“Catching Fire” was my all-time favorite film of that year, “Hunger Games” was a decent start but “Fire” was a stupendous improvement in every way and since then; I have become fully sucked into the warped war between Katniss, President Snow and the oppressed masses that rally and writhe in the numbered districts. The story is finally coming to an end and much like all the previous book based movies before it (Harry Potter, Twilight); “Mockingjay” (the last book in the series) has been split into 2 separate parts and today; I’m taking a look at the first step in concluding this epic dystopian book/film series. After destroying the dome that housed the games and herself, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) has been recruited by Plutarch (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and President Coin (Julianne Moore) to join their revolution against the capitol; they’re plan is to use Katniss in propaganda films to inspire districts to join their cause.
However, President Snow (Donald Sutherland) not only has power, armies and weapons to use against Katniss; but also an imprisoned Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). Now Katniss is desperate to rescue Peeta from Snow but must work in Coin’s rulebook and propaganda position if she ever wants this war to end or get Peeta back alive. One thing people need to understand, despite how redundant it sounds is that this is a 2 parter; obviously not everything is going to be wrapped up by the end of this movie. “Mockingjay Part 1” despite being set in a futuristic dystopian world utilizes very realistic and old timey war methods to tell their story: in this case it’s the use of propaganda movies to do their fighting instead of using bombs, bullets and arrows…least for now.
We’ve seen Katniss fight tooth and nail to survive in arenas against kids stuck in her same situation, but now; unlike those kids she is stuck in the position of savior in a war she didn’t want to start but has wound up leading. This film presents different pressures and problems for Katniss to endure; working through the pain and suffering of losing her home and her love to an empire that continues to give her reason to voice her anger. The action in this film may be considerably lesser compared to previous films but the drama and tension remains as potent and powerful as before.
Lawrence continues to impress audiences with her performance, watching her reaction to Hutcherson’s forced video interviews is a truly gripping series of events (Hutcherson himself is the best he’s been in the entire series; despite being seen for such a short amount of time here). Watching Hoffman here is a painful reminder of what a truly tremendously talented actor we lost, he truly had a gift and like everyone before in “Catching Fire”; I’m in awe at how much everyone has improved with each new film. Speaking of new, new player Julianne Moore provided an interesting new character with President Coin.
I see bigger things and turns for her when “Part 2” comes around. Sutherland was delightfully wicked, every scene with him reminds you of the monster he truly is and his use of white roses continues to create an unusually disturbing sight to behold each battlefield. The only real problem you could muster against this movie is the fact that everything is being built and geared towards an event you know won’t happen in this film since it is the first part. Much like Voldemort’s army preparing to take on Potter’s friends, we knew from “Deathly Hallows: Part 1” this won’t lead to the result we truly seek until part 2. Overall, “Mockingjay Part 1” tries something different but maintains the great storytelling these books are known for. All actors old and new continue to impress and intrigue and if this movie’s quality is any indication of what’s to come; we can expect a finale like no other when “Mockingjay Part 2” finally arrives.