With the dystopian series about to come to a close, the first half of the two-part adventure, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I, makes for a good setup to the final showdown with President Snow and his Capital battalion of futuristic soldiers. It’s a tense watch, even on DVD, despite the fact that there are no more games following Katniss’ destructive lightning-charged arrow of freedom in Catching Fire and action is less full-tilt than on the last two films.
The third instalment of the film was released on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download on the 16th March 2015, following on from the big screen release in November. It covers the first half of the Suzanne Collins book of the same name, with Mockinjay: Part II closing things out for the second half when it hits the big screen on the 20th November 2015, so if you haven’t seen Part I yet, there’s still a little time to catch up.
The story picks up with Katniss recovering in District 13, following the lightning-bolt shock and Plutarch Heavensbee’s surprise rescue of her, Beetee and Finnick from the Games dome. Peeta and the other contestants don’t make it out though, and the scene is set for the start of the rebellion as Snow starts his ruthless retaliation against them all.
Jennifer Lawrence (X-Men: Apocalypse) is as solid as ever as the distraught Katniss Everdeen as she faces the choice of whether or not to become District 13’s champion, the Mockingjay. She has a number of tough scenes and handles them well, even when she’s meant to be acting out being bad at delivering lines as a part of the district’s propaganda broadcasts against President Snow’s brutal regime.
She’s not alone though in her acting merits as a fair few of the other cast members deliver their performances well, including Josh Hutcherson (Epic), who is surprisingly good in his role as the captured voice of the Capital, Peeta Mellark. The intensity of his transformation is slow and palpable as he builds the story up to its midway cliffhanger in preparation for the final outing in The Hunger Games series. Even Liam Hemsworth (Independence Day: Resurgence) has a few good moments in the raw end of the love triangle.
There’s also a good amount of acting powerhouse might from the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), who plays Plutarch Heavensbee, and Julianne Moore (Still Alice), who takes on the role of President Coin, the leader of District 13. They bring a lot of quality to the film, and you can’t help but buy into it all the more as a result of their presence, especially the incredibly serious nature of Moore’s performance. All of this works very well set against the indomitable force of Donald Sutherland as President Coriolanus Snow with a little light humour from Woody Harrelson (Free Birds) as Haymitch Abernathy and Elizabeth Banks (Lego Movie) as Effie Trinket.
Director, Francis Lawrence has put in a decent effort of getting the best out of the cast and the strength of the Danny Strong and Peter Craig screenplay. It makes for a convincing movie, which is boosted by well placed special effects and great consumes, doing the much-loved book the credit that it’s fans deserve.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I definitely feels like it’s just that, the first half of a wider culminating story, so it inevitably has no real resolution to look forward to. However, within the confines of that it does well to deliver such palpable tension. It takes itself seriously, which works well with the dystopian nightmare at its centre, and builds the tension for an epic culmination in Part II this winter.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I DVD review: 3.7/5