The Hunger Games: Mock­ing­jay Part One

The For- Everdeen War

SFX - - Cinema -

Re­lease Date: 16 March

2014 | 12 | Blu- ray/ DVD Direc­tor: Fran­cis Lawrence Cast: Jen­nifer Lawrence, Josh Hutch­er­son, Liam Hemsworth, Don­ald Suther­land, Philip Sey­mour Hoffman, Ju­lianne Moore

It seems un­fair

– and in­ac­cu­rate – to keep pi­geon­hol­ing The Hunger Games as a Young Adult fran­chise. Sure, the se­ries’ orig­i­nal tar­get mar­ket was teenagers, but Kat­niss Everdeen’s fight to lib­er­ate Panem from Pres­i­dent Snow and his Capitol cronies wouldn’t have pulled in bil­lions of dol­lars at the box of­fice if it didn’t have rather broader ap­peal. As if to prove the point, Mock­ing­jay – Part One is where the se­ries grows up, a movie that deals with adult themes while pack­ing one hell of an emo­tional punch.

This may be The Hunger Games with­out any ac­tual games, but you never feel there’s any­thing miss­ing from the mix. What’s lost in terms of vis­ceral, high- con­cept fights to the death is made up for by an in­creased feel­ing of gritty verisimil­i­tude. The peo­ple in the op­pressed Dis­tricts out­side the Capitol are des­per­ately strug­gling for their free­dom, and in this third movie you get a sense of why they’re pre­pared to risk their lives fight­ing back.

Kat­niss her­self has not emerged from two rounds of Games un­scathed. With fel­low sur­vivor Peeta be­ing held cap­tive by Snow, she’s emo­tion­ally bruised by her ex­pe­ri­ences, and a more in­ter­est­ing char­ac­ter for it – af­ter all, a re­luc­tant hero is al­ways more com­pelling than a fear­less, gung- ho one.

Re­lo­cated to the mil­i­tarised bunker of the free Dis­trict 13, she’s way fur­ther out of her com­fort zone than she ever was in the Games. Here she’s a po­lit­i­cal pawn, ma­nip­u­lated by the re­sis­tance into be­com­ing the Mock­ing­jay, the face of a pro­pa­ganda war. It’s a role she’s com­pletely un­suited to – her act­ing in “propo” films is hi­lar­i­ously bad – and it’s only when she gets out into the field, re­act­ing to the atroc­i­ties com­mit­ted by Snow’s forces ( this is a guy who’ll hap­pily bomb a hos­pi­tal), that the Mock­ing­jay starts to sing.

Jen­nifer Lawrence is as bril­liant as ever in the lead role, and the only rea­son she doesn’t steal the show is that she’s sur­rounded by some phe­nom­e­nal act­ing tal­ent – the sort of names ( Ju­lianne Moore, the late Philip Sey­mour Hoffman) who have tra­di­tion­ally been in the mix come Os­car sea­son. Don­ald Suther­land’s Pres­i­dent Snow, mean­while, has evolved into one of the great movie vil­lains of re­cent years. He plays the dic­ta­tor with a mix of glee and evil men­ace – he’s like a kid pulling wings off a fly as he toys with the re­sis­tance, and the plea­sure he takes in his game of Kat­niss- and- mouse makes him all the more chill­ing.

Split­ting the fi­nal Hunger Games in two also feels like a good idea. If Kat­niss’s evo­lu­tion into pro­pa­ganda tool had just been the first act of an all- ac­tion fi­nale, care­fully judged char­ac­ter beats and the sense of a world on the cusp of re­bel­lion would have been lost. Of course, the un­for­tu­nate con­se­quence is that this first half of Mock­ing­jay is com­prised of noth­ing but mid­dle, lack­ing no dis­cernible be­gin­ning or end. It’s that lack of struc­ture that pre­vents the movie scal­ing the heights of its pre­de­ces­sors, but by now it’s clear that the film­mak­ers are so com­fort­able with the ma­te­rial that Part Two should be one hell of a closing act to the saga.

A movie that deals with adult themes while pack­ing one hell of an emo­tional punch

Ex­tras: Few new re­leases get a bonus pack­age this com­pre­hen­sive. On the Blu- ray ( rated) the cen­tre­piece is “The Mock­ing­jay Lives: The Mak­ing Of

Mock­ing­jay Part One” ( 134 min­utes), an epic, seven- part doc that runs for longer than the movie, and tells you pretty much ev­ery­thing you could ever want to know about it. Loads of stars, direc­tor Fran­cis Lawrence, pro­ducer Nina Ja­cob­son and a bunch of be­hind- the- scenes tech tal­ent dis­cuss ev­ery­thing from split­ting Suzanne Collins’s fi­nal novel to designing the vast un­der­ground bunkers of Dis­trict 13 – and Effie Trin­ket’s mas­cara. In fact, it’s so re­lent­lessly packed that at times you’re left feel­ing it could have been cut back by half an hour or so and still cov­ered the key bases.

The first of the nine deleted scenes es­sen­tially amounts to Kat­niss walk­ing through a cor­ri­dor, but for­tu­nately it’s not an in­di­ca­tor of what’s to come – much of the 11 min­utes of ex­cised ma­te­rial here could have hap­pily re­mained in the movie, par­tic­u­larly any­thing in­volv­ing Don­ald Suther­land. It’s a shame that Fran­cis Lawrence and Nina Ja­cob­son don’t con­tinue their com­pre­hen­sive fea­ture com­men­tary into the deleted scenes to ex­plain why they were snipped.

Other bits and pieces in­clude the cast pay­ing trib­ute to the late Philip Sey­mour Hoffman in the touch­ing “Straight From The Heart” ( 11 min­utes), Kiwi singer Lorde ex­plain­ing how she cu­rated the sound­track in “Songs Of Re­bel­lion” ( eight min­utes), her mu­sic vid for theme tune “Yel­low Flicker Beat”, and a sneak peek at Diver­gent se­quel

In­sur­gent ( four min­utes). DVD buy­ers just get the com­men­tary, the deleted scenes, and the In­sur­gent pre­view. Richard Ed­wards

And the win­ner of Brown World’s Best Dressed Per­son con­test is…

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