“Mockingjay – Part 1” provided too much setting and not enough action, making it a less dynamic and engaging of a film than its predecessors.
The first “Hunger Games” movie that did not feature a hunger games was, no doubt, a high-pressure film to create. The third installment of the series had to set the scene for the climactic ending of the beloved series.
However, the film did little but set the scene. Despite strong performances from the cast, short action-packed scenes and interesting character development, “Mockingjay” is disappointing. It falls short of the excitement of the previous two films and is not quite deep enough to be the political commentary it strived to be. For fans of the franchise, it is worth the price of a ticket to see the progression of certain plot details. For action movie fans, though, it falls short.
The movie begins with Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) traumatized after being rescued from her second Hunger Games. She is now being kept safe in an underground camp with the other rebels in District 13. Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) was not so fortunate; he was left in the hands of the Capitol after the games, and Katniss is furious at District 13 officials for abandoning him. The film focuses on the furthering of the rebellion against the totalitarian capital and on rescuing Peeta.
After the juggernauts that were the “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” franchises, it is not really surprising that the studio behind the Hunger Games decided to capitalize on the final installment of the trilogy and release Mockingjay in two parts.
Predictably, this decision hurt the film. The plot points on which it focuses feel insignificant compared to the actual rebellion of which we see little, and the movie does little to advance the story. As a result, the film often feels slow and repetitive. The ending brought a dramatic twist and some anticipated excitement, but the audience is forced to wait a year to see where this excitement will lead.
Despite these problems, the film is worth watching. The little action there is in the movie is gripping, due in no small part to the special effects. I especially enjoyed the cuts in the movie that showed how the rebellion was panning out in other parts of Panem. Additionally, the movie is laden with political allegory and satire concerning both the tactics of both District 13 and the Capitol. However, this commentary goes nowhere and feels disconnected from the rest of the story.
The acting, howevver, in the movie is superb. Julianne Moore is unsurprisingly brilliant as President Coin, who she turns into a frigid yet sympathetic character. Elizabeth Banks makes what could easily be a one-dimensional character commiserative and charming as Effie Trinket. The late Philip Seymour Hoffman, to whom the film was dedicated, brings spirit and deviation to otherwise static scenes. Lawrence is, as always, a captivating hero, and she plays the part of the hardened veteran well. However, the stalled plot gives her little to work with, as her character is running in place much of the time.
While the ending was unsatisfying, the strengths of “Mockingjays” compensate for its faults. It may actually be a perfect precursor to the second part, but it is, of course, too early to make that call. I give this film three out of five stars.