Mockingjay- Part 1 is easily the most mature and grim picture of the Hunger Games series. It is also the one devoid of any gloss and practically sans its characteristic over the top style and glitz. Transforming from a film which was in close proximity to the Japanese Batoru Rowaiaru and the American Condemned, Mockingjay-Part 1 quickly turns into an absorbing drama using the incidents of the first two films as its fodder to fuel the emotions. The film works as a political thriller showing us how the seeds of rebellion planted by Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) not only found voice with the commons but also led them to rise up against the oppressive Capitol. This is the first part of two films which will end this series and it’s no wonder that the film leaves off at a crucial juncture leaving the viewers on the edge waiting for the final installment which will be out next year.
The film starts off where the last installment left off. Katniss ends the Hunger Games shooting an arrow at the force field bringing down the house once and for all. She is rescued by Plutarch Heavensbee(Philip Seymour Hoffman) who brings her to District 13 which is an underground city beneath the rubble of what used to be the District 13. While she is recuperating, her home, District 12 is annihilated but her love Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and her family survives the raids. Once recovered, Katniss meets President Coin (Julianne Moore) of District 13 who urges her to be the Mockingjay for the rebellion. She agrees to help in the rebellion only if the president agrees to free and save the other tributes including Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). Peeta however has turned to the Capitol and starts giving out speeches which are against the rebellion and Katniss as a whole.
The film shows a substantial amount of carnage though mostly off screen but the suggestive mayhem accentuated by a touching background score will send shivers down your spine in more than one occasion. Katniss’ visit to one of the districts where she shoots down a Capitol bomber is the only time she takes part in action. The scene however will impress you to a great extent. The two acts of rebellion from two different districts involving bombing a canal and blowing up the Capitol forces on the ground in another are filmed with fury and vigor. These two scenes also happen at critical junctures elevating the effect of the scene as a whole.
The chemistry between Katniss and Gale or should I say the lost chemistry between the two is given ample scope which in most of the situation is viewed through the eyes of Gale. The scene where he tells Katniss that it is only his pain that tends to bring him to her attention only underlines the faltering chemistry between the two which is by the way heartening to watch. Everytime the two get cozy, the thought or mention of Peeta separates them. The climax in which Gale volunteers to go save Peeta from the Capitol is almost ironic. The characters of President Coin and Heavensbee are well fleshed out. Their roles acquire importance owing to the effect that their characters have on Katniss and also for the fact that Katniss is given her purpose and tools to achieve it by them.
President Snow (Donald Sutherland) as the sadistic and suave oppressor from the Capitol takes his hateful act a step forward as he unleashes hell of epic proportion on the subjects of the districts. His mind game to get the better of the Mockingjay by torturing the one she loves in order to torture her is a treat to watch. The final conversation between the two in which he has a sadistic smile on his face all throughout, is an affective experience. Josh Hutcherson has a limited role but does excel in his little appearance towards the end.
Overall Mockingjay is unlike any of the previous Hunger Games films and it will surely have its takers and detractors. However it goes beyond saying that this is the most humane of the lot and it successfully transforms the characters from boys and girls into men and women. The final installment will tell whether or not the Collins’ story is successfully adapted for the screen but if this film was to be an indication, the director seems to be on the right track.