Author Suzanne Collins’ final book of the Hunger Games trilogy has – like Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows and Twilight: Breaking Dawn before it – been split into two movies, with this the first Mockingjay instalment. After the events of Catching Fire in which she destroyed the Games forever, Katniss (Lawrence) has been taken in by a group of rebels based in District 13 who want to bring down President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Led by President Coin (Moore), the rebels – including old friend Gale (Hemsworth) – show Katniss that Snow’s troops have completely destroyed her former home, District 12, and ask that she becomes the face of their rebellion in order to encourage the other districts to join their fight. Meanwhile, Katniss’ friend and fellow Hunger Games survivor Peeta (Hutcherson) is being held by Snow to use for his own propaganda.
While many fans thought Mockingjay the novel was the trickiest of the trio to turn into a movie – the one on one Games survival is dumped in favour of rebellion, potential war and talky politics – it actually works well as an interesting drama rather than an explosive action adventure. The heart of the movie is, of course, Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, and she carries every scene expertly, whether traumatised seeing the devastation at District 12 or defiant as she challenges Snow. There are flaws, of course, such as how much time and energy Katniss devotes to worrying about and trying to rescue Peeta, to the detriment of everything else, and the dumb moment her sister risks everything going back to rescue the bloody cat. The muggy gets more screen time than PR guru Plutarch (the late Philip Seymour Hoffman), while Gale and Finnick (Sam Clafin) don’t get much to do either (their roles disappointingly slimmed down from the source novel), though at least Hemsworth as Gale actually gets some dialogue after spending the previous two movies mutely looking dreamily at Katniss.
With some gripping scenes and great performances, this does have a lot to recommend it nonetheless. Lawrence is mesmerising once again, and while this instalment is more about her growth than any advancing of the plot, it is a well-performed, slickly directed movie that will leave fans itching to see how it all ends in Part 2.
Is The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
This is a 12A certificate movie and there are some scenes unsuitable for younger viewers: Katniss visits her former District and finds piles of skeletons and skulls, she is viciously attacked in one scene, and we see a group of rebels being executed.