The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

By: Addison WylieHGMockingjayPart1

The Hunger Games series has been particularly strong with its film adaptations.  However, something always appears to be slightly off key.  Not always a detail that greatly affects the film as a whole, but an attribute that hampers the film from being great.

The Hunger Games was a powerful introduction to dystopian District 12 and all the have-nots that inhabited such a mucky home.  Audiences also received a brutal – yet PG-13 toned – look at the bloodthirsty games that take place to even down the population.  But, the first film seemed to be trying to run with a flame that the Twilight series had handed off to it.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was an improvement.  It was a film that found a way to ripen and mature its way out of being “just another movie” marketed to a young adult crowd.  That said, I found myself longing for more emotion.  The crucial events and decisions were understated by a heavily solemn ensemble.

With this first part of the series’ final chapter, the Hunger Games has earned a top spot.  As a movie goer who found himself wishing the next movie was going to be just a little bit better, filmmaker Francis Lawrence has given me a movie that’s one of the most riveting and exciting works of 2014.

It can be argued that The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 is mostly used as a stepping stone to get to the anticipated second act to this epic conclusion.  That answer would’ve been hardened if you had pulled me out of the screening just as Lawrence’s film was starting to heat up.  But, as the manipulative catalysts roll out that ultimately pit our trusty heroine Katniss Everdeen in tight situations, we can’t take our eyes off the screen.  These suspenseful beats are the bread and butter that made the politics behind the games (as well as underlining motivations) so captivating.  If you were a fan of watching these strategic gears turn in the previous films, you’ll be wrapped up in Mockingjay – Part 1.

The returning cast (Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, etc.) have not lost their touch and maintain their own intensities.  While new players (like Julianne Moore) fit nicely into the thriller’s fascinating equation.  Movie buffs also receive a nice , bittersweet Magnolia reunion with scenes between Moore and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman.

As someone who hasn’t read Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series (but is insisted to start once Part 2 drops), The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 ends with a gripping cliffhanger that only gets us more excited to see the follow-up.  More importantly, audiences won’t feel gypped or robbed by the decision to develop Mockingjay as a two-parter event.  In fact, after we see everything Part 1 dishes out, it was the best choice.

As I’ve made clear, these movies keep getting better and better – proving itself to be a plump franchise for those wanting a mature adventure.  The odds of a flawless finale are in everyone’s favour.

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