Mockingjay Part I (review)

The Hunger Games series keeps improving with the third installment going much darker to effectively convey a rebellion blossoming into a civil war. Seeing the film made me want to reread the books, and though I can’t depend on my rusty knowledge of them, this was an extremely faithful adaptation.

Splitting the last book into two films sent a sigh all through fandom as many of us lamented the now well established practice which seems largely a money decision. Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hobbit,  there’s no end to Hollywood’s exploitation of literature to make another buck in an endless stream of movie sequels. However, for Mockingjay this really works.

It was my least favorite book of the trilogy and the splitting of the films leaves room to sort out the final chapters in a more satisfying way. The last section of the book was terribly cluttered. Perhaps that’s more true to the story though, civil wars are many things — tidy is not one of them.

In Part I we are finally introduced to the Avoxes, the people silenced by the Capitol by the removal of their tongues. This was notably missing from the first film and slots in well for the third.

Jennifer Lawrence has not become boring as Katniss Everdeen, and she plays the drama of being a propaganda tool with rebellious spirit, but not angst. Happily it seems teenage moodiness of the Twilight kind will never be a part of the Hunger Games. We see more of Liam Hemsworth as well which is welcome, he plays his militant role with authenticity.

Julianne Moore appears as President Coin, leader of district 13 and the rebellion. She is exactly as I imagined, long greying hair, light brown eyes, and a haughtiness which smacks of jealousy. Her scenes are mostly shared with Philip Seymour Hoffman, for whom the film is dedicated. It is bittersweet to see him as the crafty Plutarch Heavensbee,  and his final complete performance is a testament to his skills. I felt a sharp pang seeing him react with fear and discomfort at the bombing of district 13.

I have to mention Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Malark because I think he gives his best performance in this film. As a prisoner and propaganda tool of the Capitol he physically transforms from the healthy, slightly pathetic Peeta we know, to a thin, brainwashed shadow.  He has little screen time and uses it well.

There’s much more to say but I need to wrap this up. Mockingjay Part I is the best in the series so far and leaves a definite yearning for Part II. As a judgement on a film one can hardly do better.

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