The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1

This is merely a prelude to the finale of a phenomenal trilogy (Part 2 is in post-production) that has launched many careers. We have watched as our dauntless young heroine was thrust into a life-and-death struggle representing post-apocalyptic District 12 in their notorious annual games; we have watched her retain her humanity despite cruel odds; and we have watched the President of Panem realize that she inadvertently became a symbol of revolution to an enslaved population.

The drama continues... This two-hour, PG-13 actioner is inspired by Suzanne Collins' Young Adult series.  She adapted "Mockingjay" with collaborators Danny Strong ("Lee Daniels' The Butler") and Peter Craig ("The Town") from her book. This episode and its final half in 2015 are both directed by Francis Lawrence ("Hunger Games: Catching Fire"), so we know he understands the big picture. A good thing, too: This is just a glorified preview to the last half, but if each "Hunger Games" outing averages over $650M, stockholders would have a cow if this final book was condensed into a single film.

Here is a small part of a HUGE cast:
  • Donald Sutherland ("Hunger Games") President Snow sees a clear and present danger to Panem's carefully crafted peace...and its name is Katniss Everdeen!
  • Jennifer Lawrence (Oscar for "Silver Linings Playbook") Katniss is overwhelmed by the responsibilities thrust upon her by the desperate people. People want to kiss her, kill her or be her. It's clear that Katniss is a terrible actress when she tries to make inspiring Public Service Announcements for the rebels, but after an attack by government forces she rages, "If we burn, you burn with us!" and she is redeemed.
  • Josh Hutcherson ("Hunger Games") Peeta was trying to protect Katniss because he loved her but something has gone seriously wrong. It is vital that he be rescued from The Capitol immediately.
  • Liam Hemsworth ("Hunger Games") Gale is surviving with his broken heart, knowing Katniss loves him, but not THAT way....
  • Woody Harrelson ("Hunger Games") Haymitch is still trying to coach Katniss, but this situation is new to him, too! And to make things worse, the rebel faction has outlawed alcohol!
  • Willow Shields ("Hunger Games") Primrose can only admire her older sister Katniss, and pray for her safety (and that of her scroungy cat)!
  • Elizabeth Banks ("Hunger Games") Our ever-chirpy and out- rageously overdressed Effie Trinket is back, but this time, she is reduced to wearing dingy turbans! We feel her pain...
  • Stanley Tucci ("Hunger Games") No episode would be complete without the smarmy TV host, Caesar Flickerman. He elicits some upsetting statements from Peeta that are broadcast to the rebels.
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Hunger Games") When Plutarch said, "Everyone can be replaced," it chilled me, but I see that the late Mr. H. will appear in the final film through digital wizardry.
Expect plenty of action, tempered by plenty of humanity: Katniss is reflexively kind and protective. There will be no sweaty bodies, no profanity and only a bit of well-timed blowie uppie stuff. This series has retained its high quality throughout. We expect no less.

Our sold-out opening-weekend crowd at Seattle's newly updated Cinerama theater held quite a surprise for ME: the closed-caption device didn't work! I was, however, treated to outstanding customer service, so there are no hard feelings. I had to see this in another theater, but the excellent sound engineering on this one made me wonder if closed captions were even necessary. Whew!

By the way, the ubiquitous three-fingered salute used by rebels in the "Hunger Games" series has now been outlawed indefinitely by the government of Thailand. Moviegoers are being arrested. Hmmm.... I wonder why?
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Here is a sample of the action:
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