Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
Expanding the third book into two parts may be the best thing this series has done. With the increased length time, they are now able to tackle the more substantial issue of a revolution - giving it more depth and showing the broader country-wide social impact - rather then the slightly more juvenile - albeit more personal - survival game itself. This was also something that Suzanne Collins was not particularly good at when writing book 3, so kudos to writers Danny Strong and Peter Craig, and director Francis Lawrence.
All the old cast were great and were welcomed back like old friends especially Effie, Elizabeth Banks - who was not in the book. She was the definite comedic highlight of the show; even more so than in the previous installments where she tend to be too screechy.
Philip Seymour Hoffman and Woody Harrelson had smaller roles here but those roles were vital and showed what great actors they are.
Liam Hemsworth, on the other hand, was not missed, and he did nothing outstanding in his expanded role here to be missed. Sure, Gale is vital to the plot but Hemsworth less so.
Kudos to Joel Hutcherson on going all method. He definitely brought something of his own to an otherwise one dimensional Peeta and you can really believe that he and Katniss have a connection despite the separation.
As for Jennifer Lawrence, she has grown more comfortable into the role, but as her star gets bigger, her persona outshines that of Katniss'. She is a good actress no doubt, but now it is time for Lawrence to find that next level of greatness.
Julianne Moore is the best actor in the movie. She is the best actor to be cast in this franchise since Donald Sutherland, bringing gravitas and likability to an otherwise stale character.
Cinematography by Jo Wilems was a mix bag: the wide-angle, outdoor shots were gorgeous but the close ups less so. Katniss' song was surprisingly catchy and haunting but the rest of James Newton Howard score was a generic adventure theme.