Director: Francis Lawrence
It's a rare thing to encounter a movie that not only honors, but elevates its source material. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One does just that.
The movie spares no time dropping you into the story, leaving you completely responsible for remembering where the last one left off (which is to the fans' benefit). Don't expect to pop in on this film without some exposure to the franchise: you'll find yourself confused, and as the films thus far have been good, and the book series fantastic, you're really doing yourself a disservice if you don't at the very least see the other films first.
Katniss (having been rescued from the Quarter Quell at the end of Catching Fire) finds herself in District 13, somewhere the Capitol has for years said was destroyed as an example of what happens when a District tries to rise up against the ruling Capitol, which ultimately, was the reason for the first Hunger Games.
She finds her mother, sister, and Gale living there, saved from her District and is soon convinced by Plutarch (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), President Coin (Julianne Moore) and a newly sober Haymitch (Woody Harelson) to become the face of the rebellion, the Mockingjay.
Meanwhile, The Capitol is on damage control; airing interviews with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and speeches from President Snow (Donald Sutherland) after Katniss's explosive exit from the Quarter Quell, trying desperately to maintain the status quo. But with Katniss and Co. spreading word of her survival and the growing rebellion, Snow is unable to quiet the unrest in the other Districts.
Mockingjay is an amazing film. Even in its quieter moments, the film and its stellar cast hold you and keep you. It is moving, funny, and though fans of the book series will know what to expect, it is still well done so that you will find yourself pulled deeper into the action and the struggles of the characters as the film unfolds.
Jennifer Lawrence is stunning: she is controlled, powerful, and somehow still effortless in her reprised role as Katniss Everdeen. Watching her is engrossing: she is singing by a river one moment and delivering powerful, weighty speeches another. She does this all with this impressive gravitas expertly balanced with soft moments of tenderness, fragility, and humor.
Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, as he has been in the series thus far, is full of fantastically dry humor that comes in just as it is needed the most.
Really and truly a movie for its fans, Mockingjay is a movie that truly warrants being seen in theaters.
4 out of 5 stars.