The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape
Send this page to Twitter!  

THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan



The film adaptation of Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games series comes to a satisfactory – if unspectacular – conclusion with Mockingjay – Part 2. Unlike the Harry Potter series, which got better as it went along, this one actually becomes less interesting as it winds to an end. Anyone who has been invested in the saga will likely have sufficient interest in how the complex story resolves itself, but it's odd that the franchise goes out on its weakest note.

Jennifer Lawrence returns as Katniss Everdeen, the “Mockingjay” who became a symbol of righteous rebellion in the previous installment. With war in Panem raging more fiercely than ever, she makes it her mission to kill the evil President Snow (Donald Sutherland). In order to do this, Katniss and her companions, including Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and Gale (Liam Hemsworth), must make their way through a booby-trapped city. What they find on the other side is something quite different from what they expected.

The Hunger Games movies follow an arc that proves to be slightly backward on a dramatic level. The original has a hooky, tough-to-resist premise, in which a televised competition forces innocent young people to fight to the death. After Katniss wins, she vows to go after the dictator who allows the games to continue, an idea explored in Catching Fire. From there, things turn into something a bit more familiar and less immediately engaging. Mockingjay – Part 1 finds her becoming a figurehead of the rebellion and prepping to take down Snow. It's a lot of set-up, no payoff. Part 2 should, theoretically, be the most exciting entry of them all, as Katniss finally faces down her ultimate enemy. Instead, the story is very dour and gloomy, with a lot of talk about strategy and relatively little action. It's more of a derivative revenge flick than an edge-of-your-seat sci-fi action tale.

That being said, the larger story of how Katniss goes from girl-next-door to national hero is riveting enough to keep Mockingjay – Part 2 going, even when the road is bumpy. Jennifer Lawrence once again proves stellar in the lead role, earning our admiration for the character, who comes to realize that the choices she's forced to make have consequences she could never foresee. More than anything, that's what resonates about the movie. The point is driven home that sometimes you wind up as part of something bigger than you, and that predicament changes who you are, for better or worse.

Mockingjay – Part 2 may not have a ton of action, but what's here is solid. Scenes in the booby-trapped city harken back nicely to the original Hunger Games that Katniss competed in, particularly a bit involving an oil flood. Later, there's a creepy scene involving some rather nasty-looking creatures in the sewers of Panem. A couple of radical plot twists late in the game provide an intriguing shakeup, causing Katniss (and, by extension, the audience) to rethink a number of things that have come before. There is also strong supporting work from the ensemble cast, which includes Sutherland, Woody Harrelson, and Julianne Moore.

Having not read any of the books beyond the first, I suppose that I expected something grander from Mockingjay – Part 2. The franchise seemed like it was building to a really thrilling and meaningful conclusion. While it may not quite get there, the saga has been sturdy entertainment from the start. Even if the big finale isn't as amazing as the kick-off, the journey of Katniss Everdeen remains one worth having taken.

( out of four)

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and for some thematic material. The running time is 2 hours and 17 minutes.

Buy a copy of my book, "Straight-Up Blatant: Musings From The Aisle Seat," on sale now at! Paperback and Kindle editions also available at!

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.