‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1’ Offers Less Action More Emotion

The games have been obliterated, but the fight to survive continues in this 3rd installment which sees Katniss and the crew trying to take down The Capitol.

SS_D8-3371.dngIt opens without a recap but picks up where 2 left off. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), who destroyed the Hunger Games in the last installment has been rescued by revolutionary soldiers and has found refuge with the crew in District 13. A drab underground fortress run by a stern gray-haired President Coin (Julianne Moore), it’s there she discovers that her boyfriend Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) didn’t make it to the district.

Peeta, to her horror, is being held, manipulated and brainwashed in The Capitol by President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Determined to rescue him, she strikes a deal with President Coin to join the revolution and help the District overtake the capital city and rid the nation of its fascistic President Snow.

It’s a premise that sets the stage for plenty of action with big battle scenes and sequences as we envision the entire districts banding together to obliterate a common enemy, but instead, what we are left with are emotional shots of destroyed districts as Snow and Coin stage a public-relations campaign with propaganda videos to rally the other districts.SS_D12-5170.dng

The bows and arrows Katniss is saddled with are barely put to good use. It’s a franchise that thrived on action and adventure, but instead of the action, director Francis Lawrence now offers us a war of words between President Coin and Snow with a passive Katniss emotionally reacting to a string of horrors she witnesses – most especially the torture of Peeta.

It’s not to say “MockJay” isn’t a decent film, but the expectations of a shakedown and showdown and a chance to finally see the sadistic President Snow get a taste of his own medicine isn’t there so this ends up being stretched, unsatisfactory and an unnecessary tease to part 2, which releases next year.

Mahershala Ali joins the cast

Returning to this installment is tech-savvy Beetee (Jeffrey Wright) who has an integral role in hacking the digital security cameras of The Capitol. The late Philip Seymour Hoffman (the film is dedicated to him) also returns as Plutarch Heavensbee, the former Hunger Games commissioner. New additions include Evan Ross and President Coin’s right-hand man, Boggs, played by Mahershala Ali who is best known for his film and television roles in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Place Beyond the Pines” and the series “House of Cards.”

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1″ releases in theaters on November 21.

Pictured (top) Jennifer Lawrence; (middle) Jeffrey Wright; (bottom left) Mahershala Ali  (Photo Credit: Murray Close).

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