Like the producers of the “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” movies, the makers of “The Hunger Games” series successfully produced an adequate second film adapted from a single novel. While not a movie to go down in the books as a true work of art or a movie to watch over and over again, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2” delivers as a strong conclusion to the series.
Often when a book is split into two movies, producers — and fans — are concerned that there isn't enough content for an action-packed film. The director manages to overcome this, even with a lengthy running time of 2 hours and 17 minutes. While previous “Hunger Games” films seemed to overuse long walks in the forest and frequent pauses for characters to ponder deeply, “Mockingjay - Part 2” remains pretty fast-paced, even in scenes with less action and more dialogue.
Visually, the movie is stunning, as one would expect with a budget of $160 million. In certain scenes, the cinematographers were able to create an almost 3-D effect in a 2-D movie. Viewers are truly transported into the world of Panem as they see Katniss hunt and watch buildings burn. The mutts created to stop Katniss and her team are also much improved from the wolf mutts seen in the first “Hunger Games” film. Resembling the infected humans in “I Am Legend,” the mutts add a touch of terror to the movie, which allows “Mockingjay” to appeal to a wider audience.
The film also features the same strong cast as in the previous movies. While Katniss’ friendship with Haymitch is pulled off by Jennifer Lawrence and Woody Harrelson, her relationship with Peeta, played by Josh Hutcherson, still feels awkward. The majority of their interactions are mere snippets of romantically cheesy dialogue or overdramatized conversation meant to evoke conflict. On top of that, Hutcherson’s acting seems overdone, and his purpose as a member on the rebellion’s team is unclear given his character’s condition.
One interesting feature of the film is the creation of new arenas for the characters. While the first two books and corresponding movies include the actual "Hunger Games" which take place in arenas, “Mockingjay” focuses on the post-Quarter Quell rebellion. Still, the creators were able to establish symbolic arenas with characters closed off from the rest of the Capitol, whether above ground in town squares or underground in tunnels.
The ending was more-or-less anticlimactic and even a bit awkward. In a movie with so much action and drama, the final actions taken by Katniss seem out of character, at least with how they appear in the movie. While viewers get a resolute ending, they are not going to walk away really feeling any impact.
If you’ve read the books, you’ll leave the theater feeling OK. Your experience won't be awful, but you won't be particularly satisfied either. If you have yet to open the “Mockingjay” book by Suzanne Collins, and your friends haven’t spoiled the plot for you, you’ll be shocked by what you see on the screen — but you won’t have much time to dwell on any particular event because of the movie's fast pace. Either way, the result is about the same: a solid last film, but not one you’ll remember in five years.