Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 Review

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
Director: Francis Lawrence
Cast Headliners: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Donald Sutherland, many many others
Original Release Date : November 20th, 2015  

It's hard to believe that the Hunger Games franchise has come to its end since it seems like it just started. In some ways its as if each installment has been part of one really long epic experience, and this is even truer with this film. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 is the end of the road of Katniss' journey, and some great things lie in wait. It manages to end with a bang and a intentional whimper, with everything in between on the way there.

The original novel upon which this was based was quite lengthy and filled with happenings which caused the film version to happen as two parts. The first part was decent but filled with far too much dialogue and slow burn buildup since in the novel it was intended that way and director Francis Lawrence went for a mostly straight adaptation. However, luckily, with every buildup there most usually come a release of tension and that unfolds here as tons of brilliant, intense action and climaxes. Numerous dangers both physical and emotional await our heroes on their ride to the end. Perhaps a point that makes this film have a less stand alone quality since it ties so heavily into the past few and especially the last one for it begins very much in media res.
Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) begins the film barely recovering from meeting the apparently changed Peeta(Josh Hutcherson) after he has been rescued from the Capitol's clutches. The movie hangs for a bit but not too long within the safety of District 13 but then moves to the final battlefields of the revolution against the vile President Snow(Donald Sutherland)'s government.

Katniss isn't in her quest the battle reaches the final enemy strongholds and cities and she's joined by sometimes lover, oftentimes friend Gale (Liam Hemsworth), flamboyant fellow victor Finnick (Sam Claflin), their military squad leader Boggs (Mahershala Ali), filmmaker Cressida (Natalie Dormer), and several more. The film has an extremely large cast beyond this and overall, as there's Katniss' home support team of Haymitch(Woody Harrelson, ever humorous), Plutarch (Phillip Seymour Hoffman in his final ever film, and he ends it in style with a CGI version of him or two and a meta-tribute at one point), President Coin(Julianne Moore), Johanna (Jena Malone), and so many more. It can be confidently said that every character in this grand tapestry, heroic to villianous, big to small, is great in their performance. Though a couple get lost in the movement of things, the cast each get their moment to have something to say one more time.
Above all others, both in the world's lore and in it as a experience to audiences, is the impact Jennifer Lawrence has as Katniss. Lawrence, an Academy Award winner, is simply one of the best actresses around in the industry today and its so good to see that her last turn on the franchise is a good one. She brings emotion, inspiration, and badassness in every situation that arises. Of particular note are her interactions with Peeta and Gale and her attitude to the mega villain President Snow. Even with no others around she brings an craft that earns both her character and herself the moniker “the girl on fire”, as she burns up the screen with her heroic talent. Katniss will go into Hollywood history as one of the great heroines of all time.
There's more than just final dialogue and drama to go through in the film of course, which is what alleviates the problem that was faced in part 1 (though be prepared for for possible tears as the franchise reaches new peaks of sadness and darkness). The film has several incredible action sequenes as the battle to sieze the Capital occurs. Just as the book describes (The film is nearly a flawless translation), the city itself becomes an arena like the titular Hunger Games were. Danger looks at every turn from flamethrowers, soldier ambushes, and traps that have to be seen firsthand which gives the movie a constant thrill which rivals the best of what was seen in actual arenas of the first two installments. But here it is made even more intense in that Katniss is so close to the doorstep of the one who's pulling all the strings. Kudos to the other Lawrence on this project in his directorial expertise which mixes beauty and lethalness whatever the situation may be.

There's a lot to digest in this film and a lot to wrap up. But nearly every moment is worth it and the core thins come through, from seeing old friends to explosive final battles to exploring deep themes on the meanings of war and power. This film is the result of what the meanings of the franchise is all about, and Katniss , and Jennifer Lawrence and co, compete in this “final game” with incredible style. The series has had its ups and downs but it finishes just about as well as any epic saga does. When it was good, things got great. Rue would be proud. 8.8 out of 10

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