The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is an extremely frustrating film, feels Paloma Sharma.
The third of four installments in what was supposed to be a trilogy, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 makes for an excellent mirror to our world and warns against the politics of the 1 percent.
As has been the trend with other best sellers, the makers of the Hunger Games series chose to divide the final book into two halves when adapting it to screen, and ended up killing an awful amount of mystery in the process.
After Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) shoots an arrow into the force field around the Hunger Games arena and everything blacks out, she wakes up in a deep, cemented underground bunker, which is all that is left of District 13.
Katniss is introduced to the leader of the district, President Coin (a very strangely blonde Julianne Moore), who asks her to be the Mockingjay -- the symbol of the revolution that started when the people in all the districts saw Katniss defy the Capitol by shooting that arrow.
At first Katniss is dead against it, but when she sees what the Capitol has done to her home while she was away, she agrees on the condition that Peeta and the other tributes who are being held hostage by the Capitol are rescued and given a full pardon.
President Coin reluctantly agrees.
However, when Peeta is seen on TV peddling President Snow’s (Donald Sutherland) propaganda, Katniss finds herself caught between her loyalty to the revolution and her feelings for Peeta.
Contrary to the extravagant reality TV survival sport feel of the first two films, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 takes a decidedly dark turn.
The pace slows down, enabling one to look into what it is to live in these times of war and how painful the world removed from the glamorous games is. Action scenes are few and far between.
Another change is that this film does not merely centre on Katniss. It evolves from one girl's journey to save her sister to the story of the people's revolt against the tyrants that rule them.
More characters become involved and find both space and screen time.
Jennifer Lawrence, brilliant as Katniss, no longer serves as the driving force of the film. Instead, the adults in the film take over this one -- the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, a wonderfully malicious Donald Sutherland, the surprisingly sober Woody Harrelson and Julianne Moore, who will easily find a place among your favourites.
However, it is Sam Claflin as Finnick Odair who will truly steal your heart.
Hutcherson and Hemsworth, to the disappointment of fan girls and boys, have very little screen time to showcase their skills. (Also, the amount of friend-zoning in the film might not go down well with Teams Gale and Peeta).
The production quality is as good as it has ever been. The images of bombed towns with dogs looking for decaying human flesh to feed upon, and makeshift hospitals overflowing with civilians will make you cringe and squirm in your seat.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is brilliantly shot. This is one film that really shows how much principal photography matters.
In many ways, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is an extremely frustrating film. It keeps building up, becoming a tad predictable in the process, and eventually leads nowhere, leaving you hanging. That your only option is to wait a year for the sequel is borderline annoying.
While it may be an excellent bridge between parts 2 and 4, the film seems half baked when it ends after over two hours.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 could have been better edited and scripted.
But despite its flaws, it does have a few scenes that will both move and disturb you to the extent that the next time a political leader gives a public speech, you just know that someone is going to raise the three finger salute.