The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (12A)

The last time we saw our heroine Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) she was shooting an arrow into the Hunger Games mainframe in an attempt to fry the system. The Katniss that we see now is almost unrecognisable. The fight and courage that was once made her the symbol of hope for the suppressed districts is gone and all that’s left is fear and pain.

After she destroyed the games and electrocuted herself in the process, Katniss was taken to District 13 to recover. She was the main focus of the rescue operation and as with most things in life; it didn’t quite go to plan.

Katniss, Finnick (Sam Claflin) and Beetee (Jeffrey Wright) were saved. But Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), Annie (Stef Dawson) and Johanna (Jena Malone) were taken to the Capitol were they remain, held against their will.

There isn’t really any time for Katniss to recover because her act of defiance against the Capitol caused a mass rebellion. If it isn’t controlled properly all of the districts could be wiped out.

She meets President Coin (Julianne Moore) who is determined to make Katniss the symbol of the rebellion. But without Peeta by her side and the horrors of what she has been through permanently ingrained in her mind it’s going to take something extraordinary to get her to snap out of her trance-like state.

Then when she sees first-hand what the Capitol has done to her home district the real Katniss starts to appear. Although weary and less optimistic than before, the Mockingjay is back. She’s going to need all the help she can get to carry this off. Luckily Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is there to guide her, even if at times it seems to be somewhat of a puppet and puppet master scenario.

Katniss finds herself being fashioned as a poster girl for the uprising – styled and manipulated by the underground in the same way that the Capitol once dolled her up for TV dismemberment. Clothed in combat-chic black, she is directed by motley crew of soldiers to do her best Joan of Arc flag-waving impression for the purpose of propaganda videos to inspire the downtrodden people of Panem.

Sick of literally becoming a living doll Katniss team up with Gale (Liam Hemsworth), Effie, (Elizabeth Banks) and Haymitch (Woody Harrrelson) to plan how they are going to save Peeta and the others from the Capitol.

Katniss would rather go out fighting than hide under a rock for the rest of her life. President Snow (Donald Sutherland) isn’t going to make it easy on her and will use any means possible to get what he wants.

Then without warning the movie stops and you realise that you’ll have to wait until November 2015 to see how it all plays out. It felt like there was so much prep work to get you to that point, that by the time you started to get into it, it was over.

Mockingjay Part 1 gets my three fingered salute.

Lawrence was her usual cooler-than-cool self. Nothing can bring this girl down. She improves with every movie she stars in.

The star of this movie however, was the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. He was superb throughout and added gravitas to the frosty media satire. The movie ends with a dedication to him, and rightly so.

It’s a shame that the penultimate instalment of The Hunger Games franchise lacks the action of its processors. Mockingjay Part 1 felt like a warm up act for the main event. This is more a story of cumulative factors weighing in on the final outcome, rather than a continuous battle. It left me wanting more, which is always the intention of two-parters, but it does like a bitter taste in your mouth.

By Ruth Walker
★★★☆☆

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