Summary: Katniss Everdeen reluctantly becomes the symbol of a mass rebellion against the autocratic Capitol.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 19th November, 2014
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Francis Lawrence
Screenwriter: Peter Craig, Danny Strong, Suzanne Collins (novel)
Cast: Mahershala Ali (Boggs), Elizabeth Banks (Effie Trinket), Wes Chatham (Castor), Sam Claflin (Finnick Odair), Stef Dawson (Annie Cresta), Natlie Dormer (Cressida), Michelle Forbes (Lieutenant Jackson), Michael Garza (Eddy), Woody Harrelson (Haymitch Abernathy), Liam Hemsworth (Gale Hawthorne), Elden Henson (Pollux), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Plutarch Heavensbee), Josh Hutcherson (Peeta Mellark), Robert Knepper (Antonius), Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss Everdeen), Jena Malone (Johanna Mason), Patina Miller (Commandor Paylor), Julianne Moore (President Alma Coin), Evan Ross (Messalla), Willow Shields (Primrose Everdeen), Donald Sutherland (President Snow), Jermaine Tindell (Luther), Stanley Tucci (Caesar Flickerman), Jeffrey Wright (Beetee)
Runtime: 123 mins
OUR THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 1 REVIEWS & RATINGS:
There is no way any filmmaker would envy director Francis Lawrence for the task ahead of him we he started his directorial duties on The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. Just like David Yates (Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1) and Bill Condon (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1) Lawrence has found himself with the extremely difficult task of making the first part of a two part novel adaption franchise both watchable and enjoyable.
It doesn’t sound like much a struggle but when you consider that a huge chunk of a first half of a novel is normally about character development and ‘setting up of the world’ if often means that the filmmakers are trying to turn something ultimately dull and technical into something watchable at the cinema. Both Yates and Condon struggled with their tasks the result being fans calling the Part 1 of the finales the weakest films of the franchise, even Peter Jackson didn’t seem up to the task with the first Hobbit film with some saying it was so dull it looked like a documentary about walking treks across New Zealand.
To his credit Lawrence has done an okay job with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, true it doesn’t have a lot of the action of the first two films but being the filmmaker that he has shown us he is with character studies like I Am Legend he decides to turn the tables on the franchise and go for a completely different tone this time around.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 picks up with Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) recovering in District 13. Her second tour of the The Hunger Games arena has left her shell-shocked and an emotional wreck. At first her mental state makes her resist the offer from former double agent Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and District 13 leader President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) to be the face of the rebellion against the capital, the person who will unite all the Districts together.
However, shortly after seeing what the Capital soliders have done to home District Katniss soon teams up with Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and Finnick (Sam Claflin) to make ‘propaganda films’ to unite the people, which in turn becomes a battlefield role. Tension heightens more when it they begin to see the Capital interviews between Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and now featuring Peeta telling people to end the rebellion, something that Katniss fears is a sick game orchestrated by President Snow (Donald Sutherland).
Lawrence’s different tone with this film is not a tone that all will enjoy. The last two Hunger Games films were loaded with action throughout, this film does not share that luxury. Instead the film becomes a real character piece but also deals with the impact that war has on the people involved. Katniss’ behaviour suggests that she is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress (although the term is never used), while the film’s look at propaganda on both sides of the war is possible not something that you would expect to find in a film that is based on teenage fiction.
The film does suffer from a lack of action though and as an audience you almost want to cheer during the occasional times when Katniss and Gale find themselves having to take some shots at enemy planes. The character studies are interesting enough in their own right but that isn’t what people have come to know and love from this franchise and at times you do feel sorry for Lawrence as a director because it does grind the film down to a virtual halt.
What Lawrence however can’t be forgiven for though is not bringing action to the screen when it could have been there. When Gale and crew go on their mission to rescue Peeta it was a moment when Lawrence really could have brought some action and suspense to the film, but unlike other moments during this franchise it just seemed to fall by the wayside and never reach the full tension that it could have.
The power of this franchise though is summed up though by the star power and talent of the actors that are drawn to take up roles in it. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Stanley Tucci and Woody Harrelson do the best with their limited screen time while the inclusion of Julianne Moore is interesting seeing her character doesn’t seem to do much except for look sullen and order people around. The young cast do a really good job though. Once again Jennifer Lawrence comes to the fore as the damaged Katniss while Liam Hemsworth plays mopey extremely well. The weaker script this time around though means though it is only really Jennifer Lawrence who gets a chance to shine this time around.
Despite Francis Lawrence’s attempt to change the tone of this film compared to others in the franchise it is easy to see that the film is weaker than its predecessors and the annoying part is you get the feeling that this film is about to explode into a climatic finale, which raises the question should the production company behind the film have just given up the extra cash and made this a near on three hour finale and give both the screenwriters and director at hand a fair chance. Still it is better than most of the other teen-fic films going around but it really does feel like a film that is only going to be enjoyed by those who are hardened fans of the franchise to date.
Other Subculture Entertainment The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 reviews: You can also read Dave’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 review on The Book The Film The T-Shirt.