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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Hunger-Games-Mockingjay-Part 2All good things must come to an end and all Mockingjays must have their part 2.  And it all felt like it came and went so quickly.  Just a mere 3 and a half years following the first film, here we were with a fourth (extra film to be honest) and final chapter.  It was quite an enlightening and engaging journey through some terrific science fiction, action and thrilling politics.  The series also gave us a iconic actor/character in Katniss Everdeen that will forever remain one of cinema’s best.  The Hunger Games series raised the bar and went beyond the level of just simply something for the young adult enthusiasts.  While Twilight never went beyond the Twi-hards (And there are a TON of them) and Harry Potter really didn’t pick up the all-ages crowds til around the fourth one, The Hunger Games had it from the start.  And here’s its climactic finish.  You can own it and the rest of the films on 4K UHD Blu-ray when Lionsgate drops them November 8th.

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Film 

Katniss Everdeen began her journey fighting to survive the brutal Hunger Games, and rose to lead the rebellion against Panem’s tyrannical president.  Now, Katniss and a team of rebels from District 13 prepare for the epic battle that will decide Panem’s future.

If the previous film was all the boring stuff from the Mockingjay book, then I suppose they saved all the goodies for this.  Mockingjay Part 2 does hit a little redundancy from the previous film but does everything that one did with more energy and much better.  Its also got its own full on arc for the film and for the series as a whole.  Whereas Part 1 felt like a 2-hour long act one and never really got going and even by the end didn’t feel like it made any progress forward.  After that movie, which wasn’t really terrible, I still felt like I wasted my time.  Luckily, this one improves things enough to finish out strong.

This film brings back the “gaming” spirit and obstacles brought forth in the first two films while maintaining the ideology and structure of the previous one.  The film has some really good setting and action sequences to craft good suspense and thrills.  A highlight for the entire series comes from a sequence which involves our characters fighting monsters/mutants in the sewers under the city.  Its an intense, well choreographed bit of insanity that turns up the film right about the perfect time.  It also leads right into a great shootout and chase with more crazy traps. More highlights include an attack with flooding tar and an all around air raid with lots of gunfire and bombing.  All of these hit with the right amount of intensity and perfect mood appropriateness and focus.  If anything it involves some of the series more thrilling moments, topping that of the first two films in areas.

While I the film feels like it comes to its logical and fitting conclusion, some of its “shocking” final chapter character deaths feel far too telegraphed and don’t really have the surprising impact they maybe should have.  I won’t go into detail on who goes and who stays, but if you’re paying attention you’ll know at least an hour or so before they do and its just a ticking bomb waiting to go off.  Narratively it works and doesn’t feel like any sort of betrayal, but you can see the other player’s hand and and have no suspense in them laying their cards down on the table.

A great highlight for me was the way they send off President Snow or finish up his character’s story throughout this.  Donald Sutherland has been so damn terrific in this series’ and this film allows him to take things even up another level.  He and Katniss share some great moments.  While I never see him making any lists or such, Snow really is one of the best villains of the modern cinematic era.  Through all 4 films, he’s brought menace, dread and just a total vile natural while also bringing a total understanding to and full realization of character.  His presence, his performance, elevates this series and it was nice to see how he was wrapped up through all this.

Overall, the Hunger Games series comes to a fitting and satisfying conclusion in its final chapter.  This is the much needed and expected step up from the previous film, proving that it did not need to be split up into 2 parts.  However, you can’t blame Lionsgate as they made plenty of bank off of both films.  This is the formula of the first two films being changed and actually succeeding as its definitely a suspenseful mission to the very end.  The cast continues to give their standard performances in their character (Lawrence is still great, Hemsworth is still more vanilla than vanilla).  All in all, with how good this one is coupled with Catching Fire, Mockingjay Part 1 becomes less harmful and more of a nice little “calm before the storm” bridge between the two.

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Video 

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Layers: BD-100

Clarity/Detail:  I have not seen Catching Fire’s 4K presentation yet (Faulty disc sent, awaiting replacement), but Mockingjay Part 2 looks the very best of all the Hunger Games films on the new format.  It helps that this movie actually features some color.  This picture is quite sharp, with plenty of grisly details on ruins, sewers, gear, weapons and destruction.  The HDR is pretty awesome, and goes beyond where it has in the previous films.  Of all of them, this is the one to showboat.

Depth:  There are a lot of different environments traveled in this film and they all feature quite terrific depth work.  A good separation between character and background helps, but there is also a nice deep feeling between character/object and background and then background and sky.  Interiors feel a solid separation and feeling of space.  Movements are very smooth, clean and confident.

Black Levels:  Blacks are really deep and rich in this image.  Details shines through on things too.  From Katniss’ hair follicles to the military gear to the deep oil/tar in the city trap, its all impressively accounted for with textures and patterns.  Many dark scenes look quite impressive, including that sewer sequence where things are dark but you can still make out peoples, things and surfaces.

Color Reproduction:  The HDR is pretty awesome here.  Computer screens look awesome again, but this one isn’t just limited to that.  Blue skies are quite striking and bold.  Raging fires and explosions blast plenty of orange and yellow.  Katniss wears a lovely looking blue cloak at one point that really signifies that the color is here.  President Snow tends to have some rich reds that stand out.  During the end, Katniss wears a yellow dress that doesn’t jump out, but its really solid and well represented.  On the previous 2 films I’ve covered, the difference from the Blu-ray probably would feel incremental to a novice, but here, it should prove quite obvious thanks to the terrific looking colors.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and maintain a consistent appearance throughout the entirety of the film, sans a scene at the end that has yellow/gold filter set on it.  Facial details are quite strong with freckles, dried blood, wrinkles, stubble and tattoos all being clear and discernible for any given distance.  In the early goings things look a little smoother and softer, but I think that’s due to the lighting of those particular sequences (Which match up to the previous film).

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (English 7.1 DTS-HD MA default), Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: Closing out a tremendous series of audio tracks, is yet another outstanding one for Mockingjay Part 2.  This one features some of the biggest action and a couple of the best action sequences in the entire series.  Let’s just get this out of the way; YES, the scene in the sewers with the sewer mutts delivers.  That is not only a film and series highlight, but its one of this track too.  Here’s your demo moment.  Bullets, arrows, explosions, water crashing, creatures shrieking, people flying around all over.  All the action sounds are full, loud, crisp, sharp and detail with great lows and plenty of use of every speaker in your system.  Fantastic.

Height: From above, its more of what this series has been delivering.  Arrows, ships, fire and environmental sounds (birds, insects, vocals).  It well realized and none of it feels forced at all.

Low Frequency Extension:  As per previous films, explosions, jet rumblings, fire, heavy artillery, arrow impalements, rushing tar.  Your room is gonna rock for certain.  Your sub is a huge player in lifting this film off the ground and it does so handily.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Oh yeah, this mix is not playing around.  Every environment can get its share of computer blips or little voice.  But the action sequences have stuff flying across the room.  Bullets, creatures, jets all accurately depict their place and movement in this tremendous bit of traveling 360 degrees in your viewing area.  Its a real treat.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Vocals are loud and clear no matter how big and boisterous the action.  Diction is fully represented here.  Also when voices are mic’d and megaphone’d they sound well realized as well.

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Extras 

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 comes with the Blu-ray edition and an UltraViolet digital copy of the film.  Additional bonus materials (Found on previous releases) are on the Blu-ray version of the film.

Audio Commentary

  • With director Francis Lawrence and producer Nina Jacobson

Pawns No More: The Making of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (HD, 2:21:30) – A full on look back on the film in 8 parts.  It covers everything from the script, to the cast to the effects.  Interviews with all pertinent cast and crew tell this tale of the closing chapter in the Hunger Games franchise.

The Hunger Games: A Photographic Journey (HD, 10:16)– The on-set photographer from the film shares photos from the shoot of the film.  Basically a photo gallery.

Cinna’s Sketchbook: Secrets of the Mockingjay Armor (HD, 9:21) – Focuses on the costume design for the film.

Panem on Display: The Hunger Games: The Exhibition (HD, 1:56) – This one takes a look at some collectibles and memorabilia from the film series.

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Summary 

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 had really nowhere to go but up from the last entry, and they went up plenty.  This final piece of the games delivers some of the series’ best sequences and all the action that you would have liked to see in the previous one.  All winding to a satisfying goodbye.  As for the 4K UHD Blu-ray debut, woo!  This one proves to the be the best of the bunch, taking the most advantage of the HDR and once again with a crushing and awesome surround experience.  The extras here are terrific and pretty much everything you had on the previous release.  An easy recommend.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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