Monday, 24 November 2014
REVIEW: THE HUNGER GAMES-MOCKINGJAY PART 1.
The Hunger For More.
123 Minutes. Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Natalie Dormer, Sam Claflin, Stanley Tucci and Donald Sutherland. Director: Francis Lawrence.
Full? Had enough yet? 'The Hunger Games' getting a little too greedy? Turning one book into two films and a trilogy into the new yearly 'Harry Potter' fall, blockbuster tradition, making you forget about the dawn of 'Twilight'. And lets not even talk about 'Divergent', let alone 'The Mortal Instruments'! Hey, if 'The Hobbit' can turn something that reads like a pamphlet in relation to the 'Lord Of The Rings' into a trilogy, the worlds biggest star, Jennifer Lawrence can do whatever the hell she likes and this Christmas, after 'Catching Fire' last fall this 'Mockingjay' is set to sing and beat Bilbo, ring or not. Put that on your Christmas list and keep the change you filthy animal. This is smoking hot! The fires not out yet. It rises like the end of a 'Dark Knight' trilogy and in this day and age of big threes, Jennifer Lawrence of the Academy is a two time Oscar nominee with one big win and franchise under her bow. Inbetween rewriting Suzanne Collins' playbook, J-Law has flipped the script on her own career. Going from big blockbuster hits to Oscar parties with Bradley Cooper. Hows a trilogy with Rocket the Racoon in her winning 'Silver Linings Playbook', last years nominated 'American Hustle' and this years 'Serena' for you? Now after a Summer season of scorching hot blockbusters that seems to have been dominated by Marvel their 'Guardians Of The Galaxy', Lawrence's own 'X-Men: Days Of Future Past', 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' and 'Captain America-The Winter Soldier', these new 'Games' that begin the falls Winter, warmer blockbusters have already taken over the clunky, but money oil-rich 'Transformers: Age Of Extinction' as the highest grossing film of this year. Now that's a real monster like the 'Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes'. Smaug doesn't stand a chance against this arrow.
Bullseye! Lawrence hits the mark again and overcomes all the horrendous internet hatred (and people try to make big news out of why she won't log on to Twitter...you surprised?) that she had to cruelly suffer through via trolls and predators to stand above it all like her character does against the capital. And what character too! Even if her rebellion tries to manipulate her like a perfectly poised pawn in this political and sociological game of chess, her own inner resistance is anything but futile. Now as she fights tears, rage, bow and arrow, she torches everything she touches like her new Hawkeye arrow accessories. Legolas may have had us all like cupid last year but even he's going to clench up at this amazing, incendiary archery. Even after last years sequel and 'Hustle' that followed her 'Silver Linings' and original you would have thought the hottest actor of the moment and the legend of her already defining legacy had already had her best year. But with this, the dark drama 'Serena' and of course her scene stealing Mystique in this years 'X-Men' that was truly first class she truly makes a mainstream movie metamorphism into something none of us expected. Bringing even more emotion and acting acclaim to this episode of 'The Hunger Games' than her other Oscar worthy and worldly hits this Mockingjay truly spreads her wings. And forget whistling in allegiance because she sings on this note too. So much so that her song from this movie is already ready to hit the iTunes charts. Next they'll be screaming for an actor album like Scarlett Johannson, just like new sensation Lorde (the Jennifer Lawrence of the pop world) and her song of 'Hunger'. Lawrence of the directing Francis variety again catches his star (and no relation) on screen perfectly for a man who took the reigns of the sequel and shows its in safe, chariots of flames hands for the next two. Forget Keys, Katniss is the girl on fire.
Law isn't the only order to these 'Games' however. There's enough character here to split the next film into more easter eggs than a Sunday and Monday in late April can handle. Josh Hutcherson is back and extending his acting range again. Where even out of the games, he faces even harder challenges like his fellow opponent and love interest. It's clear this young actor is hungry for more. As is brother of 'Thor', Liam Hemsworth who has more on his acting plate with this one. Just like in the books this is where his character comes alive off the pages. And how about Katniss' significant 'other' support without the romance? Lenny Kravitz's Cinna may sadly be gone and no longer rocking with this one, but we can thank Jennifer Lawrence's muse like inspiration for his super 'Strut' album of September. Woody Harrellson is still here however, no longer holding the bar at 'Cheers' but playing it perfectly straight and sober. And even without all that dolled up make-up Elizabeth Banks shows us what she's really like and what she's really made of...and it's a prettier light than any picture of Max Factor could make-up. Stanley Tucci is also as dressed down as his character could possibly be for some stripped-down, on-screen, intimate interviews. This is no longer the show, it's the postgames analysis. Then of course there's the dearly departed, late, great Phillip Seymour Hoffman who comes in to his own in this one and it's so great to see the tragic genius having what looks like great fun here. You can't tell if it's his character or the actor constantly trying to suppress that smirk and that's the point. Add a grey-haired, 'Game Of Thrones'/'Lord Of The Rings' looking hybrid Julianne Moore to the resistance mix (and yes she's still age defying pretty even going grey) and more 'Thrones' and Hemsworth co-stars like Natalie Dormer of 'Captain America-The First Avenger' and 'Rush' fame then you have one stellar cast. All headed off by young and old greats alike, like the charming Sam Claflin and Donald Sutherland who as a master of acting with this character makes us all hate him. Now that's the mark of an actor to love. Just like the always perfectly peculiar Jeffrey Wright. Bond's Felix is now almost the Q to Katniss 007. This today however is the by the book franchise that ignites everything in its path, even if coloured in dense and charcoal pallets, for a torn texture of bombs dropping to more horror than a halloween movie and "Peacekeepers" patrolling more like 'Tron' like Stormtroopers. To kill a 'Mockingjay' you will have to bring more than fire. Like a magician hiding his ace in the hole hand until his final trick, you'll be glad this film was cut in half with a highly strung, sharp point. Ladies and gentlemen, chins up, smiles on! Let the final quarter of the games begin! TIM DAVID HARVEY.