AM At The Movies: ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2’

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth
Directed by: Francis Lawrence
Run Time: 137 minutes

Jennifer Lawrence is a phenomenal actress and a constant Oscar threat in her dramatic roles, but The Hunger Games series has also shown that the 25-year-old Kentucky native can also be a genuine bad ass who carries an action franchise to massive, massive box office returns.

These films aren’t ensemble affairs like The Avengers, where stars of stand-alone projects have come together for superstar superhero action every couple of years; there are numerous of strong supporting players, but it’s Lawrence that commands the spotlight to herself and that is both good and bad here.

Lawrence is excellent as she’s been throughout this series as Katniss Everdeen, the reluctant face of a revolution who is starting to grow tired of being a prop in a propaganda campaign. She wrestles with elements heroines in Young Adult franchises don’t usually have to deal with and the series is better because of it, which doesn’t get said enough.

The trouble is that even in a movie that runs well over two hours, you come away wanting more of a couple characters and stories, namely Peeta (Hutcherson), who is still trying to get a grip on reality after the events of Mockingjay – Part 1, and President Coin (Julianne Moore), the leader of the revolution. But because this series has been built around Katniss’ march towards the Capitol to get her revenge against President Snow (Donald Sutherland), those secondary stories that could thrive with a little more time don’t get enough time to breathe.

Oh – and Jena Malone is still terrific as the prickly Johanna Mason and is an actress that needs a chance to thrive and shine on her own pretty damn soon.

Mockingjay – Part 2 isn’t a cookie-cutter happy ending film that brings this saga to a joyous close, which is great because every once in a while, it’s nice to see a movie that actually plays closer to real life than make believe. Unfortunately, it’s also suffers a little at the end as a result.

Had the film ended at the point where you think “OK – this is the end” (you’ll know it when you see it) it would have been better. It still wouldn’t have been rainbows and unicorns, which is the right way to end close things out, but the extra step feels like it’s there just to reiterate that this isn’t an idyllic ending.

The biggest takeaway from this film is that everything might have been best if the final book in the series wasn’t split into two films. Mockingjay – Part 2 picks up literally at the moment Part 1 ended, almost in the middle of a scene. Rather than stretch this out and delay this film’s inevitable march on the Capitol, combining them might have built to a strong crescendo.

But box office dollars trump all and splitting them was the way to go and the copious amounts of money this film is sure to pull in will justify it in the end.

Ultimately, the franchise has been solid, with Catching Fire being the standout of the bunch, and Mockingjay – Part 2 is a quality overall conclusion to Katniss Everdeen’s progression from fill-in tribute to game-changer, rebel to revolutionary.

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