<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Francis Lawrence. Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Philip Seymore Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci, Sam Claflin, Natalie Dormer, Donald Sutherland
Not a fan of ‘young-adult’ (YA) fiction and certainly not one of The Hunger Games I was actually quite entertained by Mockingjay Part 1.
I haven’t read Suzanne Collins’ trilogy of books and I don’t ever want to. I detested the last two films for their ambiguous nature and ridiculousness. Also I don’t think any of these YA authors are sincere artistes. They just want to make a lot of money from a series of books and then movie endorsements that turn three books into four films!
The Hunger Games is set in a dystopian (dire and grim) future where the world is devastated and only a few thousands of people remain divided in different Districts and ruled by the Capitol. The Districts are places of squalor and paucity; this is done on purpose so the elitist Capitol citizens can rule them while enjoying their lavish lifestyles and bizarre fashions. The titular ‘games’ enlist two children from each district to fight in a virtual arena where they kill each other to survive and win for their hometown. In return the district gets favours and food from the Capitol. If you recall, our hero Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) took her sister’s place in the games and her saga continues.
I don’t really remember what happened in the last film, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, but in Mockingjay Part 1, Katniss is a refugee in the underground District 13 that is also the base for the resistance fighters against the Capitol and the evil President Snow (Donald Sutherland).
Creator of the games, Plutarch Heavensbee (the late Philip Seymore Hoffman who did finish filming for the movie) is on the side of the resistance and has convinced President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) that Katniss should be the face of the rebellion since she has publicly defied the Capitol and broken their ‘rules’ and has an emotional connect with the masses. So off she goes on to the ruins of the Districts to be filmed interacting with survivors, using her arrows to shoot down Capital battalions and making rousing speeches to rally the people.
And all this is pretty stirring and makes for some thrilling viewing. I was bored stiff in the last two movies watching little children act all grown up and Katniss and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) trying to make all lovey-dovey (ick!). In Mockingjay Part 1 we have transcended the games and now it’s time for war. Strategy and deception are needed and President Snow uses his capture Peeta to stage his own broadcasts to distract Katniss and the people from their violent insurrection.
Jennifer Lawrence has played so many grown up roles for us since the first film that it’s strange to watch her all young and toned down here but she’s a wonderful actor. She’s got a lot of anger and darkness to deal with here though. But all the grey is lightened a bit with Elizabeth Banks’s bubbly Effie Trinket who gets along in the drab District 13 without her flaming red wigs and over-the-top attire to coach Katniss with a little help from the lacklustre Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy.
What on earth Katniss sees in Peeta one can’t imagine especially since she has the dishy Gale (Liam Hemsworth, Chris ‘Thor’ Hemsworth’s younger brother) for company. He’s boring yes but look at him! It’s not as if Peeta’s character is endowed with a pleasing personality. So whatever this ‘love’ that even she can’t classify is it’s probably something else. Maybe like Star Wars and they’re actually brother and sister! I don’t know, I haven’t read the books.
Apparently Harrelson didn’t even know that Liam Hemsworth is Chris Hemsworth’s brother. Watch this funny video from Distractify of his realisation: A Very Confused Woody Harrelson Just Now Realized Liam And Chris Hemsworth Are Brothers.
Mockingjay Part 1 has some violence as well but the kids nowadays have seen far worse. In any case, some sorts of violence are apparently good for kids to watch. Read this interesting article from Wired, The Violence in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Is Actually Good for Teens.
So it’s filler and a run up to the final episode Part 2. It won’t leave you satisfied or elated after watching it. It is entertaining enough though and I only hope the next one will be better.