The Hunger Games finally catches fire…
After humiliating the omnipresent Capitol once again in the climax of previous instalment Catching Fire and bringing it to it knees, Jennifer Lawrence blasted back on the big screen at the end of last month with her third outing as transgressive super heroine Katniss Eberdeen in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. After successfully surviving the Hunger Games for a second time, Katniss Eberdeen herself becomes the ‘mockingjay’ after the destruction of her home district 12. Now at District 13, and under the guidance of President Coin, Katniss becomes the symbol of the rebellion as she fights to save Peeta from the torture and destruction of the Capitol.
Initially marketing as a Twilight-esque teen flick, Mockingjay finally puts that comparison to bed with a looming air of death and unapologetic brutality that transcends the boundaries of the isolated teen demographic to appeal to a more mature audience whilst also not patronisingly dumbing down proceedings for a younger audience. Mockingjay offers more clear brutal direction than its two predecessors who upon reflection seem to be treading water in comparison to the home straight this instalment begins to guide us towards. Despite splitting Suzanne Collins last book into two separate films for undoubtedly commercial reasoning, Mockingjay manages to sugar coat the box office daylight robbery in a superior fashion to it trailblazing cousin Happy Potter, in which its own penultimate outing stilted story development to a pretentiously dull level whilst trying to appease us with so called ‘character development’. No, whilst just about getting away with the book split, it still gives a somewhat uneasy sense of disorientation without a coherent three act structure and ultimately in effect reduces previous ice queen killing machine Katniss’ final piece of action to nothing more than running down a never ending flight of stairs without an arrow in sight (although the stakes were raised considerably when the sprinklers are turned on putting our heroines unrealistically perfect hair in jeopardy). Prepare to then edge more forward to the edge of your seat when Katniss then has to run back up the said stairs (her hair trauma still ongoing) as she dramatically becomes an accessory in a covert cat rescue mission thanks to resident brat Prim’s feline obsession… Not exactly child on child killing action as promised is it? Despite Katniss’ disappointing lack of climactic action the narrative drives towards a satisfying conclusion perfectly building the action for the rebellion and final act of the Hunger Games saga due next year. Although an all round solid attempt at a potentially dull penultimate instalment, Jennifer Lawrences jarring performance as the series heroine was extremely off putting especially coming from the oscar winning and multiple nominated actress.
After practically phoning in her performance, Lawrence gives a one dimensional display, void of significant light and shade with some below average, amateur moments from the Silver Linings star especially upon the realisation of her home districts destruction. Having never previously finding Lawrences performances problematic, she on paper incorporates everything needed for the perfect Katniss, however her latest performance lacked her multi-dimentional edge from the previous films. Luckily the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman and the always perfect Julianne Moore are on hand to raise the bar in the acting stakes whilst bringing a prestigious presence to proceedings. Moore as the brilliantly complex newcomer President Coin who perfectly incapsulates the often cold energy masking a perfectly pitched damaged and vulnerable leader subtly evoked through Moores performance bringing an overall more credible class to Mockingjay Part 1. Despite it’s flaws the films manages to be a tantalising build up for the main event of part 2 without detracting from it own merits as a standalone film in which serves as a solid instalment to the highly successful Hunger Games franchise due to bow out on the big screen in 2015.
Despite a jarring and disappointing lead performance from Lawrence, Mockingjay offers an extremely enjoyable third instalment of the Hunger Games franchise perfectly upping the anti for the final part without treading water as merely a Hollywood commercial cash cow.