The hiring of director Francis Lawrence was easily and shockingly the best decision made by the studio for last year’s CATCHING FIRE and for MOCKINGJAY PART 1 & 2. That’s not to say there weren’t plenty of other qualified directors that could turn in equally impressive films, but sometimes continuously passing the torch can create a disconnect from the direction a series is going. Lawrence, being able to continue momentum from CATCHING FIRE is able to bridge audiences from the final chaos of that film into the far less action packed set-up that is MOCKINGJAY PART 1. I’m normally not a fan of this trend of taking the final book in a series and stretching it to two movies, but in this case Lawrence is able to expand the landscape and let the set pieces have room to breathe. With the games now in the rear view the action this time has more meaning and the film as a whole hits harder than its predecessors- though still at a level of its YA target audience.
If you haven’t seen the previous films I can only speculate why you’d be reading this, but obviously spoilers are ahead for aspects of the previous movies. MOCKINGJAY PART 1 picks up where CATCHING FIRE left off- Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is in what remains of District 13, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) is being held captive in the Capitol as a rebellion is quickly growing. The leader of District 13, President Coin (Julianne Moore), along with Plutarch (Philip Seymour Hoffman) want to use Katniss’ Mockingjay symbol as the spark to ignite a full on rebellion against the Capitol and Katniss as the face of said rebellion. With a series of propaganda broadcasts calling for all districts to join the fight the Capitol deploys a series of broadcasts meant to undermine District 13’s efforts and make Katniss question whether or not what she is doing is really for the good of Panem. (more…)