By Jonathan Decker (Family therapist, film critic)
WHAT'S THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 2 ABOUT?
Katniss Everdeen and her friends take the fight to the Capitol in this concluding chapter of the dystopian series.
IS IT ANY GOOD? (GRADE: B+)
The Hunger Games franchise has always been bleak. With the quest for humanity and righteousness during times of depravity as its central theme, the series of necessity has a bittersweet tone. As such, this may not be the triumphant finale you're looking for. There's no medals from Princess Leia in a throne room ceremony, no shared pint back at the Shire, no joyful reunion on Platform 9 and 3/4. In lieu of crowd-pleasing narrative choices, we get something that feels truer to this gritty-yet-hopeful world. It's heartbreaking and gripping, and what happiness there is is well-earned (by both characters and audience).
Jennifer Lawrence continues to deliver a heroine for the ages in Katniss, and her supporting cast (including Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, and the late Phillip Seymour-Hoffman) is universally solid. Visual effects, cinematography, music, production design, and action choreography perfectly capture this dystopian future. A few plot holes stretch credibility if one gives them much thought, and some moments may be too devastating (even by this series' standards), but through it all the heroism of fighting for peace, for identity, and for freedom rings true. The film, like the entire series, is both gut-wrenching and inspiring.
IS IT OKAY FOR YOUR KIDS?
The Hunger Games- Mockingjay Part Two is rated PG-13. As with previous films in the series, there's no sex and only mild language, but plenty of terrifying moments and gruesome action. One man has his legs blown off; we get a split-second, bloodless look. Several people die when attacked by subterranean monsters. Men, women, and children die in explosions. Several are shot by arrows or bullets. A man is pushed into hot oil, dies, and his corpse is strung up on metal cables. A young man and woman share a bed, but nothing sexual happens. He holds her and they sleep.
ANY WORTHWHILE MESSAGES?
The fight for right is not without sacrifice, pain, or loss, but it's worth it. We can find joy in loving the people around us. We honor the dead by living our lives well. In politics and war there usually are decent people as well as malicious people on both sides.
For another futuristic story about a butt-kicking woman and others battling a corrupt government, I highly recommend Serenity, from Avengers writer-director Joss Whedon.
Licensed marriage and family therapist. Husband. Father. Film critic.