Jennifer Lawrence puts an excellent bow on the film franchise that launched her career. Along with strong performances throughout, it’s been one of the better adaptations of the last decade. Here’s why you ought to see it this weekend.
By Kenneth Shipp
If you’ve read most of my book adaptation reviews, I despise the Hobbit trilogy the most. I’ve had my time wasted in some pretty horrible or creative ways, but that has to be pretty high up there. The Hunger Games series however is a very bright spot to a bunch of the young adult novels that Hollywood green lights way too fast.
It helps when the source material is miles above the current competition. Suzanne Collins crafted a very solid trilogy that leaves some fans upset with the ending. The fans that were paying attention can understand why it ended the way it did. I said this would be spoiler-free so I’m going to stick with that. Suffice it to say, Katniss’ decisions this film and the past 3 have been well established as we learned more about her character. It’s becoming increasingly rare to find authors that develop consistent character traits for their protagonist and avoid breaking them just to move the plot along. Her last decision sums up Katniss in one shot; it’s like Collins is telling her readers “If you haven’t gotten it by now, hopefully this will hammer home the point!!”
Let’s focus more on the film itself though. I freaking love Donald Sutherland. I’ve loved him since they cast him in the first film and it was for just this reason. His performances in all 4 have been superb; however I think Catching Fire and Mockingjay Part 2 stand out more because he has more face time with Katniss. In Part 2, he delivers three great moments: one between his war council, another where he talks to Katniss after his defeat, and the final one is so good, when you hear his laughter, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Jennifer Lawrence played her character well and when she needed to freak out, she nailed it. There’s a point where she hasn’t released all of the emotions she had building up the entire film and when it comes out, it’s beautiful. Well, I mean, she was drooling and had an ugly cry going on, but it was beautiful in that she hit the feeling right on the head. Its really cool to see an actress grow up in front of our eyes and this is exactly what this franchise provided for Lawrence. She has since ventured out into other projects and showed success with X-Men and especially Silver Linings Playbook, which showcases her ability very well. But I’m glad to see she didn’t come back to Hunger Games and just phone it in. The matured workmanship she’s developed from other films made it’s way here too. The finished project is improved greatly because of it.
The rest of her supporting cast did well, nothing really jumped out as horrible or exceptional, but just good enough. Well, I should note that Julianne Moore came off a bit more wooden than her performance last movie. I feel like she did a better job in Part 1 than the final installment. Josh Hutchinson did well with what he was given even though I flip back and forth on how much I like the Peeta brainwashing. It works great in some moments and others feels like it was too much. That goes for the film and the book, I’m not sure if it was the best decision, but let’s press on.
The theme that James Newton Howard and the Lumineers crafted for Jennifer Lawrence in Mockingjay Part 1 is very present in this film and it points back to that beautiful moment you seen hundreds of rebels finally gathering as one against the Capitol. I couldn’t help be reminded of it each time they were out in combat and the familiar sound echoed in the background. Additionally, the effects were carefully balanced in this film just like ones past. The tar scene is beautifully done just like the release of the Mutts a few scenes later. The eerie feeling they accomplish in the sewers is spot on and hammers home how desperate their mission is. It’s definitely my favorite of this film because of how well they shot it, the lightening, the sound of the creatures and dread leading up to their frantic escape.
I’ve seen critics rating this one a bit low and I’m truly not sure where that’s coming from. This is a very solid conclusion to the series as it avoids the pitfalls of so many book movies. It keeps a consistent tone and delivers in Katniss’ defining moment. Hunger Games fans can’t really ask for much more than that:
Mockingjay Part 2: The Hunger Games 8 out of 10
For key differences between the movie and the book, check them out here. Like I’ve said before, I could care less because I treat film versions like alternate versions. However, if you’re curious, check it out below. I don’t think any of them really distract from the film and one is fairly obvious because of late great Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
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