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Hunger Games Finale: Fan-Satisfying Despite Unfortunate Timing

<i>Hunger Games</i> Finale: Fan-Satisfying Despite Unfortunate Timing

DVD Release Date: March 22, 2016
Theatrical Release Date: November 20, 2015
Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of violence and action, and for some thematic material)
Genre: Adventure, Sci-Fi
Run Time: 137 minutes
Director: Francis Lawrence
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks, Jena Malone, Natalie Dormer, Toby Jones, Sam Claflin, Willow Shields

In light of recent international events, this may not be the best time to release a film about a rebel army launching attacks on a capitol city. Then again, given the movie's take on the morality of war, maybe it's the perfect time. Regardless, some of the on screen destruction was uncomfortably reminiscent of real life, while much of it was just the weirdly fascinating game-like adventure this series is known for. So let's steer away from current headlines and head to the fictional world of Panem, where President Snow's (Donald Sutherland, Horrible Bosses) reign of terror continues.


When last we saw plucky Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence, Serena), in Mockingjay - Part 1, she had just been strangled into unconsciousness by her former Games partner Peeta (Josh Hutcherson, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island). It wasn't really Peeta's fault; he had been injected with tracker jacker venom and brainwashed. As Part 2 opens, Katniss is recovering; Peeta, not so much. Meanwhile, the war against Snow and his forces is dragging on. Katniss—who is good with a bow and even better when it comes to rallying the troops—is sent off on something of a PR mission. Explosions and deaths of innocents follow. All that collateral damage gets Katniss wondering if the rebel forces are really any better than the establishment they're trying to overthrow. It's an uncomfortable position for the rebellion's poster girl to be in.

In the midst of all this death and destruction the whole love triangle thing between Katniss, her old buddy Gale (Liam Hemsworth, Paranoia), and Peeta drags on. Seriously, couldn't she do better? Gale is long on nobility but short on passion; the most emotion Peeta shows is when he lashes out in anger. You'd think "The Girl on Fire" would be able to strike more of a spark in her admirers; she certainly outshines them in every way. Lawrence's performance is riveting; a good thing considering she's in almost every scene.

Meanwhile, back at the war, all 13 Districts finally join forces and set out to conquer the Capitol, with rebel President Coin (Julianne Moore, Seventh Son) and Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman, in his final role) running point behind the scenes. At the Capitol, Snow is in his evil glory, swearing that, "Our game makers will make them pay for every inch with blood," and promising a "celebration of suffering." To that end, the city is booby-trapped with deadly "pods" (think high-tech land mines) that unleash a variety of creative destructive forces. Clearly the rebel forces are the good guys here... or are they? The line between right and wrong is often as grey as the war-torn scenery.

Things start to pick up when Katniss sets off on a personal mission: to assassinate President Snow. With both Gale and Peeta (and some other friends) in tow, she fights her way to a showdown between rebel and Capitol forces. And again art imitates life as a voice calls out, "Our enemy is not like us. They do not share our values." The problem lies in identifying the enemy, which Katniss takes a while to do. If you've read the books you know what's coming next. If you haven't read the books you'll still be able to see what's coming. A "big moment" that seemed to be set up as a plot twist was no big surprise, but that didn't make it any less satisfying.

Fans of the books will be happy with the film. If you're a more casual Hunger Games movie viewer, be advised that this one lacks some of the colorful, over-the-top spectacle of earlier films (although it makes up for it in special effects of the deadly kind). Either way, Part 2 wraps up the series quite nicely, while raising interesting, and often uncomfortable, questions along the way.

CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers):

  • Drugs/Alcohol: Some drinking at a dinner
  • Language/Profanity: None noted
  • Sex/Nudity: A couple share a bed, but for comfort rather than sex. A smattering of halfhearted kisses.
  • Violent/Frightening/Intense:  There are a multitude of explosions, battles, shootings, beatings, and the like. Characters are in mortal danger throughout. Many people die. The “mutts” are particularly disturbing; they appear sub-human and fight like demons.

Publication date: November 19, 2015