The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 Movie Review

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 Movie Review
Jennifer Lawrence is Katniss in The Hunger Games

Movie Review for Mockingjay Part 1

Splitting the final film of a series into two parts, seems to be Hollywood's latest attempt to capitalize off of a profitable franchise. However, it's actually a good thing. Would Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows have been as effective with only one film to cover all seven-hundred and fifty-nine pages of the book? Come to think of it, The Order of the Phoenix could have been made into two films as well (870 pages).

When done right, everyone wins. More story. More depth. Less being left out. When done just to stretch a money maker for as far as it can possibly go, the studio wins, but the fans get cheated (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Parts 1 & 2). Hollywood's greed is also giving us a two part Avengers film in 2018 and 2019, on a subject that's too small for one movie (hard to complain about that). So as long as two-parters don't pertain to only teenage angst films, the future looks bright.

Mockingjay seems to be another two-parter that benefits from being split up. This Part 1 of the final film, is all about the build up to the rebels' inevitable battle with the pampered prima donnas of the Capital in Part 2. Once again, Jennifer Lawrence is the strongest piece of this franchise. She makes you believe so much in Katniss, that every word she says is gospel.

 A good example of that is when she's emoting to the cameras recording her for the rebels' inspirational videos. The speeches she gives are nothing new but, when she says them, it's emotionally powerful. Like a special assortment of spices, each of her co-stars adds a distinct flavor to their parts. In one of his final roles, Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee, is very effective at showing him in and out of his element. Some actors get more screen time for this film like Elizabeth Banks and Liam Hemsworth, while others get considerably less like Woody Harrelson and Stanley Tucci.

You can never have enough Haymitch. Luckily, it balances itself out. One character that I still don't care for is Peeta, played by Josh Hutcherson. The supposed love that's between him and Katniss looks and feels fake. Just because they say it's there, doesn't truly mean it is. Of course, the relationship between Katniss and Gale (Hemsworth) seems unrealistically strained for plot convenience as well.

Light moments in between scenes of anguish and struggle, helps to keep this film from being a downer. Whether it be a poorly delivered line of speech, or the growl of an ornery cat, moments like those are important. The overall industrial look of the film is nicely captured. Nothing looks unreasonably ahead of its time (ultra-futuristic). One of the cool things about the story, is that the thought processes of the rebel leadership parallels their enemies of the Capital. Sort of a "fight fire with fire" approach.

A few wasted opportunities throughout, keeps this film from being better than it is. Some scenes of President Snow (Donald Sutherland) plotting with his military and/or his manipulations of Peeta, would have made for some interesting drama. One thing that I almost failed to mention, is that there is a lack of action. I can only recall about two or three actual moments. What action there is though, is very cool. I have a feeling that the shortfall of conflict will explode for the next film.

The Good The Bad and The Ugly of Mockingjay Part 1
The Good- "The Hanging Tree" song sung by Lawrence. It kind of reminds me of the "Hoist the Colours" song from Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. You can hear that she has a bit of soul in her voice. Just another damn reason to add to her overall beauty.

The Bad- "Why did they let us go?" I wonder, dumbass. Is it maybe because they want to track you to your secret hidden base, and maybe also let you deliver their brainwashed assassin to their target? These people are from the future?!

The Ugly- If they filmed both movies at the same time, why is there a whole year between releases? Just get these out of the way so we can obsess over the next big book adaptation.

Final thoughts on Mockingjay Part 1
Part 1 is a good tease to build the anticipation for Part 2. See in theaters. Word of advice though- if you're into just seeing CG emblems of birds engulfed in flames and there being no kind of actual scenes or possible previews for Part 2, then by all means stay through the ten minutes of end credits to get to it. Otherwise, go home early.
Rating- 8 out of 10

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 Movie Review  pic2

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 (2014)
PG-13 | 2h 3min | ActionAdventureSci-Fi | 21 November 2014 (USA)
Katniss Everdeen is in District 13 after she shatters the games forever. Under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss spreads her wings as she fights to save Peeta and a nation moved by her courage.
Director:Francis Lawrence
Writers:Peter Craig (screenplay), Danny Strong (screenplay)
Stars:Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth