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Hollywood Product: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1

Director Francis Lawrence focuses on propaganda and little else in frachise's third installment

GENRE: Dystopian adventure

THE PITCH: Shell-shocked and battle worn tribute Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) has trouble coping with life in District 13. Her thoughts are primarily on Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), who was left behind during the rescue attempt by the rebellion. Now Katniss must become the symbol of the rebellion — the Mockingjay — and attempt to free Peeta from the Capitol. Based on the third and final book in the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins.

MONEY SHOT: Katniss, Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and a film crew visit District 8 that was recently attacked by Capitol forces. When bombers approach the district again, the rebel cell, Katniss and the detail from District 13, fight to repel the air fleet.

BEST LINE: Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) does her best to apply some sense of style to the drab, monotone military clothing rationed by the leaders of District 13. Upon reuniting with Katniss, she explains her fashion conundrum after her wigs were confiscated. Wearing a head wrap she muses, “Everything old can be made new again, like democracy.”

OUTFITS EFFIE FASHIONS FROM MILITARY CLOTHING: 6

ATLWood: Mockingjay was shot in several locations in Georgia including the City of Rockmart, the Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta, and the Caldwell Tanks in Newton. The remaining footage was shot in and around Paris, France.

IN VINO VERITAS: District 13’s strict military-style governing is hard on everyone, including tribute and mentor Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson). They prohibit drugs and alcohol so he’s forced to go sober. In a conversation with Katniss regarding the alliance with the district’s President Coin (Julianne Moore) Haymitch replies, “I can’t normally support that woman considering the prohibition they have there.”

NUMBER OF TIMES KATNISS CRIES: 7

NUMBER OF TIMES KATNISS CRIES HYSTERICALLY: 6

BOTTOM LINE: Director Francis Lawrence places a magnifying glass on the integral role of wartime propaganda in his follow up to Catching Fire. Very little energy is spent on action and character relationships which leaves us with a series of negotiations and lengthy monologues that set up the eminent battle between the districts and the Capitol in the upcoming Mockingjay – Part 2. Lawrence use of closeups and quick, point-of-view camera cuts add an almost news or reality TV feel to action sequences as Katniss explores the ravaged districts and the ongoing rebellions. The behind-the-scenes theme feels current and shot with a honest sense of relevancy as if it's ripped from today’s headlines, but unfortunately it's not as entertaining as the film's predecessors since little focus is placed on the characters. Lawrence as Katniss is essentially loosed upon Panam as the emotionally volatile and often-hysterical heroine while her costars are relegated as props to establish new central characters introduced for the series’ conclusion. Philip Seymour Hoffman and new cast member Moore are a delightful to see, while Harrelson and Banks deliver the perfectly timed comedic relief we’ve come to expect from them.

Mockingjay – Part 1 is a thoughtful and cinematically stylized approach to Collin’s original story that’s good enough to hold the attention of fans, but may be a little underwhelming in a general sense due to its lack of action.

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