I begin this review with a "three-finger salute" to the power of movies to influence current events. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is a civil war epic with soul. No wonder people are moved by it. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), Effie Trinkett (Elizabeth Banks), Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin), Beetee (Jeffrey Wright), Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci), President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967-2014) as Plutarch Heavensbee reappear in this story. They are joined by President Coin (Julianne Moore), who, I'm sorry but, gives me the creeps and of whom I am highly skeptical. I don't know why, can't quite put my finger on it (and I have not read the books to ease my mind).
Though not as fantastical as its two predecessors, Mockingjay does not shy away from horrific images of grand emotional scale which bind us to Katniss' side. Devastating war images fill the screen constantly, there's revolution, there's death. But in between the active and emotional moments, there was definitely dead space and missed opportunities. For example, we are watching people get on and off planes for minutes, watching people running down and up stairs for minutes, we even watch a cat play with light.....it felt like there was a bit of stretching going on in this movie.
|Katniss (Lawrence) & Cinna (Kravitz) in THG: Catching Fire|
Besides the character gaps, I really enjoyed the film as a whole. As the penultimate chapter of an epic rebellion story, it did its job to make me crave a resolution. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 delivers some iconic cinematic moments, and without giving too much away, I will mention white roses, "The Hanging Tree" - a song which has broken Top 20 in two nations, and Peeta Mellark. If you're not in love with Peeta after this one, check yourself for a heartbeat.