As the calm before the storm, this does exactly what is required to nicely build up to the hopefully explosive climax.
Much like what the first parts of Harry Potter’s Deathly Hallows and The Twilight Saga’s Breaking Dawn did when they split the final book of their series’ into two movies – this has a methodical pacing that is ultimately devoid of any real big action set-pieces.
Those expecting the thrills n’ spills of the gladiatorial games that made the first two films so appealing, could be a tad disappointed if you’re looking for a high-octane adventure – as this brave change of pace offers a smarter and darker political diversion.
It won’t be everyone’s cup-of-tea, but fans of the franchise should still enjoy the character development and general storyline arc, as Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen turns into the district’s inspirational ‘Mockingjay’ mascot, with Julianne Moore’s President Coin looking to lead an uprising against the communist regime of the Capitol now the deadly games are no more.
And this is where the film is at it’s most intriguing, as Katniss struggles to find the motivation to become the rebels’ media pawn, but when her emotion kicks in (especially after seeing her home District devastated) Lawrence and her character really spread their wings once again – particularly when she realises that Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) is under President Snow’s (Donald Sutherland) control.
While it never really gets out of third gear throughout, the time spent with the supporting characters – played by Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman – adds a broader spectrum for movie-goers to experience the bigger dystopian Hunger Games world.
Outside of that, this is nothing really more than noteworthy fare – hampered by Suzanne Collins’ final book being cut in half – that isn’t essential if you’re only viewing the movie as a stand-alone experience.
But, even though it doesn’t exactly catch fire, it proves to be a solid-enough entry that should leave most fans satisfied.
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Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Julianne Moore, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Natalie Dormer, Sam Claflin, Mahershala Ali, Stanley Tucci, Jeffrey Wright & Jena Malone
Running Time: 2 Hrs 3 Mins
Director: Francis Lawrence[youtube id=”3PkkHsuMrho” width=”600″ height=”350″]