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Hunger Games Mockingjay: Part 1

The Hunger Games

Mockingjay: Part 1.

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Willow Shields, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland (Rated M – 123 min).

Picking up right where Catching Fire ended, this third installment of The Hunger Games yet again exceeded expectations thrilling my senses and jostling me deep into the cinema seat with unrelenting tension. In my wildest cinema dreams, I never thought this young adult series would be so riveting, dismissing it on speculation as a teenage version of retro gems The Running Man, or lesser known but equally as cool, Surviving the Game.

Suzanne Collins book fans will not be disappointed with focused adaptation of the darker elements. The need to tie up loose ends gives way for a whole new canvas here, less combat more story arcing drama. The range of costume design remains equally diverse.

I’ve said it before, Jennifer Lawrence acts beyond her years taking absolute command of her screen time and plows with distinction as flawless archer heroine to the people Katniss Everdeen. Now the face of a revolution, Katniss becomes invested in the safety of her friend Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) who is being conditioned on what to say by the menacing President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Peeta is rolled out on television giving announcements to quell proceedings against Snow. Factions are uprising to takeover Snow’s Capitol with varied results. This is where evocative treatment of celebrity culture and media influence is explored in a negative light.

As ever, under duress complications emerge, romance clouds judgement while secret conspiracies keep political power players in limbo from one another usually. The handpicked cast are all superb, endless in talent, while the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman is given a nice moment of respect.

New additions Julianne Moore (Magnolia) as the leader of the opposing faction and Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones) as Cressida have fine tuned involvement. Not enough of confident Johanna unfortunately, Jenna Malone gives the sarcasm of her character an unforgettable brief hilarious extended cameo.

Moving forward throughout sporadic action, dramatic confrontations laced with occasional humour, the literal cliffhanging finale will only leave you counting the days until Mockingjay Part 2 next year.

Shane A. Bassett

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