Knee-jerk review: "Mockingjay Part 2"

1. True story: the night before we saw this in theaters, we watched Mockingjay Part 1 for the first time on Amazon Prime.  An interesting experience because Part 2 essentially picks up moments after the end of Part 1, which means we had the chance to watch a single narrative (totaling about four hours) split between two completely different environments - one, an HD wide-screen television in our living room and two, a huge movie screen in a packed theater.  Cool.
2. The Hunger Games series revolves around a fairly ridiculous premise: a future world, as penance for trying to revolt against the government, agrees to sacrifice children in a battle-to-the-death live television special.  It's a fun, if dark, world... but only if you try not to think too much about how and why this world came to be.  It's just crazy.
3. But the point is that the filmmakers and actors play this stuff completely straight, giving the story genuine gravitas and import.  
4. Having an Oscar-winning actress as the lead for your PG-13 sci-fi franchise series certainly doesn't hurt either.
5. It's a touching and satisfying ending, but we're still on Team Gale.  Which is kind of funny when you look back at what we said two years ago about Gale in our Knee-Jerk Review of the second movie Catching Fire.
6. Woody Harrelson.  He's a genius.  But Jenna Malone always seems to be trying too hard.
7. We remember well reading the Mockingjay book and wondering how in the world they'd ever turn it into a movie.  It's a far cry from the bottle-vibe of the first book.
8. Some of the scares in the mutt-in-the-sewers sequence are certainly cliche.  But they still work.
9. Why do movie characters always risk their lives going back to save a pet?
10. President Coin, tsk tsk.
11. "Real or not real?"
12. Philip Seymour Hoffman completely disappears and we couldn't help but wonder how much of that was planned and how much of that was because of his unexpected death during production.  We get a rather odd sideways shot of him towards the end that feels wholly unnatural, plus another character delivers a letter from Hoffman's character.  If he hadn't died, would that letter have been replaced by an actual dialogue scene?  
13. Here's an interesting analysis of the creepy song "Hanging Tree."
14. That's one fantastic last line (which apparently came from the novel).  Slow clap.
15. Three books, four movies, all top notch.

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