The Hunger Games film franchise has been one of the most popular in recent memory. From the first film on, the film’s premise has centered around murder and class warfare, but at the center of that bleakness was a beacon of hope, Katniss Everdeen, however, in Mockingjay Part 1, that hope takes a turn for the worse. Centered around the aftermath of the events of Catching Fire, we find our heroine at her darkest point, surrounded by a colony of freedom fighters and lost without the man whom she has grown to care for, Peeta. There’s a shadow looming over Katniss and a growing weigh upon her shoulders. The penultimate film in this franchise has moved on from the games and into the war.
Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) finds herself in an underground bunker within District 13. Following the escape from the quarter quell, the tributes have either been captured by the Capitol or were rescued by Plutarch’s (Philip Seymour Hoffman) rebel squadron. Katniss is suffering from PTSD and remains under the care of the district’s medical staff. Fellow survivor Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin) is suffering from the same despair and is resigned to survivors remorse, mourning for the loss of his beloved Annie and the others who were captured by the Capital. Katniss is taken to see President Coin (Julianne Moore), the president of District 13 and the leader of the rebellion who requires Katniss’ help to win the war over President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Katniss reluctantly agrees, but on the condition that Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and the other tributes would be rescued. Just one problem, it appears Peeta has been recruited and is now a spokesperson for the Capital and is speaking out against the revolution.
Katniss, believing that Peeta is being brainwashed into saying these outlandish remarks, decides that she will not rest until she can rescue her friend. Through a series of vignettes, the rebellion broadcasts images of Katniss in battle defeating the Capitol guards and hoping to convince those unwilling to fight to take up arms and join Katniss and District 13’s side. With the help of Gale (Liam Hemsworth), her former beau, Katniss travels from district to district to assess the damages done by the Capitol and reaffirming her decision to take up arms against her oppressors. Peeta, through a series of intimate interviews with Capitol spokesperson Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci), pleads for the resistance to lay down their arms and work to strive peace with the Capitol. The two former companions who had protected each other in the games are now sparring in a war of words with the fate of the world at each others finger tips.
Each side makes their move to gain a powerful foothold in their vicious war. As the rebellion gains support, President Coin elects to send in a rescue mission to bring back to captive tributes, including Peeta, and remove the Capital’s most powerful propaganda weapon. With time running out, will the resistance succeed in rescuing the tributes and turning the tide of the war or will they fall prey to the plans of President Snow and tip the scales in the favor the Capital?
Deciding to stick closely to the plot of the novel by Suzanne Collins, director Francis Lawrence delivers a politically charged dystopian drama that is not for the faint of heart. Like many war films, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is unwavering in its relentless depiction of the brutality of war. That being said, the film may be too bleak for many of the films core fans. Fans of the book series on the other hand are sure to be prepared for the events that transpire.
The acting in the movie has a lot to be desired. Whether it be the screenplay from Peter Craig and Danny Strong or the actors themselves, there’s something missing in the delivery of much of the films dialogue. Jennifer Lawrence is the staple that keeps this film together but much of the film is spent retreading on the awkward love triangle between Katniss, Gale and Peeta. The chemistry between Liam Hemsworth and Jennifer Lawrence is as flat as it was in the previous films. Josh Hutcherson, in limited screen time, makes the most of it and turns in a great performance. The transformation of his character from the previous films til now is one of the bright spots of Mockingjay Part 1. Two disappointments for me were the use of Julianne Moore and the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman. Each provide lifeless depictions of their characters and the lack of emotions in the delivery of important dialogue is truly disappointing.
Overall, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is excruciatingly slow and opts for more drama than action this time around. Film goers may be disappointed at the pacing of this one. Truth be told, this final book did not need to be split into two separate movies; one would’ve been just fine. Lionsgate missed the mark with this decision. Let’s hope word of mouth doesn’t hurt too much because this franchise deserves a better fate.
3 out of 5
After Credit Scene:
Yes. Not technically a scene but on par with previous Hunger Games movies