Picking up seamlessly from where Part 1 left off, Mockingjay Part 2 follows Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) in her campaign to kill President Snow (Donald Sutherland), and the fight against the Capitol.  While the previous films focused on the politics of the Hunger Games, Mockingjay Part 2 is an epic display of war, and its effects. It’s quite simply a spectacular film, and a fitting conclusion to the widely loved Hunger Games franchise.

Even by Hollywood standards, the film is pretty dramatic, with death after death and explosion after explosion. The plot continually moves forward and there’s never a dull moment. Unlike many two-part book adaptations, this film genuinely keeps the audience on its toes. In fact, while it probably followed the book very closely, it certainly livened up the plot; perhaps because action translates better on the big-screen than when being read. Whilst Mockingjay Part 2 is full of action sequences, it doesn’t lose the emotional aspect, mainly due to the incredible acting of its star-studded cast. Lawrence is, as always, incredible as Katniss, channelling her determination and anger but also hinting at the loss and guilt she feels. Similarly, Josh Hutcherson’s broken and vulnerable Peeta breathes new life into the first films’ romantic-hero stereotype.

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My only criticism comes from the ending. Of course, it is hard to wrap up such a phenomenal series, but the final scenes take a complete U-Turn, the pace slows, and it drags on a bit. After all the action, things grind to a halt. Where they have a chance to show the survivors dealing with what they’ve been through, we get an incredibly acted but brief scene between Gale and Katniss, which is brushed over to make way for a drawn out ‘happy ending’ that doesn’t fit with the rest of the film. It fails to capture the idea that the future is still rocky – a feature which was so haunting in the book – and instead focuses on a domestic-bliss type of ending. Of course, this may be forgivable for many audience members. After all, it follows the book very closely, something the series has always been praised for by fans. However, the good thing about adaptations is that they have a chance to tweak mistakes made by the original, but here, sadly, this is not the case.

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Aside from what could have been done better, this is still an incredible film. Overall, it is fast paced and gripping. Where the book’s descriptions are hard to follow, the film brings them to life with stunning visuals and special effects. The cinematography really emphasises the action, with the audience being thrown into traps and obstacles the Capitol has set for Katniss and her squadron. The scenery, similar to the previous films, is also stunning. The aftermath of destruction is breathtakingly devastating and, accompanied by a haunting soundtrack, hammers home the feelings of abandonment which often accompany war. This is one of the best aspects of the film – its focus on the realities of war. There’s one scene when a child screams at her mother after she has been shot, which is utterly heartbreaking. Striking the balance between action and emotional consequences is something the film does particularly well.

I am still reeling from Mockingjay Part 2, and cannot wait to see it again. No longer just another teen dystopian franchise, it is moving and thought-provoking.  It’s certainly a must-see, not just for fans but for anyone who appreciates an action film with emotional depth and an incredible cast.

9/10

Molly Barratt

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