Movie Review: The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1

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Mockingjay1-final

The final battle is near and the Mockingjay lives. Based on the popular YA series The final book Mockingjay has been split and we begin with The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1. While I had previously read the other books, its no secret that many people don’t care for Mockingjay and its considered the weakest of the series. I never even started it so I’m going off of the massive Facebook posts on my wall from people complaining about it. Break it into 2 parts and people are going crazy. But is the hysteria founded?

Mockingjay Part 1 picks up shortly after the end of Catching Fire. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is still in the medical ward recovering from what happened in the arena when they rescued her. She has even worse PTSD and without Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) there to calm her down its just spiraling. The majority of the film takes place inside District 13. Its assumed you have a working knowledge of the setup because its a cursory throwaway line about why people were told District 13 doesn’t exist anymore. They are taking the similar approach that the Harry Potter series took in its later films that you would know the establishing details because you read the novel. While first The Hunger Games film was set so you can understand the universe without the book, its very clear that the book is more or less a needed base in the later films. I can only imagine that it will be the same when Mockingjay part 2 is released a year from now.

Plutarch and President Coin

Lionsgate

The shift in the love triangle from hell features much more Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and much less Peeta who is a captive of The Capitol and being paraded as a the floating bobblehead pawn of President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Katniss also is less indecisive now that her rock is gone and her fallback is fully aware that she’s made a choice even if she hasn’t figured it out yet. Heavily present are the Late Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch, Beetee (Jeffrey Wright) and Effie (Elizabeth Banks) who is absolutely dazzling with she is given the opportunity to be more of her old self even if its without her Capitol fashions. We even get a lot more Prim (Willow Shields) who is working as a nurse in the District training to be a doctor. The newer characters are all introduced in a bundle but with the exception of President Coin (Julianne Moore) Boggs (Mahershala Ali) head of security, and Cressida (Natalie Dormer) the director of Katniss’ propaganda films.

katniss and Gale in District 8

What this film really needs are title cards when they visit districts. The film is extremely dark and I had no idea the Dam is in District 5, they had to tell me they were in District 8 after they were there a while and I think they might have been in districts 11 and 6? there’s people chopping lumber and climbing trees. you just don’t know because they don’t bother to let you know. The pluses are it doesn’t take itself too seriously. When they are filming the propaganda films they realize how forcing it doesn’t make it work and the comedic fallout is well timed. The fact that it doesn’t work and Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) who is unfortunately sober against his will still is willing to call Katniss to the carpet and help others understand exactly what they are getting with her really help. The pacing is weird in some places. I think I rolled my eyes at the same time Katniss did when they were filming and trying to work out her lines. Jennifer Lawrence does not disappoint in making sure she shows emotion as an emotionally wounded young girl. Where they chose to break up the books while a good cliffhanger a year between the 2 this is not that large to keep you in suspense. Definitely not my favorite out of the films already done it tries really hard to work with the book fans as they ultimately are the ones who will make this soar or crash and burn.

My Rating: Matinee
Director: Francis Lawrence
Studio: Lionsgate
Release Date: November 21, 2014
Run time: 2 hours 3 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13