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'Mockingjay' Is Vivid And Effective


It is a hard thing to have to review Part Three of a four-part series without having seen Parts One and Two. There is bound to be a certain unclarity as to what has happened before and how the characters relate to each other, because the beginning setups are not there, and since the movie ends when it is only three-quarters done, there can be no satisfactory closure. Even those who thought The Empire Strikes Back was the best of the Star Wars trilogy had to admit that.

Mockingjay is the first half of the last part of The Hunger Games, and it has some additional problems as a part to be seen alone. Our heroine, Jennifer Lawrence, is in such a state of exhaustion that President Julianne Moore wonders whether the war has destroyed her, and at the end of the chapter we are still concerned about that. She's capable of occasional bursts of what we assume was the old fighting spirit, but they don't last. And most of the time she's not the driving force against Donald Sutherland and his Capitol forces, and Woody Harrelson and Moore and, to some extent, Philip Seymour Hoffman lead the rebellion.

There isn't a lot of physical action, because we have to let the final chapter have the real blaze of glory, and in these things it's always darkest before dawn-- and dawn has not yet arrived. Mockingjay is almost inevitably a bit of a downer, and the gloomy underground fortresses of the revolutionary movement don't cheer things up.

Still, there is a sense of reality about all this, despite the science fiction. Production values are effective, performances and characters are individual and vivid, and there isn't a comic book in sight.

I might even go see The Hunger Games Part Four next year.