The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

Posted on November 19, 2015 at 5:52 pm

MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and for some thematic material
Profanity: Some mild language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Social drinking
Violence/ Scariness: Constant and intense peril and violence, guns, explosions, arrows, mines, zombie-like creatures, many adult and child characters injured and killed
Diversity Issues: Diverse characters
Date Released to Theaters: November 20, 2015
Date Released to DVD: March 21, 2016 ASIN: B0189HKE5Q

Copyright Lionsgate 2015
Copyright Lionsgate 2015

Can we all just agree that from now on we’ll try to keep it to one book/one movie? This final entry in the Hunger Games series will give the fans what they’ve been waiting for. It’s faithful to the book and it’s perfectly fine. But part 4 is not as good as part 3 and I am not persuaded that it needed to be a separate film.

Jennifer Lawrence is still very much the Girl on Fire and still the heart and soul of the entire series as Katniss Everdeen, whose archery skills, heart, and integrity inspire a rebellion.

Those qualities also make her a double target, wanted by both of the opposing forces. Dictator President Snow (Donald Sutherland) wants to get rid of her. But the leader of the rebel group, President Alma Coin, wants to use her for propaganda purposes. As soon as Katniss recovers from the injuries she suffered in part 3, she is back in the field, not so much to fight as to appear to fight, with a camera crew following along.

Also at the end of part 3 we saw that Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), who was tortured by Snow’s “Peacekeepers,” is now convinced that it is Katniss who is the enemy. Even the gentle Prim Everdeen (Willow Shields) cannot reach him.

Katniss is deeply conflicted. She has pretended to be in love with Peeta to win the Games and is so disconnected from her feelings she has no idea whether she loves him or not, or, if she is, if he will ever be himself again. Her old friend Gale is in love with her and she does not know how to respond to him, either. While she is passionately committed to bringing down President Snow, she is not willing to go along with the tactics President Coin believes are necessary. She finds it hard to trust anyone, even herself. The abrasive Johanna Mason (Jenna Malone, a refreshing break from the earnest doggedness of just about everyone else) reminds her that some people say what they mean.

All Katniss is certain of is that President Snow must die and she wants to be the one who kills him. So she and a group of rebel soldiers (don’t get too attached — they’re mostly red shirts) set off with one map showing where the mines and traps have been laid out and, for each of them, a capsule of poison to kill themselves in case of capture.

The middle section of the film is more FPS video game than story as the group faces one diabolical threat after another and it becomes numbing, even comedic as we go from guns and traps to a toxic inky flood and then some zombie-esque creatures, as though it is not just President Snow but author Suzanne Collins who wants to make sure no possible destructive force is overlooked.

There is a brief respite at the home of Tigris (a slinky and imposing Eugenie Bonderant, a woman who has been surgically modified to resemble a jungle cat. Like “Ender’s Game,” another story with very young heroes, the climax does not come where you think, in a manner that allows Katniss to evade genuine resolution of the moral quandaries of ends and means.

Director Francis Lawrence (no relation to Jennifer) has steered this big, unwieldy ship of a story safely into harbor. If he erred on the side of satisfying the books’ fans over those who might come to the story first on screen, that is understandable. But it means that at least half of the relief at having it resolved will be that no one is planning a part 5.

Parents should know that this film includes intense, extended, and sometimes graphic peril and violence with many adult and child characters injured and killed, as well as references to torture, guns, explosions, murder, chase scenes, themes of dystopia and tyranny.

Family discussion: Could the rebels have won without Coin’s decision? Was it worth it? Why are Snow’s forces called Peacekeepers?

If you like this, try: the other films in the series and the books by Suzanne Collins

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