The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 Review

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 isn’t a movie — it’s a poorly constructed first half of an already bloated finale, to a series that definitely delivers more duds than sparks. The first film was a steaming pile of disappointment, while Catching Fire proved to be an intensely shot film that blended on-screen politics with first-class big budget blockbuster filmmaking. Now, Mockingjay Part 1 sets out to dethrone the first film as the worst in the series, providing very little new material, while continuously milking The Hunger Games name for all that it’s worth. Mockingjay Part 1 is complete garbage.

Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) was last seen destroying the games in Catching Fire. Now, she’s put on the back-burner as a political piece for President Coin (Julianne Moore), as the rebellion against the Capitol slowly starts to boil over. Katniss is no longer the brave and somewhat misguided warrior that we once cheered for, but instead a whiny and slightly cowardly pawn in game of chess, played with tired eyes by Philip Seymour Hoffman and a slew of other notable names that aren’t even worth mentioning at this point.

Mockingjay Part 1 moves very slowly in terms of a traditional movie and that’s because it is not a movie. It’s a half movie — one that sets up ideas and promises to follow through with them in the next installment. Watching Mockingjay Part 1 with no intentions of following through with Part 2 will leave you completely unsatisfied, because director Francis Lawrence cares very little this time around with telling a complete and separate story and more on getting you to spend even more money for the final chapter.

And that’s Mockingjay Part 1‘s biggest problem and one that it never quite overcomes. Nothing about the film feels complete and instead everything feels half thought out. The film just doesn’t contain enough material to be considered its own movie, let alone a Part 1 to a two part saga.

This is just another example of the greedy movie systems milking their audiences for all that they’re worth, because the concluding chapter of The Hunger Games could have easily been told in one two hour movie and yet they’ve decided to cut it in half and present nothing for the first entry.

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Katniss wonders around briefly, but spends most of the time in a hospital, either complaining about Peeta or complaining about her life in general. Peeta’s brief moments are rarely felt, most-likely because his story will come full circle in Part 2, which leaves Katniss bored and without much momentum to do much of anything. President Coin makes far from a grand entrance, providing the series with yet another annoying name to pay attention to, while occasionally sharing the screen time with the brilliant Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Hoffman, as usual, operates on an entirely different level when compared to his cast members, which makes Mockingjay Part 1 a tragedy, because it’s far from his best and PSM shouldn’t have one of his last films be one that rarely utilizes his full set of talent. He more than carries the film’s acting weight, yet he still comes across as slightly bored or not challenged enough when it comes to his character’s actual depth and importance to the film.

There’s just not enough going on in Mockingjay Part 1 to deem it worthy of its own film, yet the stuff that it does hint at for Part 2 sounds almost as uninteresting as Part 1.

I never bothered with the books, but viewing the series and reflecting on them solely as films leaves Mockingjay as the worst one so far. The first film meandered too much, while the second film tightened up and even ended up surprising me a great deal (read my apology post right here) and yet Mockingjay sets everything back, well beyond The Hunger  Games‘ initial disappointment.

There’s just too much bark and not enough bite for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 to stir up any real movement and yet people are going to eat it up for whatever reason. Mockingjay Part 1 barely registers as a movie, constantly leaning back on that Part 1 in the title to reason with just how little it’s willing to show or do throughout its bloated and completely unnecessary two hour run time.

Fans of the series will no doubt enjoy this latest entry, while the rest of us should probably just stay away from the series in general. Catching Fire really amazed me and reminded me that strongly written sequels can occasionally change the landscape of book-to-film adaptations, yet Mockingjay Part 1 reminded me that weak conclusions can kill all of the momentum built up before it.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 – 5.5/10

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