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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 (Blu-ray Review)

Hunger-Games-Mockingjay 2Four years after Jennifer Lawrence first appeared on the big screen as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, Lionsgate’s (NYSE: LGF) critically acclaimed series based on Suzanne Collins’ best-selling book trilogy comes to a thrilling resolution in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, arriving on Digital HD March 8 and on Blu-ray Combo Pack + Digital HD,  DVD + Digital, and On Demand March 22, the company announced today. In addition, for the first time ever, The Hunger Games Complete 4-Film Collection will be available on Blu-ray and DVD on March 22.

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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.

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.

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 couple 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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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail:  This Hunger Games finale comes with a terrific looking image in its transfer to Blu-ray.  Its not as pretty a film as the other three, but that’s mostly by design.  Details look terrific close-up and the image is pretty sharp, though there is a hair of softness on some of the film’s digital effects.  Overall, this is plenty a satisfactory image and one we’ll probably see the 4K Ultra HD rendition of soon enough.

Depth:  Depth is about as good as any of the rest of the films in the series.  Movements are smooth and cinematic in appearance.  Characters and objects are loose and free in their environments.  Detail on background imagery is impressive when focus allows.

Black Levels:  A lot of this film is very very dark and consuming.  If there’s one big scratch against it, its this.  While there is no crushing present, a lot of detail is hidden and not in a good way in some of the darkest moments of the film.

Color Reproduction:  Panem looks exception when well lit and rich.  However, a lot of this film takes place looking at the underbelly side of things so it has a dingy and graded look about it.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are on the cooler end of things and maintain a consistency with the cinematographer’s intended appearances through the film.  Facial detail is great in close-ups and medium shots.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

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Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, English 2.0 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics:  For this review, the 7.1 Dolby TrueHD track was used.  And its absolutely marvelous.  Its involving, intense and very crisp and clean.  Effects are very full sounding, layered and well rounded.  Its a good balanced track featuring great vocals, effects and score loose of one another and blending well.

Low Frequency Extension:  Explosions, arrows piercing, buildings crumbling, stomping…Mockingjay Part 2 has your battle sounds nice and booming.

Surround Sound Presentation:  All 7 channels play you through battles outdoors and underground.  Every environment, character and bit of action is accounted for putting you right in the middle of the action.  Sound travels lovely and makes itself known in each channel.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Loud, crisp and clear.  Every bit of diction is accounted for.

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Extras Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-_5

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 comes with a DVD Copy and UltraViolet Digital Copy 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, 2:21:45) – 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, 10:17) – 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, 9:22) – Focuses on the costume design for the film.

Panem on Display: The Hunger Games: The Exhibition (HD, 1:57) – This one takes a look at some collectibles and memorabilia from the film series.

Jet to the Set (HD, 41:58) – An episode of some television show that features interviews with the actors while on set of the film.

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Summary Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-_5

The Hunger Games series comes to a satisfying and showstopping conclusion in Mockingjay Part 2.  It capitalizes on what the third film was handicapped from doing and takes advantage of dead weight that had already been told.  While probably my third favorite film in the series, it still delivers some of the series best action and emotional moments.  This Blu-ray is terrific as to be expected.  The presentation is strong and the extras are very plentiful and complete.  One of our great modern franchises and probably THE franchise over the past four years has come to a fitting end and it would be nice to see it just stand at these 4 films.  Maybe I’d except a tight cut special edition of Mockingjay‘s two parts put together (edit the first film into 30-40 min).  If you’ve got the series up to this point…you’re buying this one, you don’t need me to tell you that.

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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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