The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Julianne Moore, Donald Sutherland
Director: Francis Lawrence
The greedy suits have gone ahead and wrecked our cinematic experience once again. Where we could have had a cracker of an end to the Hunger Games franchise, what we get is half a novel, which, as expected, has more pauses than action, more waiting than doing.
Those people in the corporate office would be happy. They did it to Harry Potter, they did it to Twilight and now they have done it to this Suzanne Collins' dystopian bestseller. So, they get profits twice over where there would have been just one. Does it help the viewer? No. Should you give up on Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I? No, again.
That's because a revolution is happening and we should consider this film as a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into it. After the Quarter Quell, Lawrence's Katniss Everdeen is now living in the subterranean District 13. Kind of a sci-fi Sparta that is preparing to go to war with Capitol, it is ruled by President Alma Coin (Juliane Moore).
A perfect foil to autocrat President Snow (Donald Sutherland), she is tough and direct, and brings a certain urgency to her performance. Now, here's a woman we would like to see as Everdeen's ally in the climactic battle which is fast approaching (to be precise, next year when Mockingjay Part 2 comes out).
Wrecked by nightmares and without Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), who is a prisoner of Snow, Katniss is hardly the symbol of revolution people want her to be.
With her friend and ally Gale (Liam Hemsworth) by her side, Katniss gradually realises that being the Mockingjay is her destiny. More of a figurehead at this point of time, her job is to be the star of propaganda videos which are the handiwork of Phillip Seymour Hoffman's Plutarch Heavensbee.
As her team (Elizabeth Banks as wig-less Effie Trinket and Woody Harrelson as a sober Haymitch Abernathy) gets to work, the first few attempts of this transformation are the only time you will hear some laughs in the theatre.
The aim is to make her the "best looking" rebel in history. Suffice to say, it doesn't end well. That's when she steps on to real ground zero where common people, inspired by her, are taking on the Capitol. Lawrence, who has grown exponentially as an actor ever since the first movie, brings a rare mix of innocence, vulnerability and determination to her performance.
We don't get to see much of her skills as an archer in this one but it is the play of emotions with which she has us spellbound. Hoffman, who died during the shooting of this film, plays his role of a master manipulator with elan and pizzazz. He brings heart to the role and some mischief as well. Here's how he 'sells' the idea of Mockingjay to President Coin, "She is our girl on fire, she is the fuel of revolution, she is the lightening rod." Oh, ok.
Even though there are no actual hunger games in this one, there are moments of adventure and action that will satisfy you. The climax packs a punch and sets the tone for the war which is about to happen. Full marks to director Francis Lawrence for making us smell and taste the violence which the final film will unleash. Only, the wait till then is killing.
Damn you, suits!