The Hunger Games franchise is shaping up to be one of the best film series’ in cinema history with both its financial and critic/fan success. Especially with the third installment, released this past friday, making 120 plus million it’s opening weekend (the most this year) and while critic reviews have been mixed so far, I believe Mockingjay Part 1 is a solid movie which positively contributes to the series overall.
I think the reason some fans and critics have had negative reactions to the movie is because they were expecting something different than what they got on screen. I think everyone was assuming this would be an action-packed, battle-heavy war film but what we got was more of a propaganda war film which served as the build up to the big war movie everybody wants. I don’t blame people for feeling let down considering where the last movie left us. Now I haven’t read The Hunger Games books but based on what I’ve seen and heard, we should get this epic action movie in the fourth entry and I’m okay with waiting while having Part 1 serve as the set up.
With all that out of the way, Mockingjay Part 1 was an interesting and different type of “blockbuster” movie with many positive aspects but also some negative ones. While I love me some action in my movies, the lack of it in this film was almost a good thing. Almost every blockbuster that comes out these days heavily relies on action, which isn’t a bad thing when done correctly, but that sometimes leaves less emphasis on the story, plot and character development. I’m okay with letting some action go when we get a great movie that escalates the story while pushing the main characters forward on their journey. Mockingjay P. 1 did this very well and I felt more connected to Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss than in the previous two films. That doesn’t mean I enjoyed everything about her character but I’ll get into that in my negatives.
Overall, the characters are probably the best part of this movie, with most of them in much different places than we’ve seen them before. For example, Haymitch (Woody Harrelson), who is an alcoholic in the first two movies is forced into a situation where he can’t drink in District 13. Also, Effie ( Elizabeth Banks), is not allowed to dress up, wear makeup, or express herself fashionably at all in District 13.
Another character in a place we haven’t seen him is Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) who we all assumed was captured or maybe even dead at the end of Catching Fire. Well it turns out the Capitol has him, which we all learned in the trailers. And although he wasn’t in this movie as much as the past two, his character was utilized very well as he serves as an emotional catalyst for Katniss and ultimately the whole movie. I also enjoyed Liam Hemsworth in this movie, especially since he didn’t stand out in the first two. His character, Gale Hawthorne, had a much bigger role which allowed him to be showcased more but I just think Hemsworth is proving to be a better actor lately and it’s noticeable in this movie. Basically, I like that we got to see all of these side characters in a different light than before.
Another positive in the film was the back and forth propaganda battle between the rebels and the Capitol. You could technically call this movie a political drama based on the events surrounding the Capitol and it’s opponents District 13 and the rebels. It was really cool to see what each side was going to do next and how that propaganda video affected both sides of the war. It plays a lot on how people overreact to certain views and how governments take advantage of society’s ignorance. This was a strong aspect of the movie and its comparable to our society in many ways.
While I thought parts of this movie held some of the strongest aspects of all three films, it also has some of the weakest. The biggest flaw for me in this movie was the immaturity and somewhat selfish attitude of Katniss at certain moments in the movie. So at the end of Catching Fire Katniss is rescued by the rebellion while they left Peeta and the other tributes behind, who in turn were captured by the Capitol. Mockingjay Pt. 1 takes place shortly after this and Katniss is supposed to be a “savior” for the entire Rebellion who’s only hope is whether or not Katniss can lead them against the Capitol. With all of that, all Katniss is worried about is Peeta! I understand that she cares about him so much and they’ve gotten really close and she may even love him romantically but seriously the whole entire world which they live in is in jeopardy. There needs to be some motivation in Katniss to want to save everyone else, which includes her mom and sister, and not just be focused on Peeta! Seriously, while Katniss is crying in her corner about Peeta, the whole District 13 could get destroyed and her family could die and she’d be sitting there crying about Peeta?! This just boggled my mind (okay, rant over).
There were other small negatives that weren’t that much of an issue but still worth noting when critiquing this film. The pace of the movie was really slow and it was fitting for the type of movie it was but I could feel the whole theater becoming underwhelmed with how slowly things were moving. While film geeks would enjoy this and appreciate it as a good technique, average movie goers wouldn’t and probably will be a little bored. Another small negative was Juliane Moore’s character President Coin. Moore does a great acting job as always but the character that was written for her was just very dull, especially when you have a world class talent like Moore who could have been used so much better.
Regardless of the flaws I still think The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 was a great addition to The Hunger Games film series. I’m looking forward to the next one even more than I was this movie since I’m pretty sure we’ll get the epic climax we all want.
I give The Hunger Game: Mockingjay Part 1 a solid 8 out of 10.
What did you guys think of the film and are you looking forward to the fourth and last film? Let us know in the comment section.
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