“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2”

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson

Director: Francis Lawrence

Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and for some thematic material

Playing at: Regal Greenwood Mall Stadium 10, Highland Cinemas (Glasgow)

Grade: B

“The Hunger Games” saga comes to its conclusion with “Mockingjay Part 2,” a rousing final act of the four movie series. It’s a satisfying final chapter, one that features several impressive action sequences but also has depth, diving into some darker places.

“Mockingjay Part 2” picks up shortly after Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) led the successful mission to rescue Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) from the grips of President Snow (Donald Sutherland).

Peeta is still struggling to remember which side he is on, much to Katniss’ dismay. She decides the only way to make this right is to march into the capital and kill Snow.

With the help of Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and several other soldiers, Katniss breaks off from the rebellion determined to accomplish her mission and end the war once and for all.

“The Hunger Games” franchise has been one of the few series with no major missteps. Even those discouraged by the decision to divide the final book of the trilogy into two parts should be able to concede that “Part 1” at least felt like a fully realized film and not a cash grab (like “The Hobbit” series).

This is the perfect extension and an appropriate send-off, and director Francis Lawrence crafted some impressive sequences that stretch the budget and the imagination.

It’s nice to see all these characters one more time, with a melancholy nod to the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in his final role, but this franchise has always gotten most of its strength from Lawrence. A rising star when the series began, she is now one of the biggest actresses of her generation.

Like the character she portrays, there is maturity and growth from the first film back in 2012 to today, making it hard to believe this is the same actress, or character for that matter.

Jennifer Lawrence is the reason the series, and “Mockingjay Part 2” ultimately works, building to a crowd-pleasing conclusion that wraps everything up quite nicely.

It’s too bad that conclusion is followed by about 10 minutes of epilogue before the final credits. In those final moments the franchise does feel like it’s overstayed its welcome only slightly. It’s still a good conclusion to the franchise, instead of perhaps being the best of the series.

Opening this week

Also arriving in Bowling Green this weekend is “Suffragette” (B), which finally hits this market after opening in other cities over the past month. This film aspires to be a moving portrait of women’s right to vote, providing a voice for the foot soldiers that helped make the movement possible in the early 20th century.

And while the film may not quite reach the lofty heights it shoots for, it is still a solid – and important – piece of work. It may not have the emotional impact it aims for, but it is still powerful in its own right, thanks largely in part to Carey Mulligan.

Mulligan plays Maude, a hard-working London wife and mother who starts out as an innocent bystander for the Suffragette movement. But the more she sees of the cause, the more she is drawn in to be a part of fighting for women’s rights. It is a decision that has a dramatic effect on her marriage – as she is further shunned by those who oppose her cause, including her husband (Ben Whishaw).

Abi Morgan’s screenplay does a good job of capturing the struggle in that era, even if it is hard to watch at times.

Director Sarah Gavron also captures the struggle, aided by a supporting cast that also includes Helena Bonham Carter and Meryl Streep, in what amounts to a cameo as the leader of the movement.

But the real strength in “Suffragette” lies in Mulligan, who continues to showcase her ability to make an audience empathize with her character’s plight.

Mulligan has pretty much made a career out of period piece films – from “An Education” to “Far From the Madding Crowd” – so it’s no surprise that this is another role that fits her well.

Her struggle is real, and easy for the audience to identify with, giving “Suffragette” the power and voice it aims for.

“Suffragette” is rated PG-13 for some intense violence, thematic elements, brief strong language and partial nudity and opens at the Regal Bowling Green Stadium 12 on Friday.

— To read Micheal Compton’s thoughts on all movies, visit his blog at bgdailynews.com/blogs/reel_to_reel or on Twitter at twitter.com/mcompton428. Email him at mcompton@bgdailynews.com.

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