It’s de rigueur by now, of course, to break the final book in any juggernaut Young Adult series inkhổng lồ two films. “Harry Potter” did it. “Twilight” did it. Why not tantalize và torment the fervent fans of these series even further? Why not make twice as much money?

So now we have the absolute, ultimate, this-time-we-mean-it finale of the “The Hunger Games” series, the clunkily titled “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2.” But really, if we’re talking about things like art and narrative sầu drive—which actually can và bởi exist in this franchise—a single film would have sầu worked just fine. Last year’s “Mockingjay – Part 1” felt lượt thích one long placeholder. It featured a lot of wheel spinning & repetitive sầu imagery, và it served as a glaring reminder of what a cynical cash grab this finale-splitting business truly is.

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With the exception of a couple of truly dazzling action set pieces, “Mockingjay – Part 2” provides more of the same. The stakes are higher because this is the end—It really is this time!—but the first hour or so of returning director Francis Lawrence’s film is legitimately nap-inducing. From the very first moments, when Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen struggles to lớn speak her name as the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman looks on sadly as gamesmaker-turned-ally Plutarch Heavensbee, it’s just unrelentingly dour, even for a film set in a dystopian future. Mercifully, the script from Peter Craig and Danny Svào offers a few glimmers of sardonic humor, including quips from Jena Malone as Katniss’ fellow victor, the quick-witted Johanna.

It would be reasonable for us khổng lồ hope for something better, however. Based on Suzanne Collins’ best-selling trilogy, “The Hunger Games” series has set the gold standard for all adaptations of post-apocalyptic Young Adult novels. “Divergent,” “The Maze Runner,” “The Giver”—regardless of when the actual books came out, they always seemed like knock-offs of “The Hunger Games” films in terms of narrative thrills, weighty themes, production values và star-studded casts. The presence of serious, seasoned actors lượt thích Hoffman, Donald Sutherlvà, Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci and Jeffrey Wright gave sầu these movies a gravitas but also elevated them above sầu your expectations for material aimed at angsty tweens. They were violent, exciting blockbusters but they were also About Something—at least the first two movies were.

Many of those stars get just a few lines in the finale—a curtain gọi of sorts, when you’d long to see more of them. The abbreviated presence of Hoffman, who died in năm trước of an accidental overdose, is heartbreaking. Tucci appears all-too briefly as unctuous television announcer Caesar Flickerman. Elizabeth Banks shows up in a couple of her typically outrageous outfits as stymenu và social climber Effie Trinket, and that’s about it.

Lawrence herself already seemed to lớn have outgrown the role of plucky teen Katniss Everdeen when “Mockingjay – Part 1” came out a year ago. By then, she’d won an Academy Award for “Silver Linings Playbook” và done diverse và dramatic work ranging from “American Hustle” to “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” It’s more than time for her khổng lồ give sầu a wistful, three-fingered Mockingjay salute goodbye to lớn this character and this franchise once and for all. 

But Lawrence takes this career-making role seriously, as always—and brings her usual, accessible mix of bravery and vulnerability—as Katniss prepares for the ultimate showdown with Sutherland’s diabolical President Snow in hopes of bringing an elusive peace to lớn war-torn Panem. Leading up to lớn that climactic moment at the Capitol are a lot of dreary strategic conversations in a lot of poorly-lighted, underground hideouts. For a movie about a society that’s on the brink of destruction, “Mockingjay – Part 2” features a lot of hurry-up-and-wait.

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It picks up at the start right where “Part 1” left off, with Katniss reeling from an attack by brainwashed Capitol mouthpiece Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), her fellow former District 12 tribute-turned-fiancé. Merely serving as a symbol of hope in manufactured propagandomain authority films is no longer enough, she realizes. She must join forces with her fellow rebels in their quest khổng lồ bring down the totalitarian regime that has torn apart the l& & taken so many young lives.

Among mỏi Katniss’ fellow fighters in Squad 451 (a number that may ring a bell with you from high school English class) are her hunky BFF và hunting buddy Gale (Liam Hemsworth, relegated to sulking và shooting); the charismatic Finniông chồng O’Dair (Sam Claflin); tatted filmmaker Cressida (Natalie Dormer); and the all-business Boggs (Mahershala Ali), the soldier who’s the right-hand man of rebel President Coin (Moore, whose severe bob says everything you need khổng lồ know about her trustworthiness). 

Eventually, they also take in Peeta, who provides some poignancy as he’s clearly working through post-traumatic bao tay disorder. And as for the potential awkwardness of the Katniss-Gale-Peeta love triangle in cthất bại quarters, it’s to lớn the film’s credit that the boys are the ones discussing it—and their respective roles within it—rather than Katniss herself. She’s got more important things to vị, as she has throughout the series, lượt thích liberate a nation.

Along the way lớn the president’s mansion, they must avoid a series of “pods”—think of them as high-tech IEDs—scattered throughout the đô thị. These obstacles provide the film’s few heart-pounding thrills. A wall of blaông chồng ooze surges toward the rebel fighters, swallowing several of them whole in gnarly, ferocious fashion. But it’s the lizard mutt attack in the sewers that’s the film’s high point—or low point, if you want khổng lồ get literal about it. Reptilian & ravenous, these fast-moving creatures are just devastating, & they add an element of paranoia & fear that the rest of the film desperately needed. (Seriously, I was curled up in a ball, watching this scene through my fingers. And James Newton Howard’s appropriately insistent score definitely ups the anxiety factor.)

I wouldn’t dream of spoiling how the whole series concludes. If you’re emotionally invested at this point, you should see it through for yourself, even if it’s a disappointment. But I will say that there’s a tacked-on, extra ending that’s needless & tonally inconsistent with everything that came before it. It’s a sun-dappled coda in a meadow that belongs in a different YA franchise (one with sparkling vampires, perhaps) when there’s a moment right before it that would have sầu ended the movie, & the series, on a perfectly poignant & satisfying note.

Katniss may still be The Girl on Fire, but the flame has turned down to a simmer.

Science Fiction

Christy Lemire

Christy Lemire is a longtime film critic who has written for since 2013. Before that, she was the film critic for The Associated Press for nearly 15 years & co-hosted the public television series "Ebert Presents At the Movies" opposite Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, with Roger Ebert serving as managing editor. Read her answers khổng lồ our Movie Love sầu Questionnaire here.

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