Now Showing: Mockingjay

Hanna Kang, Editorial Editor

There is an exceedingly chilling scene in the latest “Hunger Games” installment in which a lanky, white dog traipses about in the shattered remains of District 12, picking at the bones of the dead residents. The camera then pans to display a pair of black boots coming to a swift halt after one boot stumbles upon a slight object—the yellowed skull of a child. A pair of white hands starts to tremble and seconds later, we are met with the shaken visage of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) as her hatred for the Capitol catches fire.

Scenes akin to the one described above are the reason why “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1” is the best of the series thus far. While the first two films are wrapped up in presenting Panem’s elite circle finding amusement in death contests between young tributes and an overly glammed up Katniss, the latest adaption of part of the third novel by Suzanne Collins gives a surprising amount of depth to the characters and delves deeper into the concept of revolution.

The film follows Katniss and the Panem rebels (with a focus on District 13) as they actively engage in the rebellion Katniss launched in “Catching Fire.” Unwarranted law enforcement, concealed torture and the manipulation of public sentiment coalesce to provide viewers with a taste of bona fide geopolitics sans the prequels’ cinematic jazz—hot pink coiffures, showy costumes, creepy mutated animals—you get the idea.

But because the vivid cinematography has been one of the biggest elements of the series from square one, I was a little concerned whether director Francis Lawrence could make the film, the bulk of it set in a dismal underground bunker, as exhilarating as the last two. As a matter of fact, the Nazi-esque speeches delivered by President Coin (Julianne Moore), propaganda relays between Katniss and President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and big government represented by the Capitol tuned in with my inner political junkie and kept me on my toes throughout the duration of the film.

The cast does a fine job of conveying the desolation in the film, notably Willow Shields and Sam Claflin, who play Primrose Everdeen and Finnick Odair, respectively. Their acting has matured immensely from the prequel, both taking on a more serious role after having endured the difficulty of separation from their loved ones.

Nothing new is to be said about J-Law whose acting simply shines despite the fact that Katniss is squirreled away in the depths of District 13 and hardly ever has the chance to demonstrate her forte. Lawrence beefs up the fiery revolutionary in every dimension—she delivers compelling authenticity, invincible grit and an unspotted sense of humanity through Capitol TV and the big screen to rally the Panem rebels and leave viewers speechless.

The film has minor shortcomings, such as the unclear and at times unnecessary scenes with Katniss and Gale (Liam Hemsworth), but overall, the latest “Hunger Games” film will have you hungering for more long after the movie ends and the screen has blacked out.