Monday, May 25, 2015

Short Attention Span Review - The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I (2014)

The latest Hunger Games outing is a much different animal than it's action-packed predecessors.  Whereas the first two entries in this series were thrilling efforts boasting lots of violence, Mockingjay Part I is far more dramatic and favors political intrigue over archery and kooky wardrobes.  This may be difficult for many viewers to adjust to.  Honestly, this approach didn't necessarily excite me, but rich performances and an exciting plot make it palatable enough.  It does seem to be a bit of an appetizer that is designed to whet our appetite for Mockingjay Part II as opposed to existing as a satisfying entree in and of itself.  Yet there is a lot happening and I didn't find the movie to be padded or dull.  Jennifer Lawrence continues to shine in the starring role as the plucky heroine Katniss Everdeen, and her performance alone is enough to keep things interesting.  Several newcomers join the cast in this third entry in the series and none are more impressive than Julianne Moore as President Alma Coin.  Josh Hutcherson is incredible as Peeta, and his work with this tortured character looms large throughout the picture despite the fact that he is given precious little time on screen.  Liam Hemsworth continues to devote himself to a lackluster role, while Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman greatly enhance the picture in limited parts.  Perhaps the biggest surprise these movies have given us thus far is the master study in arrogance and villainy that Donald Sutherland is providing.  I greatly admire his work and President Snow is the richest and most imposing character that he has thrown his considerable talent behind in quite some time.  In the end, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I doesn't suffer all that much for substituting the opening gambits of a budding rebellion and a wealth of character development for bloody mayhem and colorful costumes.  The action may be infrequent, but the mood and atmosphere are charged and the plot is riveting.  It may not hit the bullseye, but it's close enough to be worthwhile and it does everything it can to set the stage for a stellar conclusion.  

Final Grade: B

You won't see Lawrence doing this much, but her acting chops on full display.

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