The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014)

The third act of the Hunger Games movie franchise, Mockingjay – Part 1, is the latest film to be covered for the Fictional Hangout and was recently released on DVD. Adapted by Suzanne Collins’ young adult books by director Francis Lawrence, this dystopian movie stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutchinson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Natalie Dormer and more.

I have a mixed experience with the Hunger Games series. Yes, the first two films were good, and the first book in the series was good as well. However, I didn’t like the second one, and am generally not a fan of the decision to split movies into two parts, which has been happening to young adult movies ever since Harry Potter. (Side note: Isn’t Divergent meant to be split into two parts as well? I’m not looking forward to seeing how that will turn out). Maybe I would be able to tolerate the splitting up a bit more if I’d actually liked Part One of The Deathly Hallows, but it just felt incredibly boring and stretched out over the course of the film. Whilst Mockingjay P1 didn’t quite have that same problem, with it actually managing to keep you engaged, it still felt like nothing more than something designed to kill time before the release of part two. The film was primarily focused on laying the groundwork for something big, and I guess we will have to wait until the end of this year now to see if the payoff will be worth it.
The film itself is basically a propaganda war between the rebels of District 13, who are lead by President Coin (Julianne Moore), with their Mockingjay symbol, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), as they attempt to gain the support of the other Districts who are slowly losing faith in the Capitol, which in turn, is lead by President Coriolanus Snow (Donald Sutherland), who have their own counterpart to Katniss Everdeen – Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutchinson) who got separated from Katniss after she escaped the arena in the aftermath of the events of the second film. Katniss is at first, reluctant to become the Mockingjay symbol that District 13 needs, but is eventually pressured into acting in favour of their cause.
Part 1 of Mockingjay has some of the most incredible supporting cast that you will see in a young adult movie. Woody Harrelson once again continues to be the best part of The Hunger Games series injecting humour into the role of Haymitch Abernathy, former victor of the Hunger Games and Katniss’ trainer in the first film, but there’s also impressive performances by Donald Sutherland, who makes his character President Snow very easy to hate, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman is great in one of his final roles as Plutarch Heavensbee. Natalie Dormer also shows up as Cressida, who is part of Katniss’ film team to broadcast the image of the Mockingjay to the world. And then of course there’s Jennifer Lawrence herself as Katniss, who puts in a strong performance. Yet at the same time, even though this is Katniss’ story, I couldn’t help wanting more to be done with the supporting cast, with Hoffman, Dormer, Moore and Harrelson are always watchable and few movies can say they have a cast that good. To use it these actors only in supporting roles almost feels like a waste of talent.
The stakes themselves are increased in this movie with the Games no longer being pushed to the forefront. That was my biggest complaint about the first two books – Collins kept pushing us back into the games when she’d already developed the world. I wanted to see what was out there, and not return to the part of the world that I was familiar with. Thankfully, Mockingjay – Part 1 delivers on that front, even if for the most part, it can’t help feel predictable.
Mostly lacking in the action scenes compared to the previous two films, the cast is the main selling point of this film. It’s not quite as boring some suggest, with it managing to be pretty entertaining throughout, even if there is a distinct lack of a clear structure to this movie. It’s something that fans of the previous two will most likely enjoy, but will more likely feel like a better film when watched with the sequel.
VERDICT: 7/10

WATCH THIS IF YOU LIKED: Snowpiercer, The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,The Maze Runner, Divergent, The Harry Potter Series, 
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