked had there only been one final film.

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) continues in her fight against oppression from the Capital despite having massive PTSD, serious physical injuries, and emotional upheaval that would cause the healthiest of people to have serious problems. Without her constant source of emotional support in Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), Katniss must summon the courage to do what no one else is willing to do:­ kill President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Working her way through what is essentially another arena, Katniss must face a labyrinth of obstacles all while being filmed to inspire the outlying districts. Talk about pressure!

At times, I found Lawrence’s portrayal of Katniss a little on the stiff side, but overall I can’t imagine anyone else playing the part. The “it” girl of our generation, Lawrence really does have range that many actresses far older do not have. One thing to keep in mind as you watch the series is Katniss’s lack of emotional maturity. While she is thrust into a leadership position, she is still young and not capable of handling all the responsibility placed upon her. This is enough to make anyone retreat into themselves. I admire Lawrence’s portrayal of Katniss, but there were a few moments where I *should* have been more emotional than I was as a viewer. Yes, there are some significant deaths in Mockingjay Part 2, ones that should have had me holding back tears. While I felt sad at their deaths, they didn’t connect with me on an emotional level the way they did while I was reading the book. I’m not sure if it was because I already knew they were coming or if some of the lack of emotion played a role. Lawrence is always at her best when she is passionate and bold and we do get plenty of those moments throughout the final film. An angry Katniss is a wonderful way to move the story along and gives Lawrence a chance to show some range.

 

Josh Hutcherson is as winning as Peeta as he has ever been. Still recovering from his time as a Capital prisoner, we see him struggle to figure out reality versus what has been implanted into his brain through torture. Peeta, who has so dearly loved Katniss, is changed and Hutcherson nails it. Sometimes when characters are the “nice guys,” they don’t have much depth to them. That’s all there is of them: they’re nice. But Peeta has so much more depth and Hutcherson’s portrayal of him brings an extra likability to the character. The rest of the supporting cast is prefectly fine, although I struggle with Liam Hemsworth’s somewhat flat interpretation of Gale. And there is simply not enough Stanley Tucci in the film! Most heartbreaking for me was seeing Philip Seymour Hoffman on screen for the very last time. I will miss him dearly.

I’ve seen some criticism that the film is too dark, too bleak. I disagree with this. In a world torn by war and oppression, bleakness is everywhere. People die for causes they believe in during times of rebellion and Panem is no stranger to this concept. I don’t want fairy tale plot points in a story that is not a fairy tale. Even with death and terror abounding, the film does not end without hope. There is always a possibility of a better tomorrow. We can learn something from this in a world that seems so dark in our current days. We could all use a little hope.

 

Directed By: Francis Lawrence

Produced By: Suzanne Collins, Christoph Fisser, Jan Foster, Nina Jacobson, Jon Kilik, Cameron MacConomy, Henning Molfenter, Bryan Unkeless, Charlie Woebcken

Written By: Peter Craig, Danny Strong

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Elizabeth Banks

Distributed By: Lionsgate Films

Release Date: November 20, 2015

Run Time: 137 minutes

Rating: PG­13

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