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REVIEW: ‘Mockingjay, Part 2’ wraps up ‘Hunger Games’ saga

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The Hunger Games franchise reached its thrilling conclusion in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2, which is based on the last book of the bestselling trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Mockingjay Part 1 was a rough ride, leaving the audience with a devastating revelation. This film picks up immediately where the other left off.

The story alternates between District 13, District 12 and the Capital. Much of the movie focuses on the filming of the Propos  - propaganda pieces, designed to rally the districts and intimidate the civilians in the Capital. That provides an opportunity to see how the rest of the districts are faring under President Snow’s reign. Donald Sutherland is wonderfully evil in this role, without slipping into caricature.Photo: www.intouchweekly.com

Jennifer Lawrence delivers an amazing performance playing the role of Katniss Everdeen, which elevated the character beyond how she was portrayed in the books.  Katniss is dealing with PTSD, grief, romance, and the desire to protect her family.  Lawrence conveys so much wit her eyes. Her rapport with Woody Harrelson (who plays Haymitch Abernathy) is magical – there’s one scene at the end (won’t say more than that) where she looks at him, and he looks back, and it’s clear that they have an unspoken agreement.

Reprising his role of Peeta, Josh Hutcherson had a tricky role this installment, but he is excellent, subtly modulating his performance as the movie unfolds. As Gale Hawthorne, Liam Hemsworth excels in his action sequences, but is still saddled with the romantic triangle troubles. It is believable by now that Katniss might simply love them both.

Even though Effie’s presence is diminished, Elizabeth Banks (Pitch Perfect 2) is effervescent, revealing the depth of her affection for her charges.  It’s wonderful to see so many women cast in the leadership roles, including, Julianne Moore as President Alma Coin, Game of Throne’s Gwendoline Christie as Commander Lyme, Patina Miller as Commander Paylor, and Michelle Forbes (Lieutenant Jackson). Sadly, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s tragic death occurred during the filming of Mockingjay. Hoffman reportedly had one scene left to shoot. As a result, existing footage was tastefully included into some scenes, so his character is still visible.

Director Francis Lawrence (no relation to Jennifer) provides most of the supporting cast with at least one scene where they shine. Sam Claflin (Finnick) gets a wedding and a great fight sequence, while Daredevil’s  Elden Henson (Pollux) and Jena Malone (Johanna) have more vulnerable moments. Under the careful watch of Lawrence, the film took a YA story and turned it into a compelling commentary on freedom and the slippery nature of politics.  

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2  is PG-13, and contains a few brief moments of extreme violence and scary creatures.


Contact Diane Cooney at dcooney@philly2philly.com

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Photo: www.intouchweekly.com