“Is it worth paying for a ticket?”: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014)

Jennifer-Lawrence-in-The-Hunger-Games-Mockingjay-Part-1-2014-Movie-PosterThe penultimate film in the franchise, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014, dir. Francis Lawrence) begins where the last film ended. Its synopsis is as follows:

When Katniss destroys the games, she goes to District 13 after District 12 is destroyed. She meets President Coin who convinces her to be the symbol of rebellion, while trying to save Peeta from the Capitol. (source)

This film makes me sad. Not because it is inherently sad itself, but because it is probably one of the worst casualties of the current trend of splitting films into parts; a trend which many young adult fiction film translations have been partaking in recently. Before watching this, I was sure that The Hobbit was the most shameless of these split films. But this was one was quite shameless indeed.

This film has a lot to say, but there’s not a lot of action. As a result, it seems as if nothing really happens, particularly considering that it’s about two hours long. Mockingjay Part 1 is very light on plot. The whole thing feels like the setup for a big finish on the second film, which means that it can’t necessarily stand on its own in terms of story. It probably could have been condensed and incorporated into the rest of whatever Part 2 might have, but I suppose we won’t know for sure until that film is released this time next year.

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At the same time, I enjoyed Mockingjay Part 1 as a fan of the books. I loved seeing how they interpreted the insides of District 13, and as always, the costume design was amazing. What the Hunger Games films provide to readers is a truly interesting interpretation of the books’ content, and I find that they do really try to give book fans what they want to see. Key word: try. There is a lot of interesting plotting in terms of the political elements of the story, where Katniss becomes the mouthpiece for the rebellion, led by President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore). As more Hunger Games films are made, they are becoming more and more political, which I do enjoy.

As always, Jennifer Lawrence out-acts everyone else in this film in her role as Katniss Everdeen. When I watched The Hunger Games: Catching Fire last year, I waxed lyrical about her minimalist acting style and her congruent portrayal of someone experiencing PTSD symptoms after a traumatic experience. Lawrence is no less great in this film, and there are some moments where she really does shine – especially when Katniss is giving impassioned speeches to all of the Districts via the propaganda films being made in District 13. However, due to the lack of action and the general low-key nature of the film, it also looks like Lawrence doesn’t really have to try too hard to lock down these magical moments. I’m really looking forward to seeing what she does with the content of the next film, particularly as I’ve read the book and know there are definitely some tough times ahead for our brave heroine.

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When considering that Jennifer Lawrence carries the majority of the film’s acting strength, another sad thing about this film is the mass of disappointment that forms the majority of the script. I read the book years ago so I can’t remember whether most of the script was pulled from the source, but it just seemed ludicrous to me that amazing actors like Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Donald Sutherland had to partake in such insipid dialogue. As a result of their parts of the script being so lacklustre, it makes the characters seem boring, and the actors seem amateurish. And I really shouldn’t be saying that about those three actors. And the less said about the very brief screen time dedicated to Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth the better. At the very least, Jennifer Lawrence is strong enough to carry everyone else. Elizabeth Banks is also a highlight as stylist Effie Trinket, as usual.

I think if I were to describe The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 in one word, it would be ‘disappointing’. It’s not that this is necessarily a bad film, because I do think there is some value to be had in its political messages. The content of this film is also useful for when we eventually get to see the next one, also known as the film where all the action is going to happen. Writing that sentence makes me so frustrated because problems like this shouldn’t happen. Thankfully Jennifer Lawrence made this film very watchable, and I am definitely looking forward to seeing the next one.

Is it worth paying for a ticket?: Well, this is awkward. I’m going to have to say no. I’m not sure this was worth the price of admission. At the same time, you kind of have to watch it to finish the series, so we’re stuck in no man’s land.
Watch the trailer here.

15 comments

  1. cant wait to see this! Nicely done Anna!

    1. Thanks Rob, I really can’t wait to see the next one now, if only to see how they can improve on this one! Have you read the books? Some crazy stuff is set to happen!

      1. read them recently, so i know about the crazyness, just cant figure out storywise why to split it 🙂

  2. It ends so abruptly that it pissed me off. However, it has a nice lead-up. I’ll give it that. Good review.

    1. Thanks Dan! 😀 Yeah, it wasn’t a bad lead up, partly because the whole film felt like the first half of a standalone film! The next one will be filled to the brim with action and some proper closure, I’m sure.

  3. The third book is pretty bleh to be fair. I liked this more than you did but I agree that it definitely should have just been one film.

    1. I agree, I really think it should have been just the one film. Although I did enjoy the exploration of the political propaganda side of things, it just wasn’t able to carry a whole film. I remember feeling a bit let down by the third book as well, probably because the faster pace of the first two was much more exciting!

  4. It’s exploitative to split the third book into two separate movies for absolutely no good reason. *sigh. But, if you can believe it, the 3rd Hobbit movie was even worse… yes, really.

    1. So exploitative! I don’t think I’ll ever see the Hobbit films as a direct result of my irrational anger about the tiny book being made into three huge films!

      1. None of them are any good, sadly! I can confirm that you aren’t missing anything. What REALLY made me angry was when I discovered that 1). Peter Jackson and his wife completely fabricated a pretty redheaded elf character JUST so they could add an inexplicable elf-dwarf romance, and 2). at the end of the third film, which, mind you, is 50 YEARS prior to the start of ‘The Fellowship of the Ring,’ Legolas’s father tells him to seek out Aragorn, son of Arathon, because “he might be a great man.” ARAGORN WASN’T BORN YET! Agh. I’m done.

        1. Oh, nope, never watching this trilogy ever. That is so infuriating! Officially the worst culprit of the splitting-films moneymaking trend.

  5. This was such a kick-ass film. Second-best in the franchise for me behind Catching Fire. I don’t know if I’m going to read the books or not. I’m thinking that might be a step backwards. These films are just so damn good.

    1. I would highly recommend reading the books, they’re pretty brilliant! Definitely good for reading on public transport, I can say that for sure.

  6. I absolutely agree with what you said last — this film is just no-man’s-land. I love the books, too, but I really hate that they made it into two parts, it’s just crap. Great review!

  7. […] disappointing film released in 2014: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 I love the Hunger Games films and franchise, and this was a big disappointment. But I don’t […]

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