RELEASE DATE: 22/03/2016
RUN TIME: 2HR 17MIN
|PHILLIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN|
Katniss’ story has long teetered on the edge of catastrophe, and with this last chapter it finally topples, with not just her loved ones and friends taken away from her but her morals and integrity battered and bruised. While 'Part 1' felt more like a contained character piece, removed from the recurring narrative form of the brutal games, 'Part 2' acts as almost a wall-to-wall action film, the Capital itself rendered a horrifying arena that Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and her team must navigate in order to finally take down President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Since taking over the series with ‘Catching Fire’ (2013), director Francis Lawrence has imbued the series with an impressive cinematic scope. In fact, the series finally puts his keen eye for visual composition to good use, and some of his most beautiful and daring work is in this final film, especially in the third act. There’s an immediacy and a brutality to it, the narrative finally letting fly with its allegory of corruption, responsibility and sacrifice. This might be a piece of young adult fiction, but what ‘The Hunger Games’ reminds us is that this doesn’t mean a compromise on integrity or brutality. Its allegory might be obvious, but that doesn’t lessen any of its impact.
Katniss has been put through hell for the majority of this series, but all her horrific experiences come to a head here, where she faces the choice of becoming the icon everyone around her expects her to be, and the broken human being she so badly wants to be. For all its assured filmmaking and its superb supporting cast, the reason for the success of this series rests with Jennifer Lawrence, and the most thrilling aspect of 'Part 2' is seeing this insanely accomplished actor complete the narrative and emotional arc of this very important character. It helps that (unlike Daniel Radcliffe) she knew from the beginning where the story was going, but the care, integrity and bravery with which she approaches this emotionally difficult material is often breathtaking. Even with her great chemistry with the rest of the cast, the film is always at its strongest when Lawrence is isolated, exemplified by the shocking final act, where Katniss’ view of good and evil comes crashing down and the clarity of her determination to kill Snow begins to muddy. If this part had been placed in the hands of any other actor, I doubt this character, or this series, would have the impact it does.
There’s already been talk of Lionsgate trying to find a way to continue the series, but I hope they decide to leave it as is. We have reached the end of this journey, and the characters have been left where they should. The end of 'Part 2' might not be the most exciting or satisfying conclusion, but it still feels right. This is a rousing, thunderous end to a great series, uncompromising and devastating and yet still wildly entertaining. As time goes on, I have no doubt that this will be looked at as a quiet landmark in genre filmmaking in our time.
This is a rousing, thunderous end to a great series, uncompromising and devastating and yet still wildly entertaining.
PICTURE & SOUND
As with the previous films, Roadshow have given 'Part 2' an exemplary presentation on Blu-ray. The 1080p 2.40:1 transfer is gorgeous, maintaining the washed-out quality of the cinematography. The image is crystal clear throughout, and the muted colours still pop from the screen beautifully. As with 'Part 1', we also have a Dolby Atmos 7.1 track that sounds terrific, especially during the many action sequences. This is a film that benefits greatly from the added audio clarity and punch of Atmos, and even for those without Atmos capabilities, the difference is still noticeable. Until the inevitable Ultra 4K release, this is the best you could possibly want this film to look.
As always, the film comes with an impressive set of special features, the highlight once again being a feature-length documentary covering every aspect of the making of the film. Unfortunately, Roadshow have divided ‘Pawns No More: Making The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2’ into eight chapters and not provided a ‘Play All’ function. Even though each chapter is at least 10-15 minutes long, it seems a serious oversight not to provide the option to watch it as one feature. Other features include an audio commentary from director Francis Lawrence and producer Nina Jacobson; ‘Cinna’s Sketchbook: Secrets of the Mockingjay Armour’ (9:21) about the creation of one of the key props in the film; ‘Panem on Display: The Hunger Games Exhibition’ (1:55) on the touring exhibition of props and set from the film; and ‘The Hunger Games: A Photographic Journey’ (10:15) on photographer Murray Close who photographed stills and the making of the film. There’s also an Easter Egg that includes three deleted scenes from the film.
Once again, JB Hi-Fi are offering their own exclusive edition of the film, but unlike previous instalments that included more special features, their edition includes the 3D release of the film.