The Hunger Games: Mockingay – Part I Film Review

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I desperately wanted to like this and I have been hyping it up for months so my expectations were pretty high. However, I had my reservations when they announced Mockingjay would be split into two films because I didn’t there was enough action to sustain two and I was right. In the first half of the book, it was build-up to the rebellion and setting the scene and that is essentially what happens here – making it the dullest instalment of the franchise so far.

Jennifer Lawrence returns as Katniss Everdeen, who managed to win/escape two Hunger Games competitions and is now the ‘Mockingjay’, the face of the districts’ revolution against the Capitol. She has coax the districts to continue fighting despite the Capitol’s warfare but she also aware that Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) could be killed by President Snow (Donald Sutherland), who captured him following the Games.

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The action, the adventure, the love triangle and butt-kicking Katniss are the elements that made the first films so successful – and they are all missing here. Not a lot happens. You keep waiting for something big to occur but it never does. The thing is that the adaptations are very faithful to the book, which is great for novel fans like me, but it makes this a dull film. I believe the events that are dragged out slowly here could have been covered within half the time if combined with the rest of Mockingjay. It would have more enjoyable and effective, whereas this loses the momentum.

Obviously, it was going to be a massive change as this is the first film without the games. There were short glimmers of action and peril to keep the film moving but it was not sustained and there was an awful lot of talking. That is fine for me, because I love the characters and I would have enjoyed it regardless but it doesn’t cater for its young adult target market.

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This is just more focussed on emotions, strategy and politics. So an awful lot of talking is involved, particularly from Plutarch Heavensbee (the late Philip Seymour Hoffman) and newcomer President Coin (Julianne Moore). But essentially it was mostly about how sad and messed-up Katniss is since the second games. She spends a lot of time crying and she actually became a bit annoying. I wanted her to suck it up and get back to kick-ass and taking names.

The make-up of the cast has changed dramatically – most noticeably Peeta is barely in it (though he has a great final scene), there is virtually no Johanna (Jena Malone), Finnick (Sam Claflin), Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) and Effie (Elizabeth Banks) have very little to do. The only old member who has more to do is Gale (Liam Hemsworth) but his character is so wooden and underdeveloped. I liked Moore as Coin, and Natalie Dormer as Cressida and I’m excited to see what they do next.

While I did enjoy this, it was not what I expected it to be. It was fine, it did the job, it got us prepared for the final film – which we have to wait a year for. But no instalment in a franchise should feel like it is milking the money-making or stretching the source material too far. This went a bit too slow, was a bit too emotional (especially since I felt no sympathy for Katniss this time) and just felt like a prelude to the main event. A must watch for fans of the series but it is definitely the weakest of the bunch by far.

Comments

  1. You liked it far more than I did even though you were disappointed.. Kudos for trying to find something to write favorably about, but your last line, which I totally agree with says it all –

    …the weakest of the bunch by far…

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