Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and for some thematic material. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: November 20, 2015 Released by: Lions Gate Films
Another blockbuster franchise of seemingly irreversible oblivion comes to an end with Suzanne Collins' grandly designed novel divided into two parts (to help ensure boffo box-office returns in the Twilight"and Harry Potter ilk). It turns to be epic, gritty, powerful, deliberate and upsetting (not to mention
divergent, no pun intended). Probably not in equal measure even for the most fervent aficionados of a teen dystopian adventure with much fallout.
The ads for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt. 2 has undaunted heroine Katniss Everdeen intent on taking down the Capitol's Pres. Snow (a suitably contemptible preening Donald Sutherland savoring the unwavering antagonist). But, all doesn't go as planned in implacability finally leading to a modicum of promise after Finnick (Sam Claflin) announces "Let the 76th Hunger Games begin."
Politically motivated is this last installment with the grueling austerity of war and the tacitly wrenching, even touching ramifications with more assaulting action than the less profitably doomed Mockingjay Pt.1. Josh Hutcherson's shell-shocked Peeta has undergone hallucinations from Snow's persecutors while Katniss doesn't like the prohibitions enforced by gray-pallor-coiffed rebel ducat Alma Coin (an insinuating, if emotive Julianne Moore of Freeheld and victorious in Still Alice).
Early sections of the hot and cold work by returning helmer Francis Lawrence (known for his award-winning videos besides other notable studio efforts like I Am Legend) stays on conventional tracks with a steely, slippery Katniss (known for her trusty archery prowess) setting her sights on the ultimate goal for a terribly tattered and much booby-trapped Panem. While an interminable love triangle continues with symbolic revolutionary Katniss, brain-washed Peeta, and brooding Gale (Liam Hemsworth).
The direction is most adeptly suspenseful in a horror-like sequence in a sewage system that recalls iconic characters of that genre like Ellen Ripley before the critical clash at Snow's residential palace. Peter Craig and Danny Strong have a little about-face in this extensively stern adaptation for a propitious vow to what has driven the series from a societal and sovereign standpoint. What actually unfolds can be anomalous especially with the fate of an important character, but particularly underlines its denouement in an understanding, if fulfilling way.
While Mockingjay Pt. 2 has its dispiriting way of catching an opponent off-balance, director Lawrence's efforts with his contributors and especially an inimitable cast helps make this finale more triumphant than it arguably is. The ever-agile Lawrence (of Serena and David O. Russell's upcoming Joy) maintains the commanding impact of a prescient, if future-wary Katniss. Just as her visage often avows more than the material itself when it comes to Peeta, beloved sister Prim (Willow Shields) and the distractions (political and publicity, per se). As a shaken but not quite broken Peeta, it may be Hutcherson (American Splendor, The Kids Are All Right) who may ultimately deliver the most unexpected dramatically impassioned portrait (think perhaps of Sean Astin for example in The Return of the King).
As for returning cast members - Jena Malone's unflappable Johanna, Stanley Tucci's flamboyant host Caesar, Elizabeth Banks' sparkly appearance-savvy Effie and Woody Harrelson's jaded, but knowingly droll Haymitch shine the most among a larger ensemble. Banks and Harrelson actually have one of the film's more charming interludes where the supporting players are mostly cursory in nature. And, it's hard not to forget the late Philip Seymour Hoffman's wistfully assured Coin colleague Plutarch Heavensbee all too briefly felicitous in a sincere last hurrah.
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