Movie review 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 1' : The series continues to shock and engage

DECCAN CHRONICLE | LAKSHMI GOVINDRAJAN JAVERI
Published Nov 28, 2014, 6:09 pm IST
Updated Mar 30, 2019, 10:51 am IST
A still from the film .
 A still from the film .
Director: Francis Lawrence
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci and Donald Sutherland
Rating: Three stars

The third instalment of the Hunger Games series continues to remain dark, relevant, thought provoking and entertaining. For fans of the film series and the books, Part 1 will seem akin to the Lord of The Rings: Two Towers. It is a fragment of a movie that can barely hold its own but makes perfectly good sense in the transitionary nature of storytelling.

This outing of the film is actually quite violent and for its PG13 rating, it takes more risks in its treatment of violence than one would expect in a film whose target audience is predominantly teens. That said, the series continues to shock and engage in equal measure and at no point does the film let you rest.

The film opens with Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) and fellow Victors Finnick Odair and Beetee being taken to an underground facility District 13 that lies under the ruins of the old District 13. There, Katniss meets her mum and sister Prim and is recuperating from the events that concluded the previous sequel. Struck with PTSD and trying to process the goings-on, Katniss encounters rebel leader President Coin (Moore) who wants to anoint her “Mockingjay”, the symbolic of the rebellion. Katniss of course turns it down because she’s still seething that her lover Peeta Mellark (Hutcherson) was left behind in District 12. Plutarch Heavensbee (Hoffman) suggests that Katniss be taken to District 12 to give her an idea of the wreckage that she’s lucky to have left behind. On seeing that Peeta is actually being used to quell the rebellion, an unhappy Katniss agrees rather hesitatingly to become the Mockingjay. She wages that Peeta and the other victors be rescued and forgiven as the only condition for her taking on the role of being the symbolic representative of the rebellion.

The film then moves on with Katniss assuming her new role and a new squad, as they go about various Districts, each time discovering a more shocking reality, each time having to recuperate emotionally and each time regrouping to find their own inner strengths. There’s betrayal, there are discoveries, there’s violence and there’s cruelty. But at no stage is there no hope. It’s not a great storyline. But it is very engaging storytelling. The crime and the bloodshed have chilling relevance in a world where ISIS and Ferguson cases are rampant. There’s a realignment of perspective that has become the need of the hour where people are quick to judge and quicker to pull the trigger. There cannot have been a more pertinent series about a post-apocalyptic time and it would be prudent to look at the series in totality, although this particular film leaves you with that feeling of being “almost-there”.

Lawrence reminds you why she’s such a genius. The scene where she delivers a speech with a little help from some friends is a masterstroke, given that she’s actually one actress who has a great deal of off-screen connection. Moore is a great actress but doesn’t have all that much to do here. Hutcherson is convincing but is a pale shadow in performance compared to Lawrence. Hoffman is the understated legend that he had the reputation of being and the film only reminds you tragically that there’s not much of Hoffman left on screen. The music is haunting and makes you numb in parts and should be considered a very important part of the storytelling process.

The beauty of the film lies in the fact that as part of a blockbuster, massive hit series, it is rather unassuming of its importance. There’s a Lawrence-ish nonchalance of its effect on people and as much as it is very serious in nature, it doesn’t take its own success seriously. You are shocked and you’re forced to think, but you certainly get out of the theatre thinking that you’re glad you watched it. 

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