Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore
Directed By: Francis Lawrence
Written By: Peter Craig, Danny Strong
Rating: PG-13 (US) Running Time: 2 hr 3 mins
No more time for games kiddies, this is all out war! Mockingjay Part 1, penultimate film in the series and warm up act for what promises to be a very grand finale, is not a waste of time at all. And if it weren’t for the somewhat slow third act, I’d be touting this as the best in the series so far. By splitting the last book into two films, sure the studios involved in the production stand to make more money. But it also gives us some quality time in Panem with our heroes (old and new) before we push on to the conclusion to this entertaining saga.
Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is the rebellion’s weapon against The Capital, and is fighting a really interesting propaganda battle. A battle for the hearts and minds of Panem in each district, because each side of this conflict knows this war will not be won with bombs and bullets. That the real damage is done with what you shoot with a camera, and not a gun.
I loved the discussions and planning on how best to present Katniss to the other districts. The initial failures, followed by the creation of a successful formula once Everdeen is reunited with the folks that have handled her public relations so far. Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), fashionista with a heart of gold, looking fabulous rocking her Rosie the Riveter ensemble, and Haymish (Woody Harrelson), past winner of the games, forced into sobriety while hunkering down in District 13.
Part 1 is a more somber affair compared to the previous installments in this series, now that the story swaps crazy colored wigs and sparkling suits for drab overalls. But it still has its lighter moments to break up the drama, and the few action sequences in this film are decently put together. Though I was disappointed to see director Frances Lawrence make use of the hand-held camera during some of the action. Ultimately though, I found Mockingjay Part 1 a very enjoyable experience. It suffers a little from being the penultimate entry in the saga, but it sets the stage nicely for the conclusion. Which I look forward to seeing next year.
If you’re already a fan of the series, I think you’ll be happy with this movie, and it should keep you entertained until next year’s conclusion. Like the other movies in this series, it’s rated PG-13, so even though the subject matter is pretty dark, the violence never gets too graphic. This film will not make any sense if you haven’t read the books or watched the first two movies in the series.
The visual effects are decent and District 13’s underground complex looks great. A film like this is best viewed on the big screen. If you wait for the rental, make sure you watch this on a nice big TV. Watching this on anything portable will reduce the movies impact.
Best Moment: << mild Spoiler >>
I found quite a few moments in this film really moving, but my favorite was when Everdeen first visits District 8, and talks to the injured in the hospital. It’s a interesting scene, in that Everdeen’s genuine concern for the people is juxtaposed with her film crew recording her reaction for their propaganda program.