“Did you have a nightmare? I have nightmares too. Someday I’ll explain it to you. Why they came. Why they won’t ever go away. But I’ll tell you how I survive it…”
This final piece of the film series adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ best-selling book trilogy stars Jennifer Lawrence as heroine Katniss Everdeen in a compelling 136-minute film series conclusion with epic dramatic situations and still largely bloodless action sequences.
The war in Panem spreads as rebel forces advance on the Capitol, power moves and true motives come into play through key characters. These motives are not always very clear to all audiences so new viewers will have to pay close attention.
Filmmakers wisely focus on Katniss Everdeen as the reluctant leader of the rebellion must bring together an army against President Snow while all she holds dear hangs in the balance, including her sister Primrose, played by Willow Shields in a considerably expanded role.
Directed again by Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend), this film forms a nice plot without losing any key aspects involving Panem’s 12 districts and the governing Capital where all their people live in rare privilege as the districts provide for them under repressive conditions.
The districts’ scope naturally expands as audiences encounter new characters including District 8 Commander Paylor, played by Patina Miller.
Lawrence headlines this futuristic action drama as the strong female heroine Katniss Everdeen who is still willing to make extreme sacrifices for family and society.
Katniss admirably uses violence as an absolute last resort as her emotions are pulled between Gale, played by Liam Hemsworth (The Last Song), and Peeta Mellark, played by Josh Hutcherson.
These two male leads demonstrate a growing divide as each one moves to different ends of the emotional spectrum creating a dynamic conflict that wrenches Katniss’ emotions even more.
Hunger Games victor Finnick Odair, played by British actor Sam Claflin (Snow White and the Huntsman), provides additional support along with Johanna Mason, well played by Jena Malone.
Woody Harrelson also returns as Haymitch Abernathy who gets his signature satirical moments in the film while Katniss’ previous personal manager Effie Trinket, played by Elizabeth Banks, and Beetee, played by Jeffrey Wright, continue their support.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s role as former Hunger Games Maker Plutarch Heavensbee comes into full light as he expertly maneuvers through alliances and motives with careful strategy.
Julianne Moore returns as President Alma Coin, who is also joined by the returning Boggs, played by Mahershala Ali (TV’s House of Cards), Pollux, played by Elden Hensen (The Mighty Ducks) and Cressida, played by Natalie Dormer (TV’s Game of Thrones). These characters add appeal as they support the story well.
Donald Sutherland returns as President Coriolanus Snow while the role of his granddaughter increases. Emcee Caesar Flickerman, played by Stanley Tucci aids the propaganda machine as the stakes get considerably higher.
The emotional and physical battles enhance with Francis Lawrence’s filming methods. He continues keeping his shots centered and low including some effective “top down” shots, especially in the action sequences. He captures the epic challenges and vivid challenges the protagonists must endure.
Audiences who have read the books will get more closure from the concluding events while new viewers might feel the slightly open-ended resolutions needs more explanation. This film series has balanced stark decision making with genuine heart/morals throughout and this conclusion satisfies on a decent level, especially for fans.
The top notch sound and music features James Newton Howard’s musical score. The official soundtrack will release on December 4.
Recommended (*** out of four stars) and rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and for some thematic material.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler