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Brooding 'Mockingjay Part 2' could use a little more action with its angst
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Josh Hutcherson stars as Peeta Mellark in "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2. " - photo by Josh Terry
THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 2 2 stars Jennifer Lawrence, Julianne Moore, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Donald Sutherland; PG-13 (intense sequences of violence and action, and for some thematic material); in general release

The final Hunger Games movie should have been triumphant. Instead, Mockingjay Part 2 finishes with the resignation of a teenager who has finally been nagged into cutting the grass.

The two Mockingjay films are actually a perfect metaphor for teenage angst. Ninety percent of your time is spent brooding and complaining about how awful the world is. Then when the action happens, half the time you arent a participant, and when its over, you immediately go back to being miserable.

But a good metaphor does not equal a good movie. The story of Mockingjay Part 2 might make sense on paper perhaps literally, being based on a book and all but it drags on screen. In spite of a few genuinely tense moments, director Francis Lawrences film refuses to build momentum and seems determined to remain as joyless as its protagonist.

The plot boils down to this: Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and company are finally off to face President Snow (Donald Sutherland) in a long-awaited showdown pitting the oppressed masses against the privileged elite. Katniss may be the face of the revolution, and shes pumped to take out the man she holds responsible for everything wrong with the world. But for now, shes taking a reluctant backseat to the rebel leader, President Coin (Julianne Moore).

While the bulk of the rebel forces advance on the Capitol, Coin relegates Katniss to a symbolic role, leading a handful of rebels through the city after the action has passed, filming her every move to effectively live blog the attack. Lucky for us, the results arent nearly that safe since Snow has booby-trapped the Capitol with the same kind of insidious kill zones he used in the Hunger Games tournaments. This leads to some exciting and deadly encounters in between all the brooding.

To complicate things, Katnisss faux beau Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) is along for the ride, still recovering from his mind-bending torture experience at the hands of Snow, and fighting the periodic urge to kill his fellow champion.

Its no spoiler to reveal that the maligned party eventually makes it to the heart of the action. But when they get to Snows doorstep, Katnisss encounter with her nemesis isnt quite what she expects.

Just as in Part 1, the final installment is preoccupied with Katnisss role as the symbol of the districts revolution. Propaganda has always been at the heart of the Hunger Games series, making it unique among the myriad post-apocalyptic dystopias. But that focus has a way of muting the action and steering its protagonist away from the excitement. It happened in the last film when Katniss spent the third act of Part 1 watching Peetas rescue on television, and Part 2 falls into some of the same trouble.

The final film eventually becomes a simple list of pros and cons. Lawrences acting is great, the film looks fantastic and there are some tense action sequences, such as an underground encounter with the Mutts (basically slimier, better CGId versions of Will Smiths I Am Legend zombies). But those high points never build momentum, the film drags in between and the love triangle drama with Katniss, Peeta and Gale (Liam Hemsworth) feels tacked-on. Oh, and once again Johanna (Jena Malone), easily one of the best characters in the series, is left on the sidelines.

Sutherland remains a compelling on-screen presence, and its bittersweet to see Philip Seymour Hoffman return posthumously for a few final scenes as Plutarch Heavensbee. The pomp and circumstance of the Hunger Games is long gone, but franchise fans will enjoy their limited time with some favorite characters.

Its hard to say whether fans of Suzanne Collinss books will enjoy Part 2 in spite of its shortcomings since the print Mockingjay seems to have a mixed reputation. It might be more accurate to say fans have probably seen this coming, and wont be surprised at the results.

Either way, Mockingjay Part 2 feels like a letdown. Catching Fire set us up for an exciting payoff, Mockingjay Part 1 stretched things out in the name of cash and now Part 2 has landed not with a mighty bang, but a thud.

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