The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 photo starrating-3stars.jpgThe awkwardly titled The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 follows the further adventures of Miss Katniss Everdeen. As embodied by the effervescent Jennifer Lawrence, the character never ceases to be captivating. The actress can make even the most banal dialogue or scene seem absolutely riveting and crucial. And let’s face it. None of these chapters have a clear-cut ending so that talent is most appreciated. In fact, this one is all the more piecemeal because it ends in the middle of the book on which it is adapted. As such, it’s a perfectly acceptable stopgap measure in between the 2nd and final film.

Mockingjay Part 1 picks up where Catching Fire left off. District 12 has been reduced to ashes. Katniss Everdeen has been saved from the arena but Peeta Mellark is still under the restraint of the state. Her goal is to save him and unite a nation ready to oppose the state. This is a plot centered on exposition. Katniss is sent into the front lines in order to star in a sequence of propaganda videos. These are also designed to infiltrate the Capitol airwaves in order to educate the masses into what is really going on. Assuming a major role in this episode is President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) who was the President of District 13. Thought to be destroyed, the district is actually completely intact, just underground.  Coin is now the leader of the rebellion. I didn’t even see The Giver but she looks like Meryl Streep in the trailers for that picture. Less important this time around is Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) who is used more as a tool to weaken Katniss. The capitol wants Katniss to abandon her role as the Mockingjay. As a symbol of someone who has broken free from the control of the government she is a dangerous inspiration to the people of Panem.

Mockingjay is inferior to Catching Fire, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value. It’s just that the excitement quotient of the story is a bit anemic. There are a lot of segments where the narrative simply drags. That has never been the case with this series before. This is a running commentary on the fabrication of propaganda in order to promote a cause. The groundwork has been laid for all out war. Gone are the reality based competitions to the death. In its place is a war of words, essentially between Katniss Everdeen and President Snow who uses Peeta against her. I must warn the uninitiated. Anyone unfamiliar with the previous installments will be lost. More than Twilight, more than Harry Potter, this entry does require that you have seen Parts 1 and 2. These are the details concerning the ongoing evolution in the nation of Panem. For those in the know, the production can provide some satisfaction.

11-21-14

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26 Responses to “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1”

  1. Yes it indeed can. I have oscillated between loving this film and simply liking it quite a bit but feeling frustration for its lack of oomph. But I think I’m leaning more towards stronger enthusiasm at this point. I think the fact it riveted as much as it did while using minimal action spoke more to the power of the narrative. This was much more like a chess game, and more strategic than a lot of war films I have seen. Compared to this, Fury seems now like a straight action flick, which some may see it as anyway lol.

    Good review

  2. While Mark writes a rather well conceived and executed review – I can’t agree on saying this is a film worthy of enthusiam. Mark correctly states that this is the way station between Catching Fire and the Conclusion.

    Even though in my own review I called the film a turkey, I will state that it wasn’t a total disaster. Having said that, I’ll now say that I was very glad I saw the first show of the day – at 10:15 AM this morning and as such I saved some money from the more expensive evening tickets.

    • Yes I too saw it at a matinee with very few in attendance. I had the perfect view and a very well behaved audience.

      I’m not sure 3 stars is particularly enthusiastic although I am far from calling it a turkey. Thank you for calling attention to your review. I will check it out now.

  3. Great review, I’m looking forward to seeing this.

  4. I’m almost positive I’m going to be seeing this today. It’s selling out like wild at the theater where I work, and I’m so jealous of everyone seeing it before me. 🙂

    I feel like I’ll enjoy this possibly a little more than the last two. It sounds like it’s more political than the last two, and I do enjoy dialogue-heavy political commentary. Then again, it depends on the writing, and this is The Hunger Games, so there can’t be too much dialogue.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    • The plot is more about shooting promos to sway public opinion. I guess that’s political. I don’t know. Not much happens in this one.

      • I disagree. I found this one to be the best of the series. And I saw substantially more to the plot than just that.

        Love that scene where Katniss starts singing and everyone starts following her lead. That song plays over the credits too, and so it’s gotten on my nerves very quickly with all the Mockingjay theaters I’ve cleaned over the past two days. But I was so surprised how much I loved the way it was used in that one scene. It reminded me of Network, and in a way that was just as awesome.

      • Oh sure there’s exposition that ridiculously stretches this to over two hours but that’s the plot in a nutshell. In fact I’d argue that you could actually skip this film and still understand Part 2.

      • I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree. I thought there was a good deal of exposition here, too, but I was glued to the screen, so I didn’t really mind.

  5. Very fair review Mark. I understand this part of the book (which I haven’t read) focuses on the propaganda war between the two sides and the film fully reflects this. However, I couldn’t help thinking the filmmakers had spotted an opportunity amongst the pages to dwell on this far too much so that we could have two parts. I really liked the set pieces, including the bombing raids and the sabotage at the dam (which I thought could’ve been made more of), but the moping about got a bit too much and I’m pretty sure the story depicted could have been crammed into 45 minutes, instead of 2 hours. I was also quite surprised how much screentime PSH got, I was given the impression he was in this fleetingly, but thankfully not so. I really hope the final instalment goes out with a big bang.

  6. I’d like to be able to climb a tree that fast. Your review is fair. I enjoyed it, keeping in mind its inherent limitations.

  7. As a big fan of PSH, I felt he pretty much sleepwalked through Catching Fire. How is he in this?

  8. Great review. Overall I preferred this one to Catching Fire, which I felt repeated a less believable version of the same Games. For me, Mockingjay P1 lacks the action but makes up for it with its darker tone. The ending was odd though, taking Katniss right out of the action. Once again it’s frustrating that they’ve chosen to spilt this last book into two.

  9. I did not read the book on this one, so I didn’t know what to expect. I do not like movies split in two parts. You can tell there is a lot of “filler” thrown in. This was good, but not great. I will read the book before the finale so hopefully, I will be blown away. 3 1/2 stars.

  10. I was incredibly pissed at Hollywood’s greed by splitting this into 2 movies since this is the most inferior of the book trilogy. Perhaps I shouldn’t have rewatched Hunger Games and Catching Fire right before I trotted off to the theater to see this? Expository set up aside, it just was a frustrating fail because there was absolutely NO action happens. In complete contrast, the first two movies had NOTHING but action that I felt the action packed scenes overwhelmed the character developments in the movies, i.e. why does Kat care so much if Peeta survives? What about the back stories of the other victors which come into play and explain the alliances in CF? I fear that if one was not already familiar with HG or CF, one would be entirely lost as to what’s going on here or why one should even care about what happens to the characters, i.e. especially the minor character of the pet cat. Yet for those of us who have read the books, I cannot even begin to convey my seething frustration at having been duped of my $13 dollars and 2 hours of my time.

  11. I agree that Jennifer Lawrence definitely helps save the Hunger Games movies from being utterly boring in places. She couldn’t rescue the first film more me though, because I thought it was dreadful. I also agree that Mockingjay Part 1 is inferior to Catching Fire, but there is some interesting commentary on the creation of propaganda in Mockingjay. Overall it just feels like filler/setup for something more exciting in Part 2. And as much as I hate to say it, splitting the story into two movies was almost necessary to make sure they didn’t just have one film where they focused on the action and left out the significant parts about how both sides craft their propaganda.

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