PG) The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
Running Time: 123 Minutes.
3 stars out of 4.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire grossed over $800 million at the worldwide box office, and was very well received by critics and audiences alike. Since the release of the second instalment in "The Hunger Games" franchise, Jennifer Lawrence has earned a second Academy Award nomination for her role in American Hustle, and was very well received in this summers X-Men Days of Future Past. Mockingjay is the final book in The Hunger Games trilogy, and like other Young Adult Franchises (Harry Potter, Twilight, etc), the final book has been split into two films, with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 slated to be released in November 2015. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is a thrilling, touching, well acted, and very satisfying entry in The Hunger Games franchise, and affirms the series place, as one of the best franchises of our generation.
After destroying the arena, in the Seventy Fifth Hunger Games, Katniss is living in District 13, after District 12 was destroyed by the Capitol. Katniss meets President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore), with whom she agrees to be a simple for the rebellion against the Capitol, while she ultimately tries to rescue Peeta from the Capitol. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is well acted, directed and sets up the penultimate finale in spectacular fashion.
Despite feeling very much like a Part 1, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 succeeds on the strength of its performances, particularly Jennifer Lawrence, Julianne Moore, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, who add some much needed gravitas to what would otherwise be another standard young adult franchise (...Divergent). As always, Jennifer Lawrence is great as Katniss, she really owns the character here, and becomes Katniss Everdeen, she gives a believable and surprisingly subtle performance as the young heroine. Julianne Moore and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, do sold work as President Coin, and Plutarch Heavensbee. They both take the material seriously, and do not chew the scenery, unlike other Hollywood actors when they are in a YA franchise (Kate Winslet in Divergent). Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket, and Natalie Dormer as Cressida lead a stellar supporting ensemble, which also includes Woody Harrelson as the always funny Haymitch, and Jeffrey Wright as tech genius Beetee, though I wish the filmmakers had given ALL of these actors much more to do, as they all do solid work, in their limited screen time.
This film is flawed, and my main concerns are with the production values. The cinematography is very inconsistent, unlike his work in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, cinematographer Joe Willems, reverts to using shaky cam (like in The Hunger Games), and there are no truly beautiful or memorable shots in the film, I am not sure if this is intentional, to give the film a grim and bleak look, but I was very disappointed, especially after his solid work in Catching Fire. James Newton Howard is credited as providing the score for the film, but If I am not mistaken, there is no running score throughout the theme, except for the original Hunger Games theme which is played numerous times. For a film with an estimated $250 Million budget (shared with Part 2), I would have hoped to see the money on the screen like in Catching Fire, and I am surprised that the filmmakers made this choice. Hopefully, they are saving the money for the second instalment.
Many critics have complained about the film being a Part 1, but this did not bother me, as I felt that having this film adds context and purpose to what will come. It will make us appreciate the events of the Part 2. I would rather have two separate films, than having one film where the filmmakers are rushing to get through all the plot. I found it interesting how this film primarily focuses, on the power of propoganda.
This is more than a standard young adult film adaptation. This is a powerful, incredibly moving, and satisfying film, that has something to say.
When hope is lost, what happens next?