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Movie Night – 'Mockingjay Part 2' one of year's best (Dec. 2, 2015 issue)

The thrilling conclusion to the Hunger Games series has finally arrived, and it was worth the wait. Everything in the finale is bigger, bolder, and better than the other movies in the series. “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2” takes the story of the revolution of Panem to new heights.
When we last saw Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) she was recovering from an attack by her one-time staunch ally, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson). Peeta had been brainwashed by President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and his cronies in the Capitol, the enemy of Katniss and all 13 districts of Panem. Panem is all that remains of the United States 75 years after a civil war.
As Katniss recovers and they attempt to clear Peeta of his brainwashing, the rest of Panem is embroiled in battle. At long last the districts have risen against Panem in a fight for survival and freedom. In order to make the final push into the Capitol, the rebels must wrest control of District 2 from the Capitol. District 2 includes the mountain that houses the Capitol’s air defenses.
The only way they can take down the air defenses is to initiate landslides and trap everyone inside the mountain fortress. Katniss, always uncooperative, doesn’t like this plan. There are civilians inside the mountain who mean them no harm. Regardless, Katniss is not in charge and the decision is made to move forward with the plan.
In the aftermath Katniss is once again injured and sent back to District 13 to recuperate. Under the orders of Alma Coin (Julianne Moore), the President of the rebels, Katniss is to continue to be the Mockingjay. She is to be a propaganda weapon intended to bring the citizens of the 13 districts together, to turn their guns toward the Capitol. Katniss has other ideas. She wants to be on the front lines, she wants to put an arrow in the heart of President Snow.
The movie picks up steam as Katniss, Gale (Liam Hemsworth), and a squad of all-star soldiers are inserted well back of the frontlines. Their job is to be filmed by Cressida (Natalie Dormer) as further propaganda pieces. President Snow anticipates this move and Katniss and her squad are thrust into the heart of the battle for the entire country of Panem.
“Mockingjay Part 2” is an epic conclusion to an epic series. The issues of slow pace and very little action that plagued “Mockingjay Part 1” are not present here. “Mockingjay Part 2” is intense, dramatic, and action-packed. Katniss learns that she doesn’t know who she can trust, who is on her side, and who is blindly following orders.
As I am sure was intended by author Suzanne Collins all along, the story resembles that of the American Revolution. There are 13 districts (colonies) who are struggling under the weight of their oppressive overseer, the Capitol (the British Empire). The districts (colonies) want one thing, liberty. The Capitol (British Empire) wants only to keep the districts under their thumb and profit from their labors.
“Mockingjay Part2” also contains the best acting of the series. Rather than a sullen and difficult youth, Jennifer Lawrence now portrays Katniss as a confident and headstrong, if maybe a little reckless, woman. Lawrence has molded Katniss into a leader. Donald Sutherland is also at his best as the demented and ever-manipulative President Snow. Snow shows his true colors and Sutherland makes you hate him for it.
There are only two issues with the movie. First, if you haven’t seen the previous three films in the series, don’t bother with “Mockingjay Part 2.” You won’t be armed with all of the knowledge you need to understand and fully enjoy the series finale. Secondly, the ending of the movie stretched on just a tad too long. If the film had been ten minutes shorter the ending would have been perfect.
Regardless, “Mockingjay Part 2” is the best of the series, and one of the best movies of the year. It has everything that you’re looking for in the conclusion of the story of Katniss Everdeen, including a choice that Katniss must make between Gale and Peeta. For fans of the series, or the books, “Mockingjay Part 2” is a must see. For everyone else, don’t discount these movies as for teenagers only. “Mockingjay Part 2” proves that everyone can enjoy the saga of Katniss Everdeen.
Grade: A
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action and for some thematic material.