It’s de rigueur by now, of course, to lớn break the final book in any juggernaut Young Adult series into lớn two films. “Harry Potter” did it. “Twilight” did it. Why not tantalize and torment the fervent fans of these series even further? Why not make twice as much money?
So now we have the absolute, ultimate, this-time-we-mean-it finale of the “The Hunger Games” series, the clunkily titled “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2.” But really, if we’re talking about things lượt thích art & narrative drive—which actually can và bởi vì exist in this franchise—a single film would have sầu worked just fine. Last year’s “Mockingjay – Part 1” felt lượt thích one long placeholder. It featured a lot of wheel spinning and repetitive sầu imagery, & it served as a glaring reminder of what a cynical cash grab this finale-splitting business truly is.
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With the exception of a couple of truly dazzling action mix pieces, “Mockingjay – Part 2” provides more of the same. The stakes are higher because this is the end—It really is this time!—but the first hour or so of returning director Francis Lawrence’s film is legitimately nap-inducing. From the very first moments, when Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen struggles to lớn speak her name as the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman looks on sadly as gamesmaker-turned-ally Plutarch Heavensbee, it’s just unrelentingly dour, even for a film phối in a dystopian future. Mercifully, the script from Peter Craig và Danny Svào offers a few glimmers of sardonic humor, including quips from Jena Malone as Katniss’ fellow victor, the quick-witted Johanmãng cầu.
It would be reasonable for us lớn hope for something better, however. Based on Suzanne Collins’ best-selling trilogy, “The Hunger Games” series has set the gold standard for all adaptations of post-apocalyptic Young Adult novels. “Divergent,” “The Maze Runner,” “The Giver”—regardless of when the actual books came out, they always seemed lượt thích knock-offs of “The Hunger Games” films in terms of narrative thrills, weighty themes, production values & star-studded casts. The presence of serious, seasoned actors lượt thích Hoffman, Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci và Jeffrey Wright gave sầu these movies a gravitas but also elevated them above sầu your expectations for material aimed at angsty tweens. They were violent, exciting blockbusters but they were also About Something—at least the first two movies were.
Many of those stars get just a few lines in the finale—a curtain Gọi of sorts, when you’d long khổng lồ see more of them. The abbreviated presence of Hoffman, who died in 2014 of an accidental overdose, is heartbreaking. Tucci appears all-too briefly as unctuous television announcer Caesar Flickerman. Elizabeth Banks shows up in a couple of her typically outrageous outfits as stycác mục và social climber Effie Trinket, and that’s about it.
Lawrence herself already seemed lớn have sầu outgrown the role of plucky teen Katniss Everdeen when “Mockingjay – Part 1” came out a year ago. By then, she’d won an Academy Award for “Silver Linings Playbook” and done diverse and dramatic work ranging from “American Hustle” khổng lồ “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” It’s more than time for her to give a wistful, three-fingered Mockingjay salute goodbye khổng lồ this character and this franchise once và for all.
But Lawrence takes this career-making role seriously, as always—& brings her usual, accessible set of bravery và vulnerability—as Katniss prepares for the ultimate showdown with Sutherland’s diabolical President Snow in hopes of bringing an elusive peace khổng lồ war-torn Panem. Leading up to that climactic moment at the Capitol are a lot of dreary strategic conversations in a lot of poorly-lighted, underground hideouts. For a movie about a society that’s on the brink of destruction, “Mockingjay – Part 2” features a lot of hurry-up-and-wait.
It picks up at the start right where “Part 1” left off, with Katniss reeling from an attachồng by brainwashed Capitol mouthpiece Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), her fellow former District 12 tribute-turned-fiancé. Merely serving as a symbol of hope in manufactured propagandomain authority films is no longer enough, she realizes. She must join forces with her fellow rebels in their quest khổng lồ bring down the totalitarian regime that has torn apart the l& và taken so many young lives.
Among Katniss’ fellow fighters in Squad 451 (a number that may ring a bell with you from high school English class) are her hunky BFF and hunting buddy Gale (Liam Hemsworth, relegated khổng lồ sulking and shooting); the charismatic Finniông xã O’Dair (Sam Claflin); tatted filmmaker Cressidomain authority (Natalie Dormer); and the all-business Boggs (Mahershala Ali), the soldier who’s the right-hand man of rebel President Coin (Moore, whose severe bob says everything you need to lớn know about her trustworthiness).
Eventually, they also take in Peeta, who provides some poignancy as he’s clearly working through post-traumatic áp lực disorder. And as for the potential awkwardness of the Katniss-Gale-Peeta love triangle in cthất bại quarters, it’s khổng lồ the film’s credit that the boys are the ones discussing it—và their respective sầu roles within it—rather than Katniss herself. She’s got more important things to lớn do, as she has throughout the series, like liberate a nation.
Along the way lớn the president’s mansion, they must avoid a series of “pods”—think of them as high-tech IEDs—scattered throughout the thành phố. These obstacles provide the film’s few heart-pounding thrills. A wall of blachồng ooze surges toward the rebel fighters, swallowing several of them whole in gnarly, ferocious fashion. But it’s the lizard mutt attachồng in the sewers that’s the film’s high point—or low point, if you want to lớn get literal about it. Reptilian & ravenous, these fast-moving creatures are just devastating, and they add an element of paranoia & fear that the rest of the film desperately needed. (Seriously, I was curled up in a ball, watching this scene through my fingers. And James Newton Howard’s appropriately insistent score definitely ups the anxiety factor.)
I wouldn’t dream of spoiling how the whole series concludes. If you’re emotionally invested at this point, you should see it through for yourself, even if it’s a disappointment. But I will say that there’s a tacked-on, extra ending that’s needless & tonally inconsistent with everything that came before it. It’s a sun-dappled coda in a meadow that belongs in a different YA franchise (one with sparkling vampires, perhaps) when there’s a moment right before it that would have ended the movie, & the series, on a perfectly poignant và satisfying note.
Katniss may still be The Girl on Fire, but the flame has turned down lớn a simmer.
Christy Lemire is a longtime film critic who has written for dinhlathang.net since 2013. Before that, she was the film critic for The Associated Press for nearly 15 years & co-hosted the public television series "Ebert Presents At the Movies" opposite Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, with Roger Ebert serving as managing editor. Read her answers to our Movie Love Questionnaire here.