When I went to see [The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1](movie:446261) on Tuesday, I knew not what to expect. I've read the books, so I already knew the twists and the turns of the storyline. But both of the first two films opened up an ultimately superior vision of just what this story is to how I envisioned it. And of course Jennifer Lawrence kicks numerous types of ass in everything she does. All this in mind, I walked into the surprisingly crowded theater, sat down much closer to the screen than I would've liked, and started watching. A few nauseating trailers for Pitch Perfect 2, Insurgent, and Annie later, the movie began.
Hunger Games 3: The Plot
Like I said, I've already read the books, so I'm immune to any plot twists that were thrown my way. But boy were there lots of them. What non-reader could've expected what happened at Katniss and Peeta's reunion? Or President Snow's unexpected awareness of the ongoing retrieval mission?
Not since [The Avengers](movie:9040) has any movie so solidly held my attention so continuously. Every second had something exciting going on. Even by severely limiting the roles of Finnick, Haymitch, Peeta, and Johanna, the character development of Katniss, Prim, and even Plutarch (a flawless Phillip Seymour Hoffman performance) was enough to keep the movie going at a steady pace.
First of all, I've never been a fan of Josh Hutcherson's acting. In anything. He's in this thing for less than ten cumulative minutes, but he actually did a good job. The climatic scene near the end (I'll avoid spoilers) was brilliantly portrayed. But what most people will overlook is that he's not just tortured for one scene-he's being torn apart inside for the whole damn movie. His (Peeta, not Josh) acting across from Stanley Tucci's Caesar Flickerman is through gritted teeth, and this can truly be observed in his psychotic break just before the Capitol takes him into the lab. It's masterful.
Jennifer Lawrence, as usual, was fantastic. She was basically a frightened bystander for the majority of the first two installments, but now she's a strong leader, ready to take war to the gates of the Capitol. Each retaliation to her efforts just pisses her off more, and at one point you're just waiting for her to snap. But she doesn't. She stays resilient, and you can tell from her actions that Snow's empire is crumbling. Lawrence wears the part on her being as Katniss does the Mockingjay pin.
The rest of the cast is also at their best. Woody Harrelson's Haymitch has never been funnier, erasing important documents and complaining about "prohibition". Julianne Moore gives us a leader we're not sure if we should put out trust in. Liam Hemsworth ups the ante as a cautious but bold warrior for the rebellion. And best of all, Sam Clafin delivers a scene-stealing speech as Finnick O'Dair, telling the citizens of the Capitol all the atrocities committed upon him by Snow. This is easily one of the best-acted movies in recent memory.
I have one small complaint about this movie: the peacekeepers look too much like storm troopers. But that's it, because everything else is flat out incredible. Watching a nation unite against tyranny is reminiscent of our own American Revolution. Seeing an entire colony of refugees in District 13 is hauntingly captivating. As a whole, this movie completely immerses you into the world of Panem.
We're lulled around the landscape of movie genres, as elements of The Hurt Locker, The Wrath of Khan, War Horse, The Patriot, and I Am Legend are thrown tastefully in to form a unique, evolving journey of a movie. Throughout all the districts, different types of escalating disobedience provide an array of different angles to look at the central problem, which is a brilliant if unused idea.
But the absolute peak of the movie is when Jennifer Lawrence sings the war song that would inspire millions to fight, all while peacefully sitting by a river. It's a film-making triumph that seals the audience as captives to their emotions for the rest of the film's duration. It's magnificent.
There's no doubt that Hunger Games 3: Mockingjay: Part 1 is the franchise's best film so far. It only ups the anticipation for the fourth and final chapter. I can't wait.