Not sure about this one. Bleak. Lacking in the sparkle-plenty splendor of the glittering self-indulgence of previous films in The Hunger Games series that juxtaposed the grey and the ominous against the vile splendor. Mockingjay is like an ominous one note. Jennifer Lawrence who goes to District 13 after her home District 12 is destroyed carries the film with her sensitive understanding of her role and of the devastation of humanity. Woody Harrelson (Haymitch Abernathy) is a highlight in that he livens up a dullness of watching space ships and war torn cities. Elizabeth Banks (Effie Trinket) adds pizzazz that is much needed, and does not need her many colorful wigs or outrageous make up to make her interesting or to make you care about her. Whereas Julianne Moore who portrays President Alma Coin, a new character to the series, is wooden and arch. She is determined to recruit Katniss to be the Mockingjay symbol to organize the rebellion in the District of Panem. Peeta (Josh Hutchinson) has the greatest transformation and tries to warn Katniss not to be a pawn of the President Alma Coin. Philip Seymour Hoffman, to whom the film is dedicated, is Plutarch Heavensbee's staid, manipulative self, but is directed by director Francis Lawrence pretty much in a vacuum of monotone monotony along with Julianne Moore.
Meanwhile, Liam Hemsworth as Gale does not ignite the screen. His kiss with Katniss is less than passionate as is his performance. The dynamic actors have too small parts and the weight of the film rests on Ms. Lawrence and at times it seems to fall off of her shoulders. Donald Sutherland is such a powerful, mesmerizing and sinister character as President Snow, but, alas, his presence is all too brief.
The costumes and sets are inventive, but, again, bleak and lacking in any color. And while, granted, this is not a remake of The Sound of Music, I longed for relief from the extended suffering. We get that this is a grim situation, but we do not get that we have to sit through a muddied palette of beige, brown, and grey for the entire film. When the Capitol was shown on the screen and broadcast to the throngs, this was the moment and the time to show the contrast of the colorful, repugnant in its opulence Capitol to the severe, poverty-stricken Panem. But this did not happen. Stanley Tucci (Caesar Flickerman) has a few brief appearances, but he does not have the terrifying impact of previous Hunger Games films. Perhaps I am just getting used to the 'No Exit' Camus-like endings in this series.
We have Katniss's sister's cat for some comic relief, but not much else. And when Katniss is warned that she may die if she tries to be the Mockingjay, the symbol of rebellion intent on saving Peeta from the Capitol, she is asked how she would feel about this harsh reality. With her courageous sense of irony, she replies, "Well, get it on film." How long can this fight against the evil Capitol continue? Katniss Everdeen's nerves are shot and so are mine. Enough already!