Monday, December 7, 2015

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 - 9 stars out of 10

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 - 9 stars out of 10
1300th Review

“Mockingjay - Part 2” is everything that we had hoped it would be.  This conclusion to “The Hunger Games” completes the transformation of characters like Katniss and Peeta, brings the story to an unexpected conclusion, and serves up some of the most intense action sequences of the entire series.  One of the main criticisms of the film series was the splitting of “Mockingjay” into two parts but, now that I have seen both parts, I feel confident that this was the right decision.  Unlike several other film franchises that have elected to split their final installment into two parts, the content justifies the decision in this instance.  A one-part conclusion in excess of 3 hours would been inappropriate for the franchise’s target audience, but anything less would have required important events to be pared down or cut completely.  Probably the first things that would have been thinned out is the development of President Coin and the progressive breakdown of Peeta, both of which are vital to the ending of the series.  I agree that the events of Part 1 act mostly as a preface for the conclusion but if you rushed through them, the ending would feel ineffective.  Neither of the Mockingjay films are as good of a stand-alone film as the first two installments, hence them being called “Part 1” and “Part 2” since they work together to complete the story without feeling rushed.  Everything about this finale is great, from powerful acting performances by Jennifer Lawrence, Julianne Moore, Josh Hutcherson, and Donald Sutherland, to its unexpected twist and incredible special effects.  The “Pan’s Labyrinth”-esque mutts are among the most terrifying creatures that I have ever seen on-screen.  They seemed a bit out of place within the story but made for the most intense sequence of the entire series.  I also like how the main characters are placed into a figurative Hunger Games without the series saying “Hey, we’re going to make them do the Hunger Games again.”  James Newton Howard’s score soars throughout this film, enhancing every emotional moment with romanticized string melodies that capture the tragedies that have occurred in Panem.  My biggest criticism of the film is that they glossed over a very important event involving Primrose and missed a chance for Lawrence to shine even brighter; still, Lawrence continues to establish herself as one of the best actresses of this generation.  This film will always be notable as Philip Seymour Hoffman’s final film and I find it appropriate that the writers allowed the performance to remain “natural” by writing his character out of scenes that were shot posthumously instead of adding him via CGI.  At every turn, the producers of this franchise have made decisions that have led to success.  Dystopian fiction is in vogue right now but few films will endure time as well as this series.  While “The Maze Runner,” “The Giver,” and “Divergent” will all drift away, “The Hunger Games” will be the series that this generation of teenagers will share with their own children someday.  “Mockingjay - Part 2” is a poignant and exciting conclusion to “The Hunger Games” franchise that has guaranteed its popularity for generations to come.

For my review of Part 1, click here:

[Pictured: Lawrence established a new expectation of acting quality for pop culture films]

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