Monday, December 8, 2014

"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1" Review - Written by Tim Hellman

'THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY - PART 1': Five Stars (Out of Five)

The third installment in the blockbuster film series, based on the bestselling young adult book trilogy by Suzanne Collins. This chapter is based on the first half of the final book (titled 'Mockingjay') and deals with Katniss Everdeen (once again played by Jennifer Lawrence) having to become a symbol for the rebellion, in their war against the ruthless Capitol. It was directed by Francis Lawrence (who also directed 'THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE') and written by Peter Craig and Danny Strong. Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland, Sam Claflin, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci, Willow Shields, Jena Malone and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman all reprise their roles from the other films and Julianne Moore joins the cast. I loved every minute of it and in many ways think it's an improvement over the previous two films!

The story picks up right where the last film left off; Katniss (Lawrence) has suffered a mental breakdown and is having a horrendous time adapting to life at District 13, with the other rebels. She also can't get over the fact that Peeta (Hutcherson) was taken by the Capitol and she'll do almost anything to get him back. Plutarch (Hoffman) introduces Katniss to the leader of the rebellion, President Coin (Moore), and they ask her to be their movement's symbol, in propaganda adds, to incite a rebellion. She reluctantly agrees under the condition that they rescue Peeta, and the other captives at the Capitol. The rest of the film deals with Katniss struggling to adapt to her new role, as the face of the revolution; 'The Mockingjay'.

There's been some criticism over the fact that the final book was split into two films and that there's not enough action in this installment to make it as worthwhile a filmgoing experience, as the other movies. I strongly disagree. I think this chapter is much better because of it. There's so much character development and believable human drama that any true fan of film should be thoroughly satisfied. We also get some great acting; Lawrence gives the best performance of the series here and it's arguably one of the best of her career. She also has a lot of help from multiple veteran actors, like Hoffman and Moore. Peeta doesn't have nearly as much screen time, as he did in the other movies, but he's always a strong and pivotal part of the plot. Gale (Hemsworth) is in a lot more scenes, this time around, but he's still just as underdeveloped (he has one powerful dialogue moment though; where he's at least given a chance to show some acting ability). The love triangle definitely doesn't feel necessary anymore, it's obvious that Katniss loves Peeta but the certainty of how Peeta's character will end up is certainly still up in the air. I also enjoyed how much more epic this film feels, over the last two, it really feels like the first half to the conclusion of a classic sci-fi trilogy. The directing, cinematography and music are all breathtaking to watch, as well, and we get to hear Jennifer Lawrence sing! Fans that only look forward to action are sure to be disappointed but everyone else should be more than pleased!

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