The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1 – movie review

The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1 opened this weekend to packed theaters.  All the main characters are back including the the evil President Snow played by the incomparable Donald Sutherland.

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President Snow is the best movie villain since Auric Goldfinger. Snow never raises his voice or swears. He simply crushes all enemies in a cold and precise manner.  One of the few people who never underestimates President Snow is Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence).

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At this point in the 4-part movie series, some of the Outer Districts are in open rebellion against The Capital and there are grumblings of discontent in the other districts.  Both Snow and the rebels are engaging in propaganda warfare. The rebels are eager to use Katniss as their revolutionary symbol, a role she feels very uncomfortable with.  Snow himself is using Peta (Josh Hutcherson) as his spokesman against the rebels. Katniss is convinced that Peta must be being forced to make propaganda speeches. However, there is no proof that his feelings are anything but real.

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Some moviegoers thought the movie did not have enough action, but we loved the complexity of the propaganda war.  Katniss has always been much more multifaceted than the standard movie heroine.   Even in the first movie, the main goal of Katniss has always been to protect her family and loved ones, rather than to lead a revolution. Both sides have always wanted to use her to their own ends and she resents them all for it. Jennifer Lawrence even sings in this movie and it turns out has a a lovely soulful voice.

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The film is dedicated to the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, who did a wonderful portrayal of Plutarch Heavensbee. Plutarch used to be the Propaganda Minister for President Snow, and is now doing the same job for the rebels using the same tricks. As we now  know, Mr. Hoffman tragically was facing inner demons of his own for some time and died of a drug overdose.  He was one of the most gifted actors of our time and will be greatly missed.

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There are some new characters in the film. The rebels of district 13 have their own “President” Alma Coin (Julianne Moore). Katniss is one of the few characters who objects when President Coin uses tactics just as ruthless as those of President Snow. At one point when aircraft from The Capital are bombing another district, President Coin does nothing to help since she does not want to give away the location of the District 13 air defenses.

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Natalie Dormer portrays Cressida, a movie director working for the rebels and using Katniss to make propaganda videos. Cressida has no qualms at all about intruding on the most private moments  if it will make for good video.

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Of course, since this is the third part of a four part movie series, the ending of the film leaves you hanging.  It wonderfully builds to a finale, which unfortunately we will not get to see for at least another year.

We give this movie four stars ****

 

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