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Katniss Meets Her Waterloo in ‘Mockingjay’ Part 2

The creators of The Hunger Games series have done themselves, and their fans, a disservice by splitting the final chapter of Suzanne Collins’ saga into two movies. Up until now the films have been on an upward climb, each one topping the last. The one constant has been Jennifer Lawrence’s charismatic, committed performance as Katniss Everdeen, aka Mockingjay.

This concluding entry in the series is possibly the weakest. It’s unrelentingly glum (as is Katniss) and its purported twists and surprises can be seen coming a mile away.

The through line is Katniss’ determination to assassinate President Snow (a gleefully malevolent Donald Sutherland). At the same time, President Coin (Julianne Moore) becomes more transparent in her efforts to use Katniss as a propaganda weapon in the war for control of Panem—with Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) at her side. Meanwhile, our heroine is distressed to find Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) a victim of brainwashing whose tendency toward violence has become almost uncontrollable.

 

Josh Hutcherson-Peeta

Photo by Murray Close – Courtesy of Lionsgate

Some of the more colorful recurring characters (Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman) have little to do this time around, which further flattens the proceedings and gives the picture a one-note quality. Lawrence is as solid as ever, but her character isn’t as compelling as it was in the earlier installments of the story.

There are some exciting action scenes and impressive visual effects, but they aren’t the reason people go to see The Hunger Games. It’s the characters and their dilemmas that propel this series, and this one concludes with more of a whimper than a bang.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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