Monday, November 24

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
Dir: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Elizabeth Banks, Willow Shields, Sam Claflin, Stanley Tucci, Jeffrey Wright, and Paula Malcolmson
PG-13
123 Minutes

In chess you are always thinking about the next move, good chess players think even farther ahead. “Mockingjay”, the third book in the enormously popular young adult series by Suzanne Collins, splits the book into two films, leaving an introduction poised for action but mostly mapping out the strategy of the far-reaching revolution, one that hinges on the participation of the symbolic Katniss Everdeen. Director Francis Lawrence, returning for the remainder of the films, paints a ravaged and abused land but also an interesting pseudo political influenced propaganda technique for harboring support. For a film that doesn’t boast the action of the first two films, it’s still quite comparatively thought provoking and continually remains engaging, even though the audience will have to wait a little while longer for the full story to complete.

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is scarred by her narrow rescue from her second Hunger Games. Saved by a group looking to rise up against the Capitol, Katniss is beside herself because of the capture of Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), who is now the leading propaganda spokesperson for the Capitol. Katniss, not wanting any part of the upcoming rebellion, is coaxed into joining in order to help save Peeta and the other Tributes. Held up in an underground compound in District 13, the group is lead by President Coin (Julianne Moore) and assisted by trusted allies from the Games. Their goal is to start a revolution by combining the forces of the other Districts in order to overthrow President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and the Capital. However, this can’t happen without Katniss who is the weapon for the revolution, the symbol that will unite the Districts.

Director Francis Lawrence effortlessly transitions into “Mockingjay”, starting the film moments after Katniss’ rescue and continues to move with an easy appeal. Where the two first films felt like complete events, especially the satisfactory “Catching Fire”, this first part feels like a prolonged introduction at times. Albeit in moments an ingeniously self-reflecting introduction that seems to resemble the methods of propaganda utilized in today’s media driven machine. Technology has played a key role in how we receive our news. Whether the images of revolt, the heinous acts of terror, or the far too seldom musings of inspiration, the world is inundated with digital influence twenty-four hours a day. The same is true here; Katniss’ fame started with an act of honor but soon became a symbol of defiance. Technology assists both the Capitol and the District, whether it’s the interviews with Peeta from the pristine Capitol pleading for obedience or the hand-held militant perspective of Katniss in a fashioned suit amidst a war torn backdrop, these are elements reflective of our society.  Lawrence utilizes these subtle relationships throughout, bringing out some rather unexpected emotional aspects and creating an even darker atmosphere.

Jennifer Lawrence is again comfortable in the role but some other fine actors assist her. Julianne Moore is a nice addition as President Coin, a somewhat emotionless and monotone woman who doesn’t see the qualities everyone else witnessed in Katniss. Woody Harrelson and Jeffrey Wright are also good but one of the standouts is Elizabeth Banks as the formerly elegant Effie Trinket who is now devoid of the flamboyance of her Capitol persona. Banks, who was the liaison for the Tributes, always seemed uncaring in her position though her character seems to understand Katniss more than anyone else. Also good is Josh Hutcherson who is given more to portray emotionally this time around.

“Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1” may feel like an unneeded split at times, however it utilizes the slowed pacing to incorporate some interesting setups and craft a bleak tone that is more reflective of the emotional state of an uprising.  The performances are again accomplished, though a few of the better actors seem underwhelmed by some stilted dialogue. “Mockingjay” is preparing the audience for the beginning of the end, an event any fan of the films or books should be excited to see come next year. In the meantime, let this film get you readily anticipated.

Monte’s Rating

3.50 out of 5.00

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