Possible spoilers ahead!
“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1” is not only the third installment in the “Hunger Games” saga, but it’s also the darkest chapter yet. The games as you know them are done, this time it’s all out war between the districts and the Capitol.
With this film the series makes 180-degree change, because unlike the action driven first two films, “Mockingjay, Part 1”, is a story about politics, war propaganda, and consequences. Some will love the change while others will hate it. Either way, Mockingjay, Part 1 will have you talking.
Mockingjay begins where Catching Fire left off, with Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), rescued from Quarter Quell, living in a compound under the rubble of what used to be District 13. Her mom and sister are with her, as well as Gale, and the survivors from District 12.
Also back are her once-drunk and now sober mentor, Haymitch (Woody Harrelson); propagandist Plutarch (the late Philip Seymour Hoffman); the tech genius Betee (Jeffrey Wright), and the image guru (and comic relief) Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks).
The leader of District 13 district is president Coin (Julianne Moore), looking very much like an older version or the X-Men’s Rogue.
“Mockingjay Part 1” centers on Katniss being groomed by District 13 to become the face of rebellion against the Capitol. But it’s also about her goal to save Peeta with the help of her new and old friends.
It takes time, but Katniss eventually agrees to become the “Mockingjay” but she soon discovers that her choices are not without consequence, as President Snow (Donald Sutherland) will use any means necessary to maintain control of the government.
As usual, Jennifer Lawrence gives it her all as Katniss. This is the third time Lawrence has played Katniss Everdeen, but she always manages to bring something new to the part. It’s the little things that I like best. Like the way she crumples up a piece of paper when she’s making her demands. Or her reaction upon seeing her sister’s cat survived the destructions of District 12.
Returning stars Woody Harrelson, Josh Hutcherson, and Elizabeth Banks bring something completely new to their characters. Probably because they’re placed in drastically different circumstances than in the first two movies.
As for the newcomers, my personal favorite was Natalie Dormer as Cressida. Her character is tough, but she really did seem to care for Katniss. I hope we get to see more of her in the sequel next year.
With last year’s Catching Fire, director Francis Lawrence elevated the series from something only young adults liked, to a film series anyone could enjoy. The filmmaker approaches Mockingjay with the same sharp execution as his previous chapter, and in some ways he even improved.
For instance, the story telling here is much better than in the previous two movies. This is the first Hunger Games film that is completely driven by drama and not action. However, I also thought the few action sequences in Mockingjay were actually better than in Catching Fire.
In the end, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1″an excellent entry in the series, and it lays a solid foundation for Part 2 next year. But on its own Mockingjay – Part 1 is not as entertaining as the first two films. But you know what? It didn’t need to be.
“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1” final score: 8