After the forced histrionics of Part 1, it’s nice to see star Jennifer Lawrence being allowed to quiet down and act again. But the story still feels stretched, a countdown that slows as it approaches zero hour. The various Districts, long divided and conquered by the Capitol, have united behind Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen and declared war on their oppressors. But this isn’t a war movie; it’s a movie about war: a consideration of its tactics, its strategems, its presentation, its resolution, and its aftermath. As a result, you’re not here to watch Katniss kick ass. You’re here to watch Katniss agonize about ass-kicking, then set out on a long journey to kick one very particular ass, that of President Snow (Donald Sutherland, splendid as ever). The scattered action set-pieces feel very much like sops to the stimulus-starved — in particular, an underground set-to with a bunch of anonymous, humanoid mutts. And the various traps set for our heroes, so potent in The Hunger Games’ arena, now seem faintly silly. Why not just use bombs and soldiers? (Oh, right — because they can’t shoot straight.) With Julianne Moore. Directed by Francis Lawrence. (2015) — Matthew Lickona
This movie is not currently in theaters.