Claudio Says Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 Is A Huge Improvement Over Part 1

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It’s not a secret that I detested “Mockingjay Part 1.” The very idea that the book was split into two movies was infuriating. Why? Money. They want to cash in on our willingness to spend more money to finish the last chapter of this series. I’ll argue that had this movie been one part and great, “Hunger Games” would go down as one of the best trilogies in recent memory. Now, we have that eyesore of the third movie to remember. I’m being dramatic, I really didn’t hate it that much, but it was a huge disappoint. “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2” stars Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark, and the late, great Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee. It’s a fitting end to this quadrilogy and while I’m not sure I would put it above “Catching Fire”, if you catch me on a good day I may say it’s at least on par.

Oddly enough, as this series went on, the movies were getting darker and heavier than the last. We’re picking up from where we left off in the first part where the crew have retrieved the captive victors from the capitol. Oh, before we go on, slight spoiler warning for plot points from part 1. You’ve been warned! Okay, so Peeta is still messed up in the head from the torture he was put through while captive. No one is sure if they could trust him because of how unstable he’s become. I really appreciated the dual personality that Hutcherson had to portray for this movie. A character like Peeta needed something different to make him stand out. The arc he was going through up until the third movie just had him be a sick puppy vying for Katniss’ attention. I always believed that Peeta brought out the best in Katniss, but this time she had bring him back.

On the subject of Katniss, I didn’t hate her in this movie! Katniss has been the most unenjoyable character of the “Hunger Games.” She was unlikable and Jennifer Lawrence wasn’t good playing her. Listen, I like Jennifer Lawrence in other movies like “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle”, but I’ve always argued that she doesn’t do Katniss justice; however, it could be that the character is written like a whiny twerp. Here, she has finally accepted her role in the rebellion and the responsibility she has. She’s demanding, tough, and ready to kill Snow for all he’s done. Her arc comes to a beautiful end with the final scenes of the film. Katniss’ foil, President Snow, is once again played brilliantly by Donald Sutherland. He’s calculating, vindictive, and overall terrifying. He plays Katniss at every turn until the very end. I can’t gush over this villain enough.

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I’m not sure how much was changed from the book, but, for the most part, the writing was pretty tight. It didn’t gloss over plot points that much and did a great job of revealing the inner working of the rebellion. The first part was too procedural for me, but this movie was able to go over the politics of President Coin’s decisions without putting me to sleep. It does slow down in a few parts where you could tell they really wanted to stretch out the source material. Aside from that, the dialogue flowed very well and as per usual and the jokes hit. Woody Harrelson was a godsend for the producers.

The action is more aggressive this time around. Director Francis Lawrence really found his stride in Katniss’ action scenes. With all the amazing archers in cinema, it’s safe to put Katniss on that list because she kicks major ass! Her whole team kicks ass! Last time, I complained that there wasn’t enough Finnick and I got my wish with him being put in the battlefront! The screen time for each character was well divided with the obvious exception of Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s sudden passing left us wondering how the studio would get around filming his scenes. There were rumors of CGI and body doubles, and while I’m not sure how much of that made it into the movie, there was one part that he was not able to film and the way they got around it was too lazy. It took me out of the movie because of the explanation. I won’t hold it against the movie because of the tragic circumstances, but I had to cleanse my pallet of this!

This is darker than the other three films, but it was appropriate to the plot points they were hitting. The capitol’s reign is done and District 13 needs to make sure that kind of tyranny doesn’t happen again. We find out some dark secrets about certain characters that really turns the story in a direction I wouldn’t have thought of. I was always told that if I were to watch both parts of this final installment together that I would appreciate it more. I’m happy to say that it does not make me appreciate “Mockingjay Part 1” at all. I still do not support this idea that all YA series have had lately in turning their last book into two movies. “Harry Potter” is a huge book so it warrants it! “Hunger Games: Mockingjay” is the thinnest of all the books. However, that doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of this movie. It was a fitting, action-packed, and cathartic end to “The Hunger Games.” I really think fans will enjoy this film.

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