The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 - The series that comes in with a roar and leaves with a whimper ... 2.75 stars

The final chapter of the Panem war 
Walking into the cinema...
We finally come to the end of this journey. The question is not what will happen in the end, but will the makers of this film remain faithful to the original story?

Overall rating: 2.75 stars 
Cinematic rating: 2.5 stars                    Bigger questions rating: 3 stars

        When the Hunger Games came onto the cinematic landscape, it was exciting and provided a strong female character that propelled Jennifer Lawrence onto the world stage. Three years and four films later it has turned into a long and arduous journey, but the end is in sight for this compelling story of survival, rebellion and revenge. The districts of Panem have rallied and are united under the leadership of President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) of District 13The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 provides the conclusion to Katniss' travails and the series. 
         The war of Panem  has progressed to the front door of the Capital, the home of President Snow and his Peacekeepers. The Mockingjay, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), is bearing the weight of the rebellion on her shoulders as it's mythical symbol  and she assists in leading the battle against the tyrannical rein of Snow. During the unification process, she soon realises that the fight is not only against the Capital forces, but one that is closer to home. Katniss must wield her powers against an internal power struggle within the rebellion and the psychological battle within her Hunger Games partner, Peeta (Josh Hutchinson). 
        From the opening sequence, the story and cast look and feel tired of all that they have been through over the last three instalments of this franchise. The story shows that the war has been an exhausting ordeal, which is consistent with the audiences experience in watching the last two films. The final chapter starts off slow and even with the eventual inclusion of action sequences, the pace of the story never accelerates to much more than a stroll. Director Francis Lawrence remains faithful to the original source material and does an admirable job with his directorial duties, but is shackled by the lethargic pacing and a weak ending. It is fascinating that a director can make a story about war so boring, but it is not the fault of the director as much as the story that he has been paid to portray. This segment of The Hunger Games proves that stretching a trilogy into four parts causes the storyline to be become watered down and diminishes any sentiment for the characters plight.
       Katniss was captivating and triumphant in the first two films, but through these last two stages she fails to develop beyond the brooding character of the original. These dark and brooding qualities added depth to the beginning stages of this journey, but wears thin for the conclusion. It is most evident in her relationships with some of her most loyal supporters. The love triangle conclusion is telegraphed exceptionally early in the script and turns into a predictable fizzer. Josh Hutcherson does provide some of the best dramatic delivery of the film and he is allowed to broaden his character into someone more compelling than at the beginning of the series. While at the other point of the triangle, Liam Hemsworth is relegated to a shell of the individual that was being developed throughout the storyline. If there is a winning element in the writing it is found in the villain, President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Unfortunately this element is not capitalised on because of the minimal direct contact with Katniss which leads their antagonistic relationship to a less than satisfactory end. 
        It is hard to determine if the weaknesses in the script are due to the original source material or the screenplay, but ultimately the conclusion lacks the necessary tension to reward the long-suffering fans for their willingness to hold on for this four part tale. This outing provides feelings of relief but not satisfaction. It is the end to The Hunger Games and ties up many of the loose ends from the storyline, but fails to leave the audience entertained. 

       REEL DIALOGUE: From the outset, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 seems to be a simple tale of revenge, but gradually becomes a journey of redemption for Katniss. Feeling the weight of her role as the Mockingjay, she has to come to terms with the responsibilities and the sacrifices required of her for the sake of people’s freedom. This storyline is woven throughout the series, but proves to be a central theme in the concluding phase. The premise of this franchise may be interpreted as glorifying death, but in the end it  exposes something more about the true heart of mankind. The evil that is in this tale of woe and in the wider world breaks open to a need for salvation. Katniss is far from being a compassionate messianic figure, but she does show the insatiable need for people's need for relief from the pains of this world and salvation from internal and external forces. 

Leaving the cinema... is over. The franchise came in with a roar, but concludes with a whimper.

REEL DIALOGUE: What are the bigger questions to consider from this film? 
1. How will the world come to an end?  (Matthew, 24:36, Revelation 20:1-15)
2. Should we rebel against bad leadership? (Romans 13:1-7, 1 Peter 2:13-17)
3. How can we overcome trauma? (1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 34:4)

Trailer for film

Written by Russell Matthews based on a five star rating system @ Russelling Reviews #russellingreviews #hungergmaes #mockingjay2