The "Hunger Games" movie series got its start just as "Twilight" was coming (thankfully) to a close, a refreshingly strong series with a much stronger female protagonist.

The "Hunger Games" movie series got its start just as "Twilight" was coming (thankfully) to a close, a refreshingly strong series with a much stronger female protagonist.

While the series was crowded and didn't always translate from the page, its sweeping themes come into focus in a last chapter that is fitting for the initiated, if not so much for the more casual fan.

If you're said casual fan, you might want to get a refresher course on "Part 1" of the split movies covering the final book of Suzanne Collins' beloved young-adult trilogy, as this installment picks up as abruptly as the last one finished.

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is recovering from being attacked by a not-himself Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), who is one-third of the series' signature love triangle, along with Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth).

Katniss has little time to process Peeta's actions - taken under a form of mind-control by the powerful Capitol - before she's thrust back into her role as a figurehead for the rebellion led by President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore). The rebels continue a military march on the Capitol and the smiling and sinister President Snow (Donald Sutherland).

"Mockingjay – Part 2" makes the decision to split the final book in two more defensible. There's a lot going on here, and as someone who hasn't read the series, the developments of the third act are powerful and unexpected.

Director Francis Lawrence is making a war movie here. The vibrant colors of the Capitol we've seen before are replaced with gray and burned-out buildings as Katniss and company advance against their enemy.

The series hits deep themes about repressive governments - and some developments may feel a bit raw in the wake of recent terror attacks - but it's saved from feeling preachy by the conviction of the cast.

Lawrence remains one of the finest young actors working, and she's been the anchor that has separated this series from the pretenders. Katniss bears a massive weight, but she also gives stirring speeches. I would vote J-Law in 2016.

The sheer amount of proceedings make for a sometimes sluggish pace, punctuated with action set pieces, but the wild ride of the conclusion brings things to a satisfying close, minus a ubiquitous and unneeded epilogue.

"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2"

Opens Thursday night

3 stars out of 4