REVIEW: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1

20 11 2014

Unlike the “Harry Potter” finale, which ran over 800 pages in length, the last installment of “The Hunger Games” probably did not necessitate a two-part cinematic conclusion.  But alas, the filmmaking team thought they could find enough action in the story, and the Lionsgate executives had confidence that they could market two films.  So now, audiences are stuck with “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1.”

Though the film runs a full 30 minutes shorter than both its predecessors, it feels significantly longer.  Jennifer Lawrence, Julianne Moore, and Philip Seymour Hoffman (in his penultimate role) do bring an aura of prestige to the relatively calm proceedings, yet that is not enough to boost the low energy that plagues the first half of “Mockingjay.”  While there is a thrilling final rescue scene and one quasi-action sequence in the middle, the inside baseball of Panem politics occupies the majority of the two hours.

Perhaps “Mockingjay” could inspire the next generation of political publicists, a prospect simultaneously encouraging and frightening.  The film offers an introductory course to how semantics, misinformation, and outright propagandizing can be used by governments as well as social movements to recruit followers and repel criticisms.  The overarching lesson of “Mockingjay” may very well be that the camera is mightier than the sword.

Jennifer Lawrence Mockingjay

The main struggle driving “Mockingjay, Part 1” entails President Coin (Moore) of the rebellious District 13 attempting to convince Katniss (Lawrence) to become their symbol of defiance to the authoritarian Capital.  Their main weapon involves filming her in propaganda pieces intended to maintain solidarity and inspire insurrection.  Although Jennifer Lawrence is a talented actress, Katniss is not capable of delivering an Oscar-winning performance on cue and thus requires on-location filming to arouse her fiery personality.

All Katniss and her camera crew’s travels allow for a comprehensive view of the Capital’s brutality towards the lower-class dwellers of Panem.  Yet there are only so many shots of ruined buildings and skeletons buried under rubble that one can stand in a single movie.  “Mockingjay, Part 1” attempts to solicit disgust and shock from these scenes, but they tend to fall flat thanks to Francis Lawrence’s rather bland direction.  The overwhelming sensation of “that’s it?” far overpowers the desire to see more, especially if Part 2 remains at this muted level of filmmaking.  B-2stars

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One response

22 11 2014
thycriticman

Of course they thought they could milk out the action for two separate films, the bastards made a ton of money this weekend.

But yeah, this looks like nothing more than a money grab to me. Shame that I’ll be forced to spend that money (girlfriend wants to see it).

Sounds as bland as you say..

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