The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis


           

            If you have fond memories of watching Katniss Everdeen master the wilderness in the earlier Hunger Games films, you may well be disappointed with the latest version.
            The memorable character created by the remarkable Jennifer Lawrence is still the central figure of the story, but because Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), her great love, has been captured and brainwashed by The Capitol, Katniss spends most of the movie in a sad stew of emotions ranging from tears, to depression to despair. This is one actress whose natural ability and strong personality canít be sidelined without consequences.
            If that isnít enough, most of the picture unfolds in a dark underground bunker where survivors of the war are hunkered down. When Katniss does make it to the landscape outside, she sees only the rocks and rubble that are the smoldering ruins of her District. That said, the District is still alive under the direction of President Coin (a welcome Julianne Moore) who, along with Plutarch (the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman), has decided that Katniss will become the symbol of the radicalsí rebellion against The Capitol which is still in the hands of President Snow (Donald Sutherland).
            Unfortunately, this dark chapter comes fully alive only when Katniss reasserts herself as she becomes the face of the revolution against oppression. Since the filmmakers are forcing us to wait until Mockingjay Part II for the final confrontation, there is a feeling here of marking time.
            Here are a few details I noticed in the grim landscape. Kiefer Sutherlandís white beard, real or fake, is superb. Julianne Mooreís serious demeanor and oddball hairdo mark her as a player for the next round. Woody Harrelsonís Haymitch is much more fun now that heís sober. The actual physical darkness of the movie turns any theater into a gloomy place where the people around you are invisible in the absence of any light from the screen. Itís a genuine fear escalator.
            We can only hope that the makers of Part II will liberate Jennifer Lawrence from sorrow. After making Katniss Everdeen a household name, she doesnít deserve submersion in misery and darkness for the entire length of a long movie. One other quibble from this genuine fan of the series: a heroine this strong deserves to have strong men around her who deserve the concern and affection she offers them. Might Josh Hutcherson find a way to rise to the occasion? Hereís to Mockingjay Part II.
            Just as Interstellar opened on the day America announced the future by landing a box on a distant planet, this Hunger Games chapter opened on the day the government announced that China has the power to destroy the American power grid. That is a development wholly in concert with the cruel possibilities suggested by The Hunger Games. But this is something new. Reality is edging ever closer to the exaggeration we expect in blockbuster movies. It is an eerie feeling to sense probability where silliness once reigned.
 


Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Film Title : The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I
Word count : 496
Studio : Lionsgate
Running time : 2:03
Rating : PG-13


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