Granger on Movies: 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1'
How often have you heard movie-goers complain that parts of their favorite book were cut in the movie version? That's not true of this third installment in the dystopian action adventure.
Every grim detail of Suzanne Collins' final book in her best-selling YA trilogy has been faithfully rendered by new-to-the-series screenwriters Peter Craig and Danny Strong -- in order to pad it out until next year's conclusion.
Having been rescued from her second Hunger Games, the Quarter Quell, by a rebel alliance, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is sequestered in District 13's subterranean hideout. Her home, District 12, has been reduced to rubble, although her beloved little sister Prim (Willow Shields) and mother escaped.
Led by steely-eyed, ambitious President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) and the former gamemaker-turned-advisor, Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died while "Mockingjay" was in production), the insurgency is preparing to liberate Panem's Capitol from vicious, oppressive President Coriolanus Snow (Donald Sutherland). And brave, bow-wielding Katniss becomes their symbolic Mockingjay, the defiant figurehead of the revolution.
"Revolutions are like fires: they need to be nurtured," explains Plutarch.
Cloaked in a drab, funeral pallor, there are few battle sequences and none of the glitzy costume changes of "Catching Fire," although ever-chirpy Effie Trinket (Elisabeth Banks) tries her best. Instead, director Francis Lawrence concentrates on feisty Katniss' inner turmoil, as she's torn between loyal Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) and her confidante/partner Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), who is being held captive. Plus there are preparations for the climactic battle between the two contending forces.
Woody Harrelson is back as Katniss' alcoholic mentor Haymitch Abernathy, as is Sam Clafin as her District 4 friend Finnick Odair and Stanley Tucci as TV inquisitor Caesar Flickerman. New to the cast are Natalie Dormer (TV's "Game of Thrones") as media director Cressida with Wes Chatham and Eden Henson as her cameramen, Castor and Pollux.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1" is a dour, dreary, disappointing 5, milking every last dime out of the franchise's devoted following.
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