Mockingjay Part 1_DVD RET_3D_PackshotDirector: Francis Lawrence

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Mahershala Ali, Jeffrey Wright, Donald Sutherland, Sam Claflin, Josh Hutcherson

Running Time: 121 Minutes

Certificate: 12A

After shooting that poisoned arrow into the sky and putting up the rebellious umbrella to protect themselves from the Capitol’s reign, we pick up inside the aftermath with THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 1, also known as, Katniss has caused the rebellion to commence.

Jennifer Lawrence is certainly and obviously the solid centre within the whole HUNGER GAMES trilogy and I often feel a lesser actor wouldn’t bring the same gravitas to an important fictional character. When you consider the progression of narrative that includes delving deep inside democracy and lessons of free speech, plus a possible undertone of communism, it’s an enormous story that’s well done among a plethora of similar dystopian-esque worlds that begin to get a bit boring.

Having only read the early books, I was dragged in and enjoyed the first two film adaptations but now we’ve reached a stage where this two-parter doesn’t feel as relevant and stinks a little of studio intervention despite a huge narrative to tell. There’s too many similar moments that try to kick home the ‘look at all the pain and devastation’ as the Districts are shown to be ripped apart either by rebellion or President Snow’s attack on the places they once or briefly called home.

Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to love this first part more but it plods along at a steady pace with few challenges. For the age group it’s connecting with, it certainly raises a lot of questions and turns up the killing, rebelling, strangling and torture but what is Mockingjay really saying and about whom?

THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 1 is far superior to the comparable themed young adult stories that surround us currently and as mentioned before, this has a lot to do with the pure, raw talent of Jennifer Lawrence. It also helps that a strong ensemble cast that includes the late, brilliant Philip Seymour Hoffman surrounds her. There are notable spots for Julianne Moore and Woody Harrelson plus on the fringes Tucci and Banks being impressive as always. Liam Hemsworth is also one who moves to the front with a strong performance as Hutcherson continues to be okay and Sutherland hams it towards the Nth degree.

All these elements give this franchise an extra step ahead in the race for the coveted YA top spot but is the flag waning? It’s not The Hunger Games fault but there’s a growing collection with this genre that lack in a real-world reflection but, somewhere, I’ve got faith that Part 2 will bring it back to its best. Looking ahead, we know Katniss is up for the fight and we get to keep the cat, so that’s a positive.

[usr=3] THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 1 is released on Blu-ray & DVD Monday March 16th, and is available across digital platforms 24 hours earlier on Sunday March 15th.