Mockingjay Part 2 looks spectacular. The costumes are awesome. The acting is on point. And all that solid artistic work kinda but not entirely distracts from a super goofy movie.

Okay, where are we again? Part 1: There were "Hunger Games," a televised event where children fight to the death with silly obstacles. Katniss won. Part 2: "Catching Fire," Katniss gets so famous from winning, it makes everybody want to overthrow the government. The evil president tries to solve it with yet another Hunger Games, this time an All Star edition including Katniss (that'll teach her!). She escapes. Part 3 Part 1: There's full-frontal rebellion. We ignore it and focus on Katniss's role as Mascot of the Revolution.

Now we're finally at Part 3: Part 2, and shit's about to get really real. War is raging. Katniss sneaks to the front line. But… oh look it's another Hunger Games. You see, Suzanne Collins had the one idea, an arena where kids fight to death with silly obstacles. So in order to shoe-horn that concept into a war movie, she decides that the evil Capitol will just pull back all its forces and leave a bunch of silly obstacles around the city. Rather than fighting, the war somehow comes down to the same kids from the earlier games trying to avoid magical booby traps. It doesn't make a lot of sense.

The Capitol has the ability to create an entire city block that fills with hot oil, ceiling-mounted laser cannons that instantly destroy anything that touches them, and lizard people. And they're losing. THEY HAVE AN ARMY OF LIZARD PEOPLE HOW ARE THEY LOSING THIS WAR???

photo by Murray Close
photo by Murray Close

Partly, I guess, it's because our heroes have a magic trap detector. How convenient! It works pretty well until they break it. OH COME ON. If you have one job, avoiding magic booby traps, bring a backup magic trap detector! Am I the only person taking this war seriously?

While there's lots to recommend the movie, the silly premise is the only thing I could focus on for the entire 2 hours and 17 minutes–which is inexcusably long for a movie that is actually just half of a movie. You should NOT split the last movie of a series into two movies but if you do, the least you can do is keep them both brisk.

But let's say you're a stronger person than me and you're able to ignore all that. You're probably living a fulfilling life. Good for you!

photo by Murray Close
photo by Murray Close

As a strong person, you'll probably enjoy things like seeing a futuristic mega-city in tatters. There are some cool sweeping shots of the Capitol but mostly it's interior shots of crumbling sophisticated dwellings. It's great. The costumes have always been great in this series, but there were a couple standouts in this one like Effie Trinket's eye lashes. The sets and costumes really set a unique mood for a futuristic urban war.

And the acting is spectacular. There's tragically little Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died a couple weeks short of finishing his role in this movie. They Photoshop him into the background of a couple shots, but it's very mild and not distracting. There's just not enough of him in this movie (or the world). But there's a healthy dose of Woody Harrelson who's nearly stolen this series with his role as wino/genius. Plus Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore, Elizabeth Banks, Jena Malone, "the Tooch" Stanley Tucci, etc etc etc. It's almost too good of cast because none of them get enough screen time.

Fortunately, nobody's really on the fence about seeing Mockingjay 2. Either you saw the first three movies or you didn't. But if you're one of those rare breed who hasn't decided, just dig deep and decide if you like great acting more than you hate lizard people.

Grade: B+ (if you're good at ignoring silly shit)

Grade: C- (if you aren't)

photo by Murray Close
photo by Murray Close