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Movie reviews: Jennifer Lawrence is on fire in Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

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By Jay Bobbin

Starting this week

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Other projects have given her greater variety over the course of her run as Katniss Everdeen, but Jennifer Lawrence saw the franchise based on Suzanne Collins’ novels through to its end with its final film chapter. Here, Katniss and her comrades decide the only way to liberate their world from its government’s tyranny is to target its president (Donald Sutherland) … but they’re in his sights, too, resulting in a series of perils they must struggle through. Also returning are Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Jeffrey Wright, Julianne Moore, Jeffrey Wright, Jena Malone and – in his final screen appearance – Philip Seymour Hoffman. DVD extras: eight-part “making-of” documentary; audio commentary by director Francis Lawrence and producer Nina Jacobson; three behind-the-scenes featurettes. *** (PG-13: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

Freaks and Geeks: The Complete Series

The cult-classic show, about the misfits at a Detroit high school circa 1980, makes its Blu-ray debut – with a cast including several talents who would continue to make their marks long after the series’ 1999-2000 run on NBC, such as Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jason Segel (“How I Met Your Mother”) and Linda Cardellini (“ER”). Also notable are such behind-the-scenes players as creator Paul Feig (“Bridesmaids”) and executive producer Judd Apatow. Interestingly, all the episodes are presented in both their original screen aspect (4:3) and a widescreen version. A special-features disc (including deleted scenes) and a booklet are included. *** (Not rated: AS, P)

The Letters

The story of Mother Teresa is related in a unique way in writer-director William Riead’s drama, recalling the connection that the iconic missionary – portrayed by Juliet Stevenson – had to her spiritual adviser (Max von Sydow), reflected through the correspondence they shared over almost five decades. Rutger Hauer also stars in the film, but perhaps the most fascinating aspect is the moderation Stevenson gives what is a challenging performance just by the nature of the individual she’s enacting. *** (PG: AS)

James White

Christopher Abbot (“Girls”) is quite effective in the emotionally taxing title role of this drama, in which the title character indulges in a number of personal vices, but has to decide whether to pull himself together as he’s beset by family tragedies. His father dies, then his mother (“Sex and the City” alum Cynthia Nixon) reveals she has cancer – forcing him to debate whether he can meet his grief head-on and be there for her when she needs him. Ron Livingston (“Boardwalk Empire”) also stars. *** (R: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

The Royals: Season Two

Created by “One Tree Hil” mentor Mark Schwahn, the account of a fictional, modern royal family – televised by E! – continues as Cyrus (Jake Maskall) tries to use Liam and Eleanor (William Moseley, Alexandra Park) to his benefit, while they scheme to get him out of the picture. Helena (Elizabeth Hurley) manipulates the Prime Minister in a bid to control the throne herself. Merritt Patterson and Oliver Milburn also star, with Joan Collins in a recurring role as the Grand Duchess. (Not rated: AS, P)

Perry Mason Movie Collection: Volume 5

Despite its title, only two of the six mysteries included in this set feature Raymond Burr in one of his most famous roles, novelist Erle Stanley Gardner’s brilliant defense attorney. Burr died in 1993, but given the ratings success of the TV movies, NBC attempted to keep the franchise going with “guest” lawyers handling subsequent cases … thus, Hal Holbrook takes the lead in three of the stories here, and Paul Sorvino in one. However, Barbara Hale remains throughout in her original series role as Della Street, with William R. Moses as investigator Ken Malansky. *** (Not rated: AS, P, V)

Coming soon

Point Break (March 29)

The action-movie remake casts Luke Bracey as a novice FBI agent who infiltrates a possibly criminal group of thrill-seekers. (PG-13: AS, P, V)

Exposed (March 29)

Keanu Reeves plays a New York police detective whose probe of his partner’s death comes to involve a troubled woman (Ana de Armas). (R: AS, P, V)

Concussion (March 29)

Will Smith stars as a forensic pathologist who links pro football’s necessary roughness to dementia in some players. (PG-13: AS, P)

The Hateful Eight (March 29)

In Quentin Tarantino’s Western, a blizzard strands stagecoach travelers; stars include Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson and Jennifer Jason Leigh. (R: AS, N, P, GV)

The Expanse: Season One (April 5)

Earthlings and Martians try to coexist in the Syfy series; stars include Thomas Jane and Shoreh Aghdashloo. (Not rated: AS, P, V)

Jackie Robinson (April 12)

The same week it debuts on PBS, Ken Burns’ profile of the baseball and civil-rights icon (voiced in some sequences by Jamie Foxx) comes to home video. (Not rated)

FAMILY-VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence.
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