Review: “Hunger Games” final installment doesn’t disappoint

Excitement buzzed in the seats of the Cinemark Monroeville as Chatham University students waited impatiently for the final installment of the “Hunger Games” series.

“Mockingjay Part 2” follows Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) on her journey to overthrow the Capitol. The film included the favorite characters from past films, such as Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), and Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin).

The film even included Plutarch Heavensbee, played by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. Mockingjay Part 2 was the last film Hoffman made before he passed away.

Director Francis Lawrence produced another visually intriguing piece. The film often played with lighting, throwing a character’s face into shadow to increase drama or showing a character in silhouette for a similar effect. Lawrence directed the last three installments of the series.

Jennifer Lawrence did not disappoint with her final portrayal of Katniss. She utilized her acting chops to show a reluctant leader whose life seems to be crumbling around her.

Similarly, Josh Hutcherson characterized Peeta — who is still being rehabilitated after being brainwashed by the Capitol to believe that Katniss is evil — as unsure and vulnerable.

Two surprising standouts were Jena Malone (who played Johanna Mason) and Sam Claflin (who played Finnick Odair). The character of Johanna gave the audience most of the limited moments comic relief, which Malone played carefully, never too over-the-top. Claflin portrayed the role of Finnick with all the grace and kindness that fans adored from the books.

The film overall had nearly everyone in the theater on the edge of their seats. The suspense that we grew to love in the last three movies is certainly not missing in Mockingjay Part 2 — if anything, viewers can expect even more tension and jump-out-and-scare-you moments than any of the films before.

As a lover of the books myself, I was completely satisfied with the film. It followed the storyline of the book very closely, and all of the characters were, as usual, very good portrayals of much-loved characters from the book.

To be perfectly honest, I could find very little that I didn’t like about the film. The one exception to this is the final scene in the film. Those familiar with the book series will likely recall the polarizing epilogue; while some felt it was a nice wrap-up to the series, others felt dissatisfied with Suzanne Collins’ choice to tell the reader how the world changed rather than let them make up their own minds.

Regardless of my personal feelings toward the epilogue in the books, I felt the epilogue in the film was heavy-handed — the wonderful characterization we got throughout the film was stripped away in favor of two-dimensional versions of the characters many years later.

4.5/5 stars

Why “Divergent” and “The Hunger Games” are not the same

Since the movie adaptation of the book “Divergent” was released a couple of weeks ago it has gotten a lot of comparisons to “The Hunger Games”. Some critics even slammed the movie, saying that it was too similar to it’s sister franchise. However, there actually isn’t much similarity between the two books & films at all.

The only two similarities are that they are both dystopian novels with female protagonists. That is where the similarities begin and end. In “The Hunger Games”, other than the games themselves, the main focus is on the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale. It’s all about whom she will choose in the end. “Divergent” does not have a love triangle. Tris’ love interest is Four, her instructor during her initiation to the Dauntless faction.

In “The Hunger Games”, the city of Panem is divided into 12 districts and the higher number district, the worse off those citizens are. While in “Divergent”, the backdrop is Chicago and factions divide the people based on an aptitude test that every citizen takes when they are 16. After the test, there is a choosing ceremony and you can choose to stay in the faction that you’re already in or go to another one. The five factions are Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, and Erudite. These factions are based on personality traits and values.

Personally, I feel that the comparisons are too soon and ridiculous. I mean how many vampire movies have we had to endure since “Twilight” came out almost six years ago? Yes, I’ve heard some complaining about that, but not as much as now. I think that audiences should be able to enjoy both series without comparing them so harshly. Let’s just be happy that two strong and positive female characters are leading these successful movies.