Viewed – 26 March 2016 Blu-ray
(Review updated 02/04/2016)
The previous entry in this popular and heavily hyped saga woke itself up out of the doldrums with a shock twist. Now stop reading if you’re worried about spoilers for the previous movies as this can’t be helped. Peeta had been brainwashed by President Snow and sent to kill our hero, the reluctant face of the rebellion, Katnis Everdeen. Thankfully he didn’t succeed or we’d have no movie. However this set up the final entry in this series perfectly, even if I mostly came away feeling deflated by a saga that had never quite reached its potential – until now. This is without a doubt the best entry in the series and is skilfully, confidently directed as the rebels rage war against the capital. Moving away from some of the more camp aspects of the story and instead focusing on a near-suicidal assault on a totalitarian government, this time around the stakes are higher and the tension cranked up to boiling point.
Jennifer Lawrence is excellent as Everdeen and this time around her troubled relationship with Josh Hutcherson’s Peeta is much more convincing and surprisingly really makes this movie. You also get the feeling that after the surely expected backlash to the third unnecessarily cash-cow where the final book was predictably split in half, all involved had to finally take their meal ticket seriously for fear it being laughed at like Twilight. Almost everyone here looks like they really mean it (but Luke Hemsworth remains bland). Donald Sutherland who had previously been a rather limp villain, actually gets to do some acting. Add to this some excellently realised action (with a claustrophobic, Aliens-esque sewer sequence) and gorgeous cinematography of often war-torn vistas aided by superb effects – and I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed this, considering my expectations had been dialled back considerably. Julianne Moore gets a much more meaty roll this time around, but I’d have liked a bit more from Woody Harrelson, even if Philip Seymour Hoffman’s subdued appearance is understandable (he died during filming).
It suffers a little predictability, and that final scene is a bit too saccharine sweet. Yet The Hunger Games as a saga always held promise, although each movie seemed to lack that something special. With well-timed twists, strong performances, quality action and a perfectly judged epic tone – this finally proves the series (almost) worthy of such massive hype.
Verdict: 4 /5