The biggest clash at the movies in this year might not be Katniss against the Capitol, but Katniss against Guardians of the Galaxy. In 2013, Catching Fire was the year’s top grossing movie, and now, with Mockingjay—Part 1, Jennifer Lawrence has a chance to make it two years in a row. Industry analysts are expecting the biggest opening weekend of the year, one that could approach $150 million (though Thursday-night business was soft).
The sequel—the first of two films based on Suzanne Collins’ best-selling finale, Mockingjay—picks up right after where Catching Fire concluded. In the end of the previous installment, Katniss’ family and Gale escape, but District 12 is annihilated after she sparks an uprising during the Quarter Quell. In Mockingjay, however, instead of channeling the rage that’s promised, Katniss is suffering from PTSD and reluctant to engage with the spartan society living underground in District 13, which wants her to become the symbol of the fight against President Snow and the Capitol. Julianne Moore joins the franchise as Alma Coin, 13’s steely leader, and Philip Seymour Hoffman and Jeffrey Wright return as part of her braintrust.
But while Katniss has been rescued from the Hunger Games arena, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) has been captured by the Capitol and is being manipulated as the government’s puppet. “In a series of interviews with the sensationalist journalist Caesar (Stanley Tucci), he denounces Katniss and urges a cease-fire,” writes EW‘s Chris Nashawaty. “The betrayal devastates her, forcing her to realize that her feelings for him weren’t a charade after all. With its Wag the Dog subplot and fist-in-the-air proletarianism, Mockingjay may be the most harmlessly Marxist movie to come out of Hollywood since Reds.”
Mockingjay is hardly a poli-sci assignment, but the action and adventure of the first two films, which showcased the spectacle of the Hunger Games, share the stage with more complex themes of the ramifications of what revolution really means. Read more from EW’s review, as well as a roundup of other notable critics, below. READ FULL STORY