Friday, November 20, 2015

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 2 [2015]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (A-II)  ChicagoTribune (2 1/2 Stars) (2 Stars)  AVClub (B-)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review (C. Lemire) review
AVClub (A.A. Dowd) review

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 2 [2015] (directed by Francis Lawrence, screenplay by Peter Craig and Danny Strong based on the novel by Suzanne Collins [IMDb]) is the final cinematic installment of Collins' Hunger Games [wikip] [Amzn] trilogy.  The first three installments The Hunger Games [2012], The Hunger Games: Catching Fire [2013] and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 1 [2014] were reviewed on this blog earlier.

As with the previous cinematic adaptations of the Harry Potter and Twilight book series, the film-makers here have decided to split the final book in the series into two parts, making the cinematic adaptation of Collins' original trilogy comprise ... four films.  However, perhaps more than in the other adaptations the splitting of the series final book into two movies made more sense here, as the focus of this fourth installment was indeed "the final battle," the lead-up to it having been covered in the third.  "Armageddon," perhaps really deserves its own chapter.

The Regime of the Evil / Fascist President Snow (played by Donald Sutherland) whose reach was by the end of the third installment diminished to, barely, the outer suburbs of "The Capital," was not going to go down without a fight, its Army having been largely defeated but its Propaganda apparatus ever "Gloriously" still intact.

Most of the two hours that follow in this fourth installment portray a Battle that offers today's (perhaps thankfully) largely uninitiated teenagers / young adults the opportunity to learn / experience something of some of most Epic / Desperate battles of the recent, tragically already Modern, past: The 1942 Battle of Stalingrad (combat in the midst of a sea of _ever the same_ fortress-like / concrete apartment/tenement buildings, every last one of which having been booby-trapped), The 1944 Warsaw Uprising (the desperate fighting moving down into the tunnels and sewers of the city) and The 1945 Final Battle of Berlin (with the falling Regime, even in its final gasps, reporting on the Final Battle as "a contest" utilizing "sport terminology").   And even the final battle sequence at the the gate of the Presidential Palace evoked the 1989 final collapse of the Regime of Romanian Communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu on the steps of his "Hunger Games for real" monstrous concrete Presidential Palace in Romania's capital Bucharest.

Indeed, Viewers leaving the film (and after watching the entire series) could leave with a greater appreciation of the complexities of getting rid of entrenched if certainly Evil Regimes like those of Saddam Hussein (or of Hosni Mubarak) of recent memory or today's Bashir Al-Assad (or perhaps even Vladimir Putin).  All these Regimes involve(d) more than "just one man" who benefit(ed) from the Regime, above all, in Status.  And then "the Rebellion(s)" against them are/were not necessarily led by people who are/were completely "honest and true."  In the story-at-hand, the intentions of the Rebellion's Leader, Alma Coin (played by Julianne Moore), are never entirely clear, and those of Snow's Regime's (former) Propaganda Chief / indeed "Hunger Games" DESIGNER turned at the end of the second installment REBEL Propaganda Chief, the Plutarch Heavensbee (played still by Phillip Seymour Hoffmann) are even more difficult to discern.

The series' heroine, the lowly, but destined/raised-up "to do great things," Mary-like (cf. Lk 1:26-38 and especially Lk. 1:46-56) Katniss Everdeen (played ever magnificently by Jennifer Lawrence) is constantly challenged throughout the series, to "do the right thing(s)" even as she becomes increasingly aware that she's being manipulated by everybody for presumably their own ends.

The result is, IMHO, an honestly well crafted teen / young-adult oriented story that can actually help today's teens / young adults navigate (and to be skeptical of) the bombardment of media (often propaganda) messaging that we're all subjected to today.

Overall, a very good, if somewhat depressing and certainly sobering job!

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