At last, the grand finale of the most successful young adult (YA) novel trilogy. Although there is no shortage of YA novels and movies (“Divergent,” “Maze Runner,” etc.) adapted into a movie series, “The Hunger Games” features the most compelling storyline as well as the most captivating and credible heroine, in Jennifer Lawrence.
As Katniss Everdeen, “JLaw” leads the fight for truth, justice and the new Panem way. In part four of this three-part series, the producers continue the recent trend of splitting the final chapter into two movies, apparently solely to generate an additional payday. The audience is so invested in the characters, it is once again held cinematic hostage.
As screenwriters Peter Craig and Danny Strong cram two hours of script into the five hours of the final two movies, we recall the first two films each presented more compelling features in half the time. However, the overall series provides the blockbuster balance of depth, action and requisite popcorn entertainment to claim victory.
Coming off the measured (slow) pace of the prior film, where the conflicted Katniss struggles with her inner demons, this one also takes a while to get started. On-again, off-again boyfriend Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) explains, “Our lives were never ours, they belong to (President) Snow (Donald Sutherland) and our deaths do too. But if you kill him, Katniss, all those deaths, they mean something.”
As the war of Penam escalates, more districts become engaged in the rebellion. The reluctant leader unites the disparate Districts into a single army against the formidable Capitol troops.
Katniss declares, “We all have one enemy and that’s President Snow! He corrupts everyone and everything! He turns the best of us against each other. Stop killing for him! Tonight, turn your weapons to the Capitol! Turn your weapons to Snow!”
President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) of the resistance counts on the Mockingjay (Katniss), to inspire the people into battle. Coin even exploits the charismatic archer in carefully staged photo ops as part of an even grander plan. With a small team of devoted friends, including Peeta, struggling with his sanity, they must get to the Capitol through a gauntlet of hi-tech mine fields and unleashed zombies.
Although the audience really wants to know whether Katniss chooses between Peeta and long time friend Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), their primary goal is to take out Snow and return peace to the land. With devastating losses, Katniss wonders if she will accomplish her mission.
Finnick Odair (Sam Caflin) sarcastically announces, “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 76th Hunger Games!”
After ten hours of this series, the audience is rewarded with a potent ending delivered as political, social, cultural and environmental messages. Without being preachy, we are enlightened and entertained. The story is abundantly supported by visual effects so challenging production began before part 1 was even released.
The finale continues to enhance Jennifer Lawrence’s super-star status and the all-star cast includes five actors with 15 total Oscar nominations amongst them (Lawrence, Moore, Seymour Hoffman, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci).
“Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2” is 137 minutes and rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action. Based on the wildly successful novels by Suzanne Collins, the production company revealed that this four-part “trilogy” may get yet another prequel or another sequel. We don’t mind, provided they don’t split it into two films.
Political left-wingers might suspect the message was about control by “one-percenters,” while right-wingers might suspect it was about government overreach. Both may be correct, but Collins purposely leaves conclusions to the audience. Plutarch (Philip Seymour Hoffman’s final role) explains human nature, “We’re fickle and stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self destruction.” Even so, may the odds be ever in your favor.
Ron’s Rating: B Leigh’s Rating: A