Following the devastation of the ‘Quarter Quell’ games, Katniss finds herself in the supposedly ruined District 13. Here she will learn and live with the choices she had made in previous games and ultimately find herself the centrepiece of the rebellion against the capital.
Before we begin, I want to put aside previous reservations I had on this series. When the original Hunger Games was released, I dismissed it as a schmaltzy, Battle Royale rehash for the teen novel-to-screen market in the wake of the success of the Twilight Series. Kids killing kids in a dangerous enclosed environment for the sake of government say so? Yeah seen it, and love it the Japanese cult classic. However, persuade somewhat by my wife I gave it a go, only to confirm all my original thoughts. Then I watched the second, and it was here that I began to take the series a little more seriously as the political undertones and own ideas became more apparent, in fact I’d go as far to say that I was impressed by Catching Fire and had me converted. Now here we are at the of course now divided third chapter (which we will come to) and things have really got interesting…
Jennifer Lawrence continues to as Katniss Everdeen as the face of the films through the series alongside Josh Hustcherson as Peet. Though the two have both been highly prominent in the previous two films, their separation has allowed Lawrence to take the reins and prove she can truly hold the film. In stories where a character is presented great levels of responsibility, there is a fine line to tread between displaying emotion with the weight of the world on top of you, and teenage angsty blah (see Toby Maguire in Sam Raimi’s Spiderman series). Lawrence seems to fall between these the two camps, stepping from genuine emotional strain as she struggles to cope with being the face of the rebellion, to pouty gloomy angst. I can hardly blame her though; the whole film struggles to stretch a book the same length as the previous two, into a bloated timeframe with nothing to show for it.
Most of the film is spent with characters talking, with little action save a few dramatic scenes that feel like they were put in to keep the audience awake. It lumbers along the two hour runtime with so much of the dialogue disposable in what ultimately leads to the build up for the big finale…in the next film. I spent most of the time simply waiting for something to happen, and while the drama and rousing speeches are here to build Katniss into a leader for the rebels, it just adds to the anticipation for the big pay-out in Part 2. There is clearly money to be made from this ‘Divide and Conquer’ tactic of dividing films, shown by Mockingjays’ box office rakings, but for audiences expecting something for the money, this film has just left me with a Hunger (That’s a pun…)
An overall interesting character development piece with little to show in the 128 minute runtime, but worth seeing for another solid performance from Phillip Seymour Hoffman (RIP). Fans will love it and serves as a big prick tease for all the action to come in Part 2, but for now back to the waiting game.
Words by Andrew Marshall