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article imageReview: ‘Mockingjay – Part 1’ is the lead-up to the big event Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Nov 21, 2014 in Entertainment
‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1’ is the calm before the storm as the rebels take steps towards the ultimate goal of overthrowing the Capitol and Katniss contemplates the role she’ll play in the campaign’s future.
Suzanne Collins’ trilogy about an unintentional rebellion led by a fiery young woman captured readers’ and then moviegoers’ attention beginning in 2008. Films based on the first two books, The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, centred on Katniss’ dedication to her family and friends, as well as her will to survive the Capitol’s punishments from the games themselves to various crackdowns in other areas. But secret alliances and plots revealed in the last installment demonstrated the fight is much bigger than one girl now — not that they don’t still need her. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 shows the start of a system-wide uprising, but the need for a leader remains.
Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is still reeling after being rescued from the arena. She shuns those who don’t share her blood and avoids anything that may resemble responsibility as she attempts to piece together herself and the events that brought her to the underground city of District 13. As Gale (Liam Hemsworth) develops into the model rebel soldier, Katniss wonders who is left that she can trust. A Capitol broadcast reveals Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) is alive, but the words he utters confuse his allegiances. Nevertheless, Katniss cannot sit idly by as people die in her name — she agrees to be the Mockingjay if President Coin (Julianne Moore) agrees to save the captured victors. What follows is a series of strategic moves in a game with even fewer rules and more cutthroat tactics meant to weaken its players and teach them unforgettable lessons.
Splitting the final installment of a trilogy into two parts is becoming a trend in Hollywood, as is the expectation that the first half is primarily the setup for an exhilarating conclusion. That’s not to say this movie lacks excitement — there is plenty of shooting, explosions and air assaults to keep everyone on their toes. But much of the story is dedicated to exploring everyone’s new roles in the revolution.
Unfortunately this adaptation suffers from the same pitfalls as the second chapter in its omission of small but essential details, particularly in regards to character development. Katniss’ power is undervalued when she fails to make all of the demands listed in the book, instead letting half of them transpire organically. Finnick’s (Sam Claflin) distress is downplayed even though it’s his agitation that shows Katniss is keeping it together in comparison; it’s also the foundation for their additional bonding. Disregarding the violent end to Peeta’s final broadcast and the debate that follows it is a disservice to the characters. Finally, the portrayal of President Coin as almost motherly is completely inconsistent with the cold and calculating woman in the novel.
Conversely, the one thing the films have always done well is expand the story world beyond Katniss’ perspective. Uprisings in the districts are no longer limited to progress reports. Viewers see the rudimentary revolts executed by determined citizens willing to lay down their lives to take down the Capitol. While the specifics of their fight is overlooked in the text, the movies remind us that the early rebellions were not accomplished with guns but with whatever could be used as a weapon and human shields.
All of the actors reprise their roles with the genuineness and devotion to their characters they demonstrated previously. The concluding chapter will be Philip Seymour Hoffman’s final screen appearance and his portrayal of Plutarch is a reminder of his exquisite talent. While Moore is a questionable choice for Coin, the Capitol film crew of Cressida, Messalla, Castor and Pollux (Natalie Dormer, Evan Ross, Wes Chatham and Elden Henson respectively) all appear suitably casted. And Boggs (Mahershala Ali), Katniss’ personal bodyguard and commander, is exactly the man you’d hoped he’d be.
The in-film soundtrack is expectedly sparse with two songs listed in the credits: Lorde’s stirring single, “Yellow Flicker Beat” and Lawrence’s haunting rendition of the melancholy “The Hanging Tree,” which becomes an anthem for the rebels.
This half of the narrative ends at approximately the midpoint of the book, leaving most of the fighting and attack on the Capitol for the second part. As Coin so aptly tells Katniss, “The worst part is waiting.”
Director: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth
Jennifer Lawrence is the girl on fire in  The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1
Jennifer Lawrence is the girl on fire in 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1'
eOne Films
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