The calm before the sh!tstorm

Featuring

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen
Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mallarck
Liam Hemsworth as Gayle Hawthorne
Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch
Julianne Moore as President Coin
Donald Sutherland as President Snow
with Woody Harrelson as Haymitch
and Elizabeth Banks as Effie

Look, just what is it with movie adaptations of books splitting the last one into two movies? I’m not entirely sure the was totally necessary for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay. Sure, there was probably enough material for two movies, but only if you think that making home movies for propaganda with a future Google Glass is a good subject for a film that is over two hours long.

Mockingjay Part One takes place right after Katniss and some of the other Quarter Quell participants are rescued by District 13, under a plan orchestrated by Plutarch. Unfortunately, all this achieves is the capture of the remaining Quarter Quell participants, including Peeta.

As a prelude to the eventual civil war, President Coin of District 13 strikes a bargain with Katniss, to inspire the rest of the Districts to rise up and take down the Capital. To do this, she agrees to shoot some propaganda to take advantage of the hatred most people reserve for the Capital, and President Snow.

Look, it’s definitely a movie that talks about war, not in the sense of any direct actions, but in terms of sacrifice, psychology and willingness, how it’s just as much about guns as it is as about the people who fight for the cause. In that sense, Mockingjay Part One asks all the right questions about propaganda. Peeta asks all the other questions: is the fight worth it for all the lives that will inevitably be lost?

On the other hand, it’s such a break from the pacing of all the other movies that have preceded it that you almost wonder if you’re watching the same series. I know that the action, conspiracy and excitement will be saved for Mockingjay Part Two, and should be worth watching when it arrives next year.

However, to judge Part One, you really have to remember that The Hunger Games movies are full of action, but action that has moral messages and questions that challenge your beliefs. Do you think that the end justifies the means in war? How much sacrifice is acceptable or when is it enough, how much is the dream of a better future worth? These are the sorts of things this movie asks you square in the face, not with any of its main characters, but through the acts of the rest of the Districts in the rebellion.

As a penultimate movie in The Hunger Games Trilogy Plus One, this film does a competent enough job of setting up the conflict that will soon engulf Panem. I hope it will also ensure that all the villains get their just deserts eventually, but at what price? Maybe this is the sort of movie that makes more sense when watched back-to-back with Mockingjay Part Two. Tune in next year when the final instalment is released.

Rating

A slow simmer with a rich intellectual palette. Best served as an entree to the final movie in the series.

Watch this if you…

Watched the other movies and want context for Mockingjay Part Two.

Don’t watch this if you…

Are an action movie fan.

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