Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Hunger Games - Mockingjay Part I Review

As far as adaptations of YA novels go, Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games series stands on the very pedestal that many strive to reach. Since its introduction to adoring fans, a whole new generation has begun, with the representation of war and loss presented for a younger audience to embrace and digest. With such success also comes expectation, and with the third film in the series, The Hunger Games - Mockingjay Part I arriving, those anticipation levels have hit a peak.
Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) has survived the Hunger Games Quarter Quell and is now immersed in a rebellion that thrusts her front and centre as the beacon of hope. As Panem's very own Mockingjay, Katniss is the very spirit whose defiance against the Capitol and President Snow has sparked a fightback and ultimately a revolution. Driven by President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) and Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) she must rally the troops, provide propaganda videos and fight the good fight to finally free the people of the despicable forces currently in charge.
That doesn't come lightly though, with Katniss far from devoid of her own troubles on a personal level. Haunted by the traumatic two Hunger Games she has competed in, Katniss is riddled by nightmares and feels almost removed from those around her. Add to that her concern for Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) - currently within the clutch of Snow - and a man who loves her on a different level to her own emotions in Gale (Liam Hemsworth), Katniss is going to require plenty of steel to get through these difficult and testing times.
It can often be a risky move in making a drastic change in tone in a franchise but in Mockingjay this shift in focus is utterly justified as we move on from the Games of the title to much more grounded and affecting territory. The bigger picture of Collins' series is focused on war and the consequences of battle and this is captured none moreso than in Francis Lawrence's return to bring to life her next page turner.
Gone are the colourful, vibrant costumes of the opening ceremonies, the glamour of the contestant quarters and everything in between, all replaced by a grey pallet. A world thrust into
rebellion and war, a rubble-filled series of districts plagued by violence and destruction; one that is simply exquisite in its detail and powerful in its presentation. Lawrence has a strong world to represent and in visiting various Districts creates some hugely emotive and flooring scenes and imagery. Rubble, bodies and remains all combine to leave the audience with a striking realisation that this is a world in turmoil and never far away from conflict.

That feeling also emanates throughout as another spellbinding performance from Jennifer Lawrence comes to fruition. Her execution as a war-trodden, plagued Katniss is a sheer delight and connects on every level. Whether interacting with her family (favourably increased this time round), breaking down at the state of Peeta on the television or facing the brutality she has to come face-to-face with, Lawrence conveys the emotional impact with great gusto.

Lawrence isn't the only guiding light as her comrades and support cast all present additional favourable elements to the film. Gale's chunkier role this time around proves Hemsworth possesses a great likeability, while both Moore and the late Hoffman bring forth the authorative figures brilliantly. The return of the likes of Elizabeth Banks and Woody Harrelson will no doubt

delight and provide some well-timed laughs and Donald Sutherland continues to induce fear and loathing as he takes Snow to another level. Put quite simply, this is a dream cast that contains too many exceptional performances to mention in one analysis.

Fans of the book will also feel wholly satisfied with the end product, with only slight alterations to the source material, but little to deter from the story they have been privy to. In fact, the conclusion to the film will no doubt leave everyone aghast and the inclusion of a Godzilla-esque rescue sequence will have even seasoned readers of the book edging towards the corner of their seat. Such changes are necessary and work to great effect throughout.

Mockingjay - Part I is a great removal from the two outings we have journeyed through previously and the tonal shift is superbly executed. Lawrence and co once again prove that this is one of the most consistent and all-round compelling franchises in recent times, and there's little denying this trumps its predecessors. Gritty, affecting and enthralling, Francis Lawrence has done it once again and delivered one of the blockbusters of the year. 

Film Rating: 5 F's out of 5