Movie of the Week : The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 from Fri 21st Nov
Film Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 (trailer)
Let me start by saying that I'm a huge fan of the "The Hunger Games" book series by Suzanne Collins. I've read them countless times and when I found out they were making a movie of them in 2010 I was very excited. But I was also worried.
"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1" is not very easy source material. The book is written in first person narrative with very detailed descriptions of everything form the characters' looks to the strange futuristic devices they use in Panem, the future version of the U.S. where the story takes place. I couldn't imagine that they would be able to convey every detail as I had imagined it and make the story believable without an R-rating or a huge budget. All of my concerns were wiped away when I saw the movie.
I've never seen a more faithful adaption of a book in my life. All of the costumes, the sets, the locations, the cast (I'll talk more about them in a while) and the pacing is as if they were exactly replicated from the book. And the small things that do differ or are added (such as more insight to the gamemakers' control room) only add to the amazing world Collins created and improve the narrative movie-wise. And the movie is great for people who haven't read the books as well. Not once did I feel as if something was vague or badly explained.
The cast is stellar. Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss carries the movie and makes me regret complaining about her casting because she was too "hot" and not starved enough. She IS Katniss and one can feel the graveness of an situation just by looking at one of her expressions. Josh Hutcherson as Peeta is also a true breakout performance. The way he looks at Katniss will makes girls all over the world envy her, just like it's supposed to be. Other standouts in the cast include Stanley Tucci as the flamboyant talk-show host Caesar Flickerman, Woody Harrelson as the sarcastic but caring mentor Haymitch and Wes Bentley as the sinister game-maker Seneca Crane (his final scene might be the best one in the whole movie). The child actors Willow Shields and Amandla Stendberg who portrays Prim and Rue are believable and heartbreaking even though they're inexperienced.
Despite the PG-13 rating the movie doesn't gloss over or sugarcoat anything for their audience. The violence may not be gloriously graphic but it's still there. People will feel the tributes' pain and despair and not even realize the violence isn't gory until you've left the theater. The movie also deals with important themes like survival, governmental control, grief and helplessness. There is a minor love story subplot, but it doesn't distract from the movies main themes. In my opinion I think it rather improves them by showing some light in the dark.
The only complaint I can think of is that the movie feels too short. It's almost two and a half hours long, but it feels as if it goes by in a blink. I will have to see it again to fully pay attention to every detail (such as the costumes and animation of the Capitol, which looked amazing). But this is still not me saying that the movie is rushed, because as I stated the source material is very dense and the filmmakers managed include almost everything.
People said this would become the next Twilight-style teen movie franchise. I can't say I think its clear by now that "The Hunger Games" has far exceeded that goalpost. But if the first part of this third movie is any indication of the overall quality of the franchise - this will is already a series way out of Twilight's league.