Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, The

thehungergames-mockingjay-part1

Release date: November 21, 2014
Director: Francis Lawrence
Novel by: Suzanne Collins
Screenplay by: Danny Strong, Peter Craig
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Donald Sutherland, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Jeffrey Wright, Sam Clafin, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Mahershala Ali, Jena Malone, Natalie Dormer, Stanley Tucci, Paula Malcomson, Willow Shields, Stef Dawson, Wes Chatham, Evan Ross, Elden Henson, Patina Miller

Mockingjay, the third and final installment of The Hunger Games — split into two films — picks up right after the events of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, whose final moments revealed that a rebellion against the Capitol and President Snow (Sutherland) has been on the works for years by the apparently extinct District 13, governed by President Alma Coin (Moore) with help from the likes of Haymitch (Harrelson), Plutarch (Hoffman), Beetle (Wright) and Finnick (Claffin).

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 shows Katniss Everdeen (J. Lawrence), who is still emotionally scarred from participating in two Hunger Games tournaments, reluctantly becoming the Mockingjay, the poster child for District 13’s mass rebellion, which has gained big momentum following the resolution of the 75th Hunger Games tournament. At the same time, Katniss is challenged in setting her priorities [see: beloved ones], especially in a world that sees her as a heroine.

In contrast to the previous two films, Mockingjay – Part 1 changes from showcasing reality tv media into one that exposes propaganda media, the latter most notably seen through Capitol-endorsed Flickerman’s (Tucci) interviews with Capitol-brainwashed Peeta (Hutcherson) as well as District 13 shooting promos with Katniss to keep the rebellion afloat. In addition to that, themes of revolution, war, politics and dictatorship are also displayed. All of that should have made up for an interesting and entertaing film, not to mention that the stakes are much higher in Mockingjay. Unfortunately, dividing Mockingjay in two films not only wasn’t a good idea — especially in regards to Part 1‘s ending, which didn’t felt like a big deal despite showing how powerful the Capitol is — but the execution of the first half seems like we’re waiting for Mockingjay – Part 2 to happen and ends up feeling overstretched and kind of redundant with its propaganda moments and constant dialogue, while not having much action scenes to display, making the film slow to watch despite some of its good-to-great moments and the cast.

“Are you, are you
Coming to the tree?
Where they strung up a man they say murdered three.
Strange things did happen here.
No stranger would it be
If we met at midnight in the Hanging Tree.”

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss is still great to watch, especially when she sings The Hanging Tree, which was one of the film’s strongest moments in terms of illustrating the battle between District 13 and the Capitol. However, both Julianne Moore and Philip Seymour Hoffman shined stronger than everyone else. Moore’s performance as Alma Coin was great as she seems to be not so different from Snow despite her good intentions for Panem’s future. On the other hand, Hoffman’s Plutarch had more screentime and greatly displayed a sense of humor, smarts and even filmmaking skills — indirect reference to Hoffman’s only work as a director — as the mastermind behind the rebellion. It’s great to see him being used more often compared to how little he was used in Catching Fire. The rest of the cast are good to watch for the most part, although the presence of Effie (Banks) comes across as quite a distraction from what’s going on in the plot. Regarding the new characters introduced in Mockingjay – Part 1, it was hard to care for most of the new characters — we’re introduced to Cressida (Dormer), Boggs (Ali), and a few other folks — except for Moore’s Coin.

Despite its good moments and steady build-up for the grand finale, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 doesn’t feel all that great to watch because it lacks gripping moments, suspense and entertainment value seen in the previous installments. Worst of all, hardly anything important happens during the film and by the end of it.

Extra quarter star for Moore and Hoffman (to whom the film is dedicated).

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Rodrigo

YAM Magazine contributor, has a B. Sc. degree in Science/Pharmacy and is a very lazy person.

10 Responses

  1. Jenna says:

    The writers for the film had a hard job, and didn’t seem to quite manage making a “complete film” instead it felt like they *literally* cut a film in half and then expect us to wait patiently for a year. They did a really good job of picking up the pace vs. the book – because you could have napped through the first half of Mockingjay as a book and finished it just fine. They should have kept things moving at a better speed to keep anyone in the audience who HASN’T read the books interested for the next film.

    I agree that Hoffman and Moore’s performances were very strong. I think with Jennifer’s performance I struggled with how she was portrayed. Because in the book Katniss is nearly broken for the entirety of the story. Here they show her struggle a bit, then turn into the same ‘ol Katniss. I think they needed to pull on our heart strings a little more. And, like everyone else I’ve heard talk about it, I think that the scene where she sings The Hanging Tree is the strongest of the film

    As far as Effie goes – that was originally supposed to be the three members of her “make over team” and not Effie, they wrote her in to keep her in the movie. I agree she felt sort of out of place, but it would have been better than three unremarkable characters we probably don’t even remember from the first two movies.

    All in all, it was a decent enough film, and I’ll return for the fourth just to see more of the cast.

    • Rodrigo says:

      I ended up with almost the same sensation I had after watching Deathly Hallows Part 2 for the first half of Mockingjay. It was lacking some meat and worst, it lacked that extra big hook that would make anyone dying to see how this ends. I understand how important the final scenes are, but it didn’t brought much excitement really.

      The Hanging Tree deserves some sort of recognition — it might be one of the best moments from the entire series – but I think it’s not an original song at all.

      I’ll also watch Part 2, but mostly to see how it ends. I feel a bit miffed having to pay full ticket for this, but I still feel mixed about MJP1.

    • amy says:

      I’m not a fan of splitting things for the sake of making more money xD Deathly Hallows Part 1 was pretty good, but it literally left no meat for Part 2, other than the big showdown.

      • Rodrigo says:

        This one seems like it could be reverse Deathly Hallows, considering that most of the real big moments from the third book will be dealt, but it might be a mash-up of both films, quality wise.

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