Director: Francis Lawrence
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Julianne Moore, Willow Shields, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Mahershala Ali, Paula Malcomson, Natalie Dormer
Genre: Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Age Rating: 12A/PG-13
Running Time: 123 Minutes
In final preparation for the release of THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 2 (2015) today, my girlfriend and I made sure that we were caught up with the entire series so far, and sat down to watch the beginning of the rebellion with THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 1 (2014).
Following on from the end of the second film CATCHING FIRE, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is lost and confused about where she finds herself; under the destruction and rubble of the formerly known District 13, in the hands of Haymitch (Woody Harrelson), Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour-Hoffman) and President Coin (Julianne Moore) who are determined to use Katniss’ history, leadership and comradery to recruit for the rebellion, use her as the face of it and lead an army against The Capitol and its leader President Snow (Donald Sutherland).
I do love a film which follows on from an exact point of a previous film, I mean just look at THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy for example. By starting like this it allows the viewer to instantly rekindle the emotions they had when they witnessed the ending of the last film, no matter how long ago it was. For this particular moment, the feeling that Katniss and the viewer both experience is confusion. However, something THE HUNGER GAMES franchise has been brilliant at is telling the story in detail whilst also keeping the viewer on edge with brilliant twists and turns just around the corner.
I particularly love the beginning of this film as it shows Katniss becoming who she was born to be, the leader of the rebellion, the saviour of Pan Em and the districts’ very own Mockingjay. The use of her ‘film crew’ following her around to capture her defying moments drew comparisons with the likes of CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER, where initially a military body are trying to use their leader as a form of propaganda, yet the leader is desperate to fight with their followers. This leads to the memorable scene in the hospital where she witnesses the true spirit of the people she inspires when they all hold up the three finger salute of rebellion against The Capitol.
One of the best things about this film has to be the way her heart is pulled between the two men in her life once again, but for completely different reasons to any we have seen before. Josh Hutcherson’s character Peeta is a heavy influence on Katniss and almost a burden on her and Liam Hemsworth’s character Gale, is an essential part in keeping her alive.
It seems to me that if a snotty wine connoisseur had to review this film franchise (so far!) as one of his own favourite delights, he would label this as a “fine wine which only gets better with age”. The acting from all once again is brilliant, and we even get to witness the lovely Jennifer Lawrence showcasing her singing abilities with an eerie but strangely motivating number. This was supported by a good soundtrack, rivalling the ones we have already experienced.
Delving away from the world of the actual ‘hunger games’, this film takes a more realistic approach with a group of cities (known as districts here) rebelling against a higher power who have plunged them all into poverty and deprivation. It is for this reason that it is such an empowering and relatable film, even more so than the others.
Once again the visual effects are nothing to rave about, and unfortunately one thing that let this film down a little bit for me was the excessive use of dark scenes. I felt like these scenes may have perhaps been well appreciated in the cinemas, but it did not make for a great home cinema experience. This is potentially my only major criticism though.
Overall, MOCKINGJAY PART 1 is a brilliant film which will cement your excitement for the final instalment this month. J-Law is once again perfect as the film’s very own Mockingjay and although there are not quite as many battles in this feature compared to its predecessors, what MOCKINGJAY PART 1 lacks in action, it makes up for in emotion and storytelling. I am ready for this month’s blockbuster and I am ashamed it has taken me so long to catch up with you all.
“The courage of one will change the world.”
Recommendation: This, along with the other two films are well worth a purchase in my opinion. It is the best of the bunch so far for me, and I can only hope I come out of the cinema in the next week or so saying the same thing about MOCKINGJAY PART 2.