HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
HTS Overall Score:85
When “The Hunger Games” came out I honestly never expected it to do NEARLY as well as it has in the public eye, as it was adapted from a young adult book back when young adult series were not slathered across the screen every summer. I enjoyed the film but wasn’t really THAT into the series until the near perfect “Catching Fire” sequel came out the next year. That’s when I kicked into full gear excitement levels and was eagerly anticipating the conclusion with “Mockingjay”. However it seems that the “Harry Potter” phenomenon of splitting one book into TWO films had caught the studio executives by the ear lobe and dollar signs were floating in front of them. In fact it seems that just about EVERY young adult series has adopted that particular method of dealing with the final chapter in a series and the trend has been overdone to death. In fact with the “Divergent” series taking such a beating for doing the same thing you can tell that the trend has definitely worn past its welcome, and the splitting of a single novel into two films just has stretched creative minds past the breaking point. “Mockingjay Part 2” isn’t as weak as other series that have tried this approach, but you can definitely tell the padding that was undergone in Part 1, and the same thing has come across into the sequel in an effort to make it as epic as possible.
I’ll try to be as spoiler free as possible, but some plot points from previous films HAVE to be mentioned, so if you haven’t seen part 1, then it might be a good idea to skip down to the technical portion.
Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) are now in the hands of the rebel alliance….errr, rebel forces, with Katniss under heavy wounds from Peeta’s brutal attack on her due to the mental conditioning and brainwashing done to him by the capital. After being nearly killed by President Snows forces, Katniss is seen as a risen hero, and one that is now tired of all the fighting, all the killing and all suffering on both sides of the war. Fed up with her role as glorified cheerleader, the “Mockingjay” gathers forth a plan to take out President Snow once and for all. This time personally. Getting drafted into a special unit of soldiers whose main job is to basically look good and create propaganda films as they invade the capital, Katniss uses the seemingly worthless job to her advantage, creating just the proper opportunity for her rise to power in the unit and lead them straight for the heart of the capital. President Snow’s mansion.
However, things are not going to be easy, as Snow has seen the advance of the rebels for quite some time and has booby trapped the entire city with all sorts of nasty creations from the game master. As mentioned in the film, he makes it into yet another Hunger Games. A trial by fire. This is really where the movie starts to crumble and the padding come to light. The first half of the movie is a slow and steadily paced advance towards the final conflict, but we’re left with over an hour left on the clock, meaning that there is going to be a LOT of action, or a lot of filler to keep us busy until the inevitable showdown with President Snow. Sadly there is much more filler in the last act or so of the film than I really would have liked , besides the inclusion of a couple really cool battle sequences including a sewer encounter with some creatures that almost turned the movie into a horror flick.
I have to say that this was the most disappointing movie of the entire series. Not because it was the WORST movie of the series, but because it actually disappointed me so much in comparison to my expectations. “Mockingjay Part 1” was a bit sluggish and bloated, but I attributed that to setting up the final movie where we would see an epic attack upon the capital city (I’ve never read the books sadly enough). Instead the same slow pace and lack of action keeps the movie dragging deeper and deeper down the rabbit holes, especially since they had the bright idea of ADDING another 15 minutes of runtime to the film compared to Part 1. The first half of “Mockingjay Part 2” is just as slow and methodical as Part 1, but even when the second half kicks up there really isn’t a whole lot to do. Those couple of battles are over in minutes and there is whole chunks of time where everyone is sitting around doing nothing while we wait for the last 15 minutes where a ton of information is just packed into a short burst of time. The ending “battle” at Snow’s gate is over in a matter of seconds and then we have the final subplot with rebel leader, Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) that could have used up a goodly amount of that down time we had earlier in the film to flesh out.
Acting wise, this one is just as good as any of the others. Jennifer Lawrence has really taken the role of Katniss Everdeen as her own and made it something special. The same thing can be said with Josh Hutcherson and Peeta. The only complaint I have this time around is they REALLY overdid the unnecessary love triangle between Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and the two of them, as it was something the book didn’t focus on as much, at least in the “you must choose!” sense. The rest of the cast are old familiar friends, with even Phillip Seymour Hoffman coming in for a bit as his scenes were pretty much filmed before his death a year or so ago.
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and for some thematic material
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=67809[/img]Both Mockingjay films deviated from the 35mm presentation of the first two and delved into the digital word of filming. This creates both negative and positive scenarios, but mostly positive.. Part two is a bit murky and slightly soft, but that is most likely due to the fact that it is bathed in darkness for a goodly amount of the running time with the soldiers sitting in utter blackness talking. There is very little detail to be seen in those shots as the blacks are a tad crushed and sometimes show some washed out tones to them due to the blue color grading that dominates most of the picture. However, when the film enters into the brightly lit world of the capital daylight things pop off the screen with brilliant whites, wonderful black levels and amazing color saturation (just look at Katniss’s lips). Fine detail abounds in those sequences and the image looks noticeably sharper. There's no major banding in the film, or at least none that is too egregious compared to the wince worthy banding in "Mockingjay Part 1", but the image is just a tad softer than I would have liked due to the low light levels for a majority of the film. HOWEVER, the real increase comes from the 4K DI that was struck for the master and that shows off much nicer skin details and overall textures than the first two films enjoyed. A definite upgrade there. (once again remember that a 4/5 4K score is not the same as a 4/5 Blu-ray score, considering that they're graded as how good the image looks FOR THE FORMAT, so naturally a 4/5 rated 4K disc will look better than a 4/5 Blu-ray despite the same number in the review).
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=67817[/img]The one thing that has remained constant throughout the film franchise is EXCELLENT audio tracks. Just like Part 1, Part 2 is given a Dolby Atmos audio track (Dolby TrueHD if you’re receiver isn’t Atmos capable just yet) that really sparkles and shines with perfection. Vocals are clean and precise, with a heavy presence in the center of the front sound stage. The dynamic range is wide, but not excessive, as the sounds of the battle echo from all corners of the room. Sometimes sounding soft and subdued as Katniss and Peeta whisper in the dark, only to explode into action as a pod goes off, with devastation and ferocity in its wake. The surround channels are awash with all sorts of activity with pinpoint precision and accuracy. Each sound is distinct and precise, making a very active and immersive experience. The rattling of a machine gun firing sounds crisp and clear without bloated LFE, and boots falling on concrete each make their own distinct and unique sound no matter which portion of the sound stage they are on. LFE is tight and powerful, adding low end support in the background when needed, but also punching you in the face during a heated encounter. Basically, another “Hunger Games” perfect track.
• Audio Commentary with Director Francis Lawrence and Producer Nina Jacobson
• Pawns No More: The Making of "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2"
• The Hunger Games: A Photographic Journey
• Cinna's Sketchbook: Secrets of the Mockingjay Armor
• Panem on Display: The Hunger Games: The Exhibition
• Jet to the Set
“The Hunger Games” finally comes to a conclusion with an ever so slightly worn out feel to it. The series feels like a roller coaster ride, with the series starting out pretty decent, and then peaking with “Catching Fire”, only to kind of bump along to a stop with the obviously stretched thing 2 parter “Mockingjay”. While “Mockingjay Part 2” is a weak link in the series, tying the first movie in the series for being a bit sluggish, it’s still a fun watch and a solid ending to the franchise. The one thing that I hope comes from this whole ordeal is that studios finally start backing away from the fad of splitting up books into two movies just to get a little more box office revenue and start making them a bit more concise. It's a solid watch, but the real question is, is it worth the upgrade? Personally I think this is another personal decision. The video encode is the only real "upgrade" to be looking at, especially with the audio track being the same great audio that was available on the Blu-ray (Atmos for both). So it all really depends on if the video increase is worth it to you. Still recommended for a good watch, Blu-ray or 4K.
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Liam Hemsworth
Directed by: Francis Lawrence
Written by: Peter Craig, Danny Strong
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 HEVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core), Spanish DD 5.1
Runtime: 137 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: November 8nd 2016
Buy The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 On 4K Blu-ray at Amazon
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