'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2' Movie Review

Get the details of the last movie of the franchise.

November 20, 2015, 2:15 PM

— -- Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson

Rated PG-13

Four out of five stars

"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 2" is a long movie. The screening I attended started on Oct. 21 and just ended Wednesday.

At least, that’s what it felt like.

“Uh-oh,” you say? Don’t sweat it. It’s long but well worth the running time (it’s actually 2 hours and 17 minutes).

A brief synopsis: When we last left off, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) tried to choke Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) to death. The action here starts with Katniss, bruised and battered, recovering from her injuries and trying to come to terms with Peeta -- who’s been brainwashed and programmed to kill Katniss -- ending her role in the revolt against the ruthless President Snow (Donald Sutherland). She desperately wants to kill Snow, but President Coin (Julianne Moore) doesn’t want Katniss on the frontline: she wants her to stay out of harm’s way and continue to be the face and inspiration behind the uprising.

Katniss has other ideas. She winds up serving in a brigade called the Star Squad, who are in the field for propaganda purposes but are still in danger. As the resistance enters the capital, Snow has ordered his gamemakers to booby-trap the city. The result? Some stunning and violent CGI effects!

At some point, Katniss and crew decide the best way to get to Snow is by heading to his estate via an underground route, which isn’t a good strategy for the cause but it’s great for the audience. The ensuing sequence is one of the most riveting and thrilling you’ll see in a movie -- a claustrophobic, heart-stopping, unpredictable gem every aspiring horror director should study.

These "Hunger Games" movies are spectacular on so many different levels. In this final film, fans will get a satisfying resolution. It’s an emotional and dark journey illuminated by an otherworldly performance from Jennifer Lawrence, an actress who seems as if she was created in a lab -- the product of an experiment in which an enterprising scientist combined the DNA of every great film actress and created her. There’s an abundance of talented actresses today, but these movies wouldn’t be anything close to what they are without Lawrence.

What also makes "Mockingjay -- Part 2" as good if not better than the previous "Hunger Games" films is a tour de force supporting performance from Josh Hutcherson and inspired direction from Francis Lawrence. Indeed, credit must also go to casting director Debra Zane, who managed to assemble such an impressive group of truth tellers.

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