“Mockingjay Part 1” is one of the few movies that I like better than its book version. And it’s because the filmmakers chose to diverge from the style Suzanne Collins, the author of “The Hunger Games” trilogy, used in writing her books. Collins is a fine writer, and she skillfully wrote her books from the perspective of Katniss Everdeen. But, given the large cast of characters in the book, the story actually comes together much better when told from multiple perspectives. It adds to character development and makes everyone part of a true ensemble. Had the filmmakers chosen to stick to the perspective of Katniss, there would have been a lot of wasted talent in this film. All of the actors are incredible and well qualified to play their roles.
There are many perspectives that we get to see in more depth during the film version of “Mockingjay”. We see the dueling presidents, Snow and Coin, in moments away from Katniss that show sides of their personalities they wouldn’t necessarily show her in the book. Gale and Finnick start to establish themselves as heroes of District 13 separate from Katniss. Beetee is the most aggressive hacker ever to grace movie screens. Cressida, the fearless director armed with a talent for creating great propaganda, brings out the Mockingjay in Katniss even when Katniss herself is beginning to falter. And Effie, who was barely even in the book version of “Mockingjay,” becomes an invaluable sidekick to Plutarch Heavensbee in the campaign to aggressively market a rebellion to the districts. Jennifer Lawrence can carry a movie as Katniss, but having such heavy involvement from the rest of the group is a treat.
Given that all of the actors in supporting roles are highly talented, it is good to see that they were not wasted. The supporting cast are as much a draw as Jennifer Lawrence is to the movie. Here is the lowdown on the talents of the supporting cast:
- Donald Sutherland (Snow) is a veteran actor with decades of experience and originated the role of Hawkeye in the movie “MASH.”
- Julianne Moore (Coin) was Oscar nominated twice in 2002 for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress–amongst her many other nominations and awards.
- Liam Hemsworth (Gale) and Sam Claflin (Finnick), while less established, are holding their own as burgeoning heroes. In fact, Hemsworth was in competition with his elder brother, Chris Hemsworth, for the role of Thor in the movie by the same name.
- Jeffrey Wright (Beetee) is a Golden Globe Award winner and Tony Award winner. His works spans decades.
- Natalie Dormer (Cressida) enchants audiences as Margaery Tyrell on “Game of Thrones” with her strong presence, and she brings that same strength to the role of Cressida.
- Elizabeth Banks (Effie) is always comical as Effie, and she has been in several movies.
- And Philip Seymour Hoffman will forever be missed. He is an Oscar winner who had complete control of every character he ever played.
What makes Mockingjay superior to the book is that the supporting characters are moving the story along with Katniss. They are used as much as can be allowed in the space of two hours, but they are used well as an ensemble. The writer could have written a script told only from the POV of Katniss, but it’s hard to make a call like that when so many talented actors have signed on for these movies. With this last, two-part ending, the filmmakers are allowing all of the actors to shine alongside Jennifer Lawrence (who was nominated for three Oscars and won one of them).