Short Takes: Mockingjay Part 1, Whiplash, Force Majeure & more

Hunger Games Mockingjay

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 – The premiere dystopian young adult franchise continues its gradual steps forward in quality in this third installment, which is slightly more above average than the second.  In Mockingjay Part 1, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is at the center of a propaganda machine for a rebel group attempting to overthrow the sinister, Donald Sutherland-led central government.

This set-up, whether intentional or not, makes this third Hunger Games at times feel like a commentary on franchise filmmaking.  The rebellion’s leaders critique Katniss’ blank, disinterested performance in the propaganda in the same way Lawrence was picked apart for her apathy in the first film (to her credit she has vastly stepped up her game since then).  That’s the most interesting thing about Mockingjay, aside from seeing Philip Seymour Hoffman and Julianne Moore share the screen as those scheming rebel leaders.  Director Francis Lawrence choreographs the uprising with just enough ferocity to make it resonate while still restraining it enough for a PG-13 rating.  Grade: C+

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