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‘Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2’ Saves ‘The Best For Last’ and 12 Other Reviews

The final installment in the popular series hits theaters on Friday, and critics give it a 72 percent Rotten Tomato score

The producers of the “Hunger Games” franchise “saved the best for last” — critics agree that while the final installment of the franchise is slow at times, it received a satisfying and incredible ending.

“Now the story comes to a close in ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2,’ a sequel that, in a crowded field, winds up being one of the year’s most satisfying popcorn movies,” wrote TheWrap’s film critic, Alonso Duralde.

As in the previous films, critics praise Jennifer Lawrence‘s portrayal of Katniss Everdeen, the main protagonist of the series who sets out to kill President Snow in the midst of the revolution against the Capitol.

And while it is seemingly darker than its predecessors, and Lawrence’s costars, Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson, are “dull” and “puckish,” the film does not “disappoint,” with a Rotten Tomato score of 72 percent.

See 13 of the best reviews below.

Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal:

Julianne Moore is seen once again to powerful effect, as the rebel president, Alma Coin. Resolution comes to the tortured relationship between Katniss and her friend from childhood Peeta Mellark, played by Josh Hutcherson. And Philip Seymour Hoffman, as the Head Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee, is, as he was in the previous episode, a haunting–and substantial–presence in footage shot before his death early last year. Film can do almost anything but bring people back.”

Michael O’Sullivan, The Washington Post:

“When all — or nearly all — is said and done, toward the end of the 2 1/4 -hour final film in ‘The Hunger Games’ saga, Woody Harrelson, as the cynical Haymitch Abernathy, turns to Jennifer Lawrence‘s arrow-slinging heroine Katniss Everdeen and voices what, at that point, is probably what everyone in the audience is thinking. ‘Katniss,’ he wisecracks, ‘I’ll say this for you: You don’t disappoint.'”

David Edelstein, New York Magazine:

“‘Mockingjay – Part 2’ is all Lawrence, though a couple of others have their moments. As a ravaged former political prisoner given to mocking the Mockingjay, Jena Malone is — as usual — delightfully twisted: She kicks every movie she’s in into a queerer (in the old sense) gear. Embracing the chance to be illiberal, Sutherland relishes every hammy piece of villainy, and though Julianne Moore doesn’t rise above the material, her implacable glassiness has its charm. She’s the worst-case Hillary scenario.”

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone:

“Even when the ‘Hunger Games’ series gets winded pimping old tricks, Lawrence is the oxygen that brings it back to life. Katniss seizes her role as the Mockingjay, the symbol of hope for the movement to end Snow’s reign of terror. The movie gives her other obstacles. Frankly, I don’t give a damn whether Katniss ends up with dull Gale (Liam Hemsworth) or puckish Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), who’s brainwashed by Snow, but not enough to give him a personality.”

Manohla Dargis, The New York Times:

“Like the previous two movies, ‘Part 2’ was directed by Francis Lawrence who, like most franchise filmmakers, was not hired for the quality of his mise-en-scène but for one job: to not screw up an extremely valuable property. (The first was shepherded by Gary Ross, whose cinematographer, Tom Stern, alas, also departed the series.) And, so, mission accomplished, largely with a lot of conversational face-offs and regular bursts of showy violence that sometimes turn panoramic, allowing you to admire the scale of the apocalyptically dressed sets. To that instrumental end, the actors hit their marks while running and gunning amid the gray rubble and black ooze, although Mr. Lawrence does raise some nice shivers in a tunnel sequence, making the horrific most out of the dark.”

Soren Andersen, Seattle Times:

“It’s all very complicated. And, thanks to the depth of feeling the three principal actors bring to their performances, undeniably powerful. Over the course of these movies, the stars have grown into their roles, giving them weight and a growing steeliness. Their characters have suffered greatly, and the toll their suffering has taken is evident and believable.”

Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic:

“The ‘Hunger Games’ films have steadily improved, and the rising star of Jennifer Lawrence as the central figure in the story certainly hasn’t hurt. As it turns out, they saved the best for last. ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2’ is a dark film, in a dramatically satisfying way.”

Randy Meyers, San Jose Mercury News:

“The Games might be over, but let’s hope new chapters come soon in the form of more blockbuster franchises anchored by a strong female action hero played by an actress of the caliber of Lawrence.”

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune:

“Nothing lasts forever, except the ‘Hunger Games’ franchise. Yet here we are. Forever is over. ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2’ brings the four-film saga of Katniss Everdeen and her revolutionary war to a dutiful, fairly satisfying if undeniably attenuated conclusion.”

Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair:

“As ‘Mockingjay – Part 2’ shows us, in rich and bracing fashion, the ‘Hunger Games’ movies have been saying something all along–about the tragedy of youth (or anyone) in war, about post-traumatic stress disorder, about the ways we cede our autonomy to notions of comfort, to spectacle, to the easy lies of othering. The film makes these points in a far more clear-headed, more resonant manner than its source material. It’s a rare film adaptation that improves upon the original text, highlighting its crucial themes while streamlining and shaping the action into something legible and gripping.”

Amy West, International Business Times:

“Undoubtedly the darkest film in the series, it goes hard and heavy on its subject matter, becoming more of a war movie than something you’d expect from a bunch of children’s novels.”

Tim Grierson, Screen Daily:

“‘Mockingjay — Part 2’ proves to be the most satisfying, gripping and emotional film in the franchise, resolving Katniss Everdeen’s odyssey with tense action sequences and a well-earned poignancy. If the series never quite transcended its melodramatic young adult roots or heavy-handed socio-political commentary, this third sequel nevertheless moves along with grim, propulsive confidence, once again leaning on Jennifer Lawrence‘s steel-jawed performance as a young woman who becomes the unlikely leader of a rebellion over which she has less and less control.”

Edward Douglas, ComingSoon.net:

“More than making up for its disappointing predecessor, ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2’ is an incredibly emotional film on many levels and a more than worthy conclusion to the series, mainly because it doesn’t shy away from finding ways to improve upon the original book.”