"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) has already been through so much. Not only did she survive two Hunger Games (making her one of the only people to do so), but now her District has been destroyed and her love and friends have been kidnapped by the evil Capitol. Now, in District 13, which has thought to been extinct, she must figure out a way to not only rescue her friends, but bring down the Capitol once and for all. This movie was marketed as another explosive film in the "Hunger Games" saga, matching the same energy and excitement from the first film. However, it fell short, being a slow, drawn-out film that isn't necessarily bad, but certainly doesn't live up to how great the first and second films were in this franchise.
"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" ended with a bang (literally). It forced Katniss and her fellow allies to split up unwillingly, trying to stop the Capitol from treating the Districts horribly. How are they going to do this? They're going to make propaganda messages where they try to make her seem powerful and unstoppable. Look, I understand this is the route they went in the novel it is based off of, but this doesn't make for an interesting film. Sure, I want to watch for 2 and a half hours about them trying to make Katniss seems powerful when she is going off the deep end.
In film, especially in ones like this where the main audience demographic are teenagers, they want to see excitement and action, love, fighting; they don't want to see political propaganda. There are numerous times where the filmmakers set it up to where there is going to be a major fight sequence or event, and even though the film does have a couple that are pretty entertaining, it doesn't really carry the film forward as well as they wanted it to.
In fact, I think one of the major things that saves this film are the performances given by the ensemble actors, especially Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson, who plays Katniss' love interest, Peeta Mellark. Katniss is broken and tortured by what the Games and the conspiring events have done to her, which is heavily reflected throughout Lawrence's performance. She portrays this person who doesn't want to fight or carry on feeling like this, but does because she knows she is the leader of this group of revolutionaries. Even though this is easily not the best Hunger Games movie, I do think this is Lawrence's best performance as the popular character.
When looking at Hutcherson, I think he truly steals the entire show here. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol, drugged, and forced to make propaganda as well to show how horrible Katniss and her allies are. Even though this performance doesn't show who Peeta is as a character, like we have seen in the first two installments, but it shows how tortured a man could become, forcing him to spread hate and lies about the woman he loves the most. Alongside the makeup job to make him look drugged and tortured, Hutcherson really sells this performance, and like Lawrence's, easily gives his best performance in this role.
The other characters, such as Phillip Seymour Hoffman's Plutarch Heavensbee, Julianne Moore's President Coin, Woody Harrelson's Haymitch Abernathy, and Elizabeth Banks' Effie Trinket, are enjoyable, but perhaps have given better performances in the other films, aside from Moore as this is her first film in the franchise. I thought they were enjoyable and I liked seeing their characters present, but there was honestly no real reason for their characters to be there. That's kind of what this entire film feels like in a way. It is full of great potential and events, but doesn't really all go together seamlessly.
It's sort of hard to blame the filmmakers for the downgrade in this franchise as the book dictates what happens, but it is undeniable this is a major step-down from the fantastic "Catching Fire". It was set up to be this explosive film that will finally bring our main characters to the forefront of the war, but it sadly doesn't deliver those promises. When looking at franchises like this, such as Divergent, it seems like the creators of these franchises don't really know how to deliver an explosive, great finale, which is really tragic as it was set up so well.