The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 is an exquisite follow-up to The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. It shows the aftermath of what war and politics wreaks upon its teenage protagonists and dystopian world. The movie follows where it leaves off in Catching Fire with Katniss Everdeen coming to grips with the reality of everything that has happened. Meanwhile in District 13, President Coin (Julianne Moore) and Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) struggle with the politics and schemes behind running a full scale rebellion and inevitably need the emotionally broken Katniss to fulfill her role as the face of it all, the Mockingjay.
The book reading fan base will be pleased. Had the book not been split into two movies, book readers would have wept at all the details that would have been cut. Luckily, that is not the case. While yes, in every book adaption to the big screen there are parts cut or changed, Mockingjay remains very fair in it's faithfulness to the book. It even makes up for a few things the movies lacked in the past - the horrors of the Capitol's scientific ingenuity, and what it does to traitors *wink wink*. The heartbreaking emotion from the books is played out well by the cast. Let's put it this way: what the movie shows, versus what you glean from the books, is perhaps more shocking to its audience. It's hard to imagine book readers visualized just how deep the Capitol's corruption runs, and what it can truly do to its people. My heart cringed at the gruesome imagery and I got chills from more than a few scenes.
But - if you're just a Hunger Games movie fan, you may be a tad disappointed. Without spoiling much for you, I will say this entry is lighter on action. This time around, we're delving deep into the politics and schemes, both from Capitol and Districts. Here, we experience what it's like to live through war. While there's the action scene here or there, don't expect the same movie as the predecessors. By the same token, don't let the lack of action deter you. If you prefer watching the movies instead of reading the books, this installment offers amazing insight that you'd otherwise miss from an action-packed romp. Your book reading friends will be pleased that they hardly have to explain anything to you!
So what kept Mockingjay from a perfect 10 review rating? If, like me, you're not a fan of the 'shaky cam,' then you're in for some annoyance. We're not talking Cloverfield level here, but it still managed to give me a headache. Another blunder was the camera focus. Too often was it centered on Katniss and blurring out everything else, then randomly it would switch focus and kill your eyes in the process. Creative - absolutely. But filmmaking is a sensory experience too, and my senses were frankly disturbed in those moments.
Other than the occasional question mark on style choices, the movie truly was a fantastic watch. The old cast's closeness is even more apparent and the incoming members fit in perfectly like missing puzzle pieces. Philip Seymour Hoffman fans will be pleased at his last performance, and to know he enjoys quite a bit of screen time!
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 comes out this Friday, November 21st. I highly recommend you don't miss it!