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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014)
A Review by: Jeff Turner
Dir: Francis Lawrence
Written by: Peter Craig, Danny Strong, Suzanne Collins
Produced by: Color Force, Lionsgate
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Sam Claflin, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Woody Harrelson, Jena Malone, Mahershala Ali, Natalie Dormer, Paula Malcomson, Willow Shields.
THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 1, PART 7, PART 12; while stretched out, is still effective entertainment. Many of the things that worked in THE HUNGER GAMES and CATCHING Firework here as well. From a strong female protagonist; to a strong emphasis on political commentary; as well as a rich supporting cast. All is here, and it all still works.
Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is now living in the underground base of District 13 after they saved her from the Quarter Quell of the last movie. Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman, miss you buddy) and President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) are trying to persuade Katniss to become the face of the rebellion 13 is mounting. She remains uncertain, but upon being shown the ruins of her old home at District 12, she decides to join up.
The deconstruction of reality television is replaced with a look into propaganda films. A noteworthy scene is early on where Katniss is shooting a video (called a “Prop-O” by Plutarch) and her acting is just a little stiff. The Capital has taken Katniss’ fellow victor Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) prisoner, and something interesting they did, whether it was Hutcherson’s doing, or computer trickery; is that whenever they had Peeta do an “interview” he was shown to be growing progressively skinnier.
It is all too apparent where this movie could have been cut. There are scenes that are magnificent, sparkling with electricity; and there are scenes (like the climax) that drag endlessly. The two shouldn’t have been split; it’s an effort to squeeze more money out of a film that would have grossed billions regardless.
The newcomers include Julianne Moore’s President Coin, Natalie Dormer’s Cressida, and Mahershala Ali (from THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES, he was Dane DeHaan’s step-dad) as Commander Boggs. The standout of the three is easily Moore; who carries a screen presence appropriate to the calculating, callous politician she is portraying. The parallels between President Coin and President Snow (Donald Sutherland, as magnificent as he’s always been) was one of the best parts of the book. It works just as well here.
There isn’t much about MOCKINGJAY that can’t be said about the other two films. Francis Lawrence directs the film with the grit that the material requires, and Jo Willems cinematography, as with CATCHING FIRE, is pitch perfect (were this a different movie, he’d be up for an Oscar nod). It’s worth seeing if you are a fan (this is assuming you haven’t already seen it). Alas, if you are not already a convert, nothing MOCKINGJAY offers will change your mind.
Suggestion: See it (Although you probably have already)