The young adult dystopia finally grows up.
Director: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth
Release: OUT NOW!
Running time: 12A
The final book in Suzanne Collins’ blockbuster young adult drama was a hurried mess that seemed anxious to get its heroine – Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) – from A to B as quickly as possible, so the author could slope off and have a nice cup of tea as a reward. The big-screen version, on the other hand – split so controversially into two parts – couldn’t hurry the plot if it tried.
The first part slowed things down so much that you could almost see the paint drying on the sets, while the finale is filled with endless scenes of characters sitting in demolished buildings and moaning about their lot, as Katniss looks like she’s about to throw up from worry. As a character drama, it’s certainly compelling – and the cast are magnificent – but if you want action, you have to wait a long time between set pieces.
Thankfully, those bursts of action are worth it. They’re violent, spectacular and twisted in a pure horror-film way (parents, be warned, this film’s 12A certificate is hugely misleading, particularly during a tense, Aliens-esque tunnel journey). The theme that “war is hell” may be delivered with all the subtlety of a brick but it’s obviously true, and the film’s final act, which is rather confusing in the book, is an immensely satisfying one on screen. Best of all, Julianne Moore and Donald Sutherland have a ball as the two leaders determined to oust each other, with Sutherland’s surprisingly Puckish charms turning the entire finale on its head with a beautiful inevitability.
It was a huge gamble to stretch the story in that final book, and at times here the plotting does feel stretched. But when things snap back into place, the result is a tense, compelling and, most of all, human adventure with a genuinely iconic star. All hail the Mockingjay. Review by Lance Freeman
This review originally appeared in MYM magazine #44 – out now. For more information click here.