This is probably going to be a little brief, as its hard to talk about this film without referring tons to the films before it. If you’ve been living under a rock, The Hunger Games is set in a dystopian future where years before the Capital brutally suppressed an uprising, wiping out the 13th District and enforcing a ‘Hunger Games’ where children fight to the death on live TV. The series follows Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) who survives the Hunger Games and becomes a symbol of rebellion.
Mockingjay focuses on the fight from the actually undefeated District 13 against the Capital, in order to remove President Snow (Donald Sutherland). This film picks up with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) who has been rescued from the Capital having to reconfigure what his reality truly is. He soon joins Katniss and Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and others as they march on the Capital, as Katniss focuses on her own plan to get rid of Snow personally.
First of, I will say that I really don’t feel that Mockingjay needed to be split in half at all. It’s a pretty bleak book, and making two two hour films out of it did make this a little emotionally exhausting (at least for me). I also felt like some of the scenes could have been cut and still retained their emotional pull. However, I do like the move to a focus on the dark side of rebellion and this film does carry that focus on. Also, the central love triangle in these films is the worst. I didn’t like it at all in the books, and I didn’t in the film either. It’s really hard to care too much about two ultimately dull guys when they’re fighting over a character as fascinating as Katniss, who is wonderfully played by Jennifer Lawrence.
The majority of the performances are still fantastic. Donald Sutherland and Julianne Moore are both fantastic as playing the definitely sinister political leaders, and even people like Mahershala Ali as Boggs and Elden Henson as Pollux who aren’t necessarily in the film that much are really great screen presences. I am also irrationally pleased when I see people from the world of theatre making it on the big screen, so seeing Patina Miller (who starred in the stage version of Sister Act) playing Commander Paylor made me very happy. Obviously the performance that lingers over this film is that of Philip Seymour Hoffman in his final film and I couldn’t help but feel just a little bit sad every time Plutarch was on screen.
Really though, this franchise has rested on the very capable shoulders of Jennifer Lawrence, whose performance as Katniss is really just great. Any problems I’ve had with the films are also problems I had with the books (like the hideously annoying epilogue), and I’m sure people who are more hardcore fans than me will be very happy to have seen these film adaptations.