There has been a substantial amount of hype across the hemispheres over The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, and the film does not disappoint. With exquisite actors and a darker storyline, this third cinematic instalment in the franchise sees its protagonist mature quite fiercely along with this once innocent series of films.
Mockingjay is author Suzanne Collins’ finale in her trilogy of novels, and follows the trend of other successful book adaptions. The last book has been spilt into two with a sequel set for next year, following the split hits The Hobbit, and the Harry Potter film finale. Mockingjay – Part 1 is a game changer for both literary and screen fans, as it brings whole new layers of emotion, heartbreak and overall drama to this dystopian future run by The Capitol.
The amazingly high production values mixed with the action-packed scenes of tension and suffering that the first two features teased at, makes Part 1 an unmissable affair.
As Katniss Everdeen returns to see District 12 completely reduced to dust and rubble, she is fired up to join the underground rebellion led by Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and President Coin (Julianne Moore). Directed by Francis Lawrence, this film truly does bring the problems of injustice to light with stunning sets and locations aided by CGI that will make The Hunger Games quadriliogy so powerful in visual and thematic memory.
As Katniss returns to find all she once knew destroyed, her suffering is so believable that it almost feels as if it’s a tragedy that transcends the screen and affects the audience, as if it’s part of our world and not fiction.
The three true stars of this film are Jennifer Lawrence, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Julianne Moore, who balance each other out perfectly; Hoffman as the determined yet comical relief of the rebellion, Moore as the cold powerful leader and Lawrence as the fighter, the hero and the one who truly maintains the emotional core throughout. Lawrence’s intensity grasps any internal sense of rebellion lurking within and brings it to the forefront, making you want to fight The Capitol, and look good doing it.
President Snow (Donald Sutherland) is also the perfect dictator villain, whose instills fear into even his own granddaughter. With the tortuous games and sinister ideals, Snow’s persona and actions make him a harrowing character, expertly captured by Sutherland.
The more serious and darker side to the film is made up scenes almost unbearably intense, yet thoroughly enjoyable through the crafty direction of Lawrence (the director one, not the actress). The setpiece action moments and constant threat of war are a combination of the best features of the 2012 orginal and last year’s Catching Fire, with an even greater elevation in shock factor in the body count, corruption and ominous dialogue: “I wish they were dead and we were too.”
Although Mockingjay – Part 1 seems more dramatically developed than its predecessors, there is some comic relief within the nonstop nail biting intensity from Haymitch and Effie (Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks). Some great, yet ever so cheesy, one-liners could be seen as lessening the quality of the film, but instead offers humourous rations within otherwise dreary undertones, resulting in a serious but not depressing two hour movie.
There are much more prevalent tones of democracy against dictatorship too, which were previously slightly shadowed by the unique storyline in Catching Fire. This time, we see a serious amount of corruption in The Capitol, but also hints at similarities in the District 13 clash – ‘’they have strict rules here’’. The primary plot in propagating propaganda against The Capital contains historical parallels of the Second World War agitprop, perhaps highlighting a horrible idea that we cannot learn from our previous mistakes in history.
While a near flawless film, there are still a few questionable features. For one, Finnick’s girlfriend Annie is often mentioned, yet there has been no development or explanation of their relationship, or who she really is to him, meaning either some wasted potential or wasted time. Furthermore, are a few lines of dialogue could be seen as somewhat undermining the explicitly serious tone of the film, lines that are supposed to sound dramatic but are sometimes just cringe inducing.
Besides some nitpicking of a few tiny flaws, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 is more than well worth a watch for fans of the fiction, returning ticket takers, or even new viewers to the series, assuming the latter will make the effort to watch the first two films in order to understand the love triangles and awesome feuds that fuel the plot.