Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Julianne Moore
Directed by: Francis Lawrence (“The Hunger Games”)
Written by: Peter Craig (“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1”) and Danny Strong (“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1”)

In a trend that is growing increasbingly popular amongst financially successful film franchises, Hollywood is starting to split up final installments of films into separate parts. While the Harry Potter franchise could argue that with so much story to tell, splitting up was a necessity, many moviegoers see it as a way for studios to essentially print their own money by extending a franchise that they know eager fans will flock to see. With a film as uneventful and unnecessary as “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2,” its clear that Lionsgate and company are veering towards the latter.

After the events of “Mockingjay Part 1,” Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) continues to be the face of the rebellion against the capital of Panem. While trying to rally people against the oppressive leadership, Katniss fights to earn the trust back over Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) who still feels the effects of being brainwashed.

At over two hours long, the story and plot of “Mockingjay Part 2” meanders as much as the characters do, resulting in the most boring final installment of a film in recent years. Not only does it take forever to get going, but the stakes never seem high, even though the audience is constantly reminded that they are. Worse, when something of consequence like a character death happens, it is glossed over and any reaction feels completely unearned. Then again, pretty much any character could have croaked and nothing would have been felt due to their paper-thin designs and arcs.

There’s some good visual candy and a few exciting battle sequences, but the film seems far more interested in making clunky political messages than telling a satisfying character story. Even moments that are meant to be shocking and twisty are predictable and lack any sort of punch. Part of that can be contributed to the drab tone established early on and you can practically feel the film dragging its feet the whole time.

It’s easy to understand why Lawrence was so game to return to the franchise that helped turn her into a household name megastar. Somewhere in this film series is a strong female character for a younger generation to lock into. Unfortunately, it is hidden and buried between dumb political allegory, a ridiculous, pointless love triangle, and perhaps worst of all, a series of 4 films that only has 1 installment that is actually good. There’s no denying that “The Hunger Games” franchise was a smashing success in the hearts of diehard audiences and Lionsgate’s accountants. It’s just a shame that this derivative journey ended with something that felt like a pure cash grab.

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